Tuesday, August 31, 2010


The hot weather over the weekend presented an opportunity for some more water-fun for Ellie. We took her to play in the fountains at the zoo on Sunday morning, but then decided to give her another round of fun in the afternoon. What kid doesn't love to play in the sprinkler, right?
Well, she liked to stick her finger in the water, when it was pointing away from her.
And even though she couldn't "run" through it, mom swung her around in the water a bit. Good fun!But when she crawled into the direct stream of the sprinkle, she was not a happy baby! I guess the water was a bit too cold.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Toot, toot

I decided to take a moment to toot my own horn.
I have been working really hard at losing weight and generally getting back in shape the past year. In addition to some intense play sessions with Ellie, my workouts includes running 3-5 times a week, doing 50 push-ups most nights and fitting in some sit-ups and whatnot when the mood strikes.
On the eating front, I'll admit I've spent some hours hungry in recent months. I'm trying to get my body used to eating less, and tricking it into being satisfied by different foods. For example, fruit instead of candy or other sweets... yogurt instead of ice cream... and smaller doses of carbs instead of big, fat bagels!
I remember how nervous I was during my early months of pregnancy. I've always struggled with my weight and watched it fluctuate up and down, seemingly just by looking at a dessert! (OK, I usually ate the dessert, too...)
What did NOT help calm my pregnancy-hormonal nerves was hearing from countless women: "Oh, your body will never be the same after you have a baby." No one really explained what that meant... but I, of course, assumed the worst. I imagined never returning to pants without an elastic waistband! Not being able to run! Never sleeping enough to feel like a human being again!
Granted, I had a few months of that stuff right after Ellie was born. But I took control of my life and my body as best I could as the stress and chaos of being a new parent lessened over time.

The truth is, my body is not the same as it was before having Ellie. It's better! Sorry to sound so proud of myself... but I decided that I deserve a few pats on the back for all the work I put in.
I was already doing OK on regaining my pants size and fitness level at the start of the year. But since starting the weight loss challenge with Brian, I've lost 11 pounds! (And won three out of four weight lost challenge months... Sorry, Brian. I know you're gunning for me now!)
It amazes me when I step on the scale these days. I honestly don't remember the last time I was in this weight range, but I know it's been at least 15 years.... if not longer.
Having Ellie has taught me so much. For one, I know my body can do amazing things. Grow another human being, for example... and then deliver it! And keeping up with Ellie, along with wanting to teach her things and set a good example, is teaching me a lot about having confidence and fitting a lot into a short amount of time.

Sorry for that self-indulgent, somewhat random stream of thoughts... but I hope all the other mothers and future-mothers out there trust that they have more strength than they probably give themselves credit for!

Old girls with my young girl!

Ellie, Brian and I hit my Old Girls rugby game on Saturday. I had a blast, and Brian was a saint for tagging along and watching Ellie nearly the whole time... I was otherwise engaged, as you can see below. (I'm playing flanker in a scrum here... I'm the one closest in the pack of girls on the left side...) It was great seeing some old friends, including my former coach, John! Ellie was a little exhausted by this point.
I made Ellie join the old girls for a picture after the game. We won, by the way! And I only have some scrapes and bruises... along with sore muscles!
ILL-INI! We showed up for the game all decked out in our orange!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Fun movies

Ellie loves to belly flop on the dog bed in our living room. It's hilarious... and she thinks so, too!

We're also working on developing her vocabulary. Or giving her a vocabulary! I'm pretty sure she's said "ball" before, but not on this video.

Finally, we got this birthday balloon just last week when we went to Toys R Us to look for magnetic letters for the fridge. We didn't find the letters, but someone at the store talked me into signing Ellie up for Geoffrey's birthday club... which basically means I get more junk e-mail and she gets a coupon in the mail once a year. But she also got this free balloon for her recent birthday! She's a fan.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Games and wild animals

One of Ellie's new favorite activities is to put things onto a surface and then take then down, then put them back up... then take them back down.
She entertained herself for a good 20 minutes at a recent wedding doing this. Ellie found one of the boxes that held wedding favors and proceeded to put it on a chair, then set it on the floor, then back up on the chair. You get the idea.
At the doctor's office the other day, when we were waiting a long time, she used papers and lifted them up and down from the floor to the top of the diaper bag. And below she's picking up her blocks and putting them on a chair in the living room.
Maybe I'm not giving the game as much credit as I should. She makes it look pretty fun...

