Wednesday, December 02, 2009

No! Nonononono!

We have officially entered the world of NO! How does this just happen without warning? It's not as if she hears the word all the time. We try to limit the use of it for things that really matter, like dangerous or completely unacceptable behavior (read: hitting the dog, etc) but here we are in No-ville. Which coincidentally, is just down the road from Mine-town - a place we've also been frequenting lately. Oh well, at least it's the dog that catches most of her grief. She just can't do anything right. This morning she was pre-emptively fussing at Georgia, wagging her finger and telling her "No! Nonono!" lest the silly beast think she might get a bite of MY breakfast, which EGR graciously shares with me. She can also be heard telling her to sit and move, and Heaven help us all if the poor dog acts like she might eat the Goldfish crackers she spills on the floor. It's a full contact scramble between the two of them to recover and eat as many as possible before the other one gets them. The credit goes to Georgia for being an amazingly gentle and patient dog.

Ella's vocabulary has exploded recently. She wakes up in the morning labeling the things in her room ("trash" "baby" "shoes" "Pooh" "dog") and continues labeling all day long. She also repeats things back to us now, so she is trying new words all the time. I think "trash" is her favorite. She looks for trash cans to point out to me, and she creates trash so she can put it in the can. She has taken ownership of the chore of putting dirty diapers in the big can outside - going so far as to wear the tied-up grocery sack, diaper inside, on her arm like a purse. She also likes to put her laundry in her hamper, though I think there may be some confusion about it being "trash".

I fully indoctrinated her into the joys of Christmas shopping Monday while I was on vacation. She rode in the pouch on the front of me all over the Galleria, so she had a front-row seat for all the picking and purchasing, even helped by handing the debit card to the cashier. I made my annual stop into Bath and Body Works, and she immediately recognized all the tubes and bottles. She was insistent on having some lotion, so we stopped by a tester tube on the way out the door. I squirted some onto her upturned hand and watched as she grinned with sheer glee and rubbed that lotion all over her hands. It warms my heart to know I've passed on my love of good hand cream. We shopped and shopped, and by the time we were leaving the mall she was yelling at me to "Pay! Pay!" I had to explain to her that we didn't actually buy anything at Sears, so we didn't have to pay before we left.

We had one blurry week when time stood still while she was sick with a residual ear infection (left from the first one she had in October) and virus that caused her mouth to break out in sores. For two days she had nothing but warm green tea because that was all she could drink without crying. She barely even nursed because it hurt too bad. Talk about a fish out of water, that was me trying to figure out how to comfort her without my secret weapon. She is fully recovered now, and officially got the all-clear on her ears so hopefully we will be free of antibiotics for a while. Getting them into her is feat in itself, and I can say that sitting on and wrestling a toddler into a strangle-hold while squirting medicine down her throat makes me feel less than dignified. Should we really both be breathless and panting after the ordeal? I think I have an easier time poking a pill down my spastic cat's mouth.

Now that she is well and her sleep is back on track, she is generally waking once in the night and has taken to getting out of the bed and going to the kitchen all by her big self to get her milk cup. Generally, I intercept her along the way to assist with opening the fridge, which she can't do yet, but she's getting quieter and quieter about the operation. Last night, I don't even know why I woke up because she was so quiet. Once she has her cup, we pile back into her bed and I stay with her until she falls asleep. She might nurse for a minute, or she might not; sometimes she sings to herself "a-bye Baby", sometimes she chats for a minute, sometimes her eyes roll back in her head like she was never awake, and last night she climbed right on top of me and flopped down with her face in my neck. We definitely seem to be in a transistion that is ultimately resulting in more, easier sleep for both of us, even if it is way inconvenient to go to the kitchen for the milk cup and then make sure it gets back in the fridge. Nursing all this time has spoiled me in that respect and I don't regret a minute of it, but I think we are nearing the end of that phase of our relationship. I think she may nurse for a few more months, and the bed time session will be the last to go but I can see that other things are becoming more important to her, like her bedtime stories and her milk cup in the middle of the night. It makes me very proud to see her growing up this way, even if it does mean she's not a baby anymore.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

I Wear My Sunglasses at Night

I think Aunt Becca is EGR’s favorite aunt because she lets her play in her purse. It is one of Ella’s favorite past times. She has good stuff in there. Lipsticks, receipts, credit cards, body spray, and sunglasses. Aunt Becca came to Grandpop’s house Saturday night to see the little Sprout, and this time instead of just emptying and sorting the contents of the purse, EG actually put it to good use. She grabbed the sunglasses first and put them right on the top of her head like she’s been doing it all her (long) life. Then she found the lipstick and pretended to put it on her lips. She pulled out the wallet and found the receipts so she could balance the checkbook. Then she decided it was too bright in Grandpop’s house, so she put those glasses on her face. Of course, the paparazzi was there to capture all of it on film.

We have most definitely entered the world of make believe. There are times when I watch her play and I know that she has created an entire little world around herself. It goes beyond pretending to feed the babies and stuffed animals. She now puts on makeup, gets herself ready with her purses and hat, loads her car and gets in it. She will run back and forth from the cabinet, “filling” one cup from various other cups to create a concoction only she can explain. Sometimes she pretends to throw things away – making trips back and forth to the garbage can holding invisible bits of trash. She also fills plates and bowls in this same manner. Dave tried giving her actual trash to throw away, but she ignored it in favor of her game. I love to watch her play this way and try to figure out what she is thinking.

She recently developed a love for coloring, probably due to the Sunday school lessons she’s been participating in. (Can I get a Hallelujah! about the fact that she’s stayed in Sunday school and Wednesday night Bible study for two weeks in a row without crying?) I set her up in her high chair with some paper and crayons the other night while I sat at the table and wrote thank you notes. She colored all over that paper, then put her crayons back in the box when she was finished (this is another topic entirely). We stuck her picture on the fridge and put the crayons away in the junk drawer. The next night, she scurried into the kitchen when we got home, pulled that picture off the fridge and went to the junk drawer for the crayons. Now we have two pictures on the fridge. I like this new interest; it’s creative and it keeps her busy, though she does get distressed when the crayons don’t go back in the box easily. The walls of my house will soon be papered with her artwork.

The child has developed a rather disturbing 16 month-old behavior. She picks up and straightens things. How will I be able to maintain a modicum of general disarray if both my husband and my child need every thing to have a place and be in its place? I guess I’ll rest easy in the fact that this new habit doesn’t seem to apply to her toys except in special circumstances. They are usually still strewn from one end of the house to the other. Seriously though, she made me do a double take when I saw her put her toys back in the hat box they live in, put the lid on it, and put it back on the stack where it stays at Grandma’s house so we could go home the other night. All with absolutely no prompting from anyone. When I saw her move the dog’s food bowl three feet from where it was to where it was supposed to be in a completely absent-minded gesture, I groaned inside. Then she followed her Da into the bathroom so she could straighten the rug he kicked up, and I later watched her pick up the couch pillows from the floor and put them back on the couch. All of these were sort of casual, absent-minded things she did on her way to whatever she was planning to do. Weird. Yes, she sees me do these things in the same absent-minded manner, but it took years of training and self-discipline to make me that way, and Dave will tell you that I still love a pile of clutter. He told me the other night that I will be in trouble when she starts cleaning up after me and I can’t find a thing. He’s absolutely right. Maybe she’ll at least put my things away instead in the middle of the bed where I’ll be forced to deal with the pile like he does.

Finally, though I believe it is a double-edged sword, I’ve been trying to teach her to dress herself. Mostly I just dress her while she stands or sits instead of on the changing table where she is contained. It makes the chore more interesting when I have to follow her around with her clothing, or trap her in my legs, but at least she’s actively participating now. Last night I wrestled her diaper on her, then thought, “What the heck?” and tossed her Tinkerbell shirt at her with instructions to put it on. When I turned back around from whatever I was doing, she had one arm in. She got distracted at that point, so I helped with the rest of the process, but I did tell her to pull up her pants and she did it for the very first time. This is double-edged because having the ability to dress herself is one step closer to potty readiness, but it will also mean she has the ability to undress herself. Since the child frequently asks to have her clothes removed, I’m thinking nakedness might present an issue in the future. In public of course; I couldn’t care less if she wears clothes in the house.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Crocs with Socks: A Story of a Young Shoe Diva

The Shelby Baptist Association is running a Christmas Gift Shop fundraiser store – think flea market, but cheaper. Retailers in the area donated truck loads of holiday and seasonal items left over from last Christmas and Thanksgiving, so the Shelby Baptist Association is selling it at super low prices to raise money for their Christmas Gift Shop program. Reports say that they have everything in any color you could want. I’ve heard tell that ladies have filled 3 giant bags chock full of Christmas decorations for the bargain basement price of $40.

