In the kitchen

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ella's Food Chain

Ella has been slightly preoccupied with what animals eat. I have been trying to, appropriately, educate her about the food chain and that some animals eat smaller animals and other animals eat vegetation. This all began when she wanted to know why turtles have shells and we started with the explanation of the shell protecting from larger animals so they don't eat the turtle. She started calling these attackers "monsters" (which leads to an entirely separate discussion of monsters. How do you explain to your child that monsters are pretend when watching the news for one day will lend to a different reality?) I tried to explain that they aren't monsters, just hungry animals and that this is what the food chain is about. I tell you, it makes you look at things in a new light when you are teaching them to a child. Things we take for granted as just being they way they are- like the sun coming up, people getting sick, it being winter outside or needing to make money to live- they don't make a lot of sense when you are trying to answer the unanswerable "why?" of a child. Why do we have to work to have money? Wouldn't it be easier if we could just play all the time and have everything take care of itself?

Back to the animals. She asks what zebras eat. Grass (I think.). What do elephants eat? Grass again (I hope.). What do foxes eat? mice and small rodents. What do frogs eat? insects. What do tigers eat? Antelope (among other things- this I get from the Discovery Channel.)

Last night, out of the blue, she started asking me about the zebra diet again. Then she says, "And tigers eat cantelope, right?" I bet the antelope wish. Can you see the tigers in the produce department sniffing and pressing on the melon rind to check for ripeness while the antelope run free on the savannah?

A few minutes later, while I was playing some relaxing music to try to calm Maya through her last desperate hour before the Boob came home from work, we kept listening to the "Rainbow Connection" over and over again. Ella was singing out to the rafters about the "Rainbow Collection" and I thought again of how witty and fun a three-year-old is.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Some things....

No this picture isn't digitally manufactured. Maya really is this big, Ella's hair really is this messy and her teeth really hadn't been brushed.

Things are flowing smoothly and harmoniously here at casa de Carver these days. Ella is, for an unknown reason, sleeping really late in the mornings, taking long naps and (the only downside) going to bed a bit late. Maya is also sleeping well (sorry every blog mentions sleep - it is a premium in our house) and sometimes both girls aren't up until 8 or even 9 am. For me this means time to exercise. I couldn't be more pleased about this after having given up a strenuous exercise program I was halfway through when Maya was born (why did I start it? you ask. Because I like to try to accomplish more than is humanly possible.)

But really I want to let you in to some of the creative inner workings of Ella's mind. Last night when I was putting her to bed I was telling her a made-up story in the format we often use where she fills in details about the characters and has input into the plot line. Last night's story was about a bear who comes out of hibernation because he is hungry and cold. He goes to the doughnut store and what kind of doughnut does he buy? "A star-pocket dewey doughnut," Ella says. When that one didn't taste good, he got a purple "This Old Man doughnut." And when he was still hungry he went down the street and, luckily the ice cream stand just happened to be open on a cold winter's day, and got a purple "gamilla ice cream cone." To remedy the bears issue with the cold I let Ella pick a blanket for him at the store. She could choose between a 2 inch thick, 4 inch thick or 1 foot thick blanket for the bear. What did she pick? A paper blanket. Poor bear. I don't think we helped him out too much.

And lastly, Ella and I were eating dinner the other night while Sandi was at work. She told me her chicken was very tasty and some of it was spicy (pepper). A few minutes later she pointed to it and asked, "What is this?"

Now I sensed what was coming, the denial of the thing she had, moments ago, adored. I answered with the Spanish word for chicken: "That's pollo." She shook her head regretfully. "Oh," she said sadly. "I don't like polo." (and she pronounced it polo instead of poyo.)

She finished dinner quickly as usual and wanted to get down. I asked her, "Would you stay with me and keep me company while I eat?" (after all I had spent all of her eating time getting my dinner.) "Of course I will Momma," she answered sweetly. "But can I go play now?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

First Day Success

With the first day behind us, we are all breathing a sigh of relief this morning (and a sigh of gratitude because we all slept so well last night- Maya made it 8 hours last night!) Overall, yesterday was, if not a smashing success, than at the very least a day worth being proud of.