Another of her favorite things/places is the zoo at the park right by our house. We we've been there more days than not in the past week! Usually we spend most of our time playing in the water fountains near the entrance — from which she came back completely soaked yesterday! But we've also gone through and looked at the animals. I'm very impressed by what's there in this small zoo.
Not sure this picture does it justice, but this turtle is huge! I didn't think it was real at first, until it turned its head toward us.
And here's a baby wallaby in the zoo's Australia exhibit. The exhibit is so cool because you walk through a fenced area and the wallabies are just bouncing around right by you, across the path and everything.
They've also got emus, something called screaming dogs, a bald eagle, monkeys and lots of farm animals — including baby goats, which Ellie was brave enough to reach out and pet.
The exhibit with the river otters includes this tunnel that goes underneath the water, so you can see the otter swimming around. Ellie wasn't too sure about it...
And the most fierce animals of all: Radar and Muzzy! Couldn't resist this cute picture of our "first babies."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

To rugby, or not to rugby...

This topic is a little bit of a stretch on my "mom" blog... but I've been wrestling with a decision on whether or not to play in my college rugby team's alumni game this weekend.
Not the most important choice I'll ever make, granted, but something I need to decide soon. The game is this Saturday.

On the pro side:
  • I'll get to see old friends, some that I haven't seen in years. Plus, I have a super cute baby to show off this year!
  • Get some rugby action in. Rugby games take some nerve to gear up for, since there's so much contact! But once I'm playing, I always have a blast on the pitch. The alumni game I played in two years ago was so fun!
On the con side:
  • I might get hurt. Yes, rugby is a little bit physical. I don't mind a few bruises and sore muscles... but I've seen teammates break bones in previous games. Ouch.
  • Traveling to the game makes for another busy weekend. We've had so few weekends without some sort of out-of-town activity this summer! But the game is in Champaign, Ill., which is only a 90-minute drive...
I guess I'm leaning toward playing! But it's funny how my priorities have changed since having Ellie. In previous years I obviously wouldn't have sought out serious injury... but I haven't wrestled with the concern as much as I did this year. Before I didn't have the added consideration of caring for a baby — besides Brian, that is ;)
I'm just guessing, but it seems like it would be tough to have a cast or use crutches and also carry around Ellie.
And beyond the injury concerns — because I don't really expect the game to be that intense or worrisome — there's the time issue. Brian and I always seem to be running from one thing to the next these days. I can't just take a day for myself. And I have to consider nap times, meal times and play times for Ellie when figuring out travel.
It's just another example, I guess, of how motherhood changes everything!
But even while I struggle sometimes with the pace that Brian and I keep... I also want to teach Ellie to seize life by the horns and take advantage of opportunities that come her way. I want her to be involved and active throughout her life. I guess that starts with leading by example... though Brian might have other thoughts about Ellie's future rugby career!
For now, she can join dad on the sidelines and cheer on her out-of-rugby-shape mom. Lord help me...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Day at the beach

We went to a barbecue at Maggie and Chris' place in northern Indiana this past weekend and then hit the beach at Indiana Dunes (on Lake Michigan). Unfortunately we had to go to three beach areas before we found one that wasn't full, meaning there was room left in the parking lot. So by the time we got to an actual beach, unloaded our stuff and got to the surf and sand... Ellie was pretty tired already! But she rallied long enough to have some fun. See: tired girl. You'd think she was the one that had just carried a half dozen bags from the car! We decided to forgo the swim suit because she was fighting me on it and, well, I knew we were on borrowed time.
The waves were actually really big, for a lake anyway. Brian jumped right in and took Ellie to explore, while I yelled from shore, "Not too deep! Don't go out too far!" I'm such a mom.
Ellie and mom exploring at a reasonable depth ;) Hey, there were signs up about rip tides!
And here we are building a sand castle and watching it get swept away by the waves.
And while I was busy fixing her hat for the picture I apparently should have been blocking her from putting a huge handful of sand in her mouth. Oops.
Here's a fun video of Brian and Ellie in the waves.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Updated: Fever

