Friday, December 31, 2010

Christmas lights

Thought I'd better get these up before it's New Years! So much to share in pictures and words from our wrap up of 2010, but it'll have to wait as we just rolled into town from our Illinois and Wisconsin adventures... and Brian and I plan to relax a little in the final hours of the year.
Here are a couple shots of Ellie helping decorate with Christmas lights at our house. Maybe we won't have to worry as much about her getting into dangerous stuff in 2011... but something tells me that's not the case!
Thanks to everyone who filled our lives with love and laughter in 2010. Wishing you all a very merry christmas and happy new year!
Love, Ellie and Brian and Dorothy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy birthday, Brian!

Today Brian is 31 years old. I'll refrain from jokes about how old he is and instead share some sappy stuff. Brian often tells me and Ellie that he doesn't think he could love us any more than he already does but knows that he will in the next hour or day or year. It's the perfect way to sum up my love for him and our love for this precious child we've created. The goofy crush that sprouted between two classmates back in grad school has matured (a little, anyway) into this soulful love between partners for life. We're definitely on the ride together and every day with Ellie reminds us of that. And I'm so grateful to know that through the ups and downs, twists and somersaults of life that Brian is by my side.

As Ellie and I help Brian celebrate his birthday, we have to reflect on how lucky we are. We couldn't ask for a better man. And to help remind us of that, we've compiled this little list of "31 things Ellie and I love about Dad/Brian."

  1. He makes us laugh.
  2. Holds us when we’re sad.
  3. Reassures us that everything will be OK, no matter what.
  4. Does funny voices (Dot especially enjoys his rendition of several characters from Steel Magnolias, while Ellie is a fan of all of his Winnie the Pooh voices.)
  5. Sings silly songs.
  6. Good at styling hair. (Ellie’s… not Dot’s)
  7. Cooks great food.
  8. Shovels in the winter.
  9. Starts the car early to warm it up in the morning.
  10. Grows us veggies in the summer.
  11. Is a grill-master!
  12. Pretends to pull a hamstring to let Dot win at the end of runs (sometimes…)
  13. Suffers through Christmas music leading up to the holiday.
  14. Acts like a little kid whenever we’re at the beach.
  15. Picks us up and swings us around.
  16. Is a reading fanatic.
  17. Tells us more than we ever wanted to know about whatever history book he’s reading at the time.
  18. Tells us more than we ever wanted to know about whatever research release he’s working on at the time.
  19. Says we’re beautiful and makes us feel special.
  20. Takes care of us when we’re sick.
  21. Surprises us with fun stuff!
  22. Loves to try new recipes and places.
  23. Puts up with us when we’re cranky.
  24. Gives us treats — that one is partly from the dogs, too!
  25. Kills bugs for us.
  26. Gets things from the basement because he knows it creeps Dot out.
  27. Reaches things that are too high for us — unless it’s something he’s just taken away from Ellie because she was climbing on it or trying to eat it…
  28. Is generous.
  29. Had tremendous faith in our future.
  30. Spins quite a yarn. What a storyteller…
  31. Loves and protects his family.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


There was some minor bloodshed in our house last night. As I worked to clear off our kitchen counter to make room for rolling out sugar cookie dough, I knocked the sugar canister into a wine glass and snapped the stem of the glass and proceeded to stab myself in the finger.
Not a life-threatening injury, to be sure. But there was a lot of blood that wouldn't stop. Brian finally convinced me that stitches were probably needed, but I realized that my options were limited at 7:45 p.m. Determined to avoid a trip to the ER for such a piddly wound, I raced off across town to the an urgent care clinic that was open until 8. Thanks to several inches of new snow on the ground and Indiana drivers terrified to drive in such conditions... I arrived there at 8:02 p.m. and found the clinic shut down for the night. Still determined to avoid the hospital — and $100 co-pay! — I loitered around the outside of the office until a doctor came out and asked if I could get an opinion on the finger. By then it finally stopped bleeding and while the doctor said it could probably use a stitch or two, she conceded that if it were her finger she wouldn't go to the ER either. SO, I drove back across town, picked up some butterfly enclosures and made Brian put my finger back together.
None of this struck me as too crazy until I thought about how I would have handled the same situation with Ellie. I joked (half-joked...) with Brian that there probably would have been an ambulance called, or at least a fast and dangerous drive out to the hospital! Well, I guess that's just the shift of priorities that comes with being a parent. Her safety and health is #1 in my book... all the same, I'll try to avoid stabbing myself from now on :)