It is one of Ella’s favorite places to shop, so she and Grandmother go there often. The decided to go yesterday despite the fact that pickings are slim now that the holidays are upon us. Oh, what a fateful day it was for EGR. A day that I can only imagine she’s been patiently waiting on for quite some time. As they entered the door of the store, she spotted them – the long sought-after pink crocs. Oh, yes, I believe she’s been looking everywhere we go for pink crocs like Mama’s as she often tries to wear mine around the house. She was beside herself with glee, trying to climb out of the buggy as Grandmother was putting her into it. Nothing else would do but to search the racks for a pair in her size.

They found a pair in size 5 that seemed to do okay, and a pair of size 7 that were too big for her to wear right now. There were no size 6, but she was adamant, so they purchased the 5s for only $1. She tried and tried to put them on as they browsed through the aisles, but they were tied together. Finally, at checkout, the cashier cut them apart and Grandmother put them on her feet. She proudly wore them all day – only taking them off for nap time with the promise that she could put them back on as soon as she woke up. She did indeed march straight to the crocs and insist on wearing them once the nap was finished. She even pointed to them and said, “Shoes Mama!” I don’t know if that meant she wanted to show them to me, or that she has shoes like Mama’s, but she was ready to show them off when I got home.

She wore them until bath time, and this morning she brought them to me when it was time to put on shoes. Of course, since it’s sock season, she is committing the fashion faux pas of wearing them with socks, but I believe I am powerless in this matter. They are just on the brink of too small, but she doesn’t seem to care right now. I will not be at all surprised if I get home tonight to find a pair of size 7s so that she’ll have some to grow into. They are pink with pink leopard print fabric around the edges and insoles, and she loves them so. She does love shoes.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Festival Pics

I was right; it took the full two months to make the Green Giant and Sprout costumes, but I got them finished. Without further ado, here they are.

They posed on the fire truck and listened to the siren. Ella liked the siren so much that she wanted the fireman to turn it on again. He did. She has been making the fire truck noise when she sees pictures of them since we took her to the Fire Prevention Parade at the beginning of October.
When we all sat down for awards and supper, she entertained herself with a giant bucket of crayons. She did actually color on the cardboard, then she piled and sorted and when there were enough crayons on the floor, she left to find something else to do.
This is my favorite picture. She is "feeding the frogs" at the bean bag toss - which she did over and over again, barely waiting on other kids to take a turn.
She and The Giant went fishing for prizes. She also played the ring toss, bounced in the bounce house, and generally ran all over the place with the rest of the hooligans. There was one boy there with a wolf mask and every time she saw him she said, "Doooog!"
She had a great time, and after the Fall Festival we went to Grandpop's house to trick or treat. She and Grandma gave out candy to the other trick or treaters, and she had so much fun that got upset when the kids stopped coming to the door. Grandma taught her how to put the candy in their pumpkins, and when Grandma said, "Where are the trick or treaters?" she gave a great big "I don't know" shrug. She was convinced to go home with the promise of a bath. She was one tired Sprout tonight.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A 2 for 1 Deal: Roll Tide and Happy Halloween

We carved our "Puh!" Saturday night, and in the spirit of the activity Ella insisted on wearing her Halloween leggings. They are her favorite pants. She needed me to get them out of the bottom of the laundry hamper and put them on her. She didn't care that they clashed badly with the cheerleader outfit she was already wearing. I'll admit that I had a few moments of inner struggle over allowing this to be recorded on film, but the part of me that thinks it cute when she insists on wearing Halloween pants won.
Her favorite part of the pumpkin carving process was stomping around on the garbage bag on the floor. She wanted nothing to do with the pumpkin guts, and seemed a little concerned that we were cutting up her "Puh!" I definitely think she liked it better before we carved it. She was so proud while she rode in the grocery cart with it, and she needed it to sit in the living room floor so she could pat it. Now that we've cut it, she's interested in the candle inside it when it's lit, but otherwise she's indifferent.
This is the whole Halloween outfit, but she really could care less about the shirt. The pants have "ki-kis" on them (that's "kitty kitties" if you don't speak Toddler).

You can't really see it in the picture but there is a huge white stain down the front of her shirt because she spit her antibiotics back at me when I tried to give them to her. She has a double ear infection thanks to the yucky cold she caught from her Da (that's Daddy) last week. He caught it from the Jefferson County Jail. (Thanks so much, County Jail. I was really due the character building exercise of taking care of a husband who was coughing up his spleen and a toddler who couldn't breathe and cut two teeth last week.) Now everyone is feeling better, but we have 15 more doses of antibiotic to get down the little hatch and the diaper rash to deal with. I can't blame her for spitting out the medicine; it is really, really nasty. I even took it back to the pharmacy and got it flavored, but that didn't matter. We reached an unspoken agreement that she would eat it with a teaspoon of yogurt as long as we pretended it wasn't in there, but she knew. I think that trick has expired. Chocolate pudding will be my next approach. I guess that I'll also be exercising my creativity along with building my character.

She now has 8 teeth on bottom and 6 on top. The bottom canines came in this week, so now we are waiting on the top ones. They don't look like they will make an appearance any time soon. I really just wish those and the 2 year molars would come in now so we can get it over with. It's really no wonder that most kids don't sleep through the night until they are three-ish with all these teeth coming through all the time.

This is just a cute picture I found on my camera when I uploaded the new ones. That shimmery thing is her Invisibility Cloak, which she wraps around her fist and gnaws on as she falls asleep.
Here she is in her new tent with a tunnel. We bought the tent to hold the balls. Yes. I wrote that. Are you laughing yet? I laughed quietly to myself all the way home from Target that day because my poor disillusioned husband actually thought the balls would stay in the tent! He moaned and groaned about the basket full of toys and general strewn about mess in the living room, so he "solved" that problem by buying her 150 ball pit balls and a tent. :) She does love it.Aside from recent illness, everything is well with us. EGR is talking about everything, though lay people wouldn't understand most of it. Last night she came into the bathroom while I was cleaning up the tub toys and told me: "Mama! Jabberjabberjabberblahblahblah!" while pointing candidly at her bedroom. I followed her, telling her to show me. Indeed she did. She bent down, pointed under the dresser and said, "Ba!" Her ball was under there, just out of her reach.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Case of the Missing Phone

"Mischievous and conniving." That's what Dave said about dear, sweet EGR this morning. He was referring to her absolute refusal to let him hold her until she realized there was a pen in his pocket, and then she didn't want him to put her down.

The latest report from Grandmother's House tells a similar story. Apparently the phone was missing all day. Grandmother searched high and searched low for it, but it was nowhere to be found. She even asked EGR if she knew where it was. Oh, she did, but it was stuck so she didn't give it up. The search continued. Grandmother turned off all the other phones and the answering machine, then called the house from her cell phone. She followed the ring to the musical playground, which happens to have a convenient ball hole/tunnel thingy. It was in there, and it was stuck. Grandmother was working hard to dislodge it when she heard a suspicious giggle from behind her. EGR was happily sitting in her highchair, watching the whole scene and laughing. Mischievous? Most definitely.

Everything I've read says that between 15 and 18 months is a weird, difficult age. I'm here to say that it's true. It's weird. It's difficult. It's hilarious. It's oh so sweet. Sleep is weird - fabulous one night and horrible the next. Bedtime is so easy one night, and takes an hour the next. The tantrums have already started - including a nice fake gagging noise whenever she's not getting her way. It's somehow funny and annoying at the same time. If it actually produces vomit one of these days, that will be a different story.

Separation anxiety has reared it's head again. For the first time, the well-baby information from her doctor's office said we should expect it at this age. I should really have considered that a warning. She's had it during every major milestone phase, but this is the worst yet. I'm thinking it's because she's turned into a monkey-child and she now not only cries when I attempt to leave her, but also climbs my body and hangs on for dear life - whether it be around my neck or around my legs while she stands on my feet. Honestly, I think if the child could get into my skin with me, she would do just that. Again, both funny and annoying at times - though I do love the feeling of little arms clamped around my neck.

