A Busy Day for the Nelson-Campbell Family

I struggled to go to sleep last night, so when it was time to get up, make Ellie’s lunch and wake Ellie up, I didn’t even hear Ryan until he was walking down the stairs with Ellie.  She got into bed with me and we snuggled for a little while, but then it was time to get up, brush her hair and get dressed.  Normally, Ellie goes to school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, so she wears the uniform for that day — navy polo and khakis.  Since we have Dragon*Con this weekend, she had to go to school today, so she wouldn’t miss out on any of the three days for this week.  Well, Tuesday’s uniform is a maroon polo and black bottoms.  We completely forgot about the black bottoms…and put her in her khaki jumper.  We did this for a couple reasons:  1) She loves her jumper and 2) we could only find a size 4/5 maroon polo, so we needed something that would cover most of it up.  In the end, it looked like she had two dresses on, because the polo was longer than her jumper!

We also had a bit of an ordeal finding her jumper…but eventually found it in the last place we would ever look.  Isn’t that always how it happens?

We drove to the school and Ellie wanted to take morning photos by the school sign.  When we walked in the back, she sat down and took off her shoes.  When Ryan didn’t close the shoe bucket all the way, she went and closed it properly.  Ryan got scolded a bit.  Ellie walked up the stairs and for the first time, we ran into other parents as they were leaving.  Tuesday is a much busier day!  We put Ellie’s lunch box and water bottle away…and then she automatically attached herself to me.  She knew I was going to leave soon and she was extremely upset.  I held her for a minute or so and gave her bunches of kisses, but then I gave her to the director of the school and we left.  It was hard…but I know that the minute I leave, she’s fine!

We drove home and I went to work.  We hit some gnarly traffic thanks to a combination of a train, construction and school starting.  Before I knew it, lunch time was here and we had to head back to school to take photos for their website.  The school eats up natural light, so we had to get creative when taking photos of the kids.  We placed them next to the door, so I could open it and get more light or moved their tables closer to the window and opened the blinds.  Whatever was needed to get the light I needed for the photos.  Also, while I know I’m a good photographer, it was weird to take photos for someone else.  When it’s just for me, I know exactly what I need…and I know how to achieve it.  I don’t think I am a fan of doing photography for hire.  Too stressful!   But, the kids were wonderful and it was so nice to get to see Ellie in her element, especially before she knew we were there.

We went into her classroom and they were going over counting and working on which number is bigger and which number is smaller.  Ellie then went to work on her fractions.  She did 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and 1/5.  We all moved into the main room and worked on different math problems, as well as sorting.  I’m happy to share that Ellie did not throw all the beans in the air this time.  It was time for the kids to eat lunch, so we left quietly.  We heard Ellie crying, but she only cried for a moment.

When it was time to pick her up and bring her home, she was pretty excited to come home with us, although I think she would’ve preferred to play outside all by herself for an hour or so.  She asked to take her end of day photograph with a new pile of rocks.

Ellie is really blossoming at school.  She has made a couple new friends and the teachers seem to be very fond of her, as well.  She’s a teacher’s pet, for sure.  But, was there ever any doubt?


Ellie Loves School — But She Also Loves Mama

When Ellie woke up, Ryan carried her downstairs and she crawled into bed with me.  We snuggled for a while, but then it was time to get up and get ready for school.  I brushed her hair and helped her get dressed.  She wore her khaki skort and a navy blue polo.  She chose a new pair of Batman socks…and her favorite blue shoes.  One of her friends had a birthday party during lunch today, so we only packed some fruit and a water bottle for her.

We drove to school and all seemed well.  When we got out of the car, Ellie wanted to take her morning photo, so we posed by a street light this time.  As we trotted into the backyard of her school, so she could take her shoes off, she still seemed fine.  We walked up the stairs, went inside and put away her washcloths, lunchbox (still Spider-Man so far) and water bottle.  We chatted with the director of the school about some photography she needs done…and as we were about the leave, the waterworks started.  ”No, Mama!  Please don’t leave!  Mama, noooooo!”  And she jumped into my arms.  I told her she had to go to school, but that I would be back after lunch.  She still cried.  The director of the school helped sit her down by the toys and as we left, she screamed and cried and gave me the saddest face ever.  We walked toward the front of the school and the director’s husband (he’s the one working with the design company for their website who gave us more specifics about the photos needed) met us by the front door and told us to quietly come inside the school.  All we could hear was Ellie playing with her friends and laughing.  Once we were out of sight, she calmed down and went back to business as usual.  Mir, the director’s husband, told us a story of when his first son went to school and a similar thing happened.  It was before camera phones and that kind of instant communication we’re all so used to…so when he left the school and his crying son, he just sat at work with a pit in his stomach, because he didn’t know if his son was better yet.  He wanted us to see…or, well, hear, that Ellie was already better, so we wouldn’t feel bad.  It was a lovely gesture.

