Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Race is On!

Ella crawled yesterday! I didn't see it. I was talking to Grandmother on my way home while she was crawling. By the time we got home from church, she was too tired. She still managed to bump her head though. Go figure.

When she saw me walk into church last night, she started waving at me! That's the first time I've gotten such a greeting, and it was really cute. We fixed our plate and she proceeded to shovel refried beans, rice, and chicken into her little piehole. For lunch today, she double-fisted mac and cheese like we hadn't fed her all week. I'm thinking she's about to sprout again; she's increased her milk and her solids intake this week. I even had to thaw some milk because she drank more than I pumped yesterday. That doesn't happen often.

This morning when Dave was about to leave for work, she looked up at him and clearly said, "Bye-bye." He got so excited, it was another 20 minutes before he actually left.

Her cuteness factor is definitely increasing daily.

Poor Georgia, she is running fever and coughing up snot balls. It's very obvious that she feels bad. I feel like I need to do something for her - maybe run the vaporizer and feed her some chicken noodle soup? That's what makes me feel better when I have a cold.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

8 Months

I forgot to mention in my post below that Ella is 8 months old today!

If it's not one thing, it's the dog.

Dave says, "If it's not one thing, it's the dog," because whenever we all get settled into something, she needs to play/potty/vomit/bark in the middle of the night; you get the idea.

Jewel E. Cat's half dollar-sized wound is now only nickel-sized with no help from me. As hard as it is to stand back and do nothing, sometimes that's the best way.

On the other hand, Georgia Brown starting hacking up a lung this morning. I can't wait and do nothing for her because she caught the upper respiratory infection from my mom's dogs, which they caught from the neigbor dog, etc. She has already had a dose of Children's Triaminic (incidentally, children under 4 are no longer supposed to take the Children's Triaminic but dogs can) and an antibiotic. The vet was already aware that she was exposed, so I didn't have to take her in to get the medicine. Thank goodness. That place is a zoo. Now I just hope the cats don't get it. I'm sure they will actually have to go to the vet if they do, because unlike dogs, upper respiratory infections can be life threatening for cats. Gah. At least the skin kid is well and this illness isn't contagious across species.

Ella is now saying, "Babababa" and "Mamama," and she is generally a Chatty Cathy these days. She's actually starting to consistently say, "Bababa" when waving bye-bye so that might actually translate to "bye-bye." Else, she thinks that's Uncle Rob's name because that's who she always says it to (and he's always leaving for class). She is developing an interesting pattern of behavior where she learns something from me, but demonstrates it for everyone else. For instance, when she goes to the bathroom with me, I always hold her up while flushing the toilet so she can see (because she's become very interested in the flushing). While we watch the water go down, I wave and say, "Bye-bye." Apparently, she has started doing this at Grandma's house when Grandma lets her watch the flush. Also, when Grandma tells her she needs to wipe her hands, she holds them out for her. I've never seen her do either of these things. I haven't been teaching her to hold her hands out for cleaning, but I have a habit of using the same words during our daily routines (thanks to raising a dog), and she is soaking it up and applying it. It's pretty cool.

While she's not crawling in the traditional sense, she gets where she needs to go. This week, she needs to get the dog food bowl. I think dog food actually enticed her to crawl a very short distance. Monday night she ate the dog food before I could get it out of her hands. Yesterday, she was trying to get the dog food that Georgia dropped while Georgia was trying to get a noodle out of Ella's hand. Georgia has already learned to hover around the high chair, and she tries putting her snout up there. That is a behavior I cannot stand and don't allow (she can sit beside me at the table, but I don't want her nose in my lap or near the table), but Ella thinks it's funny to see a dog snout sticking over the edge of her tray. I foresee the two of them ganging up on me in the near future. Add Jewel E.'s handy kitten paws, and there will be no hope for me. I have no doubt that Jewel will be in the thick of things because I've turned around a couple of times to find her nose to nose with Ella and loving on her like she does the dog. Ella, of course, loves them all.

