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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

thank you

Thank you Emilie Manhart for the best Christmas present.

A day to myself. A personal day. A day without kids. A day to do whatever I want.

And what did I want to do? Everything! It went by impossibly fast but included an hour of uninterrupted exercise, a long, lingering shower that involved an actual razor and hair removal and no children crawling into the stall, lunch with a friend, a hot cup of chai tea, a leisurely trip downtown and to the grocery store and a mad dash removal of old toys and the putting away of new ones (I know, I know not so much about me but it makes me feel better, PLUS no one could complain about the 2 + trash bags that I will take to Manna tomorrow.) A quiet house. Music I wanted to listen to. No one's needs but my own.

And rumor has it my girls were absolute angels. Thank you girls. Momma appreciates it.

At bedtime tonight, Ella told me she was nervous at first but that she is a big girl and had a great time (a great time that allegedly includes some cool dance moves, playing freely at the open gym, talking up a storm and generally coming out of her shell in my absence.) Then she told me, "I'm four. That is four fingers with the thumb down. Someday, I'll be five with the thumb up. In a really long time. Like 8 minutes."

For photos of their day, and Emilie's account of it, visit

Thanks again, Em. You're the best. And really, thank you to all of you have shown me just how deep friendship runs and just what loyal and loving people we are surrounded by.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Piper Mountain 2008

On a Christmas tree hunt with Mindy, Charissa and Emerson.

Mindy found these two instead of a tree...

Failed attempt #2 for a Christmas card photo.

Till next year Piper Mountain. Thanks for the good times.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Maya had her one year check up and this is how it looks:

Height- 50th percentile
Head Circumference- 90th (!) percentile
Weight - 10th percentile

So what this means, basically, is that she is an average sized toothpick with a gum ball head.

You know they say that if Barbie were a real woman she would have to walk around on all fours because her proportions are so skewed? Maya would need some sort of head support, like a cane for the head. Maybe this is why she is slow to fully walk and only takes these occasional steps. Her head is just too big for her little legs! Perhaps I should start her on quad extensions...

Good thing she's got those redeeming adorable dimples.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A downed limb

The pine tree, as statuesque and picturesque as it is being the emblem of the state of Maine and all, just can't hold its muster.

That unbelievable storm we had the other night made this fact apparent to me, not just in all the downed pine limbs littering the yards all over town while their sturdier counterparts of spruce, birch, maple and cedar stand proud and unruffled, but because of the fantastic light show we had when a massive pine limb interfered (quite rudely I might add) with our electrical line.

We heard the large bang in the night and wondered at its origin. The morning light reveled an ice laden branch cracked and leaning a tad too heavily on the power line. Shortly after we woke, the branch snapped all the way, met with hearty protests from the electrical wire in the form of shooting sparks and arching electricity.

The best part? We have to pay to have the line fixed because it is on our property. Who knew we were actually "responsible" for this portion of the power line? Luckily our electrician was in the neighborhood and strung the line up with rope so no one would get electrocuted. Now Monday, the power has to be shut off (joy!) and the line restructured. (And sorry for anyone who lost power, and HEAT, for hours during that storm- I don't mean to complain TOO much about my scheduled power outage- you know when I'm alone with the girls for a four day stretch.)

So now, in addition to 2 eight foot blow up characters on the front lawn, we now also have a pine tree graveyard. I think I might just give into the tacky theme this Christmas and go pay $450 for one of those revolving, snow globe, Santa on ice skates, Rudolph on a Ferris wheel, the elves performing actual Broadway show tunes kind of blow-up decorations. Maybe I'll nix my classy white candles in the window after all...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The birds and the bees

The other day in the car, Ella asked me, "Will I be a kid forever?"

It was impossible to answer her through the tight ball of sadness that had lodged in my throat. She posed the question again. I answered, with a broken voice, that no she would not. "Why are you talking like that?" she asked of my emotion-filled voice. I told her it was because I was sad that she was going to grow up and someday wouldn't be my little girl anymore. Then I told her that growing up was also fun and that she had a really great life of growing ahead of her (not wanting her to misread my tears.)

Fast forward to breakfast this morning when she asked me, quite pointedly and before I was truly awake, "How do babies get in people's bellies?"

Followed by: "You were sad the other day about me being a grown-up but you said it was fun and you didn't want to share the fun with me."

And finished with: "I can't have a baby when I'm four years old. But I can when I'm older. Like when I'm nine."