She's talking more every day, and more and more words are becoming clear. A baby crying on TV woke her up and she pointed and said, "Baby!" I was asking her to come to me so I could put her shoes on, and she pointed to her feet and said, "Shoes." When I was telling Dave about it this morning, she got her shoes and brought them to me to put them on her. She got new shoes last week, and she loves them. She barely took them off all weekend. When she found them sitting next to mine on the floor, she needed to put them on. Then she went outside in tennis shoes and pajamas - straight to a mud hole to get them broken in.

She pays so much attention to conversations going on around her. We've always thought this, but now she demonstrates it by acting on what we are saying - like getting her shoes, or laughing when we say something is funny. Now when we correct her for hitting or throwing or generally acting out in anger/frustration, she leans her head toward us to give us love. I'm finding that I can tell her something privately in her ear, and she is much more receptive. This has worked when asking her to give a toy back to another little girl in the nursery, or asking her to give bye love to Grandma and Grandpop.

Her 15 month check up went well. She weighs 21.5 lbs and is 31 inches long. She did not like the doctor this time, but he says that all kids are like that at this age and it will be better when she's three. He had to pry her mouth open with a tongue depressor to look at her teeth, and that was really only successful because of the screaming.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

EGR: 15 Months

EG turned 15 months old last Friday. I've been back at work for an entire year now. Wow.

This morning was the first time she cried when I left her. It only lasted a minute, and she had stopped by the time I was out of the driveway.

I swear the little scamp does something new and funny every day. Over the weekend she started walking on her tiptoes, just because she can, I guess. She can now walk up a few short steps without holding on to anything - well, really she can run up them. She has finally started holding her baby to her chest, right side up, (instead of by the head/leg/arm, etc), and now she cuddles it and makes the "Hmmmm" noise we make when we snuggle her. She also feeds it with a toy bottle, and makes the slurping noise as if it's drinking. She feeds all of her stuffed animals and Georgia with the toy bottle. She'd like to feed the cats, but they don't appreciate the effort. Saturday morning she wanted both cats to sit on the couch with us, so I was making the "tch, tch, tch" noise that gets Gypsy to come to me. The whole rest of the weekend she called every cat she saw by making that sound. I saw her try to pick Gypsy up for the first time. The attempt was unsuccessful, mainly because Gypsy was having no part of it.

Now when we (me) are trying to get out the door in the mornings, she "remembers" something that she has to go back and get. Usually it's a few stuffed animals or the baby. Yesterday, she fed the baby on the way to Grandmother's house, slurping all the way. She tells me she wants milk in a cup by going to the refrigerator, or that she wants snacks by going to the snack cabinet (or pantry at Grandmother's house). If Grandma and Grandpop come to our house, she goes to the door and points to their car to tell them she wants to go to their house. She tells me that she's "all done" or something is "all gone" by using the sign. When she's ready for bed or nap (!) she goes to her room and pats the big bed, where we cuddle to read her story and nurse. (It still might take half an hour to get her to sleep, but at least she admits that she's ready now.)

She is finally letting me brush her teeth for her, primarily because I sing the "This is the way we brush our teeth..." song. We also have a song for putting on a diaper and pajamas after the bath, and she likes to "sing" that one with me. She "sings" with me when I sing the Winnie the Pooh song, or if I stop singing and she wants me to continue. She understands and follows simple instructions; for example, yesterday she was playing with my hair clip and lost it. I asked where she put it, then I saw it under the rocking chair. I said, "There it is under the rocking chair, will you get it and bring it to me?" She did just that. It still amazes me to see how much she understands when we are talking to her. She isn't very verbal yet, but if you are watching her while having a conversation, you can see her respond to your words. Amazing.

Sunday night I read Goodnight Moon to her for the first time. Apparently it's been America's favorite bedtime story for the last 60 years for a reason. It put her right to sleep. She was sitting straight up and nodding off. I had to stop myself from laughing at her and breaking the spell. I remember being bored with the book as a child, but I must have been much older than her at the time.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

First Display of Remorse

Last night while Ella was brushing her teeth, she had a little fit because I wouldn’t let her use my toothbrush. I was holding her, and she started flinging her arms around and then she hit me in the face. Hitting is something I will not tolerate at all. I grabbed her little wrists and told her (in my stern Mommy voice that she doesn’t hear often), “You do not hit. That is not nice.” “Not nice” is the key phrase we use for situations like this, believe me, she understands what it means. She looked at me with a very subdued expression, but she didn’t hit again. We continued with our routine; I told her we were going to get a diaper and pajamas in my normal voice. We went into her room, and I put her on the changing table. She tentatively reached up and touched my face with her little hand. Then she patted me very softly. The expression on her face clearly said, “I’m sorry. Is everything okay now?” I almost cried as I hugged her close and told her what a sweet girl she is.

The more I think about this, the more significant it seems to me. This is the first time I’ve seen her show remorse for her actions. I don’t even know when babies are supposed to start showing remorse. For months she has been demonstrating care-giving behaviors with her stuffed animals, dolls, Georgia, and even us at times. She pets and loves us, and she’ll wipe us or her toys with a rag. She likes to tuck her toys in and give them kisses for bed. But her response after hitting me seems to demonstrate much more complex emotional development. She obviously understood that her behavior had upset me, and she didn’t like that I was upset so she tried to fix it. I’m trying to think of times when I’ve demonstrated this type of behavior in front of her, and I’m really having a hard time thinking of any. I know that children model the behaviors they see, and I know that we are trying to raise her with compassion and empathy. I really make an effort to try to understand the world from her perspective and respond accordingly. I have to believe that this show of remorse toward me and affection toward things she cares for is evidence that our parenting approach is working.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Babywearing Daddy

This may be the only picture of Dave wearing Ella, so I thought it should be preserved for posterity. He wears her in my carrier, but we turn it inside out so the flowers don't show. A big, burly man shouldn't be sporting pink flowers while he's wearing a baby.

Also note that she's is giving him five in this picture. We resurrected this activity on vacation and she's very enthusiastic about it now. He started out wearing her at Fort Morgan, until she decided she was too tired for Daddy to wear her and he passed her on to me.

This carrier is awesome. Dave gave it to me for Christmas, and I have used it every where. I carted her back and forth to the beach in it. We played putt-putt together in it (That accounts for my hideous score, but if you divide by two I really did well.). I've even steam cleaned my carpet while wearing her on my back in it.
Here she is at our favorite restaurant at the Beach. I'm pretty sure it's her favorite, too, because she can pack away the gumbo and cheese grits. I even saw her eat pickled okra this time. Nap time on the beach. She sleeps so well out there, even with all of our shenanigans going on around her.

Notice the brown butt behind Dave? What you can't see in this picture are the four pits Georgia dug all around our chairs. The one you see her in below was big enough that she was almost completely vertical when she finished it. That dog LOVED the beach. I'm horrible for not taking more pictures of her swimming.
Never did I ever believe you would find me sitting in the sand without at least a towel. It's amazing how a kid will change your perspective on everything. I think this picture was taken right after she pulled her leg out of the hole I buried it in. Our second trip of the year was a huge success, despite my worries about bringing Georgia. She couldn't have been better behaved, and she really, really loved the beach. She even dealt with the sand spurs in her toes amazingly well - holding her paws up so I could pick them out for her. Fort Morgan is a great place to take your dog on vacation, and I hope we go there again.
Now, I've turned my mind toward Halloween. Project Jolly Green Giant is under way. I bought the fabric yesterday to make costumes for Dave and Ella. She is going to be Sprout. Since I'm not really a seamstress, I thought it would be a good idea to start working on them now. Two months ought to give me enough time.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Beach Preparedness Checklist

Swimming Suit - Check
Ponytail - Check
Seashell - Check

We just came back from our second beach trip of the season, and Ella enjoyed herself immensely. I think her favorite part about family vacations is having everyone together. Aunt Becca convinced her that ponytails are pretty, so she wore one most of the day Saturday. This was huge considering the fact that she usually pulls a barrette out of her hair the minute I put it in. She enjoyed spending time with Aunt Becca and Aunt Jess (who is really her cousin) while they were getting ready for dinner one night. She wanted to be with the girls, doing girl things. It's so cute to see her primping and proud when Aunt Becca fixes her hair or pats her face with the powder puff. She's all girl, even if she is rough-and-tumble while she's running the streets inspecting rocks and dirt and things.

