Friday, July 30, 2010

Mean face

One of the tricks Brian taught Ellie is definitely a crowd-pleaser. I hear from ladies at her day care center all the time about asking Ellie to do "mean baby."
Here's a pretty good shot it, which basically involves her scrunching up her nose and making some fierce breathing noises... OK, it's hard to explain. But very cute. Hopefully it will serve her well as she transitions to the 1-2 year old room at school.Ellie has had a rough week at day care as they've worked on getting her used to the new room. She's been spending a couple hours each day in the Blue Room, where she's the smallest and least mobile. I think of her as a pretty friendly and outgoing baby, but she's been pretty intimidated by the kids in this new room (who apparently swarm her whenever the teacher sets her down because she's something new and interesting...)
There are a lot of changes as she moves to the next room. The schedule for meals is strict, with breakfast at 8:30 a.m., lunch at 11:30 and then an afternoon snack around 2. She will have to adjust to nap time right after lunch, when the room goes dark and all the kids are expected to line up on cots (about 2 inches off the floor). I saw her sleeping on when the other day and couldn't believe what a big girl she looked like!
So many new things are getting thrown her way, and she's not happy about most of it. But I keep telling myself — and the teachers keep telling us — that she'll get through it.Oh yeah, and if any of those kids give her too hard of a time... I've got her back.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

She sleeps

Ellie recently abandoned her "normal" sleep schedule. For months she's been on a great routine of bedtime around 7 p.m. and waking up between 6-7 a.m. But the past two weeks have been a roller-coaster. Some nights she's ready for bed around 7:30 or 8 p.m.... others she's wide awake, or at least fighting sleep, until 10 p.m. When her bedtime first started creeping later, I was thrilled to have some extra evening hours with Ellie. But the 10 p.m. nights are not fun because she spends most of the time past-8 p.m. rubbing her face and even laying her head down on the floor... but still screams if we try to put her in the crib!
The majority of the advice we've gotten from other parents is that Ellie is testing her limits. And, unfortunately, it seems like the more leeway we give her on bedtime, the more likely she is to fight a routine. Two nights ago she went to bed just before 8 p.m. and we didn't hear any more from her until the next morning. Last night, however, she went to bed exhausted around 7:30... and then woke up close to 9 p.m. I let her cry for a few minutes and then went to investigate. She wasn't wet, so I hugged her and put her back to bed. After hearing her scream for 10-15 minutes after that, I finally went upstairs with a small drink. I offered it to her and she had a few sips, but that clearly wasn't the issue either. After loving on her for another couple minutes, I put her back in bed. She protested briefly, but then went back to sleep.
I guess this is just another round of training for both baby and parents. While I hate, hate, hate hearing Ellie screaming from her room... I don't want her to think that we'll let her get up and play any time she cries. Plus, she has a lot more fun during the daytime hours when she gets enough rest overnight.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The winner...

Well, since I'm always eager to share the weight-loss challenge results here when I'm the winner... I suppose I should do the same for Brian. We wrapped up Month 3 this past weekend and Brian squeaked by me at the end and won his first month. He lost about 4 lbs and I lost 1.5 lbs over the past month, so we're both happy... Of course I'd be happier if I had a three month lead on him instead of just two wins to his one ;) The challenge continues!

And while we're on the subject of being healthy.... Brian and I ordered what we expect to be an awesome cake for Ellie's one year birthday party this weekend. Normally we wouldn't be so extravagant, but our baby only turns one once — and we had a coupon! We ordered a specialty cake from a downtown shop called The Yellow Bowl Bakery. Although they had about 70 cake flavors to choose from, we decided to stay fairly traditional and ordered chocolate. The best part is that they will do any design we want on the cake. So the plan is to recreate some version of this painting we have hanging above Ellie's bed:
It's such a great picture. And it was painted by Jen's grandfather (initially for Ellie's cousin, Mason's, room). Dan and Jen passed it on to us, for now, and we have it hanging above Ellie's crib. I hope the cake turns out amazing — and that Brian decides to have an extra big piece!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A few tricks