Monday update: I took Ellie to the doctor today because her fever has continued to spike off-and-on since late last week. After a frustrating 90-minute wait to see the doctor (!), she finally came in to examine Ellie and didn't find much. I suppose that's good news, because she thinks the virus or whatever is causing her fever will clear out on its own. Ellie's fever was only around 100 last night, and that was without any Tylenol since the early AM. So hopefully the bug she got is on its way out! She really hasn't acted sick most of the time the past few days, but I hate to feel that hot forehead and know something's not quite right.

(from Friday)
Ellie spiked a fever yesterday afternoon. It was over 102, but came down into the 99-degree range after some Tylenol. She hasn't been acting very sick, so I wasn't too concerned.
But at 3 a.m. today she woke us up screaming. I got one temperature reading of 103.1 and another of 102.5! More Tylenol and she went back to sleep after a bit. I wanted to just hold and rock her the rest of the night... but I didn't think my body heat was helping her cool down at all! Poor baby.
I just hate it when she's sick. And I hate not knowing how concerned we should be. She really hasn't been acting too sick, so when does the fever require a trip into the doctor?
On top of these questions, I almost feel guilty about my worry over Ellie's seemly minor illness. We have one friend whose daughter is in the St. Louis infant ICU because of heart failure. And our former neighbors are fielding information from Ethiopia that their under-two-month-old son, who they will be adopting later this year, is sick with a respiratory infection. Prayers all around for these illnesses.
It's good for me to keep some perspective when I find myself worrying about Ellie — oh wait, that's all the time! Still, I know our little girl is doing great. And whatever is currently ailing her, we'll get to the bottom of it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More wedding bliss

Brian, Ellie and I went to another wedding on Saturday — for one of Brian's co-workers here in town. It was a very fun time, and I love any excuse to put Ellie in a fancy dress :)
Above is a very cute picture of Brian dancing with Ellie at the reception. This was at the tail end of the evening when we were trying to keep Ellie happy, but she was fading. She did great, overall, during the wedding and dinner. But by 7:30 p.m. she was wondering why we wouldn't just put her to bed already!
Ellie did a turn-around on her cake aversion. Sitting with our friend Jamie, Ellie shoved her whole hand into the dessert and proceeded to eat it and make a huge mess.... while I went and got Jamie a new piece of cake!
And here's the three of us at the wedding.
And Ellie playing with my sunglasses... one of her favorite games these days. I keep forgetting when I'm at the store, but I really need to get her a pair of baby sunglasses. She's so Hollywood.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Fun with video

I swear Ellie has plenty of clothes! But we took these fun videos one night either post-dinner-mess or following swim time. Enjoy!

This video really shows Ellie enjoying opposites... She loves to say da-da these days, but not so much ma-ma. And the yes-no exchange shows just how obstinate she can be at times! I'm sure this is the last time she'll ever disagree with us. Right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