With impeccable timing, she managed to cut her first molar the day we left for the beach. I'm pretty sure that what we did the night before cannot be considered sleeping. Sleeping with her didn't fix it, nursing didn't fix it, and at some point during the night I came to my full senses and realized she was burning up with fever. We were up for the day before the alarm went off at 4 a.m. It was a looooooonnnnnnnggggggg day. As with her other teeth, she was fully snotty and clingy and whiny and way too tired given our lack of sleep and her inability to nap through the teething pain. However, once I finally got her settled down that night - after repeated false starts due to nightmares (which always happen when she's overtired) - she woke up the next morning feeling much better and with two new teeth to show for the effort. At this point I can see the whole top of one molar and one point of the second one. I can also see the bumps where the top ones are getting ready to come in, so this peace won't last very long. All I can say about it is: I'm so glad I don't remember teething because those places in her mouth looked so ragged and painful it made me cringe. The poor little pumpkin kept putting her hands on the sides of her face in what I believe was an effor to tell it hurt. : (

Bits of randomness from the last few weeks...
She started stomping her feet over the weekend when she's excited about somehting, and she does it really fast so it looks like she's running in place. Her use of her hands continues to amaze me. She dropped something in a hole too small for my fingers and I told her to use her fingers to try to get it. She tried, but they couldn't quite grab it. While I know that she understands what we say to her, it still amazes me sometimes when she follows instructions. On the way home from the beach, she figured out how to take her peanut butter crackers apart and only eat the sides that had peanut butter on them. She's learning to throw, so she practices frequently - with a ball or her cup or whatever might be handy. She will make a bracelet out of anything round that her hand will fit through. She can finally open the flaps in her lift-a-flap books. She brought me her carrier while we were on the beach because she was ready for me to wear her back to the house. The other night she could hear Dave talking in the other room and she was pointing and saying, "Dada". When I told her he was in the other room talking, she said, "Dada talkatalkatalka." She now takes her own dirty diapers to the garbage can - this is our effort to teach her that only yucky things go in the garbage, since she likes putting things in there. She insists on feeding Georgia a cookie anytime she remembers that the cookie jar is on the counter. Georgia doesn't complain. She freely gives her babies and stuffed animals kisses, and she waves and says, "Hey!" to the piggy banks on her dresser when she wakes up in the mornings. She's one busy girl.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I think it's time for a new bedtime routine.

Last night, for the first time ever in the history of EGR, she needed Daddy had to help put her to bed. I’m not sure if it was because he wasn’t there when we started bedtime, or if she just decided he needs to be involved, but after nearly an hour of wrestle-rocking her, I gave up. I was tired, she was tired, and we were getting no where fast. I put her in the bed where she laid quietly for about a minute before she started crying, so I sent in The Daddy.

As expected, she didn’t want him to get her and she screamed louder, but he brought her to the living room to read a book. She decided that was okay since I was there, too. He sat on the couch beside me, and she crawled into my lap and laid her head on my shoulder while he read her book. His deep, rumbly voice made her little eyelids very heavy, so he turned off the lamp and sang to her. She stretched out in my arms and asked to nurse, and I made him keep singing. Within 5 minutes she was passed out. The whole process may have taken 15. It was magical.

Given the success of that little operation, I informed him that it’s time for him to become part of the bedtime routine. The new plan of attack is for Daddy to come with us into her bedroom when she starts winding down after the bath. We’ll all lie on the big bed in there while he reads her book and sings to her. She can nurse if she wants, or just cuddle with us. Once she’s asleep, we’ll move her to the crib. I’m not comfortable leaving her unattended in the big bed all night yet. She can get out of it properly, and there is a rail to keep her from rolling off, but when she wakes up in the middle of the night, she’s usually walking around in her crib when I get to her. I don’t want that to happen in the big bed.

I know he told me he didn’t care if I nursed her to sleep until she’s 14, but that method is becoming less and less effective as she gets older (and rightly so). My ultimate goal is for him to be able to do bedtime without me, so we can eventually take turns. It might take months to make the transition, and she’ll probably still want to nurse at bedtime for several more months, but it’s time to gradually change up the routine because sometimes Mommy needs a break.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pictures

Looking amazingly like her Uncle Joshua when he was a toddler, she was trying to see the picture on the camera display while I was taking it. Toddling around in pajama clothes, because I was wearing pajamas. Otherwise, she prefers just a diaper.
With Brown Bear.
Sleeping with her favorite kitty.
Helping with the dishwasher.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Brown Bear

Brown Bear is Dave’s childhood teddy bear, and he now belongs to Ella. He is nearly as big as her, and she’s taken to carrying him around the house and sitting in his rocking chair.

Last night, Dave was trying to get Ella to settle down to read a book (that’s his part in the bedtime routine), but she was just so busy she couldn’t stop – despite the stumbling and rubbing of little eyes. So, he asked Brown Bear if he wanted to read with him. What do you know, but Brown Bear found his voice and answered him! He cuddled in the floor with Brown Bear and the book in front of him, and they commenced to reading and discussing the pictures just like he does with Ella. It got her attention. She didn’t know what to think about Daddy reading with someone else. She walked around them, giving them funny looks for a few minutes before she sat down to read with them. A few minutes later, she tossed Brown Bear out of the way. I’m pretty sure the look on her face was jealousy.

I’m not sure if Daddy has given it a second thought, but I think it’s pretty significant that our Mama’s Girl was jealous of Daddy reading to Brown Bear. It warmed my heart.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Mid-Night Party

That's mid-night, as in "the middle of the night," not the actual 12:00 a.m. midnight, because the party happened at 3:30 a.m.

Now that EG is walking everywhere and generally running us ragged all day long, her sleep has dramatically improved. I guess the extra exercise is enough to keep her asleep for longer periods of time. (Because I'm putting this in writing, I'm sure she'll have two weeks of sleeping no more than two hours at a time, just to make a liar out of me.) She was asleep in her bed last night at 8:30. At 9:30, she woke up and it took a brief 10 minutes to rock her back to sleep. Thank goodness I went to bed right after that instead of practicing my normal idiocy of staying up all night reading.

At 3:20 (6 hours later!!), I knew from the happy sounds coming through the monitor that it was about to get interesting. When she became bored of entertaining herself in the dark, she cried out. I was on my way to her room with my pillows when Dave told me (through the monitor) that he was getting her. (Don't ask me where he had been. Only God understands his nighttime habits. Well, maybe Ella does, too.) He brought her to our bed, where I tucked her in between us to nurse. She nursed. The she fussed and scooted and kicked until I rolled her over to the other side to nurse again. When she was finished, she popped right up and try to raid my bedside table, talking and pointing. I put her back in the middle, shhh-ing and telling her to lay her little head down because it was bedtime. She did, for a minute. Then she started patting Daddy and saying, "Dada, Dada, Dada." This crawling, flopping, kicking, talking went on for about an hour. Each time she would get still and quiet, Dave would move so that the bed creaked, and that was reason enough for EG to sit up and play some more.

I finally took her back to her room at 4:30 to rock her to sleep. Oh, it didn't take but a minute. She was very still - not even picking her toes or pinching her eyelids or kicking her feet like she normally does when we rock. In the dim green light of the baby monitor, I could see that her eyes were closed and her breathing was even. I made my move to put her in her bed. She popped right up as soon as her head touched the pillow. I had been completely faked out! She was standing, talking, even bouncing a little when I got her out of the crib again. She pointed to the big bed, so that's where we went. She still crawled and moved and talked until I wrestled her down with her back to me and wrapped myself around her like a human straight-jacket. Finally, she was still enough to fall asleep. It must have been 4:45 at that point. Dave woke me up for my shower at 5:30. EG snoozed until after 6:00, and greeted me with a happy, energetic, "Hey!" when I walked in the room to get her.

I'm very thankful that this doesn't happen often. It usually takes less than 10 minutes to get her back to sleep when she wakes during the night, but every once in a while she is just too energized. I was tempted to send her with her father to the living room to play (since he admitted he was wide awake anyway), but I have a strict policy of keeping it dark and quiet during the sleeping hours because I don't want her to get any ideas that partying at 3 a.m. is an acceptable habit.