When home, I got to work and had a lot of emails to answer and paperwork to complete.  Yada yada.  But then, I heard my phone buzz…and the school director sent me pictures of Ellie eating pizza at the birthday party.  See, Ellie doesn’t like foods that get her hands messy.  She gets frustrated.  Also, she’s a pretty healthy eater…so, pizza isn’t really something she’s ever tried.  They cut up her pizza into small enough pieces so they were bite sized and easy for her to pick up and hold.  And she really liked it.  (In the car on the way home, she said, “Mama, I ate pizza!  Yum!”)

We went back to the school during my lunch break to pick up Miss Ellie.  They were finishing up story time when we got there.  Once Ellie realized we were there, she walked over and took us to her classroom.  They worked on continents again today, so the first thing she did was take me to a puzzle map and tell me where Africa was.  And then she pointed out North America.  She also worked on more shapes, letters, numbers and sorting skills.  I’m sure she did even more, but that’s all she told me about.  Her teacher, Ms. Cheryl, took photos of the kids today, so I was able to see what Ellie did.  I loved it!  And, of course, Ellie started a little bit of adorable trouble.  Every time one of them would write a letter, she would tell them to all raise their arms and say, “We did it!”.  She does that a lot at home, whenever she’s particularly proud of herself, so I’m not surprised she told her new friends all about this fun tradition.  Apparently, they did this 6 or 7 times — for 6 or 7 different letters.  And the teacher got photos of the entire thing!

We talked to the director about hosting some fun events

After she showed us what she learned today, she wanted to sing and dance and play with all of the toys.  We let her sing for 5 or so minute, but then it was time to head back home.  We took her end of day photos with her sitting on the rocks.  She sure does love rocks of any kind, lol.

She goes back tomorrow, since we leave for Dragon*Con on Wednesday night.  I bet she’s going to be excited to wear a different color polo.  (MWF is navy.  TTH is maroon!)



Ellie’s Winning at School

Today was day 3 of Ellie going to school.  Right now, she’s on a 3 half day schedule on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I finally got in more of her uniform items, so she was able to wear a khaki dress and navy polo outfit with her Batman socks.  She was particularly happy about this outfit.

We packed her lunch early this morning.  She got a sandwich, grapes (half order), watermelon, yogurt and a bottle of water.  After Monday, the director said we might want to give Ellie some yogurt, since she tried to share everyone else’s yogurt.  She even mentioned that Ellie has the healthiest lunch of all the kids…but that’s just what she likes to eat.

We drove over to the school and Ellie asked for her morning photo.  She wanted to sit down this time, so we found a nice little area near the front of the school.  We walked to the back entrance and Ellie sat down in the pink chair and took off her shoes.  When she went inside and saw everyone, she showed them her Batman socks!  The uniform states she needs to wear white socks, but we saw other kids weren’t following that rule, so we let Ellie break it, too.  Rules are meant to be followed, unless they are superfluous!

Ellie put her lunchbox and water bottle away and we refreshed her change of clothing (her shorts got wet on Wednesday), washcloths and her pull-ups.   We also noticed that they hung up all the family tree projects.  We definitely have the prettiest family tree!

When it was time for us to say goodbye, Ellie got upset and said that she is “Mama’s baby”.  She ran over to me and ask me to hold her like a baby.  The director reminded Dr. Ellie that she had work to do.  She was still upset that I had the leave, but by the time we were about 2 minutes away from the school, the director sent me photos of Dr. Ellie checking in on all the kids.

That definitely made us feel better.  I’m glad she deals with us leaving so well.  She always does during child watch at the gym…  Ellie just takes a little time to adjust, occasionally.

When we got back to the school to pick Ellie up, the director and Ellie’s second teacher, Ms. Cheryl, told us all about Ellie’s week.  They went over identifying  and drawing shapes (and Ellie pointed out a circle, triangle, rectangle and square for us), as well as how many sides the shapes have.  Ellie independently told us that a triangle has THREE sides.  And a square has FOUR sides.  She was very happy to share this with us.  They taught her the 7 continents (Ellie colored a picture of an adorable koala) and the 7 days of the week.