Building a bear

We went down to the Build-a-bear store in Indy on Saturday to make one of Ellie's Christmas presents. I'd never been to one either, so I was as excited as Ellie! (maybe more...)
Brian and I put a pile of the animals on the floor and had Ellie choose her own. She picked up the panda bear and hugged it, so we decided that was the one. Above is Brian and Ellie waiting in line for the bear stuffing. Ellie loved the machine that stuffed the bears since it made a loud "whirring" noise. She also loves the coffee bean grinder and vacuum for the same reason :)
Mom and Ellie showing off the bear. And (below) dad and Ellie using the vacuum to clean any extra fuzz off her panda.

This one is just too cute of our big girl cruising around the store. She loves her new panda!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another play date

Ellie's first play date of the weekend was with her friend Colin. We went over to the Hansons' house for breakfast and some "burn some energy out of the kids" time :) Ellie was enthralled with all of the new toys and Colin was great at sharing. Lia and I did remark that the kids were more playing near each other, rather than with each other... but I'm sure that will change as they get older.

Blue water

I'm working backwards in catching up the blog from our incredibly fun-packed weekend. Here's Ellie and Rosalie (our friends Mary and Rob's almost-one-year-old daughter) taking a bath together on Saturday night. We used one of the colored fizzy tub tablets that Ellie got for her birthday. The girls played together momentarily (maybe?) but Ellie was pretty much ready for bed before she got in... so it bathtime was pretty brief. Still, we had a great evening and Sunday morning with the Nuttersons.

Brian with sweet Rosalie, who seems so tiny compared our giant Ellie!
We'll pretend this is a sweet picture of the girls enjoying story time... but I think Ellie was trying to pry Rosalie's hand off her peek-a-boo book. (sigh)Here are a couple of the least chaotic shots Mary and I tried to get with our little ladies on Sunday morning. What a zoo, but we wouldn't have it any other way!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas shopping

I'm behind on these, but they're from this past Sunday when we went out to do some Christmas shopping. On the way out we stopped for a snack at BW3, where Brian got some wings as part of the birthday week (10 days?) leading up to his 31st... on Dec. 22. We timed our visit to catch the end of the Packers game, but wound up wishing we hadn't seen it. Ugh.
At the mall Ellie helped us pick out some gifts for family. We stopped at these kids rides but didn't have enough quarters to make them run. Ellie didn't seem to care, though. Here she is in a boat — insert SNL skit reference here :)
Her next ride was on daddy's shoulders! What a tall baby!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A seat at the table

We're trying something new to improve Ellie's mealtime attention span, and hopefully the amount of food that makes it into her mouth instead of on the floor.
Instead of eating on the tray that attaches to her booster seat, we've decided to pull her seat up to the dining room table with us. The picture from above was taken before we remembered that there are height adjustments on the side of the seat ... so she no longer looks like she's eating in a hole!
The "experiment" is going pretty well. I think Ellie likes sitting at the table with mom or dad, or both, and feeling like the meal is an actual event. I hope this will be part of a shift of all of us eating dinner together every night. We do sometimes, but often Ellie is ready for dinner long before Brian and I have had time to cook. So it's often last night's leftovers for Ellie at 5 p.m. and then dinner for us closer to 7 when Ellie's already gone to bed. I'm sure over time we'll all meet in the middle somewhere. For now I'm just happy to see her taking mealtime seriously and not thinking that throwing food on the floor will mean that we'll set her down and let her eat it there... I blame the dogs for that bad influence! :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Spirit of the season?

