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:
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.