They also traced letters and worked on their sorting skills.  They have two sorting stations.  One has small beads.  One has two types of beans.  Ms. Cheryl was concerned because Ellie did an awesome job of sorting the different color beads…  But when they gave Ellie the beans to sort, instead of sorting them, she decided she’d rather throw them all in the air and yell, “Don’t spill the beans!”  Hey, Poppy…  Yeah, you!  See what you did?  You got Ellie in trouble at school!  When they asked us why she’d do that, we explained that Ellie was taught the absolute wrong way to play that game and that is why she decided to throw all the beans in the air.  Thankfully, she cleaned up her mess, since she’s good at putting everything away.  I just stood there laughing and thinking that my grandpa was going to get a phone call later today.  Mainly because I think he’ll find this hilarious!  :D

They had a “cooking” class today, which Ellie really enjoyed.  The director got to learn a little about how particular Ellie can be about color choices.  They had a bunch of different aprons available and Ellie kept turning them down until they got the her favorite one.  They took different fruits and dipped them in different sauces.  Ellie didn’t want the sauces (they were all sweet), but she loved eating all the fruit.

At lunch, Ellie was happy with all of her food…until two kids pulled out rice from their lunchboxes.  Ellie loves rice more than anything else.  It’s her favorite food.  The paperwork we were given specifically said no rice, or else we would have given her some.  Needless to say, she’ll have rice next week!  One of the kids came up to me and said, “Ms. Ellie’s Mom, Ellie tried to steal my rice with shrimp and peas!”  I’m not surprised, lol!   The director also said that Ellie will only use the green place setting for lunch. And that she wants everything put on a separate plate.  She’s so my kid!

Before we left, the teacher gave us all the work Ellie did this week.  It’s so cute to have a bunch of schoolwork to put away for her.  Wait until she’s older and we can show her when she drew a triangle in school… or colored some Ellie-Picasso hybrid picture.  Her teachers said she is a sponge and is very bright.  They said her hand-eye coordination is off the charts and her fine motor skills (like holding a pencil) are very advanced.  These are all things we’ve known for a while now.  They are especially impressed with her retention.  I am, too!  That kid remembers everything!

The director asked if I would come to class for an hour or so next week and photograph all the kids.  She also asked if we’d make aprons for all the kids, since she doesn’t have enough for everyone.  (She offered to pay, of course.)  I love that we’re a part of this brand new school and get to help them out in this way.  It’s a great experience and we love being part of this community.  And Ellie seems to really enjoy all of her new friends.  On the way out to the car, Ellie asked for her end of day photo.  We took it by a tree.

Now to finish the day and talk to Ellie a little more about Australia, since that seems to be her favorite continent right now.

Schoolie, Day 2

Ryan went to wake up Ellie and the first thing she wanted to do?  Snuggle with Mama.  Man, my life is hard!  :P

After 10 minutes or so of snuggling, we got up and brushed our teeth, our hair and got dressed.  Ellie asked me to put her hair up in pigtails…and wanted pink hair ties.  I originally grabbed navy hair ties to match her school uniform, but she wasn’t having it.

We packed her lunch in her Spider-Man lunchbox: sandwich, grapes, watermelon and a bottle of water.  If you see a cute lunchbox set, let me know.  I want to add a few more to her collection.  Especially if you find a Bubble Guppies set.  If she has to wear a uniform, then her lunchboxes, nap mat covers and wash cloths will have a lot of personality!

We drove Ellie to school and she instantly fell into her new routine.  She wanted to pose for photos with her lunchbox.

Then, she sat down outside on the little pink chair, took off her sneakers and put them in the outdoor sneakers container.  She walked up the stairs and went inside and put away her lunchbox and water bottle.  Finally, she sat down and played with her new friends.  When we were ready to leave, she said goodbye without any tears!

The rest of the morning and into the early afternoon allowed us to work in peace, which was nice.  But it was still so darn quiet!

Ellie had “homework” (well, really the adults…) from Monday that we never did on Tuesday, so I finished it up.  It was a family tree with the nicknames of all the people on the tree and a photo of them.  Since Ellie has no blood siblings, I included a picture of Tigger and a picture of her cousin, Austin.

When we got to the school, Ellie was reading a story with the director of the school.  When they were done, Ellie read another story with her other teacher.  The director told us that Ellie is her new teacher’s assistant.  In just one day of school, Ellie already knew their routine down to the minute.  When it was time for lunch, Ellie let everyone know.  When it was reading time, Ellie reminded the teacher and her friends.  When it was time to bring the nap mats out, Ellie lead everyone over to their mats so they could get them.  The director was impressed with Ellie’s memory…and I let her know she’s always been like that.  In every class, she is the one who is most concerned about following the routine.  If a step is missed, she will remind her instructors.  It’s amusing…and reminds me of someone else I know.  (Ahem.)