Georgia is so very good with Ella. She's still a little jealous sometimes, but now she's beginning to understand the benefits of having a baby in the house because Ella always wants to pet and scratch her. This is allowed, especially if it's the back end she's scratching. Previously, Georgia wouldn't let Ella get too close, but now she's allowed to pet her and play with her feet. Before I could stop her, she stuck her hand in Georgia's mouth the other day. The giant, pink tongue was hanging out and it was just too much for her. George never flinched. I'm so proud of her.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Dave and I dropped Ella off at Aunt Becca's Saturday afternoon so that we could go to lunch for our anniversary. We both felt weird without her. It's so much fun to take her out and about. As it turns out, she felt weird without us, too, because she screamed nearly the entire time she was with Aunt Becca. When we got back to pick her up, I found them snuggled in bed, Ella stripped to her diaper and passed out whimpering in her sleep. Becca said she cried so hard that all she could do was hold her tight until she fell asleep. Twice. Generally she loves to see and play with Aunt Becca, but I think we should have had Becca come to our house. Live and learn.

After church Sunday, she helped me in the kitchen while I prepped the meals for the week. She worked on bowls and lids and impersonated a human dust mop around the kitchen floor. She scooted and scooted all over the room, providing unnecessary proof that my floor needed sweeping.

More than once over the weekend she decided to feed herself, and she did not need my help. This led me to start thinking of more creative finger foods to feed her. She had a bit of toast for breakfast both mornings and some Veg-All for lunch after church. (I'm not a big fan of canned vegetables, but the convenience factor won out this time.) Amazingly, only 4 or 5 of the vegetable pieces didn't make it to her mouth. I chopped up and steamed some pears for her to have through the week. That was easy, so next weekend I'll just add steaming to my meal prep routine. I'm very excited about this because it means I can buy less baby food, and it's really cute to watch her feed herself. She hardly eats baby food at all when she's with me now; I just feed her what I'm eating. In fact, even if I've already fed her baby food, she insists on eating what I'm eating, too.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Five years ago today, Dave and I were married in our front yard in Gardendale at 2:00 in the afternoon. I was a nervous wreck all day and he ran five miles that morning just to say he could.

We joke that we like doing things out of order because we bought the house, booked the honeymoon, and then he asked me to marry him. It was a given all along, but I did prod him a bit when I booked the honeymoon and told him we'd have to get married before May because we were going to Mexico.

I was living at our house in Gardendale and he was staying with his parents until we got married. When we talked on the phone in the evenings, I would tell him about this big spider that spun it's web on the porch every night. I think he started to worry about me being there all alone, because on the morning of September 13, 2003 he brought me two kittens. One of them had my grandmother's engagement ring on her collar. He told me he wanted to make all my dreams come true, and he named the kitten Jewel. It was perfect. The most perfect way he could have dreamed of proposing to me.

We debated about planning a big wedding, thought we were going to do it in Gardendale, and then decided the stress of it was too much. He called his childhood preacher and asked if he would come to our house to marry us. We had a wedding reception in April, and took our honeymoon in May, when we were both finished with school for the semester. We had a whole season of wedding events.

Since then, we both finished school (law school for him and grad school for me), renovated our house, added a dog and another cat to our family, sold our house, moved back to Montevallo, moved again, and added a baby to the family. Right this minute, my entire family is sitting in the same room with me. Ella is playing ball with Georgia, Jewel and Gypsy are hiding under chairs, and Dave is facilitating the ball game. I've been so blessed.

Dave and I met at the grocery store where we both worked. I was still in high school then, and he was in college. A few years later, after my first year of college, he asked me on a date. We drove to Prattville to see the House of Crosses. It was the most bizarre first date I've ever been on, but it was right. Within six months, I knew that I would spend the rest of my life with him.