How does a two-mom family give the birds and the bees talk? Sure, it's easy if you can stick to the dad parts meet the mom parts in the dark of night tucked under the arms of love, but how about, "Well, you see there is a special bank where they have, not money, but sperm! Mommy and Momma pick through a catalog, scanning for eye color, hair color, genetic defects, education, personality and maternal grandmom's allergy to cats like we are choosing a new coat from the LLBean catalog. Then FedEx, not the stork, delivers the microscopic half of the life equation in liquid nitrogen to the Dr. and we go to the ultra-romantic exam table at the doctor's office and viola! A baby gets in the belly. If you're lucky. Or if you took your Clomid."

You see what I'm getting at? It doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A little too far???

The other day at gymnastics a mom (and a very nice woman- I don't mean to assume she is only a mom and not also a human being) told me something that put a little quake in my step.

It was about self-esteem and it went something like this:

"Yeah, we used to tell Isabel how beautiful and lovely she is and now she is so entitled we can hardly stand her."

Yikes, maybe we ought to tone down the compliments on our front. We've always been believers in dosing out the high self-concept building remarks. Perhaps we should start telling Ella, "Well done honey. Really mediocre job" and "You look average today."

I fear I got my answer today when Ella, kind of whiny and testy all day anyway, donned a fairy outfit and with it a whole new personality.

Suddenly it was "this is my castle and haven't I decorated it so nicely?" and "what I lovely supper I made for myself" (um, that would be me...) and "Maya doesn't know to do that, but (insert grand gesture at self with the arm) I do" and "look at my beautiful Christmas tree that I got and decorated" and on and on, each comment more obnoxious than the last.

Lately she has been wanting to play "mom" with all her friends which is a game basically comprised of her bossing people around (lending to some existential crisis for me personally wondering if that is what she thinks being a mom is all about.) Not surprisingly, her friends grow weary after approximately 5 minutes of this nonsense and they want a turn being the mom/mob boss. I try to explain about how they don't want to be bossed around and the whole turn-taking concept, but she literally turns into a puddle and cries. She is really into taking care of babies (dolls) and even told me today, "I read the directions and it said to feed him everyday so I do."

Is this a stage, a gift, an obsession, an early warning sign of a personality disorder or simply normal? Have we created an dynamic, self-assured, go-getter or an entitled, Priamdonna, diva monster??

Crown thee

I am in the process of being crowned.

No, not in the fairy princess/jeweled headdress fashion.

Think numbing Novocaine, juggled children, drilling to China via my left molar, teeth and saliva being sprayed onto the portion of my face not covered by the giant eye gear, me gulping in oxygen to calm my rattled nerves.

Enter in the news that I need to return to have the prized crown placed atop my newly whittled molar. With the girls. When the shock of this and the Novocaine begin to wear off so do two not-so-thrilling realizations.

One, I will have to return with the girls and I am not sure I possess enough exciting snacks to keep Maya busy in a stroller while I am crowned new molar mom. And, two, the molar waiting for it's betrothed porcelain cap, is no more than a jagged ant hill of tooth surrounded, with somewhat of an inferiority complex, next to the majestic pillars of a rear molar and forward eye tooth. Oh, and third, I can't really eat. Now, until 4 p.m. I am a hungry, one-tooth-less, child toting dental patient. Bring it on.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The 12 Days of Sickness

On the 12th (really the 49th-no joke) day of Sickness, my true love gave to me:

12 bags of cough drops
11 boxes of tissues
10 doses of Omnicef
9 tubes of Desitin
8 days of Amoxicillin
7 bottles of Nyquil
6 days of Zithromax
5 doctor's visits
4 ill girls
3 sick call-ins
2 ear infections
and a nasty, wet, choking cough.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

thank you, thank you

Some recent highlights:

1. Frosty and Elmo are officially up (as in the 8 foot blow up Christmas decorations).

2. Maya has started to walk! She takes 3 steps here and there just as a tease and then shakes her head vigorously no if we encourage any more. (And when she gets mad, she bites- great.)

3. Sandi had two hair cuts in the past week- one professionally and one from Ella. Yup, a routine "pretend" hair cutting session ended in near disaster when Ella left a distracted Sandi in search of new child scissors. Sandi's attention returned abruptly when she heard the unmistakable sound of her own hair being sliced off her head. Luckily, Suzi the professional hair dresser, was able to repair any damage (as well as provide some kicky new highlights Sandi didn't quite trust Ella with.)