Today, they worked on shapes and math (focusing on 0-4 and not just memorizing but grasping the concept of quantity), along with general reading and learning letters/phonemes.

Ellie didn’t want to head home today.  She was very excited about reading all the books (and putting them away when she’s done, because she was raised well!).  Once done with what seemed like the 10th book, Ryan took her by the hand and she walked with us to the door.   We stopped and she put on her sneakers.   As we were walking to the car, she said, “No Mama, over here!”  She wanted to take end of day photos by the school sign again.  I have a feeling this is going to be our routine for a while.  Ellie loves routine!

Another successful day of school, Ellie Belly.  So excited to watch you learn and grow and develop new skills!


Ellie is going to schoolie!

A couple of weeks ago, an Austin Mamas member posted about a relatively new AMI Montessori program in Round Rock.  She recommended it highly to the other mamas of the group (most of whom I despise).  Normally, I take their recommendations with a grain of salt…but after researching this new school and its director, I thought it might be a good fit for Ellie.

We love teaching Ellie here at home.  That being said, my work schedule is jam-packed and Ryan’s work schedule is now so full of Geek-a-bye Baby work, that we’re unable to give Ellie a steady curriculum.  We have activities every day (multiple activities most days), but they aren’t as consistent as I would like.  Thankfully, she is a bright, well-adjusted little girl!  And she’s advanced well beyond her years.  But a lot of that is just Ellie being Ellie.

When we visited this new school, we instantly loved the location and the look of the school.  It’s definitely a Montessori school, but with a slightly more traditionally structured learning environment.  A good mix of Montessori with standard school.  But it definitely leans a lot more Montessori.  In essence, Ellie still gets plenty of free and guided play, but the lessons aren’t freely chosen.  There is a more structured list of activities they go through each day.  Ellie enjoyed her visit to the school.  She played with just about everything she could get her hands on!  The director’s sons were there and one of them played a number of puzzle games with Ellie.  They were impressed with her aptitude for puzzles.  After we finished touring the facility, Ellie even wanted to try to go potty on the potty, because it’s a kid-sized potty.  That silly girl has been potty trained since about 2, but then decided she wants to only pee in diapers.  Hopefully they’ll be able to help us with getting her to pee on the potty again.  When it was time to leave, Ellie didn’t want to go.  She wanted to stay and count everything, read everything, play with everything.  A very good sign.  And the best part?  They offer a lot of different plans for attendance.  We opted for 3 half days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) to start with, but will likely move to 3 full days after Ellie gets accustomed to going to school.

That visit occurred on a Friday and we signed her up for the school the following Monday.  It just felt right.  A small school with a lot of one on one attention and a focus on advanced learning and learning that is truly designed for each child’s aptitude.

We had to wake Ellie up earlier than normal, so when she woke up…she wanted to snuggle with me in bed.  We snuggled for about ten minutes, but then it was time to get up.  We made her some breakfast and I sat down with her while she ate.  We got dressed up in her school uniform — navy polo dress (she can also wear regular polos) and khaki shorts (she can also wear skirts, jumpers, pants).  She also has to wear white socks, so hopefully that helps with her getting acclimated to wearing socks…and less smelly feet!  She cried a few times because she wanted me to hold her or keep snuggling, so we knew leaving the school was likely going to be harder than normal.  See, we drop Ellie off at child care at the gym almost every day.  And she trots over to her favorite child care facilitators and waves goodbye to us.  Sometimes she wants a kiss…  Not always, though.  But when she’s grumpy, it’s always harder.  She’s more clingy and just wants Mama to hold her.  The entire time.  And she’ll cry and cry and cry.

We got in the car and drove over to her new school.  When Ellie got out of the car, I gave her a brand new, Spider-Man lunchbox filled with a sandwich in an Elmo container, watermelon in a Spider-Man container, goldfish crackers in an Elmo container, and a Spider-Man water bottle.  The first this she said was, “Mama, it’s heavy!”  We walked over to the school’s sign and took lots of photos.  Since she’s so sleepy, they were sleep face photos.

I’ll need to get more photos on Wednesday and Friday and call it the First Week of School.  We held hands and walked to the door.  Ellie wanted to play outside, but I told her she needed to drop off her things and visit with her teachers and friends first.  We walked up the stairs and said hello to everyone.  Ellie instantly sat down and played with the other kids — they were playing LEGOs.  Ellie LOVES LEGOs.  We put all of Ellie’s stuff away: lunchbox, water bottle, wash cloths, pull ups and wipes, change of clothes, Batman flip flops.  And the director gave me homework: a family tree I need to put together for Ellie.