Maya started out yesterday very tired because she didn't want the bottle for her 6:30 a.m. feeding. Normally she would eat and go back to sleep until 8 or 9 but, because she was too busy crying, she neither ate nor slept. The good news is that I held it together REALLY well. By this I mean, I didn't cry, freak out or count how many hours until the Boob returned. Patti (Gram) came around 9 am and stayed with us for the day, making everything infinitely easier. After the first attempt at the bottle lasted an hour and a half , with Maya giving up part way through to sleep as a protest to the bottle, the next feeding and the ones following, she took like a champ. We took the girls out for a while on some errands and lunch (as Patti says, "This babysitting isn't too rough!") and Maya slept the whole time (which is mostly why we went out plus I go crazy if I'm in the house all day.)

Ella was amazing yesterday. She listened really well and had a lot of fun having Gram with her for the day. She started her day really early by calling out at 5:30 am when Sandi was getting ready for work. Sandi caved and brought her in bed with me and I'm not sure she ever went back to sleep. When Maya woke up at 6:30, I called Sandi and whispered that we were ready for the bottle she had pumped before leaving (6:30 was her departure time) and I said I didn't want to wake Ella. Ella, in her extremely loud whisper says to me, "Yeah, because I'm sleeping." The bummer for Ella came when she woke up from her nap with a fever of 102. I think she has what Sandi had. We had to skip her gymnastics make-up class but with some Ibuprofen on board, she was up dancing to Mary Poppin's "Chim Chimney" in no time.

Not only did having Patti here make everything easier (I got a shower, I made the bed) for having two hands and some adult company, but she also managed to be here on the day her expertise was needed greatly. Our corn stove was malfunctioning and she, with her brilliant mind and recently acquired knowledge of the inner workings of corn stoves, fixed it for us. I can't tell you how much that would have stressed me out had it broken when I was alone, since I would not have had the ability or the time to fix it. Thank you Patti!!

Sandi also did great yesterday. She said that everything was very familiar but she knew she had been away because she had to think about everything instead of having it be automatic. Luckily, she had arranged for a day of re-orientation since there are new computerized parts to the way the ICU runs and she needed to updated. She found time to pump, which she says will be a bit of a struggle when she has patients, and she managed to come home early, which the girls were very happy about. After Sandi's return all I heard last night was, "I want Mommy to do it." Music to my ears.

Some of Ella's comments from yesterday:

"There is a Ferris wheel in the fountain." - regarding the water wheel in the fountain at Oriental Jade.

"Oh, look. A whole bunch of stuff I can't have." - a sad but true comment about the candy at the grocery store checkout.

"Now you don't have to go to work ever again." - said to Sandi this morning. Sandi told her she would be going back tomorrow. "Why?" Ella asked. "I go to take care of the sick people," Sandi told her. "But I'm sick, Mommy," was the heartbreaking response.

Monday, January 21, 2008

What more is there to say?

This afternoon, Sandi was sleeping, Ella had just woken up and I was trying to get Maya to sleep (that is what we do in our house - take shifts sleeping. I think there is about a 4 hour overlap when we are all sleeping at once.) She was crying, resisting sleep which is typical for her in the afternoon. Ella looked at me seriously and said, "I think she needs the boob."

Ella in Momma's Winter Gear

(I believe Suzanne refered to her as a muppet.)

Ella & Chilly in their matching princess dresses

Sunday, January 20, 2008

All aboard the Potty Train!

Maya is much more smiley and giggly these days

We've put Ella to work on the taxes

Ella loves that Maya is spending more time at her level (and by that we mean closer to the ground rather than Ella's highly evolved, cunning intellectual capacity.)