4. Thanksgiving was wonderful, albeit somewhat bittersweet since we were apart- Sandi so kindly taking care of those needy ICU patients while the girls and I had a lovely day with my family at my sister's house.

5. The Weekly question last week (you all remember what the Weekly question is, right? The newspaper polling question...) what are you grateful for? Eight of nine people answered family. I could think of nothing more compelling. It sums it all up. I am eternally, undeniably, inextricably, unwaveringly grateful for my family and my friends that are like my family.

6. I have been very emotional lately - kind of that raw edge that makes you feel a little crazy, a bit weepy, a little energized, very in touch and completely alive. My sister sent me this link and it made me cry (again, not SO hard to do these days) but I wanted to share it. Plus I wanted to see if I could post a web link.

7. On the way home from Mindy and Charissa's tonight (Sandi is at work and they so lovingly made me dinner and provided some much needed company this afternoon) Ella told me, randomly, "The clock is ticking, Momma." Oh my, is she ever right.

And p.s. I don't really get the whole "Black Friday" thing. When did shopping become a competitive sport??

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Ella!

Ella had her 4th birthday yesterday. She had ice cream with every meal, told us she could do challenging things now because "I am four now- not three", accused Tia of stealing all of her birthday dessert at Pizzaria Uno (to which Tia almost cried and then went out and bought her Dairy Queen), looked stoically at the wait staff as they sang the Pizzaria version of Happy Birthday, donned multiple fancy outfits, learned how to get herself up on the low bar at gymnastics, told us she had "magic in her hands", got the "piano" she had asked Tia for (a keyboard) and played it all day long, and went shopping for a new fish tank. Phew! What a fun day it was!

Opening up a new fancy, twirly dress from Gramma. (She wore the tiara out to lunch.)

Ella and Gramma putting together a huge floor puzzle (another birthday gift.)

Ella, dressed for the fish-tank shopping occasion, pushing her own little cart. This made her so very proud.

The fish can't come home until the tank sits for few days so more pictures to follow about our newest pets. On the way home from the pet store she said (telling me she picked up on a conversation we had a lunch where the adults spelled all the pertinent words) "Momma, maybe Adora will die soon and we can get a new kitty!"

What did Maya get for Ella's birthday? Conjunctivitis. We go to the doctor this morning.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Here comes the bride

If you have a taste for slightly ridiculous and incredibly sentimental, stop reading now.

Okay, either you are just curious and will scoff at me later or you yourself can be ridiculously sentimental and will understand what I'm going to write.

This morning Ella was dressing up (for the aforementioned Princess Dance Along Studio) and had on a very over-the-top and adorable pink, pink, pink fairy dress when she asked me for help putting on some head gear to go with it. Turns out it was the veil, which flows from a jewel studded headband, that my sister gave her last year for Christmas (in the context of other dress-up clothes.)

With a flourish, I swished it over her head, her eyes wide with anticipation as I secured it on her head and my life flashed before my eyes. Suddenly those gentle curls of a child were the sophisticated locks of a woman as I imagined her all grown-up, requesting assistance to get her bridal veil placed just so. And as I pictured her as a woman, my mind was latched on to this image of her as a little girl playing dress-up and me, her mom wondering how it all went so fast.

Then she said, "It's like I'm getting married, isn't it?"

My breath caught and all of sudden my heart ached, missing all the moments in between my little girl and the grown-up woman- all the moments we haven't yet had but yet I pine for just the same.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Two in tutus

Ella got a birthday present tonight from Aunt Twyla (a very close family friend of the Carver's Sandi grew up calling Aunt) and it was all the rage at our house.

The gift - the one that Ella came and whispered to me was "the best gift ever" at which point Trish grumbled that Aunt Twyla had trumped the gift-giving before the actual birthday- is a princess dance along set. It has a DVD of girls dancing around in tutus to all the Disney princesses favorite songs and a mat with foot positions for the little girl (or boy) to follow along. It comes complete with a wand (the costumes were provided by Ella's dress-up treasure trove.)

Oh, and did I mention that Brevan was spending the night tonight?

For those of you who don't know I used to perform in my back yard to the musical Annie and blackmailed audiences to support me. I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this gift.... In fact, I think I need to go practice right now.

Polar Opposites

Martha Stewart meets Martina Navritolova.

Here is Maya. Climbing on everything- easily scaling end tables and soon the couch. She has recently found her way to the big table.