I took a few more photos and then it was time to say goodbye.  Ellie cried, but we said our goodbyes and left the school.  I’m certain she was fine moments after we were gone.  She loves playing and the other kids likely distracted her.

It’s weird to think that she’s starting school.  I mean, I know everyone says this…but I remember her still in the womb like it was yesterday.  That being said, I don’t feel time is going by quickly.  We pack so much fun into every single day.  I am just so happy that she wants to go to school and that the director feels she’s so impressive for her age.  I make sure to stress that it’s all Ellie.  She was born and at 2 minutes old, she looked me straight in the eyes, smiled…and held my finger.  She’s an old soul and has a wonderful sense of self.

I’m excited to talk to Ellie all about her first day at school.  I can’t wait to watch her continue to develop and change and learn and grow.  And now for Mama and Dada to figure out how the hell to deal with spending the first half of the day Ellie-free.  It’s so quiet here…  I think I need some white noise!  


Kindermusik and Community

Yesterday was Ellie’s first day of Kindermusik, a wonderful weekly class we heard about through Austinmamas and Google. We really want to help Ellie adjust to a more structured, classroom environment, while still ensuring she’s enjoying every darn second of class. When we heard about Kindermusik, it seemed like an obvious choice. Even my Aunt Sue suggested it for Ellie Belly. See, folks who know Ellie understand just how much she loves music. Even the most basic beat tapped on the edge of a table and Ellie is tapping, singing and dancing along.

When we got to class, we were a tad early, so we could chat with the teacher, Ms. Alissa. Of course, the first thing she says is that everyone needs to take off their shoes and put them on the bench by the door. For Ellie, this is awesome, since she isn’t a fan of trapping her feet. For me, it reminded me that I really should’ve gone for that pedicure with my sister while she was here. Live and learn.

Back to the class — Ms. Alissa was very warm and inviting. We weren’t sure what to expect, honestly. Classes like these can seem…well, like lots of things: elitist, sterile, too clinical, clique-ish. Or maybe that’s just our experience with the Austinmamas Yahoo group? But, Ms. Alissa was everything you’d hope for from a modern day Mary Poppins with an awesome academic pedigree… She answered any question we were going to ask (and a few we didn’t even think to ask) right away, while we were still the only parent/baby combo in the dance room/classroom. She also let Ellie play with an entire drawer of scarves, which made for a very happy toddler. Especially when she was asked to help put away said scarves. Ellie loves playing clean up. She thinks of it as a game. We don’t mind this one bit. 

Before we knew it, babies starting arriving attached to very cool mamas. And class started. Kindermusik has numerous classes based on age range. Ellie is in the Village class, which is for newborn to 18 month old babies. The whole point of the class is to bond with your baby while stimulating their physical and cognitive development through music. But, really, it’s much more than that. It’s an amazing avenue to work with your little one on boundaries, social interaction, self soothing and decompression.

Ellie was the oldest little one there, so she did a lot of showing off. And, of course, she amused the adults with her very special brand of Ellie humor.

The best part, for me, was watching her smile and watching her eyes light up whenever we were singing songs and dancing. Many times, she went to the middle of the circle of parents and kids and danced and sang and laughed. She’d run to the other babies, as if she was asking them to join her in the fun she was having.

Another highlight was during the relaxation part of the class where the lights are turned off and we are all quiet while listening to relaxing music. Think of the end of a yoga class. Ellie decided she wanted to explore the room while we were all resting on the floor. And another baby decided to go and explore with her. They talked for most of the relaxation exercise. Ellie kept trying to get that baby to chase after her, but that other baby wasn’t having ANY of it. But…to the highlight. At the end of relaxation time, Ellie ran over to me and snuggled up next to me. She relaxed. It showed how much she is progressing.

We played one game where we all bounce and bounce and dance and…stop! Ellie was the only baby who did not want to sit on a lap for this exercise. She wanted to run. When Ms. Alissa would sing, Ellie would run back over to the circle, stand next to her and dance and sing, too. And when Ms. Alissa said ‘Stop!”, Ellie would stop and look at her with that coy smile that we all know and love. And she did that over and over again. It amazed me that she understood what she was supposed to do without ever experiencing this song or exercise before. It also introduced the room to her cheeky sense of humor, because she found the whole thing hilarious!