One year stats

Ellie had her 12 month check-up yesterday — along with four shots :( But she was very brave and did great!
Here are Ellie's stats at one year...
  • 30.5 inches long — Still in the 90th percentile. Tall baby!
  • 21.5 pounds — Down to closer to the 50th percentile, which the doc said was normal since she's more active these days.
  • 4 teeth (two top + two bottom) with #5 on its way. Dr. Miller was the one that pointed out how swollen her bottom gum is as another tooth is working its way through.
Some other Ellie developments worth noting include:
  • She made the switch to whole milk last week with no real issues. She doesn't even seem to mind it cold, but we usually warm it up at bedtime for her, just to help her relax.
  • No more bottles. This is a strict rule in her new room at daycare, so we've been following it at home, too. She's been doing fine with the soft-tipped sippy cups, and she also loves to drink out of regular cups if we help her.
  • Lots of jabbering, but no recognizable words yet. There have been moments when I thought I heard her say "ball" or "duck," but usually she makes sounds for the number of syllables in the word but only uses "da." For example, dragon is "da-da." Doggie is "da-da." Diaper is "da-da." Bath time is "da-da." Notice a pattern? We're continuing to work on language development with her. I guess the benchmark is to be able to say 2-4 words (besides mama and dada) by 15 months.
  • Signing "more." I've very excited about this one, which she just started doing more consistently yesterday. I'm hoping to work on other signs with her when I'm home in the afternoons.
All in all, Dr. Miller said we have one happy, healthy baby girl on our hands. Her ear tubes look great, doc said, and everything else is in order. So thankful!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Water baby

Plain and simple: Ellie is happiest when she's in, around or somehow touching water. I took our fish-baby to the zoo in the park this afternoon. We couldn't stay too long because of how hot it was outside. But we were there long enough for Ellie to pet a dragon! It's true! One of the zoo employees had a bearded dragon out and she let Ellie pat its very scaly back. What a brave girl. I didn't get a picture of it... but I got some shots of Ellie's favorite part of the zoo, the fountains near the entrance. Here she is doing her elephant walk in between them...
And here she is very pleased with herself after sitting in the water and touching the fountain with her hand.
And here she was splashing in the tub of water underneath this cool globe they have there.
The ultimate, though, was the trip she and Brian and I made to the pool on Sunday. They have this great fountain area with all sorts of squirting stuff. Ellie was in heaven and played for a long time. I love this shot!

Playing = making a mess

Ellie has lots of fun playing with all of her toys these days... but of course some of her favorite play things are items not exactly meant for babies. She loves to empty the shoe rack and play with laces on mom's and dad's shoes. She also loves to empty the kitchen cabinet where we store all of our plastic containers. And given the opportunity, she will pull all of the clothes out of her dresser drawers. Brian commented the other day that one of the hardest things about having a baby is cleaning up the messes! It seems there's always a pile of stuff that needs picked up around our house these days... and if we don't get to the pile first, who knows what the dogs will do! Ah, the joys of parenthood (to both babies and dogs).
Ellie is big enough now to enjoy the kitchen set that Aunt Sandy and Uncle Jim gave to her. She loves to pull herself up and crash the metal sink bowl around. Oh, and she of course loves to open the two cabinet doors below and put stuff in or pull stuff out!
The princess cart is also a favorite. She loves pressing the buttons and then dancing to the music.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sweet corn fest!

We took a family trip down to Wingate on Saturday for the tiny town's annual Sweet Corn Festival. Brian and I happened upon the event three years ago and have been regulars ever since... However, Brian said this might have been are last year going because he was annoyed by the organizer's decision to stop offering all-you-can-eat corn tickets. Instead, it was changed to a somewhat outrageous $2.75 for four ears of corn. Yes, we're cheap. We may be hosting our own sweet corn festival for friends in our backyard next year! ;)
As you can see, though, Ellie didn't care about the price. She had a great time at her second, technically speaking, sweet corn festival. We went to this the day before I went in to be induced last year. I was huge!
Ellie loves her some corn!