Her methods of fighting sleep are only getting more creative as she gets older, bigger, and stronger. This eyelid pinching thing drives me nuts. She grabs a tiny bit of skin between her thumb and forefinger, stretches it away from her eye, and lets it go so that it makes a little POP! noise. Some nights her eyes roll back in her head as soon as she reclines in my arms, and some nights I feel like we are battling to the death before she gives it up and sleeps. Those are the nights I leave her room weak and breathless from wrestling her in my arms. She definitely has her father's sleep personality, and I'm doing my level best to convince her that sleep is a good thing. For all of us.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Working from Home

I am fortunate to be able to work from home occasionally when things come up and I can't leave Ella with the grandmothers. Today was one of those days, and while I was stressing about it because work has been so busy lately, I'm really glad I've had the day with her. She's been hilarious.

After making the rounds in the office so everyone could see her (She wanted a sip of the boss's coffee, but she settled for a business card, instead.), we came home and she played for a couple of hours while I actually did some work. Then we had lunch and a nap. I'm a huge fan of the lunchtime nap. Seriously, can't the U.S. just adopt the tradition of siestas? After the nap and answering a few emails, we had to play in the yard. Because it was about 120 degrees in the front yard, we opted for water sports. Ella and Georgia shared the pool (she's not at all interested in her own little pool), and Ella had a blast running around the yard while I sprayed her with the hose. When she was ready to come inside, she started hanging on my chair, telling me, "I done." So she had snack. Again. I put a casserole together while responding to emails and talking on the phone with a coworker.

She has talked and talked today. Whenever she stands up from sitting or falling down, she say's "Up!" She fell and rolled onto her back in the yard, and she kept telling me, "I stuck!" while she laid there. I kept telling her she wasn't but she just kept repeating it until I helped her up. While I was in the kitchen, I heard her bumping around in the dining room, then I heard, "I stuck!" When I investigated, I found her climbing out of her car, via the windshield, because it was lying on it's side. She's walking backward every where (a new thing she started over the weekend), and when she runs into something she says, "Bump!"

I'll say this, we're all bit more disheveled after a day of working from home than when she stays with Grandmother. She started in clothes, but she's running around in diaper with sticky hair (watermelon, which she tired hard to say, and spaghetti-os) and the house is trashed. Oh well. It was fun.

Oh, and my child who will not drink juice, decided she likes Crystal Light lemonade today after she insisted on having a drink from my cup.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Our Journey into Toddlerhood

I can only imagine the sense of freedom and power that learning to walk must give a child. Somehow, walking makes the world a much bigger, more interesting place than it is on hands and knees. It's the same world, but it certainly looks different on your own two feet.

EG is exploring her new power and freedom. Now, when the front door is left open while Daddy loads the car in the morning, she just trots right out after him. Because she can. Now, when she wants to play in the dog's water bowl, she just goes right through the pet door to the laundry room. When Mama throws away the empty yogurt container, she follows right behind to open the trash can and get it out again. Then closes the lid like she'd never been there, but for the evidence in her hands. When Daddy leaves the room for a shower, she's right behind him to make sure he has the appropriate amount of soap and wash rags in the tub with him. Now, when the bathroom closet door is open, she just helps herself to a roll of toilet paper as she sees fit, leaving a trail through the house behind herself.

I had my first chaotic toddler moment last night where I chased behind her from trouble to trouble, with her three steps ahead of me the whole time. Stupid me, I brought home a foam alphabet puzzle for her. The kind that the little foam letters come out of? Well, it didn't take but a minute for me realize I hadn't thought this through. Did I really give a teething, mouthy, toddler little bits of foam to play with? (Told you my brain has been mush.) The first thing she did was pop out the number 7 and put the whole thing in her mouth. It was just the right size. So, I commenced to rounding up all the puzzle bits to put them away until she's older (like three or something). As I followed after her, finding the pieces that had already been strewn in a very few short minutes, I lost track of what she was actually doing. Until I heard a the suspicious sounds of liquid running onto the carpet. And at first, I really didn't know what the noise was or that it was coming from her general direction. When I clued in, I saw that she was standing on her tiptoes, helping herself to the ice cubes in my tea glass that I had inadvertently left in her reach on the end table. (Note to self: Stop leaving drinks unattended.) Half of the tea had already poured out onto the carpet before I got there to take the cup away. I dropped my puzzle bits and ran for towels to soak up the mess. She passed by as I made my way back to her puddle, on her way to find more trouble. As I was cleaning up the mess, I realized that I'd left the puzzle lying on the couch, and now she had the letter T in her mouth. I took it from her, put the puzzle out of her reach, finished cleaning up the mess, and right now I can't even tell you where she had ended up at that point. I just know that I very shortly had her contained her in her highchair, eating raviolis and green beans.

I remember thinking to myself when I got home that since we were having left-overs for supper, I could sit down and relax for a little while. Ha!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Divalicious

Over the weekend, during our usual shopping, we looked for new shoes for EGR because the one pair I found in the hand-me-down bag were almost too small. We sat down in the shoe aisle at Target, and what do you know, but her size was on a shelf right in her line of sight? She went all grabby on me and the first pair she picked were bright pink, sequined and glittery, Mary Janes. She then picked three more pair: black Mary Janes, pink moccasins with flowers on the toe, and brown moccasins with flowers on the toe. I could see immediately that we had different agendas. I was there for tennis shoes, thinking that this pair should last a few months and it will be Fall soon. She obviously had the impression that we were buying shoes for every outfit.

Looking for something neutral that might also meet her taste for the sparkly, I picked a pair of khaki and pink shimmery tennis shoes. I attempted to try them on her, and she immediately yanked them off and gave me the pink, diva, Mary Janes. I put them on her and she hopped up and strutted around the aisle, causing passersby to comment on her new shoes, which made her proud. A vicious circle was started. I got her back in my lap and she gave me the other pairs, as I was explaining to Dave that I wanted some for the Fall. He found a pair of shimmery pink and purple tennis shoes as a compromise. I put them on her. She decided they were cute enough to walk around the aisle and solicit more comments, so we bought them. I think she thoroughly enjoyed the shoe buying process, which is good because next weekend we need to find some church shoes. Probably the black Mary Janes she picked this time.

She's decided that she really likes her new shoes. She carries them around the house, or seeks them out and tries to put them on herself when she's ready to go outside. She doesn't like to wear them in the house, and when they come off, the socks come with them. But when she goes out barefoot on the pavement now, she sits down, picks up her foot, and looks at the bottom like she's trying to figure out why it hurts or why there is stuff on it. At that point, I offer shoes and she's all about them. Then she goes where ever she thinks she might need to go - across the street, to the next door neighbor's house to visit his dog, down the hill toward the creek. And she does NOT want me to hold her hand, regardless of the fact that she goes too fast and falls every three steps when we are going down hill. She did get her first skinned knee Saturday, but she got over it pretty quickly and she still wasn't convinced that she should hold my hand.

What I'm trying to figure out is how I gave birth to a tiny diva? Maybe I need to start channeling Aunt Becca, because I'm having issues with pink shimmery tennis shoes and red t-shirts. I forsee polka dots paired with flowers in our future. I'm already cringing, but far be it for me to squelch her spiritedness. She'll certainly need it as she makes her way in this world.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Crazybusy

Work has been so busy. The kind of busy that leaves me slack-jawed and empty-eyed as I walk out to my car in the afternoons. The kind of busy that I feel certain will keep Alzheimer's at bay because my mind is mush by the end of a week of thinking so hard. I've been so mentally exhausted that I put down a book I started last week (for entertainment) because it required to much thinking to keep up with the story. (Salman Rushdie's Shame, if you are wondering. This was to be my second reading.) I can feel my social skills suffering as I numbly listen to others talk at me and try to remember to engage in the conversation while my brain is buzzing with work not quite left at the office. My husband must be growing tired of this. It is better after a weekend, but by Friday afternoon, I am in sad shape. It's been this way for weeks, and it's getting worse as our deadline looms closer and closer. It's good though, I guess, because it means there's enough work to keep me employed (for today anyway, but I won't go there in this public forum).