And then there is Ella. Dressed in as a self-titled "scary princess," donning an apron and helping me cook for the Zonta craft fair bake sale.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

round and round the mulberry bush

I shouldn't have gone bragging about our heat. Yesterday I broke the auger on the corn stove. Big (chilly) mistake. Smoke, swearing, the whole futile nine yards. Sandi was at work and I told Ella I was going to try to fix it once Maya went down for a nap.

"Maybe Mommy should fix it when she gets home."

"Well, Mommy is at work and we might like some heat so I'm going to try to fix it now."

"Yes, but Mommy is really good at fixing things."

"Momma can fix some things, too."

"But Mommy is the best worker."

Me, a bit perturbed now: "Momma's a good worker too."

"Okay, how about if when Mommy comes home she helps you fix it?"

Am I a useless housewife???

Ella and I were (trying to) clean the house the other day and I asked her to throw something away for me. Big mistake. I had recently thrown a toy in the trash that no longer worked (but was very new- sometimes I just can't take the mess!) She came around the corner holding it in her hands.

"What is this doing in the trash?" she accused.

I explained. She looked at me very sternly and then said slowly, like a parent speaking to a child, "This. Should. Never. Go. In. The. Trash. Again."

At breakfast the other day she asked me, "How does the food get to your belly if your heart is in the way?"

Yesterday we went to the library, Ella toting around a fluffy pink Sherpa bag with a pregnant kitty (stuffed and fictionally knocked up) and her beloved yellow blankie. She was set on lugging this with her. We ran in to two of her pre-school classmates at the library which excited her greatly. When we were at the circulation desk, almost out the door, one of the little boys came running up, pink bag flying, heroically returning the gestating cat to its mother.

I was just relieved we hadn't left yellow blankie. The world has perhaps not seen a disaster of those proportions before.

As we left, Ella talked on and on about what a wonderful thing Hendrik had done for her. Her gratitude, propelled by the fresh fear of her near-loss, was immense. She was very excited about my idea to make a thank you note for him. It read "Hendrik saves the day!"

Then that afternoon we went over to hang with the Manharts. As we were leaving, Skyler who was about to partake in a chewy fruit snack bonanza, hurriedly thrust a packet into Ella's hands. All the way home I heard her say over and over again, "Two nice things happened to me. Hendrik saved the day and Skyler gave me fruit snacks!"

I'm telling you, people, we've got a lot to learn...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Those silly girls

Maya is lucky that she has Sandi for a mom. Sandi totally gets Maya's need to move and her overpowering desire to figure things out. In this way, the apple has not fallen far from the tree. (And Ella, in her choosing a new outfit as a birthday gift from Aunti Di instead of a toy, didn't fall from her tree either.)

Maya has figured out how to crawl to the edge of our guest bed (a mere 3+ feet off the ground), spin around and lower herself to the floor. I would NEVER have even come close to letting her experiment with this maneuver. Sandi let her climb up a small rock wall at her grandparents house, fly down a slide solo (with Sandi spotting), and crawl up and then back down our stairs. Although she took one very tentative step the other day, she doesn't have so much interest in ambulating as she does in scurrying, tumbling, climbing and romping. As I said, she is lucky to have a mom that gets her otherwise she would just hear "no! no! noooo!" being uttered from me every other breath. Mindy and Charissa bought her a onesie that says "Born to be wild" and they couldn't have been more on target.

Ella, gearing up for her birthday week, has been gracing us with her ever interesting and unintentionally witty one-liners.

We were talking about how lucky we are to have such warm heat in our house with our corn stove and wood stove. She says, "As high as a giant we would be so lucky."

I was unpacking groceries last week and Ella was playing grocery store, retrieving items for me, the customer, by taking all the things out of our kitchen cabinets. "Here you are ma'am," she'd say. I was looking for a utensil in a drawer and she says to me, "What are you looking for ma'am? I can help you. I DO work here, you know."

My country 'tis of thee..

I have been on a roller coaster of emotion since last Tuesday's glorious victory (an official landslide?) of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. But thrown in there with weepy joy, excitement about revolutionary change and a general disgust that we wait until January 20th for inauguration, there was a feeling I could not identify.

Perhaps because I had, sadly, never felt it before.

Patriotic. Love for my country. Could even hang from my house or proudly wave an American flag. Wow. Even after 9/11 I felt awful about what had occurred, haunted by it, but I felt that we just continued to act in a conceited, short-sited manner. Last week I heard the current "president" finish a speech with "God bless the greatest nation in the world."