Gram thought it might be a good idea to dress Mochy and Ella in matching attire

We had a bit of a scare. We have thousands of pictures and a few videos stored on an external drive that began malfunctioning. I've spent many hours trying to recover them before they were gone forever. Thanks to our friend, Jeff, at HCP Computers we have recovered them all and put them on a new drive. So, here are three new blog entries to cover some of our January events.
And from Suzanne... A big thank you to Sandi for getting these pictures on. She has a nasty cold, another case of mastitis and goes back to work full time the day after tomorrow. I am thrilled to be able to write that we have finally come into a working harmony, the four of us, and our days are more balanced and peaceful. We've got caring for two down to, if not a science, then at least an art, and sleep is- at last- being achieved. Maya is going to be at a reasonable 8 or 9 p.m. and usually waking about 6-7 hours later to eat and sometimes makes it until about 8 a.m. (other times she has a snack again around 5 a.m.) But most importantly, she is napping during the day -usually one long 2-3 hour nap and usually another shorter one. I swear, it is as though heaven has descended right down into our house. Sandi was telling someone about Maya sleeping the other day on the phone and she actually put her arms up in the air in a "hallelujah!" expression. Maya has grown tremendously over the past week and has outgrown all her 0-3 month clothes right on schedule. She will be 3 months old tomorrow.
And regarding the title of this entry... Ella is officially potty trained!!! Which basically means that she finally decided to go on the potty instead of in her pants. For some parents this is a big deal. For us it is monumental, revolutionary and ginormous (I realize it's not a real word but for the sake of exaggeration, bear with me.) Again, think of arms in the air saying "Hallelujah!" (and this is not a term either of us utters often.) To hear those magic words, "I need to use the potty." Music to our ears.
I have just come out the other side of my most difficult period of parenting yet-the temper tantrum phase. It was been so hard for me not to meet her anger with anger and some very diligent work on my part, lengthy discussions with Sandi and many tears, both Ella's and mine, have brought us to a better place. My strategy? The more angry she gets, the more calm I get. It is not always easy. As our friend Charissa says, basically it's good acting. But it works. I am shifting my perspective a bit to see things through Ella's eyes and realize where I can give a bit more than I have, to be more flexible and more forgiving of her quirky delays when leaving the house (like wearing my hot pink pom-pom hat with long knit gloves to the grocery store- she looked like a Muppet) and her need to change clothes every hour on the hour. I am coming to see her energy, the random things that matter greatly to her and her need to assert herself fully at times to be completely endearing and necessary for to maintain her boundless joy. I am learning to be the mother (not in any easy fashion might I add) who wants my children to be happy and expressive and free more than I want to be on time (yes, this is the hardest one) or have the house be clean. Ah, motherhood is expanding me to my limits and beyond. Sometimes it is incredibly painful but mostly I am actually finding that I like myself even better as a result.
So for Ella, her temper tantrums have largely abated, she has become the model big sister and has been full of humor. This morning I was in the kitchen and she was in the living room and she called to me, "Momma, I'm just smelling the dirt, I'm not eating it." (This was in reference to a tulip bulb we have planted in a pot- there was a moment of alarm before I figured out what she was referring to.) Ella's new favorite question is (don't be too shocked) "why?". "Why does the sun go to sleep?" "Why does do I have to go to sleep?" "Why does Gramma have to go home and live at her house?" "Why? Why? Why?" She also asks, "What means..." as in "What means to put on a CD?" "What means a pail?" (we were reading Jack and Jill.)
She has glow in the dark stars on the top of her canopy bed that don't get enough daylight to hold a glow at night so every night we use flashlights to light them up and make them glow. Ella relishes this time. We tell stories, and she asks me 1,000 "why" questions and then we shut the lights off and snuggle under the stars. Sometimes she has a hard time with me leaving and I tell her how lucky she is to sleep under that stars every night. Last night that didn't do the trick so I had to dress Chilly (stuffed polar bear who went to the dentist) in a pair of Maya's too small footed jammies. That did the trick. Stay tuned for our next blog entry where Chilly dresses in drag. I promise, it will be worth it!
Please send you best thoughts for a smooth and easy transition for all of us this week with Sandi's return to work. We will keep you posted. Lots of love!