Ellie was able to show off her ball rolling and throwing during a jingle ball portion of the class, but really, it showcased her love of sharing. She really enjoys sharing her toys with other people. And we love watching her continue to develop and cultivate that love of sharing.

The last activity involved musical instruments, which had Ellie over the moon. She played with the egg maracas, just like the ones she has at home from Uncle Roon. She played with regular maracas. And tambourines, too. And at the end, she was a great helper when it came to putting the musical instruments away. When the crate of egg maracas was put on top of the drawer of regular maracas and Ellie noticed a regular maraca that was out of place, she lifted the egg maraca crate out of the draw to put the misplaced maracas back where it belonged. That surprised me — she is very particular about her organization!

After that wonderful class, she signed up for Kindermusik right away. Ellie had such a wonderful time and we know it will be a great environment for her to continue to develop and experiment with boundaries and social interactions.

She hugged and kissed everyone there and waved hello and goodbye. And she did so with such an understanding of what she was doing. It was just so lovely to see.

Community is so important. When I had Ellie, I knew that there were people in our lives that wouldn’t be a good influence for her. People that I wanted to limit her interaction with, as best as I could. But, it was hard to cut those people out, for lots of reasons. As those friendships came to an end and a sense of relief washed over my husband, Ryan, and I, we knew it was the right thing to do because we truly believe in the ‘It takes a village’ mentality. That being said, it can work against you, too. It’s important to understand that everyone who is interacting with your kid(s) will have an impact, in some way. And it’s your job, as a parent, to make sure the right people are interacting with your child, especially during these formative years. When we joined Austinmamas and started going to playdates, we quickly learned that most of the parents we interacted with were not the kind of people we wanted around Ellie.  (This is likely influenced by the fact that the playdates seemed more about the mom and less about the baby, along with the fact that most of their events are not dad friendly.) Not to say we’re sheltering her, but why purposely have her interact with people that we feel do not add to her development? After one 45 minute class at Kindermusik, we knew we found a group of parents who have similar mentalities to us.  And they welcomed Ryan with open arms, which is very important to us, since he is so actively involved in Ellie’s life. We experienced a sense of community that we couldn’t deny Ellie.

We hope our next class is even better than the first!

Aunt Sarah and Uncle Matt Visit Ellie

Recently, my siblings visited us.  Ellie was excited to spend more time with family since that doubled the amount of attention she could capitalize on.  :D

My siblings arrived late Thursday night after a flight that didn’t seem to want to arrive in Austin.  (Seriously, Ryan and I kept watching the flight arrival time as it updated later and later and later and…)  We stopped and picked up some Mexican take out and headed home for a quick dinner and bed.  Ellie was beyond sleepy and my siblings weren’t much better off.

Friday was a work day for me, so my siblings helped us tremendously throughout the day.  Sarah helped me for a few hours and Matt entertained his niece, including chauffeuring her around in one of her favorite toys.  By now, Ellie has a very skewed perspective as to what ‘driving’ is all about.  She hops in her car and yells at us to push her around.  It’s seriously…Driving Miss Ellie.  We can’t wait until her little legs are long enough to Flintstone herself around.


NOTE TO SELF: Ellie and Uncle Matt have questionable fashion sense.  :D  While Matt was playing with Ellie, she decided to put on a second onesie and a flower lei.  Also, she had a crazy mohawk caused by taking a nap when her hair was still a little wet.  All in all, she was a hot mess!


Saturday and Sunday were spent at Sherwood Forest Faire.  This was more for my sister than my poor brother who seemed to be in culture shock heaven (or hell).   Sarah dressed up in some of my casual ren garb and helped us sell at the shoppe.  Matt spent most of his time with Miss Ellie, the Ren Faerie.  She really enjoyed running around the faire.  She also seemed to deal with the terrain better than most of the adults I watched tripping and stumbling over the large pieces of tree that the faire decided would be a good mulch-substitute.  Oh, our poor ankles.

On Sunday morning, we went to Ellie’s Easter photo shoot at a farm in the Middle of Nowhere, TX.  Seriously, by the time we got there, I felt like we were in another state.  But, as usual, Abby Glenn is a genius when it comes to picking locations.  Ellie had a complete and utter blast.  She got to play with chicks (and try to eat one — the owner of the farm said, “We’ve got a squeezer!”), a rabbit and ducks.  She was not a fan of the ducks.  At all.  Abby told us Ellie was the best baby of the entire shoot.  She loves having her photo taken!