I've found myself getting a little Grinchy this week, as stress of the holiday season builds. So I'm trying to force myself to step back, take a deep breath and think about all the things I am grateful for — even if they can cause some headache or heartache at times.
My oldest brother and his family just decided that they won't be able to make the trip from Nebraska to celebrate Christmas with the rest of the family. Although I'm disappointed to miss seeing him, his wife and their two marvelous children... I'm also proud that he's in such an important position working for the state that he has to be on hand there in case anything goes wrong. Truthfully I was very down about it last night, since it's so important to me to see our whole family get to spend time together (since it happens very rarely these days...) But I realized he's probably hurting about missing the family Christmas, too. It's more important to reach out and send some love their way instead of feeling bad about the whole thing. So I'm trying to focus on knowing that we will get to see each other at some point... hopefully sooner rather than later!

The holidays can certainly be a touchy time of year, especially in balancing my roles as mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, granddaughter, etc. But I'm going to try to put my best face (faces?) forward this year and enjoy the season, rather than let stress weigh me down. Hopefully this plan doesn't collapse somewhere around Dec. 25 (or before!)... But life is too short to not enjoy my family and friends while I can. And I want Ellie to grow up enjoying Christmas as much as I have my whole life. I don't care if it's cliche´ and all, I really feel like this time of year is magical.

Ellie and Colin

Ellie had a "date" this past Saturday night with our friends' son Colin. He came over with his parents, who watched Ellie for a couple hours for us while we attended a dinner for one of Brian's co-workers. We were thrilled to hear that Ellie played nice most of the evening and the two had a great time (despite Ellie's sour expression in the photo!)...
We've done a couple babysitting swaps with Mike and Lia, since they also don't have family in town. It's a nice way for each of us to get out without the expense/hassle of a paid babysitter. We're lucky to have the Hansons! Ellie and Colin are having another playdate this weekend, with all the parents getting to hang out, too... so hopefully the fun will continue!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

New words

We've said before that Ellie seems to learn new things in waves. We'll get several new things all at once, and, proud of her accomplishments, she'll be content for a couple weeks before picking up new things.
We've just gone through a fun wave, which has brought some new games and abilities. Here are a few.
Dorothy learned the other day that Ellie likes to hide her toys. Well, hide is a stretch. She puts them in the seat of her princess cart in plain view of everyone in the room. But once the lid is closed, she throws up her hands, gets a puzzled look and asks in garbled baby talk "Where is it?" Almost immediately, she fishes it out and grins ear to ear. We assumed she learned this game at daycare, but they had never seen this. It's still a bit of a mystery to us.
Ellie has a newfound love of the dogs. She's always yelled her word for dog when they run into the room, but she's gotten a lot more hands-on, shall we say, with them lately. Whereas she used to walk up to the dogs, maybe let them lick her a bit, she now dives on top of them, grabs ears and tails and really just romps them all she wants. Muzzy is more amenable to this, but Radar doesn't mind too much.
And one of my favorites these days is that Ellie is starting to mimic the words we say more often. While this will require some language changes from some of us (yeah, I know I just mean me), it is great to see Ellie expand her vocabulary. We're learning that baby language that is really only discernable by parents, and that's fun as well. One of my favorite words she's mimicked lately is our friend Nick's name. It basically came out as a loud kxxx. Close enough.
- Brian

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Playing hard

Boo! Ellie emerges from behind the furniture after only getting stuck once. Ah, so comfortable to sit and play in one of my wooden boxes. If only there weren't so many toys in here, both legs would fit.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The purse strings

First off, I think I'm in recovery from the stomach bug that laid me out for a couple days this week. Ugh, I am not good at being sick... don't have time or patience for it. So, I'm very happy to feel like myself again today.