I asked him the other night if he could repeat a phase or time in his life, to change it or not, when would it be? He pondered it, and threw out several ideas, but he came back to those first six months we dated. My answer was the same.

Happy Anniversary, love of my life. I can't wait to see what the years to come bring.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Daffodils are Blooming

In the last two days I’ve noticed daffodils blooming everywhere. They might be my favorite flower. I love to see their bright, smiling faces. Their appearance means spring is finally on the way and they add a welcome bit of color to the boring, yuckiness of winter. I’m usually ready for each season as it arrives (such as they are here in the South), but spring is definitely my favorite. The days get longer and warmer, the world bursts into color again, and everything just feels new and ripe with possibility. I like it. It gives me hope.

Enough of my random rambling; the real reason you are reading this blog is to find out what the Tiny Bull Rider is up to this week. I’ve told her that her legs aren’t long enough to wrap around the back of a bull yet, but she insists on practicing anyway. I’m not sure if she’s trying to crawl or sit up when she does this, but she gets on hands and knees, then stretches one leg straight out to the side and puts the corresponding hand in the air while rocking back and forth. She looks just like she’s riding a bull.

The past few days have been a flurry of activity. Since Saturday she has started bull riding, pulling up, crawling backward, feeding herself (for real, not just puffs), sitting up from lying on her stomach, and saying “Dadadadada” constantly. She has tentatively crawled three “steps” forward, but we aren’t ready to say she’s really crawling yet. The backward crawling happens in the middle of the night, but it is actual coordinated crawling – in the wrong direction. She’s really working hard at it, but she just doesn’t feel confident enough to take the plunge yet. Sunday afternoon, I watched her scoot ten feet backward on her belly, all the while yelling because she was moving away from what she was trying to reach. I think the hold up is fear of picking up her hands and losing her balance. Not that I’m complaining because once she’s moving, life as I know it is over.

The first time she tried to pull up (on something other than me), she was in the bathtub without the bath seat, of course. I caught her before she slipped face first into the water, but it was a little shocking to see her just take matters into her own hands to get out of there. Saturday night, she sat in her high chair and ate corned beef and carrots for dinner. I put bites on her tray, and if I tried to put them in her mouth, she took them from me with her tiny pincers and did it herself (Canned carrots rock as a snack food, by the way). Sunday morning, I had to do some work in the fellowship hall during church, so I planted her on a pallet with a hand full of puffs for snack and some toys. She played and played. Then I looked over there to find her sucking on the plastic baggie the puffs had been in. No, I didn’t leave it out for her. She went digging in the diaper bag, found it, and ate the rest of the puffs. Last night she was gearing up for an all-out fit at church because everyone around her had a plate of food, and she didn’t yet. Mac and cheese stopped that one in its tracks. You’d think I was starving the child; she eats like a piggy.

Another major break through of a less exciting kind – Sunday she stayed with Dave for most of the afternoon while I helped with an anniversary party at church. She did great! There was no crying at all, not even when she woke up from her nap. He brought her to the party for a little while then took her home before I was finished. I was so proud of them. When I finally got home, I found them in the kitchen having supper and she didn’t even need to jump into my arms. I’ll admit I didn’t really know what to do with myself.

For Valentine’s Day, she got a new dress from Dave and I, a bouquet of suckers from Grandma and Grandpop, and a flower and stuffed bear from Grandmother and Paw Paw (Is that how you spell it? It looks so wrong it pains me.). She loved the sucker, and had that figured out right away. She picked out her dress herself, and really enjoyed wearing it. You think I’m joking. I am not. When I held it up she was totally excited about it – bouncing and grabbing for it. When she saw it lying on the back of the couch later, she was totally excited all over again. It’s pink with red polka dots and lady bug pockets – who wouldn’t be excited? I did not get the same reaction out of the green dress I held up, so we left it at the store. The bear from Grandmother is okay, but she really liked the ribbon that came on the flower. That will go into our ever-growing collection of ribbons.