Monday was an ‘All About Uncle Matt’ day. He wanted to go shooting and he wanted to eat BBQ.  Those were pretty simple things to accomplish.  We went to the shooting range and Ryan, Matt and Sarah all rented guns.  Sarah got a basic 9MM.  Matt rented a Ruger that looked like it was straight out of a WWII movie.  And Ryan?  He rented an AK-47.  When Ryan was done with his AK, he decided to shoot his own gun, as well.  Ellie and I waited and took pictures of the three of them shooting next to one another in the pistol lane section when all of a sudden…the lights went out and turned back on.  It seemed like a drill almost.  Everyone in the gun range got very quiet and very still.  The staff seemed very cautious, but not panicked.  And then the lights went out…and never came back on.  The staff went into lock down mode and had all the shooters unload their weapons and place them on the shelf of their lane.  All the shooters were escorted out of the range.  Thankfully, all the staff had flashlights at the ready.  I guess this is something they prepared for, even though it’s never happened before.  They didn’t charge us rental fees, which is nice of them.  And they couldn’t charge us, either, since they couldn’t use a credit card machine of any sort.

When we left the range, we noticed the wind was a bit unruly.  As we were driving to the Salt Lick, we saw telephone poles that were knocked over, many accidents and trees that had fallen over, as well.  When we checked the weather report, it showed that winds were about 35mph sustained with 50mph gusts.


When we arrived at the Salt Lick, we could barely get out of the car.  Sarah looked like the wind was going to knock her over.  But, I still got a gorg shot of her pretty face.  :D



Of course, Ellie loves this.  She loves wind.  Seriously.  When she feels wind on her face, she giggles and dances and makes this smile that looks like pure joy!

When we finally made our way into Salt Lick, the smell of their delicious BBQ had all of us anxious to sit down and get our family style ON.  Their pit was smoking and full of delicious meats!

We all ordered the family style and enjoyed brisket, sausage and ribs.  Ellie even had a little brisket, although she’s not a huge fan of red meat.  She mainly eats poultry.  (Recently, we tried the turkey at Salt Lick Round Rock and she loved it.  Note to self…)  Matt and Sarah loved the real BBQ.  We all ate our weight in meat, lol.

After dinner, we went back home to enjoy our meat coma.  Matt watched The Walking Dead and the Talking Dead with Ryan and Ellie while Tigger, Sarah and I picked out around 147 photos for Grandma Paula, since she requested hard copies of Ellie photos for Ellie’s photo album.  Sarah and I went through at least 5000 photos. There are thousands and thousands more.  I hope Grandma Paula’s photo album is big enough!  :D

Tuesday brought us back to the shooting range, since Matt wanted to shoot an AK-47.  Before that, though, we had Ellie’s 15 month check-up, which I posted about last week.  With Ellie finally above the height and weight requirements for her big girl car seat, we made the transition.  Our toddler is growing up!

Once at the shooting range, Matt rented the AK-47 and I went in as an observer, so I could take photos.  Not sure why I didn’t think to bring my low light lens, since we can’t use flash for obvious reasons.  But, I did catch one good shot, albeit on the wrong side of the gun, since there were people in the lane on the right of Uncle Matt.

The guys at the range were laughing about the previous day and the no lights shenanigans.  They were extra nice to us and even gave Ellie a truck to play with.  Matt also shot Ryan’s Ruger 9MM.

That evening, we tried a Korean/Sushi house that Ryan and I love.  We converted my brother to a sushi lover!  And he really liked the Korean food he tried, as well.  And then…Krispy Kreme.  So, I’m not too familiar with Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Never really tried many.  I’ve had a couple prior to my siblings being here.  But, apparently some comic they both like has some stand-up about this doughnut shop, so we had to stop in and get a few.  Ryan knows more about Krispy Kreme, so he brought us there when the Hot and Fresh sign was lit up.  They greeted us at the counter with fresh samples of their glazed doughnut…right off the line.  My siblings went a bit nuts.  They fell in love with Krispy Kreme right then and there.  We bought a dozen and took many photos.  My brother didn’t want anyone else to even HOLD the box of doughnuts.  It was all very hilarious.

Wednesday was their last full day in Texas.  So, we headed to Juan in a Million.  My sister and brother watch a lot of Man vs. Food (and similar shows), so we wanted to introduce them to the Don Juan.  As well as Juan’s handshake, since it is the best in Austin!  They loved the famous taco — and determined that none of them could come close to beating the record for how many you can eat in one sitting.  (5 for the ladies, 9 for the men.)

We went to the outlet mall to find some adorable things for Ellie and then off to bowling with Poppy and Aunt Sue.  Ellie is a natural!  Her first frame was a strike!