Since Brian admitted to some moodiness on here, I can also fess up to causing some angst in our household this holiday season. I've always been the one in charge of finances in our house, for the most part. And while we never have much extra to go around, the shortfall always seems to intensify this time of year — right when we're hit with the holiday spirit and wanting to spend more than usual on family and friends.
We've majorly pared back gift-giving on my side of the family, and Brian and I are talking about largely forgoing gifts to each other this Xmas... but there's still so many people to buy for and just not enough money to go around. Plus, there's the pull as parents now of wanting Ellie to have everything, wanting it to be the best, and all that jazz. It's really too bad we love her so much.
While I've accused Brian of being to lax about spending, I recognize that I'm usually too uptight about it. And I don't handle that stress very well. But after a long discussion the other night, I think we're settled on a resolution heading into the new year that will hopefully cut down on the number of fights we have about money. I won't get into all the details, but we're planning a couple strategies to cut down on our credit card use and track spending more carefully. (Note: I'm happy to report that while Brian and I use our credit card for most purchases — to build up points — we pay off the full balance each month. So we're not worried about interest charges, thankfully. We just want to cut down on the habit of pulling out the plastic at the checkout and not thinking hard enough about how much we're spending and on what.)

As much as I hate talking about and stressing about money — I hate fighting about it more. If Brian and I can have fewer conversations that start with: "You spent how much going out to lunch??"... our world will be a happier place. And I'm glad we are working on that goal together.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cranky Pants

It's been a long week for the Schneiderheimer household. I guess it's just that time of year. Money is tight with Christmas approaching, work is getting hectic for each of us and Ellie ... well, she just gets cranky sometimes.
It's so easy to get caught up in all that and let it ruin a day. I know I've let that happen a time or two in the last week.
But last night, I came home armed to be in a good mood. I thought that I'd just set my frustrations from the day aside, give some hugs and kisses and settle in for a quiet, relaxing night with my gals.
Dorothy's stomach, however, had other ideas. Maybe it was the novacaine from her dentist's appointment. Maybe it was something she ate, but Dorothy was in agony and went to bed about 6 p.m. About an hour later, she (how to put this nicely), got some relief from her stomach issues and came back down to the living room.
Now, Dorothy likes to make a lot of what a baby I am when I get sick, but she may just be worse. She sobbed a little because she didn't feel well and cuddled up to watch the Glee Christmas show. In the most pitiful little voice, she mentioned that she might be able to have some ice cream, though we didn't have any in the house.
So, out I went, looking specifically for "vanilla with chocolate chips, but not big chips. It should be the shaved pieces. Real thin."
When I got home, Dorothy had broken down. She was sobbing while watching Glee. Is that a paradox, or what?
I didn't understand until this morning, when she explained that Glee was Mrs. Lizer's favorite show. Mrs. Lizer, the mother of one of Dorothy's closest friends, lost her battle with cancer just before Thanksgiving. This was only the the second episode of the show she has missed.
Immediately, the ridiculousness of the things I'd been annoyed about vanished. I'd been spending time and energy, and acting cranky, about clutter being left around the house, or having to do dishes while Dorothy talked on the phone. Those things aren't important.
I don't think I have to explain much further. But the Grinch of this Christmas has left the Schneiderheimer household. We have a limited number of days, Christmases and special moments on this Earth. And it took an episode of Glee and a sobbing/pukey wife to show me.
That's not to say that I won't get annoyed about the dishes ever again. We're human, afterall. But hopefully my new perspective will kick in.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday party

As I post all of these pictures I'm realizing just how fun-filled our weekend was! On Saturday we had a few friends over for a "wine and cheese" holiday party, where each guest contributes a bottle of vino and some cheese for all to sample. Brian and I had a good time drawing comparisons between this event and previous ones we've hosted... where we didn't have toddlers on scene!
But Ellie had fun and even had a friend to enjoy it with — 15-month-old Max... who Ellie felt the need to bully :( They played together OK at times, but often we had to intervene when Ellie snatched toys from Max or tried to push him off her musical chair, etc. (sigh) This picture below where she's giving him the stink-eye sort of sums that part of the evening up!
Here's the impressive spread we put out, including swiss fondue, more than a half dozen kinds of cheese and some cheese stick jr. dippers!
A couple pre-party pics, too.
Ellie wasn't thrilled about this attempt at a family pic, or maybe because she was the only one without a wine glass...

Doggie in the window

This is from our Sunday afternoon at a friend's house for dinner. Ellie is a huge fan of the big windows, especially with the dogs outside to entertain!