Huh? And we wonder why people despise us. I think we've taken the whole super power thing a bit too far...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


If you could see me now, you would see me doing my happy dance. That is in between the tears I can't seem to stop shedding.

He won. We have elected a black president only 50 years after the civil rights movement. And, just to put a little kick in my step, he won by a landslide.

This is the president that my children will grow up with. They will see a very important black man on their TV for (hopefully) 8 years. This is the generation of change - starting with the young voters who turned up yesterday down to my little ones with hands too small to fit into winter gloves -they will change the world.

Sandi says she wonders if Tina Fey was rooting for McCain just so she could keep up the Sarah Palin skits. Sorry you had to take one for the team, Tina. I will miss you.

Not wanting to miss this historical moment, Maya decided to stay up and watch the election coverage with me. She didn't feel well and was a boomerang, standing in her crib crying every time I set her back in there. She stayed up until after the announcement, playing on my lap, me hoping the Tylenol was going to work its systemic effect at some point before dawn.

Ella watched the Grant Park rally and Obama acceptance speech this morning and commented about all the people: "There are as many of them as pine cones in our yard." Not too far off. Yesterday, in preschool they were teaching the kids about voting and had them cast a vote for their favorite Teddy Graham. Chocolate chip won by a landslide.

In his acceptance speech Obama was promising our country we could pull ourselves out of this mess, that we would all work together with set backs and false starts but that we could and would do it. The crowd cheered, "Yes. We. Can."

And here come the tears again.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Sign of the Times

Maya, baby genius that she is, has started signing. I think this is funny because I love the second year for all of its two-way communication and the whole word explosion thing. And here she is not even a week into her second year and she is telling us all about the lights in our house, the fan, asking for milk and more of something to eat. We always said we did baby sign language with Ella partly for the communication factor and the whole brain development thing but also because it was so stinking cute!

Ella has been cracking us up again lately. She has such a new and complex perspective of life and sometimes she says things that just catch us off guard.

We were talking about the months, the seasons, the leaves falling off the trees around Halloween and the impeding winter. She says, thoughtfully, "It's like the trees are barefoot."

I was cleaning ash with the little fireplace broom yesterday morning and she says, "It's like you are brushing the stove's teeth."

She apparently is the child of metaphor.

She was playing with her puppets, entertaining herself very well, and I asked her what they were doing. "Pilates," she answers.

I have managed to pique her interest in Dancing With the Stars by pointing out all the beautiful costumes and now she will sit and watch a few minutes with me (on DVR). She was looking at Susan Lucci and commented, "She is old." And she is right. Susan looks kind of frail. But I thought, you should have seen Cloris Leachman last week honey.

But my absolute favorite was this one:

We were all sitting at the table eating when Sandi commented about something she had tried. "I can't say I'm a fan," she remarked.

Ella, no hint of sarcasm and without missing a beat, says, "But you are a fan of wine, Mommy."

Okay, it's election day. I've been up since 4:30 a.m. and I wonder if I'll be able to stay up tonight to see who wins (not that I don't already know.) Go VOTE now (for Obama!)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Obama Momma

I managed to convince Sandi to allow me to put Obama signs on both the cars. Sandi detests bumper stickers the way an architect detests a pre-fab building- she just thinks they're ugly. (I had to PROMISE to take them off on November 5th.)

I have never been so obsessed or hyped up over an election. I didn't think it was possible for me to care more about an election than I did 4 years ago when I couldn't imagine a world where John Kerry couldn't beat George W. We all moped around for days after that election- Ella just about to come into a world that gave that man another chance.

There is something about Barack Obama- I can feel it when he talks. It's the sound of hope, of possibility, of real change and even a new paradigm lifting up and spinning like they just caught the breeze.

I know our country's elections have always employed the use of the negative, and even flat-out untrue, campaigning tactics but what amazes me is the things that smart people will believe. Calling him a terrorist because he served on board, unintentionally, with someone who was a domestic terrorist in the 60's when Obama was a child. Come on people. They are funneling all their hatred toward an erroneous label "terrorist" because they can't come out and hate him for being black.

A client of mine told me this story:

She and her husband, registered independents and avid Obama supporters, were having lunch with their equally convicted McCain/Palin loving friends. They agreed not to talk politics, each aware they couldn't and wouldn't change the other's minds. All was unspoken until the end of the meal when the republican husband said, "I did well. I didn't say anything bad about Obama."