We all had a great time bowling, which we haven’t done much in our old age.  Ellie preferred to chase the ball, rather than let it go down the lane, which led to some hilarity.

After bowing, we enjoyed dinner at Golden Wok, one of Nanny’s favorite restaurants and then went home.  Sarah and I made a few late night crafts for her girlfriend and then we all went to bed.  It was a long day — and they had an early flight to catch.

All in all, it was a great visit.  It reminded me of what I missed by not living in the same home (or state) as my siblings.  We lived together on and off until I was around 13 or 14.  And then I moved in with my then-boyfriend and they moved in with Grandma Paula.  We can’t really make up for lost time, because time doesn’t work that way, but we can make up for missed memories.  I appreciate all the time they spent with Ellie.  And I promise to never make them both visit at the same time again.  Sibling rivalry never ends!  :D

See you in June!

Things I’d Only Say To My Toddler

Ellie! Stop trying to suffocate Tigger!


You know you’re raising a toddler when you start yelling out sentences like that.  Ellie (my toddler) was trying to suffocate our cat, Tigger.  Now, does she comprehend that her actions might hurt Tigger?  No.  Does she think it’s funny to try and cover him in blankets or sheets?  Yes. She also thinks it’s funny when Tigger is in boxes.  And it’s even funnier when she tries to close the box with him still in it.

Maybe it’s her own version of non-compliant hide and go seek?

I think I should definitely make a regular blow post of “Things I’d Only Say To My Toddler”.  Just yesterday, we had to yell out, “Ellie, please stop trying to kiss all of the strangers!”  The strangers all found that one very amusing.

What is the funniest thing your toddler has caused you to yell out?  :D

A big, small girl.

Yesterday, my Ellie Belly turned 15 months.  We took her aunt and uncle shooting at Red’s and bbqing at Salt Lick.  Not so surprisingly, Ellie had fun with all the above activities.  It was adorable, actually.  She wanted to run around the store section of the shooting range.  When I wouldn’t let her do that, she started yelling.  An older gentleman came up to her and looked at her, smiling, and said, “You’re louder than the AK-47!”  And she was.  :D

Today was Ellie’s 15 month check up.  She is 31.25″ and 21.25 lb.  76th and 24th percentile respectively.  She is riding around in her big girl car seat now.  It’s an adorable cow print Britax that we found at BabyEarth before she was born and just had to have!

It was a weird feeling to see her sitting in her big girl car seat.  She seemed more comfortable, for sure.  But, she also seemed a little unsure of her surroundings.  She was scratching and pinching the new fabric.

The doc visit went well.  Ellie is stringing words, so Dr. Spencer said that is pretty advanced for her age.  Even if she only does it when she wants and not on command.  Dr. Spencer said Ellie seems very strong-willed and independent, so it’s not surprising that she’s only going to do things on her time table.  Ellie is still very physically advanced and her ability to comprehend what you’re requesting of her is well beyond her age.  Not surprising, although I was concerned that she doesn’t just parrot away with her words, like some kids her age.  Since she says a word for a while and moves on to a new word after, Dr. Spencer said there is no cause for concern.

She has an umbilical hernia. Apparently, 10% or so of babies get them. It should go away the time she’s 2 or 3.  Dr. Spencer says if it’s still there at 3, she’ll want use to consult with a surgeon, but she hopes it goes away on its own.  As do we.

And when she got her two shots, she didn’t even utter a peep.  She is such a tough cookie.

All in all, a great visit and a great transition for our little toddler.

Packing Up Memories

Ryan is straightening up the upstairs since my sister and brother are visiting for a week. When I went up there to visit with Ryan and Ellie, I saw two big bags full of Ellie clothing. She has officially outgrown enough clothing to warrant packing them up and putting them in storage. This was a bittersweet moment for me. All those adorable little Ellie clothes that I won’t get to see anymore. It’s a strange feeling.

She’s still in her 9-12 month clothing, but she is getting closer and closer to the 12 month-only end of the size spectrum. And as she gets bigger and bigger, so many amazing changes come with her change in size. But, there is something so sweet and special about those newborn items that she barely fit into when we took her home from the hospital.

We framed her first ever outfit from Dell Children’s Hospital in a shadow box. We still need to add a few finishing touches, but then it is ready to hang on her bedroom wall. I can’t wait for Ellie to be old enough to understand how tiny she used to be.

I guess that is always a parental dilemma. You want them to grow up so you can share new and exciting things with them. But, you want them to stay small, so you can forever enjoy their newborn innocence. And smell.