Finally, and not kid related, Jewel E. Cat came into the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth last night because she needed a snuggle. I think what she really needed was to show me the half-dollar sized, gaping wound on the side of her back leg. I don’t know how long she’s had the sore, but it looks clean and it isn’t smelly so I’m just keeping an eye on it. I did pour some peroxide on it – which thoroughly ticked her off – but that was mainly to make myself feel better; she seems to be taking good care of it herself. For days my strange intuition has been pricking at me about that cat, and now I know why.

I’m ready for the weekend.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Backward Bye-Byes

Ella has been waving for a while now, but I don’t get to see it much because she has a habit of waiting until whomever she is waving at has already left before she does it. When Dave is leaving, I will tell her to wave bye-bye and she waits until the door is closed behind him to wave. She waves backward, of course, because most babies do when they first start waving. The other night, she was sitting on the kitchen counter with Dave, and when I walked away from her she waved bye-bye. Dave called out to tell me she was waving at me, and when I walked back in the room, I found him waving backward at himself. Then he made an observation that answered one of life’s puzzling questions. Babies wave backward, with their fingers facing themselves, because that’s what it looks like when we wave to them. Makes sense to me.

I think my favorite moment of the week happened at 3:15 Wednesday morning. She had been asleep for 4 ½ hours (woohoo!) when I heard her fuss. I went into her room to find her pushed up on her hands with eyes wide and bright. When I picked her up, she leaned in and kissed me on the cheek! I think I might have melted into a puddle right there on the spot. Grandma tells me she did the same thing to her after a nap this week, too. She has also been kissing her baby doll. She started kissing several months ago, but now she’s better at it and it’s a lot more obvious.

I’ve started blowing kisses at her when I leave, and she finds this hilarious. Lots of things are hilarious in her little world. I’m glad I get to share it with her. It certainly makes the rest of life’s minutia melt away at the end of the day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Super Duper Bathtub Pooper

In addition to her Mr. Miyagi impersonations, Ella G. enjoys a nice bathtub poop. The other night she was leaning over the side of her bath seat with a look of total concentration. Shortly thereafter, two perfectly round balls of poop floated out from behind her. This wasn't her first tub poop. No, it was actually the moment that I realized she has become quite accomplished at pooping in the tub. She did it with so little effort and production, that had I not been paying attention, I might have found her playing with the newly created balls before I had the chance to scoop them up (With my bare hands - when did picking up poop with my bare hands start seeming like a good idea?!).

She has been a pretty consistent bathtub pooper since she started sitting in the bath seat instead of her baby tub. I'm not sure why that is, except maybe that she's upright and she has more room to move around. And, tell me this, how is it that she times it so perfectly that Daddy is never there to clean up the poop? Granted, I do most of the bathing, but the night this happened he had actually started the bath and done all the scrubbing. Yet, she waited until he left to poop. I think they are conspiring against me. Well, that, and the fact that he flees quickly at any sign that the Poop Production Factory is up and running in the tub.

Since I'm on the subject of bodily functions, I think she has started using the "change diaper" sign. She was doing a funny new hand thing yesterday that resembles the sign, so I decided to check the diaper. Guess what? She needed one. This morning she worked hard on a stinky poot, then did the hand thing again. She didn't need a diaper, but she was smelly enough to make me think she did. Time will tell, but I think she has adapted the sign to her current abilities. The sign is made by rotating your fists together in front of you. She is definitely putting her fists together, but instead of rotating them she sort of moves them back and forth toward her chest. I wonder if her ability to communicate early that she needs a diaper change will have any impact on potty training in the future?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

I'm in Trouble

While we were at the game Saturday night, I noticed a very pretty girl sitting on the row in front of us. I’m guessing she was a freshman or sophomore, judging by her young face and the way she seemed to be trying just a little too hard to be confident. When she took off her coat, I could see a star tattooed on her left shoulder blade. It bothered me. A lot.