My client, having already decided on an approach to this, answered, "What more is there to say, he is a socialist, Muslim, terrorist," thinking her sarcasm and irony would keep the mood light.

The republican wife turned to her and said, "You know all that and you're still going to vote for him?"

Oh. My. Goodness.

I saw a swastika grafittied in downtown Bangor a week ago. I simultaneously marvel at the fact that we are about to elect a black president, an incredible human being, and that people are still that racist.

My vote is in, I already did my absentee ballot. My mom is out canvassing neighborhoods right now for the democratic party, talking to undecided voters. You go mom.

Thankfully it's almost over because I can't really afford more time spent watching Saturday Night Live skits where Tina Fey almost makes me pee my pants.

I think it is incredible that our country is in such a tough spot and that we have called forth one of history's best presidential candidates. Now we just have to have the brains to elect him.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Three little mice

Halloween on Beals Island. It is so much fun. Well, I'm not sure if it was so much for Maya. Often during the day we would recollect what last Halloween was like. We had a very similar photo taken with the three kids in the same chair, Ella and 2 day old Maya in Zebra costumes and Brevan in the best polar bear suit ever made. Maya wasn't thrilled in that picture either. You know, the general just leaving the womb/no one has started making any milk for me crankiness. This year's walking on egg shells temperament was (due to extenuating circumstances) our starting 30 minutes before her bedtime.

Ella and Brevan walking up to their great-grandparents house. Gotta love Old Navy and the super warm Halloween costumes. Note the glow necklaces Patti provided for them to wear for safety (and fun.)

Warming up a bit after her first taste of a kit kat (wouldn't that cheer anyone up?) and an exuberant fluffy white dog who was preoccupied with licking her face.

Adorable... I wonder how many years they will agree to matching costumes. (For the record, they choose it this year, not us.) It was hard to tell them apart.

When we were getting them dressed, Ella said, "This is going to be such a fun night!"

This lobster dressed up as Mr. Potato Head for Halloween.

No one can say we don't have any fun...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Maya's First Birthday

We had a "small" family birthday party for Maya on Sunday (her official birthday is on the 29th) and Maya put the P in party. We agreed that she had the best and happiest day she has had yet in her young life. She was showing off, doing her excited "sniffer" where she scrunches up her nose, purses her lips and breathes heavily through her nostrils, giggling, romping and have an all-around great time.

Here is one of her two cakes...

Maya contemplating how much sugar she will be ingesting and wondering about its effects on her little body. (Maybe that is why she had such a great time?)

Trying to be patient... (cake #2)

Emerson and Skyler excited and mouths watering

I love this picture because I love to have the house full of people!

The classic first birthday photo... cake under the fingernails,
in the nostrils and smooshed everywhere else.

Maya with her new octopus toy. Thanks Auntie Di.

Reed, doing some serious biking.

Ella, listening carefully to baby holding instructions, with Baby Braeden.

Braeden, four months old and charmer already.
And... regretfully, not a single photo of Brevan. He was so cute too, running around pantless for the first half of the party due to a diaper mishap and then for the second half he ran around chasing the girls pretending to be a monster and growling at them to their sheer delight.
Thanks everyone for celebrating our girl's special day!

The Sleep(less) Over

Brady came and stayed overnight with us on Saturday so his parents could go have some much needed and well-deserved time to themselves. It was good he came because his dad, much to his mom Angela's dismay, had suggested that maybe they just take Brady with them. Huh? We weren't about to let that happen. Plus, we LOVE Brady.

And Brady loves Ella, and Ella loves Brady and Maya loves them and vice versa. There was a whole lotta lovin' going on. But not a lot of sleeping...

The kids stayed in our spacious 3 person tent, set up in our bedroom and tricked out with every pillow, couch cushion, blanket and stuffed animal Sandi could find. They had camping mats, sleeping bags, a rechargeable battery operated camping lantern, the works. The played, they bathed (see Brady's head peeking out of the tub on the header picture?), they ate, they colored, they pretended to be brother and sister for the duration, they rode bikes inside, they all piled in one cart at the grocery store, they played tag at the health food store, and we figured for surely they would crash when their heads hit the pillow.

There were several call backs, some extended story telling and even a trip downstairs to re-group and then finally, asleep, with me lying beside them, at 9 p.m. This was two hours better than Ella's only other sleepover with her cousin Michaela last spring where homesickness abounded and at one point Ella asked me if Michaela could go home.