I've quit pumping for Ella. On the one hand, I have a tiny bit of guilt (if I let it hang around) because I could still be providing the best thing for her. On the other hand, it had become a source of stress for me to find the 15 minutes once or twice a day to pump. She's drinking cow's milk with no problems, so that's what she has while I'm at work. She's still nursing at bedtime and during the night, so I can feel good about her getting my milk then. I thought I would feel really liberated when I no longer had to carry my giant bag every day. It's still in the car, just in case there is some sort of milk pumping emergency. (Read: I haven't cut the cord from the major connection to my baby that made it possible to get through those first few weeks after maternity leave in three hour blocks at a time. I pumped at 9, 12, and 3 and if I could just make it to each pump time, I could make it through the day.) I considered cleaning it up and packing it away over the weekend, but I couldn't do it yet. Maybe I'm mental. Anyway, what was really liberating was that first day that I didn't pump at all and I had no bottles and parts to wash. I hadn't even considered the extra time that would buy me in the evenings! Granted fifteen minutes isn't much, but it means starting supper and packing lunches immediately instead of washing a sink full of stuff first. As soon as those things are done, the people are fed, the kid is bathed and played with and rocked to sleep, I get to sit down and veg for a few minutes before I go to bed and start all over again. Life is fast.

Speaking of fast, EGR's preferred method of motion these days is walking. I'd say she's walking 90% of the time. Over the weekend we added shoes, and that didn't slow her down much. It still catches me off guard when she comes into the room on her feet instead of her hands and knees. And walking, it seems, has opened a whole new world of things to explore. She roams from room to room by herself, looking for things to get into. She's all about the china cabinet, which she can open so quietly it's as if a sound vacuum is created that attracts my attention and gets her caught every time. She hasn't actually swiped anything out of it yet, but we are really working on "Just look; don't touch."

She has also developed a new found love for her books (Yay, oh yay! I couldn't be happier.) I find her sitting in a circle of them, flipping through the pages, studying. She's so much like me in this manner, down to the need to look at many books at a time with them spread in a circle around herself.

We had a very funny incident happen yesterday - well, funny for me. :) She was playing in her little car, getting in and out, shutting the door behind herself, putting her cup in with her, pretending to drive it, etc. I decided to take the floorboard out to see if she could move it herself (we push it for her now). I put her back in it with her feet on the floor and showed her how to move. She stood up and started walking backward in it, so I was cheering her on, telling her she was doing it right when suddenly she lost her footing. Bloooop! She slipped right through the car floor and her little legs flew up into the air as it rolled backward over her. She was scared, but unharmed, and ready to get back in (floorboard in place) a few minutes later. The best part of the whole thing was that Dave caught it all on tape. He replayed it afterward and said it was awful. I watched it and burst out laughing. Sorry, but that's Funniest Home Videos material if I ever saw it. I'm thinking we should submit it and try to win some college money.

Monday, July 06, 2009

First Steps

Friday morning, I woke up thinking that Ella would take her first steps over the long weekend. A few hours later, Grandpop was sitting in my kitchen with Ella standing in front of him, holding one of his fingers. She took a step and let go of his finger, then proceeded to take four more steps across the open floor before she fell on her hands and knees. I was holding my breath and gesturing wildly to get Dave’s attention so that I wouldn’t scare her and he wouldn’t miss it. I’m so very thankful that she decided to do it while I was home.

She didn’t take any more steps until late Saturday afternoon, but she did practice standing without holding on. A lot. She even drank from her cup without holding on to anything. Saturday evening she took about six steps across Grandmother’s living room. Sunday, she practiced walking all day long. She would take several steps and fall, then get up and go again. I had to make her get out of the bath tub last night because she kept trying to walk around in it. By bedtime, she was walking across the living room, even turning to go a different direction. She was so obsessed that I had to make her go to bed and it took a while to wind her down. I think she’ll be primarily walking by the end of this week. I could just sit and watch her practice all day. It never got old yesterday, and I really didn’t want to leave for work this morning.

We had a very busy weekend full of birthday parties, BBQs, and fireworks. She had a blast, but she was exhausted. Friday night she asked to go to bed just as we were serving dinner at Grandma’s birthday party. She actually passed up bites of my food, and pointed to her bedroom. Saturday she played with her cousins all afternoon and ate ribs and potatoes, and then we went to watch fireworks. She fell asleep on the way home and actually slept until 9 Sunday morning. She’s usually my alarm clock on the weekends, but I got up before her, moved her to her crib, and she kept on sleeping. Weird.

She continues to amaze me as she grows and changes.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Tea Parties

Until recently, EG hasn’t become attached to any characters (Elmo, Barney, etc.) because she doesn’t watch TV. I never turn it on for her, and we usually don’t turn it on at all until she’s headed to bed anyway. I know the grandmothers occasionally turn it on shows for her, but she doesn’t pay much attention because there are so many things to do (The exception being the new Garfield movie because it’s filled with cats and dogs). If I tried to sit her in front of the TV, she’d just crawl away to do something else. I’m so grateful for this, and I hope she generally remains too busy for TV. I’m also grateful to still be blissfully ignorant about all the kid shows. People with young kids talk to me about them, and I just have to smile and nod like I know what they are talking about.

At any rate, she recently adopted a Pooh Bear from the local Wal-Mart. As the story goes, she was riding in her stroller along the toy aisle when she nearly threw herself out of it in an attempt to turn around and look at something. That something was Pooh, whom she took home with her that day. We can only assume that she recognized Pooh from one of her books. She has several dolls, but she hasn’t formed an attachment to any of them yet. It seems that Pooh will fill that capacity for her at Grandmother’s house.

She also has a little plastic tea set that she just started playing with this week. When I dropped her off yesterday, she showed me how she feeds Pooh. With a spoon and bowl. She scoops out a bite and puts it to his mouth. Today she showed me that he drinks from the little cups. I am just amazed by this. One, because she doesn’t feed herself with utensils yet, though she is starting to try. Two, because it’s the first real evidence of her imagination at work. I know she must have a whole world happening in her head while she’s playing, but to actually watch her pretend that there is food and drink in her toy dishes is just really neat.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Baby Bears and Daddy Bears

Ella G’s birthday party was a huge success! (Pictures below). We had a house full of people and she handled it wonderfully; she even let people hold her and carry her around. She ate brunch like a piggy, played with the other kids, smeared cake all over her face, and gobbled up a scoop of ice cream (I think she ate more ice cream than cake). It worked out perfectly with a nap before the party, so she was in a great mood.

While we were getting ready Friday night, she was so excited about the decorations. She needed to go in the dining room and point at everything over and over again. When Daddy brought balloons in Saturday morning, she was just beside herself. The child loves a balloon. The biggest distraction while she was eating during the party was not the people - it was the big butterfly balloon that came floating in with Aunt Rosie and Elizabeth. She carried that thing around the house all afternoon, looking like she was in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.

Saturday night we partied again for Grandmother’s birthday. EG had a short nap at 5 because she just couldn’t go any longer, and then she was wide open again until 10 when we finally went home. She had cake again, and this time she actually ate it. Of course, it was chocolate, so who wouldn’t? I had to take her straight from the high chair to the bath tub because the few bites that didn’t go in her where smeared all over her face, arms, and belly.

Sunday we took it easy with a nice, long nap after church. Then we went to Target and bought car seats, a potty chair, and toddler forks. She has started waking up with a dry diaper some mornings, so I thought we might as well have the potty chair in the house and start talking about it. She had to get out of the bath tub twice last night to check it out. We’ll let her decide when she’s interested, but it will be a topic of conversation when we are in the bathroom.

Now that she is 12 months old, we've adopted a program of “don’t offer, don’t refuse” when it comes to nursing. I’m not entirely ready to give up the cuddliness of nursing, and I refuse to force her to stop before she’s ready, so I feel like this is the best compromise for both of us. Yesterday she only nursed once until bed time, and that wasn’t even when she bumped her head on the toilet (Seriously, how many times can a child do that?). Dave and I have been discussing “don’t offer, don’t refuse” so that we both understand the expectations. When he heard me say, “Are you ready to nurse?” at bed time last night, he questioned me. I explained that when she is ready for bed, she starts to hover around me instead of playing in the floor or bugging him for bites of whatever he is eating. He suggested giving her a cup of milk. I was game for trying something different, but I explained that she wasn’t ready to go to bed without nursing yet so if we were going to do it differently, he would have to do it. She did nurse for a few minutes, then he took her to her room to rock. She screamed bloody murder for 90 seconds (that seemed like 10 minutes) until he said, “Mama?” At that, she stopped and I took her from him. I suggested that if he wants to be involved in the bedtime routine, we have to work him into it because she needs to get used to him being there.