I kept thinking about was how upset I would be if Ella comes home one day with a tattoo on her perfect skin. I grew that skin and gave birth to it, and protected it from the sun and took care of it, how could she scar it with a tattoo?

Then I realized it’s not my skin. And when she gets old enough to get a tattoo, it won’t be my decision. Yikes.

I think I might have just had my first very real (and small) understanding of what it might have been like to be my parents, watching me make my own decisions to date, move out, pierce my belly button, buy a house, get married, etc. Suddenly it doesn’t seem so much like they were trying to control me when we butted heads about these things, but more like they were struggling right along with me as I became my own person. If I’m already thinking about how I might grieve for her perfect skin if she comes home with a tattoo one day, how much harder will it be for me to step back and let her find herself after I’ve spent 16, 18, 20 years raising her? Holy cow, I really am in trouble.

All I can do is what I kept telling my parents they did – raise her right and trust her to make good decisions. Somehow that sounded so much easier before I had a daughter.

I don’t hate tattoos. I’d be lying if I said I’d never flirted with the idea of getting one. It wouldn’t have been something I did to look cool or fit in anywhere. Those weren’t things I struggled with. I’ve always been my own self, not really fitting any certain mold or group. I would have done it simply because I wanted one. The reason I don’t have one has less to do with the parental threats of removal and more to do with the problem of figuring out where to put one that wouldn’t be viewable by the general public but also wouldn’t look absolutely hideous after a pregnancy or when I’m seventy. And, I just wasn’t sure I wanted to put something so permanent on my body. Would I get tired of it? Was there anything I wanted inked on me that I love so much that I could look at it every day in the mirror? In the end, I decided the tattoo wasn’t for me after all. But I’m still intrigued by them. I guess I did learn from my parents to think things through before making decisions. How will I be able to find fault in Ella if she thinks it through and makes a different decision for herself when she’s grown?

I digress; this post isn’t really about tattoos. It’s about my realization that there will come a day in my sweet baby’s life when I don’t get to make the decisions for her, that she might make different decisions than me, and my ability to accept the differences. I’m not raising her to be me. I’m raising her to be her own self, so I’ll have to let her do that even when I disagree. Yikes.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Is that Mr. Miyagi in my bath tub?

I started putting bubbles in her bath for the first time this week, and I was planning to stage this picture. I didn't have to. She was leaning over the side of her bath seat, fishing for Rubber Duck, and when she came back up she looked like this. I made Dave run for the camera. She loves having bubbles in the tub, and one of her fun new games is for me to scoop up handfuls of bubbles and blow them all over the place. She laughs and laughs. Oh, how I love that laugh!

This week she's clap-clapping about everything. It's so very cute. She claps when her toys play music, when I sing for her, when Georgia brings her ball back, while she's getting her diaper changed, and just when ever she feels like it. I think the cutest was the night that Dave came in late from work. She was already in the tub and when he came into the bathroom she clap-clapped at the sight of him.

Christmas holidays, when the sight of Daddy was enough to invoke fits of crying, are a distant memory now. Every day she is more and more happy to see him. She's starting to seek him out when she knows he's normally there, and she gets excited to play with him. Yesterday, I even got to nap by myself while they played on the front porch. I'm not sure I slept, but lying quietly on the couch, listening to the man of my dreams play with the our baby was very restful.

We tried the family date again yesterday and were much more successful since we went for breakfast instead of dinner. She had a blast at the Huddle House, flirting with all the men and playing in the middle of the table. I did have the waitress bring a high chair for her when the food arrived because she can quite literally dive into our plates, with hands wide open and grabbing. I didn't realize when I ordered the waffle plate that the eggs were for Ella, but she proceeded to gobble them up. We did our grocery shopping and made it home in time for the nap. Afterward, we trekked around town again with our dog and our baby. I wonder what people think when they pass us on the street? This time Dave wore her in the new mei tai carrier he gave me for Christmas. We turned it inside out so the girly flowers wouldn't show. Wouldn't you know that he got a compliment on his "man pack" as soon as we ran into someone he knew?