They woke, happy and (somewhat) refreshed, and I video taped them at the breakfast table (where Brady couldn't bring himself to eat the chocolate chip pancakes I had made him since his dad "makes the best in the whole world" - good thing I have high self-esteem) holding my Obama pin and yelling "Obama for president!"

So if they got nothing else out of it, at least I have begun the early indoctrination of two young democrats...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

That's my girl

Yesterday, Ella and I were picking up somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 pine cones off our front lawn and driveway. We were working away when I caught sight of her, stripped shirt, black velvet ruffle skirt, multi-colored striped tights and patent leather shoes that clicked formally when she walked on the pavement. She was back to, clicking away, head held high and hair swept back into a ponytail.

It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks: that is my daughter. This was me as a little girl, the eccentricity, the dressing up, the fashion (a major exception being that I held shows for audiences on a platform in my back yard whereas Ella still won't speak to our super nice neighbor.) Yes, indeed, Ella's self-expression flows freely.

Later in the afternoon we went to pick up a ton of corn (for those who aren't familiar with our approach to heat, it is to be warm and work very hard for it running a corn stove, pellet stove and a wood stove.) Ella sighed from the back seat, "Why are we always going to get pellets or corn?" As if it effects her at all.

Last night I brought it all in, hopefully the last major lifting for a while. But I love to go into the basement and survey- 2 cord of wood, 2 tons of pellets and 1 ton of corn. We will be toasty when the snow comes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rave reviews

We don't watch a lot of movies anymore. I think we have been out to the movies (as in the theater) once in the past 3 years. But, with the two girls, and our increasing desire for our own early bedtime, we don't even watch them at home much.

However, somehow with Sandi working 7 of the past 9 days (12 1/2 hours each day!) we managed to watch two movies. Mind you, neither of them were watched all in one night. This is our compromise, the straddle movie viewing wherein you have to rip yourself away at the height of involvement and pause until the next evening. But hey, we watched movies good enough for me to rave about.

First, and I think the best romantic comedy I've seen (but I'm saving Pretty Women out of the competition since it really does stand by itself), we watched 27 Dresses. It was with the striking blond from Grey's Anatomy, Katherine Heigel. It was laugh out loud funny, believable, engaging, and had great character development. We looked at each other and agreed, "surprising good." Two thumbs up.

Second, the movie that my mom has recommended to me, oh about 10 times and with complete conviction every time and that Sandi's friend said she started over immediately after it finished and watched the ending over 6 times (!), is August Rush. I cannot really express how this movie moved me. And I fear I cannot say much about it without ruining it. It is about music, beauty, love, family and the expanse of hope and the human heart. If you haven't seen it PLEASE go watch it otherwise I'll pester you.

Okay, and if that wasn't enough! I've also recently read an incredibly insightful and inspiring book "French Women Don't Get Fat: the art of eating for pleasure." It was like a whole paradigm shifted inside me as I read it. Basically, there is huge contrast in the way we American women think about food and our bodies and the way we regard eating that sharply contrasts the more forgiving, balanced, joyful, appropriately indulgent way that French women do. You know they eat rich foods, bread and butter, wine, champagne, croissants but they aren't overweight. If you want to know why... read the book! (I got it off Amazon for 64 cents.)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Next installement: Ella funnies

"You know how Mary Poppins sings in the mirror and then she moves away, but she is still there? What is that all about?"

"Mommy, can have a bite of you sloppy joe? I love joppy slows."

I made Ella a new sandwich yesterday to take in to eat with Sandi at work- jelly and cream cheese. I know I'm grasping for straws but it beats the french fries and chocolate milk she prefers to eat at the hospital cafeteria. I told her I used to eat it as a child and she was digging it, chopping off minuscule bite by minuscule bite in true Ella fashion. Sandi asked her what kind of sandwich she had.

"Jelly, peanut butter and whipped cream," Ella told her. I came back to the table and Sandi said, "What kind of sandwich did you make her?" I like to think she knew it was a tall tale but we have done some creative things to make Ella eat, like putting whipped cream on sliced bananas and coining them "banana quarters." (This was Sandi, not me.)

Ella has a cold (again-number 584 since the fall began its chilly decent into winter) and she told me when I put her to bed last night, "No one is lucky to have a cold...."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It's finally happened...

Today, one of my every day dreams came true.

Let me back up.