We all got on the full-sized bed in her room, and I nursed her while he petted her. She finally settled down and was almost asleep, so he decided to get up and do some things (All the mothers are screaming, “NO!” in their heads right now). As soon as he left the room, the almost-sleeping baby popped right up and yelled “Da! Da!” I couldn’t get her to settle back down, so I called him back in the room. I told him he had to finish what he started and if he was going to do bedtime, he had to be committed. It took a few minutes to get her settled back down, during which time he said, “I defer to you. You can nurse her to bed until she’s 14, but I can’t do this.” Then he promptly fell asleep. When she was finally asleep, I woke him up and put her in her crib. I prodded him to bed (it was 9:15), and with his eyes closed, and snuggled into his pillow, he said, “Your tricks for Baby Bears work on Daddy Bears, too. I had things to do, and you got me in that still, dark room and now I can’t even move.” That was the last thing he said to me before he slept (almost) all night in his own bed.

Let them eat cake.

She's got this present-opening business worked out.

Can you see her already thinking, "Just clothes?" You can see the shirt that goes with that skirt in my lap because she handed it to me as soon as she pulled it out of the bag. "Here, Mom, this one's for you."

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon. This and the play money that came in her purse are probably the number one gifts.
She's been carrying the money all over the house with her. Sunday morning I told her I would give her a bite of breakfast if she paid me a dollar, and she gave me her money. :)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Happy 1st Birthday, EGR!

As I type the title of this post, I feel a dull prick to my heart, a shiver goes down my spine. How did I get from this:



To this:
So quickly? How is it possible that I already find it hard to remember just how tiny she was? No one prepared me for this strange combination of joyful broken-heartedness that results from watching my baby grow so fast.

She’s amazing. She’s more amazing now than she was a year ago, and a year ago she was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to me. I’m different because of her. I’m a fresher, stronger version of my old self. Motherhood has empowered me and repurposed my life.

It’s been a whirlwind year. She is more big girl than baby these days. Not walking quite yet, but only because she hasn’t made that decision. I’ve seen her let go and take a step, but as soon as she realizes she’s done it, she hits the floor and crawls. She crawls very fast – you almost can’t see her hands and knees touching the floor when she’s in speedy mode. Lately, she loves to dance, and usually does when she hears music. She has pretty good rhythm, too.

Over the weekend, she began using short sentences. She climbed on the end of the couch at Grandma’s house, grabbed the remote control, and shouted, “I got it!” The whole family heard it, so I have witnesses. Monday afternoon when I picked her up from Grandmother’s house, she crawled over me to get her cup and said, “I do it.” When the whim hits her, she will answer questions; I asked if she was ready to go home and she said, “Yeah.” She now also says “out!”, “dog dog”, “mama” (especially when she’s fussing about something), “dada”, and other random words that you might hear if you listen closely. She has this funny, chattery thing she says that sounds like, “Talkatalkatalkatalka.” I’m assuming she says this as filler for all the words she doesn’t know or can’t say yet.

She has drastically decreased her nursing frequency to only 2 or 3 times during the daylight hours. She’s still going strong over night, but I’m in no hurry to change that given how much easier it makes night time parenting. Last week, she had her first taste of cow’s milk. The first taste inspired a funny face, but she seems to like it just fine. Her appetite has dropped off a little in the last few days, but leading up to this week she has been eating like a piglet. It was like we couldn’t feed her enough food. I think she’s had a growth spurt because she definitely seems longer all the way around. Her tiny shoes that were too big a couple of months ago are almost too small. I couldn’t believe it when I put them on her the other day.


Overall, she’s very independent, persistent, and strong-willed. It’s bound to be a fun toddler-hood.

In case you are interested:
Dave's Version of Her Birth
My Version of Her Birth

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mirror, Mirror



These pictures were included in with the beach pictures, but I didn’t tell the story about them. Our room at the condo had mirrored closet doors in a little hallway to the bathroom. I think those mirrors were Ella’s favorite “toy” at the beach. The first night we were there, she probably spent an hour flirting with, talking to, and kissing the baby in the mirror. At one point, they tell me she looked at herself and said, “Ella.”

From that point forward, when she went into that little hallway, she would sneak-crawl with a mischievous sideways glance toward the mirror to see if the baby was there. It never got old. Sometimes other people would appear in the mirror with her, and that was especially exciting. Sitting her in front of the mirror was the quickest way to focus her attention and entertain her for a few minutes while I showered or whatever. By the time we left, the bottom 3 feet were covered in tiny lip and hand prints.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Ella Grace Roper Roadshow

We took the Ella Grace Roper Show on the road last week for our family vacation in Gulf Shores. The paparazzi followed us there, of course, and the pictures can be found here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/roper.amanda/GulfShores2009?authkey=Gv1sRgCPqNv_r4u63V7gE#.
For those who need a preview:
She love, love, loved the beach, the ocean, the pool, the food. The sand did not bother her, even when she ate it with her Goldfish crackers and rubbed it in her seriously tired eyes. She crawled and rolled around in the sand and didn’t seem the least bit phased by the fact that it was all over her. (I’m cringing while thinking about it.) Because there was sand all over her, it was also all over me. I seriously had to make peace with that ickiness. I’d definitely rather scoop poop out of the bathtub with my bare hands than hold a sand-covered, sunscreened baby, but hold her I did. She nursed to nap nearly every morning on the beach. We played in the ocean even though it was COLD, and she like riding her float in the waves. We played in the pool and she thought she was so grown up because she could crawl around and climb in and out by herself.

She tasted seafood gumbo, crab claws and cheese grits for the first time. She loved all of them. When the gumbo bowl was empty, she had a cow. Amazingly, she figured out how to get the meat off the fried crab claws on the first try and those became a favorite. The cheese grits went in double-fisted.

We took her to the zoo one morning and she got really excited when the animals were moving around. Unfortunately, it was hotter than the 7th level of Hell out there and the animals weren’t moving around much. By the end, neither was Ella, but she did perk back up to watch the kids playing with the tiger cubs in the Tiger Encounter room. She does love a Kitty Kitty. She got to ride an electronic zebra (you know, like the ones that used to be outside of grocery stores – where did they go?) and she really liked that. After the zoo, we stopped for ice cream and my little addict shared a cone with me and her Daddy.

Every morning, the child would ask to go to the beach or the pool (with her little pointer finger and a wave) well before the umbrellas were out and the pool was open. When we came inside, she asked to go back out. Twice she asked to take a nap and go to bed. Did you read that right? ASKED with her pointer finger and a wave toward the bedroom. MY CHILD does not ask to sleep. Once, she actually fell asleep sitting straight up in her highchair while eating raviolis. I never thought I would see those things happen.

Yesterday, she attempted to undress herself and nearly had her t-shirt over her head when Grandmother intervened. I feel like it’s early for the strip-off-all-the-clothes stage. She finally mastered going down the stairs, so now she understands that she needs to get off the couch or bed by going backwards with her feed first. Thank goodness. She is climbing EVERYTHING – if she can get her leg up on something, then she tries to climb it. Yikes. She keeps me on her toes, but this is a really fun age. She’s the busiest little soul I know and I love when she tells us where she wants to go, and what she wants to see. She gets so excited about the kitties and she grabs onto my legs when she wants me to pick her up. She reads her book with Daddy every night, and plays in the yard with him in the evenings. She’s so much fun.

We are almost a week away from her first birthday. It’s weird to think I was hugely pregnant this time last year.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bath Time with Ellasaurus

Thanks to my stylin' skills, Ella impersonated a baby dinosaur during her bath Friday night. Because we were at Grandma's house, the paparazzi found her and recorded the whole thing on film.