Because football season officially ended last weekend, we attempted to fit as many sports as possible into yesterday afternoon. We ended up at the intramural fields again to watch the UM baseball game from the deck behind the field. Shortly after we got there, the College Night soccer game was under way behind us on the intramural field. It was a perfect nursing situation for Ella. I sat on the deck watching the baseball game, and she nursed contentedly while watching the soccer game behind me (instead of popping on and off repeatedly to see what's going on around her). We later moved to sit on the soccer sidelines, and a lady who was taking pictures of the game ended up taking some of Ella while she sat in her sun hat picking grass and clapping. Last night we ventured (after dark!) to the basketball game. She slept through first half, but we had to leave about halfway through the second because it was bed time. I just needed to see some live basketball. I'm seriously hating that the NCAA tournament is not here this year.

All this work hauling our stuff around town tires out a dog. We put her in the kennel when we left for the basketball game last night, and she decided to just stay in there once we were home. I had to go down and get her so she would go out to potty before bed.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Define "Spoiled"

I’ll be the first to admit that the “s” word gets under my skin faster than anything when talking about babies (mine or anyone’s). I try hard not to react strongly because I think it’s one of those things that people just say without knowing what they are saying or realizing how it might upset someone (like the mother). During a conversation over the weekend, I came to the conclusion that whether a baby is spoiled or not depends on your definition of “spoiled”.

I happen to be one of those radical, liberal-minded, hippie nut jobs that believes babies (or kids) can’t be spoiled by love in the form of touch, time, and affection. Spoiled by money and things? Absolutely. Spoiled because I cuddle and nurse when she wants to? Nope.

People like to tell me that Ella is spoiled because she likes to be held, preferably by me but the grandmothers are good substitutes. The grandmothers have made excuses for her because she has reflux and she had to wear the harness. I don’t believe she needs an excuse. If she didn’t have reflux and if she hadn’t worn the harness, I would still hold her – and so would the grandmothers. I wish I had held her more when she was tiny and days old. She doesn’t need to be excused for being a normal baby. Babies aren’t born as tiny adults. They have a serious need to be held and touched, to be parented to sleep, to be comforted when they are upset.

You can call what I do spoiling if you want, but I call it parenting by instinct. Call me crazy, but I find it utterly ridiculous to expect a baby to come into the world ready to be completely independent after spending nine months being cuddled and rocked and having it’s every need met before it even knew it had a need. How shocking must it be to be to be separated from mom that first time? To feel cold and hungry? To be startled by bright lights and loud noises? I’m glad I can’t remember because I’m betting it’s pretty darn scary.

I do what feels right to me, and what feels right to me is responding promptly when she cries, holding her when she wants to be held, nursing her when she wants to nurse, playing when she wants to play, etc. Responding to her cues and cries validates her sense of self-worth and encourages her to continue trying to communicate with me. It’s important that she knows she can trust me to meet her needs, so I respond when she needs something. It’s that simple.

As she gets older, my response doesn’t have to be as immediate because she’s learning to wait a little longer and she trusts that I will take care of her. Often an acknowledgement of her is enough. Yes, sometimes I’m the only one that can comfort her, but that’s a normal part of infant development. No, she doesn’t respond well when strangers poke and prod at her and get in her face to talk to her – do you? I prefer for her to raise a fuss rather than go happily and willingly with anyone who would take her. It shows me that she knows what’s going on and even at 7 months she’s using some discernment about her surroundings.

I signed up for the long-term motherhood commitment, so I’m not competing in the race to have the baby weaned and sleeping by herself through the night the soonest. All that will come in good time, when she’s ready for it – and, what a short time it will be in the grand scheme of things. I’m more interested in raising a compassionate, confident, independent, successful child and I firmly believe that the way I treat her now (from birth) affects who she will become twenty years from now. How can I expect her to respect me if I don’t respect her very real needs now? How can I expect her to value herself and make wise decisions during adolescence if I don’t validate her self-worth now?