While we anxiously await Ellie's launch into walking, we're filling our days teaching her other important motor skills... i.e. tricks. Check it out:

Thursday, July 22, 2010


These pictures don't quite do it justice... but Ellie can now sport a second hairstyle. It's pig-tails, but looks a bit more like bug antennae on top of her head! Super cute, either way!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wedding/hiking weekend

Last weekend we attended the wedding of my best friend from high school (and before and beyond!), Meghan. She and Dan have been dating for about 10 years now and we were all so excited to see them finally say "I do." And we had a blast at Starved Rock, a state park in Illinois where the festivities were held. We staying in the lodge on site, hiked on Saturday morning, hit a couple wineries and then had a ton of fun at the wedding and reception. A full weekend, but very cool. We're already making plans to return to Starved Rock during the fall or winter months, when I'm sure the scenery is amazing.
Here's a picture of Meghan and I with the belle of the rehearsal dinner, Ellie :)

And Ellie hamming it up at the reception Saturday. She was a bit fussy during the ceremony, requiring Brian and I to spend most of our time out of the seats and carrying her around. But Ellie had fun and ate quite a bit at the reception. She then went off to bed and my mom stayed with her while Brian and I got to dance and enjoy the rest of the party. Thanks, mom!
While I helped Meghan get ready on Saturday, Brian took Ellie for a dip in the hotel pool. He did the trick where you blow on her face to make her hold her breath and then dunked her in the water a few times. I'm not sure if she loved it, but Brian said she never fussed — well, except for when he finally decided pool time was over and got her out. I think we've got a little fish on our hands!

Since Ellie woke us all up early on Saturday morning, we took advantage and hit the hiking trails near the lodge before it got to hot. The trails were awesome and we explored a couple miles, but we could have spent hours out there.We took turns carrying Ellie in the baby bjorn, since the trails and stairs wouldn't have allowed for the stroller. It worked really well, but my back was sore later on from hauling around our big baby girl!
Ellie snoozed part of the way home from the hike, which was very cute. I guess the fresh air and early rising caught up with her.

Oh, and here's another cute one from the rehearsal dinner on Friday night. Ellie sitting with Meghan's mom, Penny (left), and friend Betsy, learning how to play the spoons at a young age. If we keep hanging out with Meghan's family and crew, I'm sure Ellie will learn to be quite musical. What a fun weekend and crowd!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mind jumble

I've been lax in posting many lengthy entries about mommyhood, opting instead to showcase all of these gorgeous pictures of our Ellie. Plus, most of the time when I sit down to post I have a hard time coming up with coherent explanations for the circus that is our family life!
So instead of writing something long and eloquent, I'm just going to put down some of the thoughts and feelings I'm having about life as a mom and my soon-to-be one-year-old daughter.

Road weary
Brian, Ellie and I have traveled a LOT this summer. All of it has been fun travel — vacations, weddings, etc. But each trip I am reminded how difficult it is to travel with a baby. Even though Ellie is a road warrior and usually does great in the car, there's just so much more to consider (and pack!) every time we hit the road. Timing is less about getting from here to there and more about how much will the timeframe mess with Ellie's schedule.
And speaking of Ellie's schedule, we seem to have lost it. I was up from 12:30 to 2:30 a.m. with my little girl last night. For no good reason she was completely awake and refused to go back to bed. I tried rocking and swaying and simply laying down with her... but all she wanted to do was play with my hair and climb around. Not ideal. Maybe this is just a transition period from our most recent trip back to "normal life"... but I always worry that everything is going down the drain when her routine gets monkeyed with. And we've done a lot of monkeying in recent weeks.

Family trips
This is kind of the same topic, but more positive. I have been having so much fun going on these recent trips as a family. Brian and I spent our first five years together doing stuff as a couple. And while I sometimes miss those easier outings, it's a ton of fun to think of places to go and things to do that Ellie will enjoy. Simple things like the hike we took at Starved Rock State Park last weekend take on a whole new meaning when you get to point out things to a baby girl who is seeing them for the first time. I hope we get to show her all sorts of fun places and have even more fun over the years doing things as a family.