She also "played" a little with our friend Christine's son Max, who is a few weeks younger than she is. Ellie decided she didn't want to share her animal crackers...
And here's a great daddy-daughter picture amid the sweet corn awesomeness!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mom's transition

As it turns out, Ellie's first birthday is bringing a lot of changes for me, too.
I've been struggling for months to balance work and motherhood, and some days have been better than others. Mostly, though, I've been stressed and often feeling like something was slipping by me. I still can't believe Ellie's whole first year is gone!
Don't get me wrong, Brian and I make the most of the time we get with Ellie. We do a lot of fun stuff together, often fitting in some pool or park time at the end of our long work days. And we certainly fill the weekends with lots of activity. But I guess I'm just selfish when it comes to my time with Ellie — I want more! I blame Ellie, really, for being too cute and lovable.
After months of thinking about it to myself, I started talking to Brian about those feelings and what I could do about it. Brian is always concerned about our finances (as am I, but maybe to a lesser degree) and he raised a lot of valid points/concerns about us trying to get by on one income. And I knew as well that it wasn't an ideal plan, partly because I didn't necessarily want to step out of the workforce entirely. So, I started to explore the possibility of going down to part-time work.
Ellie's first birthday was a real launching pad for this idea, since she didn't qualify for part-time daycare in the infant room. But now that she's in the 1- to 2-year-old room, we have that option.
Finally I broached the subject with my bosses a few weeks back. To their credit, they heard me out... but then said "no," because they didn't want to risk losing a full-time position in the newsroom. They DID however work out a compromise with me.
Starting on Monday, I will be shifting to a morning shift every week day. I will work 6 a.m. to noon (30 hours total), and then hustle out the door to go pick up Ellie from daycare — where she is shifting to a part-time daycare schedule. As long as we have Ellie in daycare fewer than 25 hours a week, we get to pay less... which makes daddy very happy :) And as long as I can complete my remaining 10 hours work from home each week, I'll continue as a full-time newsroom staff member AND get to spend more time at home with Ellie. This makes mommy very happy ;)
It's going to be a big change. I don't relish the idea of my alarm going off at 5 a.m. every day... but I am looking forward to having the afternoons to take adventures with Ellie. I've already started thinking about the visits we'll take to the park, zoo, pool, library, mall, etc. And the mom's group in Lafayette hosts all sorts of playgroups and other events that I've eyed from a distance until now because most were held during normal workday hours. But now we may be able to make some of these afternoon events, meeting fun new moms and babies.
Wish me luck as I continue my efforts to strike this balance between being a professional and a being a mom. I suspect there are still plenty of challenges ahead of me and our family, but I'm so glad that I have a supportive husband who listens and helps me search for solutions.

Flock of seagulls?

Ellie sports a ponytail almost every day now, since her hair is long enough to hang over her eyes if we don't pin it up. This means two things:
1) Brian has had to learn how to put a ponytail in Ellie's hair. He does really great with it, and I think he may have missed his true calling — styling baby girl hair.
2) At the end of the day, Ellie's ponytail comes out before bath time ... and she looks like she's part of an 80s pop group until I give her hair a good wash.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Party wrap-up

We had a great birthday party for Ellie this past weekend. She's a very loved little girl, and we felt lucky to have friends and family spend Saturday afternoon celebrating with us!
The cake from Yellow Bowl Bakery turned out absolutely beautiful — and ridiculously delicious! Ellie did not appreciate it... but I'm sure she'll come 'round. Brian and I were happy for the additional leftovers!
Ellie didn't like the taste of the cake, but she had fun mushing it around on her tray.
And Aunt Maggie helped mess her face up with plenty of frosting so we could get the obligatory "messy shot."
After a wardrobe change, Ellie returned to the party for present time! Everyone was way too generous. Ellie got LOTS of great things. Of course, her favorite part of opening presents was playing with the tissue paper!
She needed some help from mom and dad in opening... or we'd still be working on it!
And here's Aunt Maggie helping to get Ellie going on the train she got as a present from Grandma and Grandpa Buffo, along with her great-grandma and great-grandpa.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Ellie: The one-year-old! Here's Ellie dressed in a special birthday outfit before school this morning.
And here she is making rumbling truck/train sounds as she drives around the house.

And here she is playing with her new music and play table. What a lucky birthday girl!

A year in pictures

Happy birthday, Ellie!
I got teary just pulling these together, but there are some of my favorite pictures from the last year. I can't believe how much she's grown! Mom and dad love you SO much!