For years I’ve been in the business of building up rather than tearing down. For that reason, I’m making it my business to understand what normal and appropriate behavior is for her age. If I know what to expect, it will be easier for me to respond to her respectfully out of knowledge rather than out of frustration (and oh how frustrated I get in the middle of the night sometimes). I hope that you will never see me yank her by the arm and yell at her in the grocery store because she’s tired/hungry/bored and I never should have brought her there in the first place, but I am human and there is a lot of outside pressure for children to act certain ways.

Will I teach her how to behave? Absolutely. Is she spoiled? Not by my definition.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Beautiful Weekend

We had the kind of weekend that made me wish that stinking groundhog had not seen his shadow this morning. Do you think it matters that our southern groundhog couldn’t possible have seen his shadow? I can’t even find news that they scared him out of his hole in this nasty rain, so I’m betting we’ll have six more weeks of winter, too. Blah.

Friday morning, Ella had her first eye exam and she did fabulously. I was very nervous about her having her eyes dilated because I didn’t know what to expect from her. Aside from a little frustration when her vision went blurry, she took it all in stride. We got a good report that her vision is normal and her eyes are healthy, but she’ll have a follow up exam in six months because we have a family history of lazy eye (which, like everything else, is easier to correct while she’s a baby). I took advantage of a program I just learned about last week called InfantSEE, which allows babies ages 6 – 12 months to have their first eye exam for absolutely free. I’m glad we did it.

Ella and I had a lazy Saturday morning of playing in our pajamas while Dave worked on an appeal he’s writing. After her nap, we all went out to do some shopping. She loves to shop, and aside from when she’s sleeping, I think she’s the most calm when we are out and about. She just sits in the buggy or wrap and takes it all in. Even her hands are still, and that almost never happens.

In addition to the usual groceries, we also made a stop at PetSmart to purchase a backpack for Georgia to wear. I’ve been thinking lately about how my sister and I used to walk all over town before we could drive, and that it’s a shame that we don’t walk more places now. I mean, we live in a location where we can walk anywhere in town in 15 minutes, so why don’t we? I usually wear Ella when we walk because the stroller is too much trouble and it doesn’t go off-road very well. Carrying her things isn’t appealing to me, so I decided to put Georgia to work and bought her a pack to wear. Saturday afternoon, I loaded it up, put Ella on my back, and we did a test run around the neighborhood. She did great. Balance while pooping was a bit of an issue, but she worked it out.

Sunday morning we sent Ella to church with Grandmother so we could visit another church with a friend and hear Siran Stacy speak. That is a grace-filled man. Knowing his story, I never would have imagined I would leave there feeling so uplifted. Ella did okay at church, though I hear she did meltdown when left in the nursery. She prefers big church these days.

I met up with them after church and watched in amazement as Ella gobbled down a jar of turkey rice dinner, then proceeded to grunt at me for bites of my chicken quesadilla. When I signed food to her at some point over the weekend, she leaned into to me with her little bird mouth open. She knows the sign, and she loves food.

Sunday afternoon I brought out the dog pack, and Georgia went to the door to wait. I loaded it up with diapers and bottled water, tied Ella onto the front of me, and we all walked across town to the university intramural fields so Dave could play in a flag football game. It was a beautiful afternoon. Ella enjoyed her first experience of playing in the dirt and pulling up handfuls of grass. There was a race to keep the grass out of her mouth, but she had a grand time. Georgia was a little nutty at first because she wanted to play football, too, but she settled down and watched. In the spirit of convenience, we nursed right there on the sidelines and none of those boys even noticed. Back at home, Ella had a nap and Georgia passed out on the couch. Carrying our things all over town is hard work. I’m glad someone else can do it now. The pack was a success and I can’t wait to use it again next weekend.