I love to sing. Really love it. And I like to think that I sound really pretty good most of the time. The problem, and the reason I don't run right out and audition for American Idol, is that I don't sound all that great alone (and, you wouldn't know it, but I have terrible stage fright when it comes to singing alone.) I can follow along with a great vocalist and (I like to think) keep up fairly well. I sound great in an empty house, like at Savage Street when I am alone painting and the strains of a Phantom of the Opera aria come from my lone person. The stairway is a great play for Broadway show tunes. Part of the issue is that I don't hold pitch very well and get out of tune. I think I might have potential if I had lessons...

The other part of this is that I have a really deep dream to be a singer songwriter. Except that, apart from the very ambitious but untrained voice, I can only play Kum-ba-ya on the guitar and I have no musical originality AT ALL. I think maybe I was a singer songwriter in another life or that I will be in a future one.

Enter in Brandi Carlile- this amazing, sexy, raw, lay-it-all-on-the-line singer songwriter that Mindy and Charissa introduced us to a few months ago. If you haven't heard her sing, go listen right now She is unforgettable. Ella likes to listen to her music too, and much to her dismay, I refuse to play any songs on repeat since I don't want to despise them like I do all of Ella's other favorite songs. This music has inspired my dream, you know the unrealistic one, of singing and so I do... in the car.

The girls and I went up to get a ton of wood pellets this morning before I dropped Ella at preschool (and I am supposed to be unloading them right now with pending showers coming and here I am writing instead) and we were jamming to Brandi on the way. I'm singing full out, you know the kind you can do when no one will judge you, half wondering if Ella is now at the age where she will judge me.

When suddenly, from the back seat comes, "Momma, you're a real singer."

My heart be still. A real singer. From a girl on the eve of her 4th birthday, but a full acknowledgement of talent nevertheless. This from a girl who loves Mozart, Jewel, Leona Lewis and the soundtrack of "Annie." She must have some point of measure.

A real singer. Thanks El. From now on you can all catch me on stage, everyday, riding down the road with my groupies, the two that are too young to know any better. I will relish it, don't you worry, because I know someday they may make fun of my singing, my hair AND my clothes in the same sentence.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Just Jack

Here is the creation of Jack.

As in, O'Lantern.

He kind of resembles Maya. Note the giant teeth.

And now for the magnificent lantern part. It would be hard to describe Ella's unbridled joy at the lighting of Jack. She wanted to immediately invite all her friends over to see it. I think she had visions of Jack O'Lanterns in her head all night.

She thinks that this is the "Jack of Jack and Jill went up the hill" and has been reciting the verse all morning. She woke in the dark this morning and we lite Jack again for her enjoyment. We've blown him out now that the sun is making its debut on a cotton candy pink horizon and Ella peeks her head out into the cool morning, saying, "It smells like marshmallows and toast out here" (the wood stove smoke) "do you think someone is going camping?"

By the way, she has also requested that we begin to play Christmas music this morning. I LOVE Christmas but it is even a bit early for me...

Indian Summer

I guess this was it. Last day for skirts without tights and babies without sweatshirts or fleece.

We've had a really good and productive weekend. Exactly a week ago, we looked at each other with threads of despair (okay, it was me) saying, "How are we going to get it all done?" The lawn needed a final mow, the gardens needed to be cut down, 2 cord of wood sat mocking us in a mammoth pile, the appliances for the still undone Savage Street house were still nestled comfortably in the garage where they have been since (sigh) last spring, the air conditioners were letting chilly fall air into our bedrooms at night and the yard was mess- all of indicative of our overly ambitious summer.

And here we are a week later... and it is all done. We worked away at the wood over the week and today Patti and Trish helped us get the second cord finished. This morning Patti and I moved all the appliances to Savage Street house (the kitchen is done! We need to stain the floor and finish up some trim paint and it can go on the market!) and all the other stuff is done too. Big thanks for the help and the cooperative girls. Maya took some naps and Ella loaded about 6 pieces of wood and played in the mud.

This is what they did while we worked on the lawn last week...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our Fallish Girls

"There are two ways to live your life - one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as everything is a miracle." -Albert Einstein

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Apple Picking

A few pics of the girls (mostly Ella) on our apple picking adventure ....

Ella heading for the mud.

Oh my, I could eat this face.

Ella loved the animals. They were everywhere.

Our serious Maya

Ella's full cart... yummy!

An apple a day... puts a smile on her face.

What fun is the mud??

Miriam loved Ella.

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