Monday, December 6, 2010

Little groupie

We went to a charity soup dinner on Friday night and Ellie was a hit with the crowd. She was also enthralled with the Purdue jazz quartet performing for part of the night. ... A little too interested at one point and I had to stop her from getting up onstage with the band!
Here she is enjoying her milk, but she also tried a half dozen different kinds of soup. It was fun for Brian and I to reminisce about taking her to the same event a year ago, when she was still on milk-only, slept through most of it and was happy being carried around by our friend Kristin. This year she was eating everything in site, charging around the room and (unfortunately) not excited about the idea of being picked up by anyone other than mom or dad. But we all had a great time!

Daddy on board

So, I haven't blogged in forever. This is Brian, in case you were about to call Dorothy a liar. SHE blogs all the time.
This was originally supposed to be a joint venture, but I fell off the map sometime last year. Will me new zeal for blogging last? We'll see.
I will have more time for such things, for sure. We just dumped cable last week. No more sitting in front of SportCenter in the morning with a cup of coffee and Muzzy on my lap. I could play the Wii, but I don't want to bounce around and wake up Ellie.
Losing the cable is a big deal for us. We are usually glued to the television at night. We pick way too many shows to follow, and even when they turn out to be bad, we have a hard time letting them go. You get invested in the story lines. You've been there.
But I'm letting go. I'm cutting the cord. I've dumped several shows myself lately and may have a couple more on the block soon. Dorothy hasn't let them all go. And that's fine. I think we need to have some individual hobbies from time to time. I'm just not sure what those will be.
So, feel free to drop some ideas. And check back here to see if I keep up the blogging. Maybe the pressure will keep me coming back.
- Brian

Friday, December 3, 2010

Puppy crate

Finally! Proof that we don't put Ellie in the crate... she does it on her own. And I even help her get out!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sam's snacks

She's not quite ready for pretzel nuggets... but I found this vat of animal crackers for her at Sam's Club this week. I think it'll take a few days for her to finish. Any friend of the Schneider family will appreciate that I'm already buying snack food in bulk :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The fun, happy stuff!

This is what happens at the end of a princess-party, day-of-fun with grandma and grandpa.

Linda and Bob watched Ellie for us this past Friday night -- Nov. 26 -- so we could go out for a night and celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary. Brian and I went to St. Charles, Mo., which is only about 45 minutes from Linda's house... but it felt like we completely "got away," took off our parenting hats for a night and really enjoyed some "us" time. I was telling Linda before we left that even though I was anxious about leaving Ellie overnight, I felt like turning off my "mom" switch for 12-18 hours would do me good. I was right.
And from the looks of it, Ellie wasn't too stressed in our absence! I'm so glad that everyone had a good time.
Here is Ellie donning most of her princess garb... which only lasted a minute or two! But I'm guessing she'll come 'round to the princess party stuff in time. And here she is getting a laundry basket ride from grandpa. Oh, and you can see her awesome new wagon in the background! Linda and Bob got her the cadillac of radio flyers! (Or maybe the SUV?... those are some air-filled tires that Bob assures us with provide her with the smoothest of rides :)
And here she is sharing some laughs over snack or dinner. She ate and slept great all weekend.
What a great thanksgiving-anniversary gift! As promised, this post is more upbeat than my last. I'm still struggling a bit with the emotional rollercoaster of the past few days. But the great news in all this is that Ellie continues to amaze and bring smiles to family and friends, near and far. Whether it's at Thanksgiving dinner, in her grandma's living room or even at a funeral... Ellie is a joy. I've pretty much forgotten what life was like before this beautiful angel came into ours. And I'm so thankful every moment for all of the wonderful memories we're making as a family.

Monday, November 29, 2010

First off...