Too fast!
August 3, 2010 is coming way too fast. I can't believe Ellie is almost a year old. (And I apologize about all of the statements I will make to this effect between now and her first birthday...) It's just weird thinking that it's been almost a whole year since we brought her home from the hospital. At the same time, it's amazing to see her growth and curiosity.

I'm sure I'll think of more to share, probably as soon as I step away from the computer... but I suppose this is long enough for today — even if it's not eloquent :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In the mind of Ellie...

Ellie: "Cool dog crate, Muzzy..."
"Oh, hi Mom. What'cha doing?"
"I'll come see."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Future ruggers

I had the opportunity to meet for lunch with a few of my former rugby teammates from college – plus our new babies. Alongside me are Carol and her son, Marcus; Alyssa (minus her son Oliver who couldn't attend); and Raissa with 5-week-old son DJ. There has been an explosion of baby arrivals recently among my teammates, and during lunch I learned another rugger is pregnant! So much fun to share baby stories. And it's funny that our stories still revolve around puke and staying up too late! (Just for slightly different reasons now than back in our college days...) I miss my teammates so much and it was great to catch up even over a brief lunch. Hope to see more of the girls and their new additions soon!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Summer vaca

Here are some of the pictures from our summer vacation over the 4th of July week.
We went up to my family's place at Whitecap last week and had a great, and productive, trip. During our fun time we rented a pontoon boat on a nearby lake. We actually did this twice because the first day turned out to be pretty cold and rainy. We went back on Wednesday morning and got to enjoy some sunshine and even a dip in the water. Here are some of the highlights.
Ellie enjoyed most of the boat rides. Here she is holding on to one of the ropes on board and feeling the vibrations of the motor. Ellie never thought she'd be on a boat. Or was that T-Pain? :)

Brian was the fearless captain of the boat, so he had to borrow Ellie's swim hat at one point to use as his cap. It's fancy.
Here's a family shot. Brian instructed me to look off into the distance. I think I was supposed to have a flinty look on my face, as I admired the "sea"... but that didn't quite happen.

Ellie had a lot of snacks on board, which may have been her favorite part. Nothing tastes better than a Cheerio at sea.
Ellie helped her dad drive the boat during part of the ride. We bought her this life-jacket, but had to take it off during most of the ride because it was choking her. So much for that safety investment...
This shot doesn't do it justice, but Mason was Ellie's best playmate during the week. He was always looking to play with and entertain her... and he seemed to enjoy playing with her toys more than she did at times!Ellie also got some quality time with her aunts and uncles. Here she is playing one of the mornings with Aunt Jen, her godmother.

Oh, and did I mention that we had six dogs to go along with the seven people in the vacation house? It was a little chaotic at time, but Ellie was happy. She loves dogs... and they love giving her kisses when she's not expecting it.
Block anyone?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Funny noises

Can't quite explain this one, but it was so funny we had to get video -- and steal the toy from my mom's house since Ellie clearly loves it so much :)