Friday, May 22, 2009

Little Tornado

Ella Grace realized last weekend that she can walk behind a push toy. This seems to have opened up a whole new world for her because she has been a tiny tornado all week long - wreaking havoc and creating messes where ever she goes. And she’s been going everywhere, standing on tip-toes to reach table tops, opening closet doors and trying to climb shelves, emptying cabinets and drawers. She is one busy little soul. She isn’t walking by herself yet, but she is getting mad when she has to sit down and crawl because there’s nowhere to hold on to get where she’s going.

Two more teeth have come in this week, both on the bottom, on each side of the front teeth. That’s three in three weeks. Three of the four that she is supposed to get between 10 and 14 months. I’d like for to go ahead and grow the fourth one next week and then take a break, at least until after vacation (16 days!). She slept six straight hours last night (Woohoo!). That’s how I knew the last one had broken through.

Her favorite things this week are drinking out of a straw cup (I bought her some last weekend), and pointing at everything. EVERYTHING. She points when she wants to go somewhere, look at something, show us something, when she hears Daddy/Georgia/Gypsy in another room, etc. It’s so cute, and it’s started a plethora of conversation about the names of everything. She also says, “Dat!” when she wants to show us things. For example, she hit the mother lode of young boy action figures in Uncle Joshua’s room a few days ago. She proudly adopted a few of the little men. When I got home that day, she nursed, and then promptly got off my lap, pointed and said, “Dat!” Grandmother gave her the little man she was pointing to, and she turned to me and held it up with a proud grin on her face. She was so proud of them; she had been waiting to show them to me all day long.

At church Sunday, we were in the hall outside the nursery and she could hear the kids in there playing. She crawled to the door, laid on the floor, and tried to see through the crack under the door. She did that repeatedly throughout the week, and this morning I saw a little hand sticking under the bathroom door when she figured out I was in there.

She now processes and responds to simple commands. She was in hurry to go somewhere one evening this week and I told her, “Let’s take a bath.” She detoured and went straight to the bathroom, pausing only for me to turn on the light. The same night, while playing in the tub, I told her “Give me the duck” or “Give me the frog” and she picked out the correct toy and handed it to me. It is so cool to watch her mind develop – to see her thinking and analyzing to figure out how things work. She is so much fun right now.

She will be 11 months old on Monday. I’m trying to figure out where the last year of my life went. I cannot believe how big she’s gotten. Her hair is long enough in the back now that it gets tangled. She’s so long I can hardly imagine how she fit in the co-sleeper beside our bed. I nursed her during my brother’s graduation ceremony last night (Yay for a contented, sleeping baby!), and we had trouble getting comfortable in our seat because her legs were overflowing into Aunt Becca’s lap beside us. When I look back at pictures from the day she was born, it really is hard for me to imagine her being that tiny. Time passes so quickly.

Monday, May 11, 2009

First Mother's Day

While I did get a present for Mother’s Day last year when I was pregnant, I guess this year was my first official Mother’s Day. As a mother, might I say I personally think it’s the stupidest holiday ever? (Well, stupidest after Valentine’s Day.) It’s so stupid that the woman who created it even tried to get it abolished. Ahh, that’s a rant best left unwritten.

Dave and Ella gave me new dishes for Mother’s Day. Black, square ones. I’m very excited. Until this weekend, we had been eating off of the dishes I got when I was in college. It really was time for an upgrade. Food looks really pretty on black dishes. We celebrated Saturday night with steak, asparagus, zucchini, and salad. One of the highlights of my weekend was the discovery of bottled ginger salad dressing (the kind they serve at Japanese steak houses) in the Publix produce section. The occasion called for foods that could be dipped in it. Mmmm, I love that stuff.

In addition to dishes, Ella gave me a gift of her own. A new tooth. Number five finally erupted Sunday morning on the top left, next to the front two teeth. I wish I could say we might have some relief for a few days, but I know it won’t happen because she’s working hard on number six on the bottom left. She’s so pitiful when her mouth hurts.

We had a couple of new Ella related experiences this weekend. On the way home from lunch yesterday, she pooped and fell asleep just a few minutes from the house. Because she was in desperate need of a nap, I was really dreading waking her up to change that diaper. That child slept through the diaper change – cold wipes included. I couldn’t believe it. When I put her in her bed, she popped up on her knees ready to play. Changing her diaper didn’t wake her, but laying her in the bed did? Okay then. It took some convincing, but I did get her to fall back asleep with me and we took a nice long nap (that we both needed).

After the nap, we found Dave in the basement so we played down there for a little while. She went for the garbage can (A new interest of hers that also started Sunday morning, when I got out of the shower to find her munching on Kleenex from the bathroom garbage can. I know how gross this is. Had I known that she wanted to and could get to the garbage can, it would have been out of her reach, but this was the first time she paid any attention to it at all.). Anyway, she went for the garbage can and Dave told her no. She first tried her charming smile to convince him that would be okay for her to play in the garbage (a method she’s been perfecting for about a week). When that didn’t work and he told her no again, she folded her face up, poked out her lip, squeezed out a few crocodile tears, and cried as if her heart was broken. Then she reached for me as if she had been completely traumatized. This trick didn’t work on Daddy, even though she persistently tried it twice. However, she tried it out on Grandma later in the evening and found success when Grandma gave her the jelly beans she didn’t really want in the first place. When I explained that she had just started testing this new tactic to get what she wants, and that we’ll have to be strong, Grandma promptly informed me: “I’m Grandma.” Translated, I think that means, “I can give her what she wants because I’m not the mom or dad.” This should be an interesting phase of our lives.

She’s really talking a lot - about everything. Most of it is still babble, but she will randomly throw in a real word here or there. It makes conversing with her so much fun because I’m always waiting for actual words. Sometimes she’ll mimic us when we tell her a word, and sometimes she stores it up to use later, completely out of the blue.

I almost forgot another major highlight of my weekend. I weighed again for the first time in several weeks and I’ve lost 6 more pounds. This puts me at about 18 pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight. I tried on my swimsuits in preparation for vacation (which is 28 days away!), and my bikini fits! My stretch marks have faded to barely noticeable, and my pooch is shrinking by the day, so I think I’m actually going to wear that bikini this year. Before my daughter is a year old. I cannot believe it. Oh, and my husband thinks I’m hot. ;)

Have I mentioned lately that I love nursing? Babywearing helps a lot, too. Nothing tones the legs and buttocks like grocery shopping with 20 lbs. of baby hanging on you. Seriously.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Normal Hips!

We had a follow-up x-ray on the teeny hips this morning, and the doctor said we can call them normal now. : ) Hip dysplasia has a 20% chance of returning in the first five years of life, so we will need more x-rays later, but she doesn't have to have another one until she turns 2. She did great - didn't even curse anyone. X-rays are easy-peasy compared to ultrasounds. The ultrasound tech was there and she actually remembered us because of the blood-curdling screaming the last time.

Over the weekend she really started cruising the furniture like it was nothing. She was walking back and forth the length of the couch like she's been doing it forever. We've been showing her that she can walk behind her lion push-toy, but she's not quite ready for all that yet. He mostly just needs his hair done and that distracts her from all other activity.

She had a moment of looking just like her father Sunday morning when she was pretending to be awake. She was sitting up on her knees, putting on a good show when her eyes rolled back in her head and she collapsed into the pillows and decided to lie there for a while longer. She wasn't really ready to get up yet, she just felt like it was the thing to do since it was daylight. Just like him.

We took her to the Baron's game Friday night and she had a blast. I wasn't sure she would make it, but she did stay awake for the fireworks and she LOVED them, even when it was loud. She was bouncing up and down and cackling with excitement, and during the finale she reached her little hand up like she was trying to touch them. It was classic. There was a little boy sitting behind us that she tried to flirt with, but he wouldn't pay attention despite her efforts to climb up the bleachers to him. I gave her a taste of Dippin' Dots because she's already an ice cream addict (she comes by it honest), and after taking a moment to experience the first weird bite she decided they would do.

While I was getting ready this morning, she made the executive decision that Gypsy would let her pet her. When I looked down, Ella had Gypsy by the ear with one hand, petting her with the other. To Gypsy's credit, she sat very still until the torture was over and then she disappeared. I guess Ella got tired of the kitties running from her every time she wants to pet them.

As you can see, Ella did manage to get the flower boxes cleaned out and planted at Grandma's house.

She also tried on Grandpop's hat. I love this picture, and I cannot believe how long her hair is getting. Her bangs are so long now that I can clip them to the side in a barrette.