... the sad stuff.
So much to catch up on from our last five days of family time, Thanksgiving, an anniversary celebration and more. And I promise to get pictures and stories up here soon.
But unfortunately we have some sadness in our lives right now, too.
My good friend Sarah Lizer lost her mom on the day before Thanksgiving. Linda Lizer had battled ovarian cancer for several years and finally lost the fight, slipping away peacefully in the hospital with family around and her favorite music playing.
Brian, Ellie and I drove from St. Louis to Rockford yesterday and will attend the funeral for this amazing woman this morning. Brian and I got to spend some time with Sarah and her family last night, and I continue to be in awe of these guys. Even in the wake of this huge loss, the Lizer house was filled with laughter and warmth. I've always felt like the Lizer family was larger than life and I'm glad to see that tradition continues, even though they are hurting. Mrs. Lizer taught her kids so many important lessons and how to appreciate life, share kindness and value family. I love those guys so much and hate to see them in pain, but I'm glad they have such a close family and network of friends to lean on.
I was grateful to be in Rockford last night to also share a dinner with my mom on what would have been her 40th wedding anniversary with my dad. We still feel the loss of him every day... and I hate that I can't honestly tell the Lizer kids that they will get beyond the pain of losing a parent any time soon. Even after 10-plus years without my dad, my heart aches when I think of things I'd like to share with him. But I know he's watching us ... and now he's got some more good company up there.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Her own stroller

Ellie loves to play outside. And we got another blast of warm weather Monday, so we spent part of the afternoon pushing around her baby stroller.
She loves it and is finally (almost) tall enough to see over the top! My favorite part is when she veers toward the edge of the alley and then stands there saying "uh-oh" if one of her wheels hits the grass. She can definitely steer the thing, though... because whenever I try to turn it around and head back toward home she immediately wheels the stroller around and continues in the opposite direction.
I like to call this one: The least efficient leaf pick-up technique ever. But, hey, we'll take whatever yard cleanup assistance Ellie wants to provide :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Playin' and eatin'

Throw some sleep in there, too, and that pretty much surmises most of Ellie's days. We had a good weekend filled with all three of those... although Ellie certainly didn't sleep enough (or late enough anyway) to suit me and Brian. She was up at 4:30 a.m. today... ugh. Hopefully tonight she'll get some extra zzz's.
Here's some of Ellie's play around the house this weekend. Stacking cups with dad.
Oh, and she "ate" her first whole apple! Basically she took a couple bites off of it from me and then carried it around the house for the next 20 minutes and got lots of stuff sticky.
Oh, and here we were playing dress up with mom's scarf... and then she got sidetracked wanting a bite of dad's english muffin. Ellie has a bad routine going recently where she doesn't want to eat when she's in her chair. But amazingly she's hungry 10 seconds after we set her down, especially if she sees either of us eating anything for ourselves. We're trying to push eating in her chair... but we also give in (probably too often) and let her snack on the go because we want her to get enough food and try new things.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Running partner

Ellie braved the cold with me yesterday. We both bundled up and went out for a run (well, her part was more of a ride...) With as cold as it's been getting, that was probably one of our last ones together this year. I love being able to take her out, get us both some fresh air and all that. But hopefully she won't be too big next spring when the weather returns to baby-friendly jogging stroller conditions.

Budding Italian

It would be an understatement to say Brian is proud of his Italian heritage. And, of course, what's not to love?!
Brian recently tried to recreate his grandma's homemade ravioli. It was a long process, as expected, but it turned out really yummy! Ellie definitely agreed... and she downed a huge bowl of the stuff. She is getting SO good at eating from her fork, too. Here's our sweet, little budding Italian girl:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More yard work fun

Ellie and I worked some more on the leaves recently. While I was raking in our neighbor's yard, a couple came walking by and offered to get some pictures of Ellie and I playing in the leaves. Very sweet. Ellie enjoyed playing with my sunglasses even more than the leaves!
And then once we went back inside it was back to the shoes. She's a big fan of spreading shoes from our rack all over the house... but sometimes she puts them back. She's actually pretty good at both taking our and putting things away, but I don't think she gets the concept that it's actually "cleaning up." I can always get her to help put away Legos... but 10 seconds after we're done she's already flipped the bag back over.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The weather here has been amazing this week, so Ellie and dad spent some time working on leaves one day. Ellie decided to feed Radar a leaf...
And she and the dogs all helped disperse the pile Brian put together...
And my favorite: Ellie sitting and trying to figure out the world, or at least that one crunchy leaf.