11 months

Even though Ellie is now 11 months and 9 days old... I realized I still need put in her monthly update! We've been on vacation for the past week and I took a break from the computer. Lots to share after a whole week away, but I'll start with her top 10 list for her final month of Year One.
Here's what Ellie is up to these days...
  • 1. SO close to walking. She's definitely mastered the whole crawling thing. And she's pulling herself up all over the place. Ellie keeps trying to straighten up while in the middle of the room, but she's not quite there yet. Any day now.
  • 2. Standing without holding on. She can do this for about 10 seconds or so, but is still wobbly. Aren't we all sometimes, though?
  • 3. Sporting her first top tooth. I'd guess from her fussy demeanor this past week that more are on the way. Her first top tooth finally popped through last week. It's so cute!
  • 4. Eating (trying to eat) pretty much everything. Only food restrictions for Ellie these days are on nuts, seafood and some dairy. It's really fun watching her try new things. Recent favorites are peaches, cinnamon raisin toast and bagel with cream cheese. Recent failures on the "new food" front include melon, blueberries and Life cereal. Her tastes seem to change daily, so we'll keep trying a variety of foods and see what sticks.
  • 5. Feeding the puppies.... This one is not positive. Brian and I are working on our first discipline of Ellie. Well, we're trying to work on it. Ellie has developed a bad habit of dropping food over the side of her chair so she can watch the dogs eat it. Radar and Muzzy are not complaining, but it's not behavior we want to encourage. I don't know if Ellie understands "no" yet, but she's certainly not listening if she does. It's hard not to laugh when we sternly correct this behavior with a couple sharp no's, and Ellie's eyes get really big while she slowly slides her hand back over the edge of her tray and drops the next bit of food to the floor. We're definitely not getting through.... but we'll keep trying I guess.
  • 6. Stranger anxiety. Ellie is very sad these days when she's in almost anyone's arms other than mom or dad. We understand it's a phase, but it's hard not to be able to share her with more family members and friends who just want to give her some love. Hopefully the phase will pass soon.
  • 7. Dancing. Ellie loves to bounce and "get down" whenever one of her toys plays music. It's adorable.
  • 8. Splashing... or trying to. Ellie has always been a big fan of water, which makes bath time a lot of fun. But her new obsession is the dogs' water dish. If she's anywhere on the first floor of the house, she'll quickly head toward the mat where it sits in the kitchen. We almost always get to the water first and set it out of reach, but she's had a splash party a couple times.
  • 9. Sleeping in funny positions. It used to be that Ellie never varied from sleeping flat on her back. But now she's clearly moving around the crib at night and winding up in some odd poses. We finally added her bumper to the crib after finding her feet/legs sticking through the sides a few mornings. Just this morning, we found her sleeping on her front, with her knees tucked under. It looked like she got up in the middle of the night and started to crawl and then just passed back out.
  • 10. Getting ready to graduate. Ellie is just a few weeks from graduating to the 1-2 year room at her daycare center. The transition between rooms involves a lot of changes for our little girl. The new room has sippy cups only (no bottles), scheduled nap times (on very short cots, but no cribs) and scheduled meals/snacks. Plus, she'll be getting all new teachers... which could be tough given her recent stranger anxiety. The school works to ease each kid through the transition, but I'm still nervous for Ellie. I can't believe she's almost 1 and getting to be such a big girl. Hopefully she does well with all the changes coming her way!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th!

Here's a picture of Ellie and me at her school's 4th of July picnic, held on Friday. Ellie was very patriotic wearing red, white and blue! I don't think she was as worried as she looked in this picture here... but she wasn't a fan of hotdog, burger or pea salad we offered her. Brian and I had a great time getting to visit our girl mid-day though!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Busy girl

My favorite part of getting to be home with Ellie during more daytime hours (through some limited working-from-home arrangements) is seeing how much she's up to! Ellie is constantly on the move these days, and it's so fun to watch. We're very impressed at her pulling-up skills and even the getting-back-down part. Here I tried to capture what a big, mobile girl we have.

Looking for just the right toy!Standing and dancing along with Elmo (above) and then moving on to the next activity (below).Oh, and here she is offering her help while I work on the computer. How sweet!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fave new song

Itsy bitsy spider...

Loud puppy

OK, Brian and I are weird. It's true. We like putting words and thoughts into the mouths of our dogs... and we decided soon after bringing Ellie home that they had dubbed her the "loud puppy," because of all the racket she kept making while they were trying to get in their 17th and 18th naps of the day. The dogs have been really good around Ellie, though, and love to lick her face or pick up scraps from under her chair. Now that Ellie is on the move, she often crawls over to Radar or Muzzy to pat them on the back and/or pull their fur.... but they are pretty easy-going about it all.
The funny thing I've noticed recently is that Ellie likes to crawl around with toys in her mouth, which looks just like one of the dogs carrying a bone or toy around! I guess "loud puppy" is just trying to fit in with the pack :)