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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 http://www.brandicarlile.com/. 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.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

bad day

I thought today would be a fine day. The sun shone bright on a crisp fall morning. Got through most of yoga this morning, even half succeeded at quieting my riotous brain. I had hopes of bulb planting and garden clearing. Charissa watched the girls for an hour so I could see a client (thanks Charissa) and we had just a few fun things to do today.

But just as the clouds descended on the late morning, so did a terrible mood on Ella and I.

We were like Tom and Jerry, fire and ice, oil and water, anchovies and chocolate (I couldn't think of anything else.)

I texted Sandi and told her, just to keep her up to date, that I had renamed our girls- Bitch and Moan. (Maya was the moan because she was just fussy, not full out manipulative, complaining, stubborn, and mean like Ella was today.)

For a quick recap - I lost my temper quite profoundly with Ella this afternoon, apologized profusely and attempted to begin the day anew, Ella peed in her pants THREE intentional times today, she looked at me and grinned a mocking grin as she refused to push the storm door open for me while I held a squirming Maya and three bags, she spit on the floor, took Maya's toys, smeared cheese all over the table, questioned my every move even as I was on the brink of insanity, and I burst into tears when Sandi called at supper time because Ella had just peed all over the kitchen chair, the upholstered kitchen chair, after I asked her 3 times if she needed to use the bathroom.

(By the way, Jeanine, today I instituted the "you want to go in your pants then you can clean it up yourself" idea. I think it will work but I think it also may have added fuel to her burning forest fire today.)

It was one of those days that you think maybe someone should come and take your children from you so that you don't have to enter them in therapy before age 18.

But they are in bed now, I have had my evening cocktail of cardio exercise (I'm doing P90X doubles- save the comments about my level of crazy) and Sandi will be home very soon.

Tomorrow we leave for our overnight/Sandi's birthday celebration which I think is the real reason behind all this behavior and emotional upset. Ella has expressed how much she doesn't want us to leave. I explained to her at bedtime that mommies work very hard and sometimes need a day off so that we aren't screechy, angry mommies like I was today. She nodded in comprehension as if to say, by all means then go with my blessing.

But all I can think of is that as she heard me cry on the phone this evening (I was carefully and discreetly in the other room) she was saying to me, "It's okay Momma, sometimes it's just hard. Sometimes it isn't fun at all."