Ella's First Dentist Appointment

Ella went to see Marcy, our family dental hygenist and friend,

Here she is with Mr. Thirsty. Note her pet polar bear Chilly in the lower right corner. He also went to the dentist.

In my estimation, this is a big deal, going to the dentist. Luckily, Marcy was incredible (with two young children of her own, we weren't surprised) and Ella loved the names she made up for all the tools. Ella was very serious and didn't speak to Marcy for almost the entire appointment but then she would turn her head toward us and give the biggest grin. She was very proud of herself as you can see.

Here's the big clean smile!

And who would go to the dentist without the bribe of a new toothbrush? Ella choose blue. Maya slept in the corner in her car seat pushing aside thoughts of those pesky teeth that will push through her gums.

Welcome Daisy May

It is with extreme elation that we announce the arrival of our dishwasher, Daisy Mae. She weighs about 40 pounds and is 24" across. As you can see from her photo, she is beautiful. We look forward to many, many happy hours as a family- that is, the four of us, while Daisy Mae does the dishes.

Here is a look at her insides (not for the weak stomachs - it's almost sterile it's so clean.)

To say that this is a big deal would be an injustice. For any who have heard me go on about the dishes (I cringe to think how many people that includes), having a dishwasher was like my Holy Grail. We didn't think it was a possiblity due to the lack of space in our existing cabinet structure. One day it occured to me, while I was doing the dishes and cursing under my breath, that if we cut off the cabinet to the right of the sink we could fit it there since there was more than a foot of space between that cabinet and the wall. Sandi became involved with her engineers mind and constructed the adorable cupboard to the right of Daisy Mae so that she (meaning Daisy Mae, not Sandi) could be enclosed. We use it for Saran Wrap and aluminum foil. It's perfect! And still needs to be painted.

There was some complianing about the cost of the dishwasher and the related expense of new countertop and such but Trish summed it up nicely when she said, "It will be worth it to not have to hear Suzanne talk about how much time she spend doing the dishes!" And she is right. Now I spend my time bragging about how quickly I got the kitchen cleaned up. When we go to bed at night, Sandi says, "The maid is downstairs doing our dishes while we're up here sleeping." Now, if I could just get someone to fold the laundry...

Monday, January 7, 2008

Thank you Emilie!

(Explanation at bottom...)

Ella & Emmie on New Year's Eve

Thanks for the gentle reminder, Emilie! I'm glad someone is going to hold us to our resolution. Never hurts to have your feet held to the fire.

What a crazy time we've had to wrap up our holiday season. We spent Christmas on the island as most of you know. We traveled back home on a Friday and had our Christmas on Saturday. On Sunday, we had some of our most favorite people (Emilie, Sam, Skyler and Reed) over for a birthday dinner (Happy Birthday, Sammy). On Monday, we also spent New Year's Eve with some of our most favorite people (Mindy, Charissa and Emerson). It was a big sleep over, complete with more Christmas, sparkling wine, and a wide awake baby to ring in the new year (she may have fallen asleep prior to that actual ball drop). Trish came to stay with us a couple of nights during the week and then Kris and Brev came to stay on the weekend. Mom and Dad came to see one of Trishy's games at Hampden Academy and to stay for dinner. We've installed new countertops to make space for the dishwasher that will be arriving on Wednesday. Mindy came by to do some light plumbing and while she was here we were fortunate to have visits from Charissa and Em and Meredith and Rosalyn.

All in all, we've been blessed with some crazy times full of friends and family. Many of you will be very happy to hear that Ella is now mostly potty trained (when she wants to be, hence, the "mostly" part). Maya is a much happier "dairy-free" baby. Suzanne went back to work yesterday and I'm finally getting back to the computer to give you all an update.

The mantra in our house right now is, "I can do it. I can do it! I can do it!!" Always three in a row with each being more emphatic that the previous.

Here are some recent pics....

Our smily girl

Charissa, Ella & Em attempting a Christmas pic together...

(Charissa was the only cooperative one in all 8 pictures)

Gramp & his kids

Ella & Brevie lovin' it up on the couch

Until Brevie decided to give a full body hug
and then things got ugly
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