Wednesday, March 28, 2012

He who plants a tree plants a hope.*

Meet Baby Dogwood!
We've planted a great many things in our time together but Sunday was our first tree. There is something really wonderful about such an undertaking. It made me think about roots and milestones and growth and love. (Big surprise there after we mourned so horribly the loss of our two old trees late last year.)

Ella and her Daddy-O were an awesome team.

 It didn't take long for her to realize that she could be doing this on her own.

VERY hard at work.

And it wasn't until I was editing photos that I realized that in this next shot, Ella is running with a metal pointed shovel, a tool she felt necessary to complete the job. I must've been caught so off guard at her willingness to be photographed that I threw caution to the wind!

On another note, we've had two "man overboard" situations with Panda in the last three days. In a late Sunday afternoon trip to the grocery store, I realized P-Man was not on board while we were loading groceries into the car. There are 25 aisles in this store. We found the poor guy lying in a heap in aisle 21 after retracing our steps in aisles 1-20. I was in a cold sweat. Ella's fear mounted at every turn. And then again this morning, P-Man stayed behind in Daddy's car after Ella was dropped at Grandma's. A dozen phone calls and a trip downtown later, we are happy to report Ella and Panda are reunited and the tears have stopped. Thanks to Papa for being the best courier service EVER!

There are days when it takes more than a village, my friends.

~Lucy Larcom, "Plant a Tree"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You Teach Me Stuff.

Watching Larry and Ella (without me in there muckin' it up) is always such a joy. This recent warm weather has brought about all kinds of nature lessons in our yard.

Worms. Spiders. Centipedes. Ant hills.

She told me today that "Daddy-O teaches me stuff". His patience far surpasses mine most days. And she knows how to work him.

She's a smart one, that Ella.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Life lessons, here we go.

Try as I might, I may as well throw in the towel: this post will be about my loss.

About 12 years ago, I talked my parents into two delightful puppies. It didn't take much coaxing, really. Blake and Bentley. Brothers. Shelties. Intelligent. Loyal. And beautiful.

I wasn't married then. Heck, I wasn't even engaged to Larry yet, let alone thinking of adopting one precious little baby girl from China.

They were my boyfriends. I was their mistress. If my parents were gone for mere hours or a week, they were mine. And Larry was just as committed to them, a doggie lover to the core.  

This morning, we said good-bye to Blake, a blue merle with crooked ears, crazy blue eyes and more than a good dose of spunk. 

(click on photo to enlarge)

His body said it was time and it happened so quickly that I've not been able to ready myself with the onslaught of questions I will get from a certain little girl. Ella is at my parents' two days a week. Blake and Bentley are just as much (if not more) her pets than her always-sleeping-cranky-squawking 15 year old Simba kitty.

I have enlisted the help of mamas who have gone before me in this regard and as a result, there are several books awaiting us at the library up the street.

She will see her Grandma and Papa cry a bit over the next few weeks. That's just fine. It is normal, especially for this family. She will watch her mama struggle while she reads books about doggies going to heaven, rainbow bridges and the like. Life lessons don't fit into neat, pretty little packages.

I'm so glad we still have Bentley with us. I hope he adjusts to this loss and continues to herd and bark and prance around like the regal man he is.

I hope that Ella takes special care of him while at Grandma and Papa's house each week. I hope they can sit and share stories of life with Blake.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


She hopped on her tricycle and she was off.

She's been great about going backwards since getting her bike from Grandma and Papa last summer. Moving it in the right direction was big! We're very proud of her!

And we think she's pretty proud too.

The homestead is torn up a bit this week with much needed brick repair to the old beast. Ella is on a first name basis with the crew. Tomorrow we're heading to the zoo with Roz, Thomas and maybe a few others to enjoy this crazy warm March weather. Since quiet time isn't happening around here, this mama hopes she'll catch a few zzzzz's on the way home tomorrow afternoon.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Peek-a-boo spring.

This weekend was filled with enormous amounts of sunshine and yesterday brought us warmer temperatures. We even saw our first baby Monarch butterfly flitting about! All has helped to offset our general grumpiness about the hour lost (time change) and Ella's continual fractured sleep patterns.

I can't remember the last time - certainly pre-Ella - we got such a jump start on spring garden clean up. And, it is amazing the difference a year can make. Ella's sense of independence in our yard, gardens and up and down the driveway has blossomed.

In honor of the upcoming green holiday, I busted out another antique for Ella to wear to Ah-men on Sunday morning. She can rock green velvet. My mom made this dress for me some 40 years ago.

Kunming Pearls, something she thinks she should wear all the time.

Because I have a sense of humor and more than willing to laugh at myself, I've included the next image. Yes, me. In this very dress. With very BIG hair, a hair curling experiment that leaves me looking like I'm donning a wig. And my hair appears red, quite red as a matter of fact.

Even Ella doesn't believe it is her Mama as a youngster.

May your week be filled with butterflies, spring weather and laughing at yourself whenever possible!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shiny Gems

We've been a threesome for just over two years now. In these two years, I've been able to juggle working from home one day with Ella and have my Thursdays off. At this time of year it gets complicated at work. Our busy season is upon us. I work like a dog on those four days so that I can - so we can - have this gem that is known as Thursdays. I put chores and errands aside most of the time so that we can explore, enjoy...do.

And while the weather this time of year isn't great for outdoor play, our Art Museum fills that void. Our very cool Museum could fill a void 365 days a year. It's a huge gem in the crown of our sweet little Midwest city. I will speak of this again, no doubt. Ella and her friends couldn't agree more.

Please Note: Lefty!

Re-fueling with Rozzie and James, our neighborhood buddy.

In addition to hanging out in the Family Center (now on a first-name basis with the staff) and eating lunch at the cafe, we managed to corral the shorties for storytime in one of the main galleries. We learned all about Iggy the Architect. I was rather giddy about being sprawled out on those old cork floors with big masterpieces staring down at us.

Ella and Rozzie, bossing Thomas.
Having Thomas and his mama with us on Thursdays is a real treat. He is a joy and truth be told, Katie and I like fussing over him just as much as Ella and Rozzie. We ended our day at the piano. I love their sweet little hands.

Check out Thomas, checking out the Big Girls :)
Happy Weekend Ella-Land!

H, L & EML

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Birdhouses and Busy Weekends.

Birdhouses. She loves them. Even more, she loves painting them. We recently had a family night painting session and her concentration is something else!

This past weekend, we attended Emmett's 2nd birthday party. Much to Ella's delight, there was a bouncy house. Roz and Ava attended as well and each of them loved the cake.

Such delightful lady-like behavior, don't you think?

Emmett and his Mama.
And Ella's Daddy-o had a big weekend of playing with the band. Ella and I hung out at their gig on Saturday morning and enjoyed breakfast. She spent most of her time dancing next to me or bashfully strumming "Dinah" along with the music.

Thanks to Rozzie for the cool t-shirt.

Monday, March 5, 2012

For as long as we live...

...we will never, ever tire of watching the best homecoming EVER thanks to our sweet NicoleLee.

It was two years ago and yet it feels like just yesterday.

Enjoy the trip down memory lane, Ella-land!


Friday, March 2, 2012

It's no mystery.

Ella's response to everything recently, "It's a mystery!" It could be something as simple as why the cat is walking across the floor or as complex as why there are clouds in the sky. And she says it with such vigor, really.

What is NOT a mystery is Ella's ongoing love affair with music and musical instruments but yesterday's shopping excursion floored me. Thanks to Ella's Uncle Greg, she had some toy store $$$ to blow.

I had visions of rinky-dink junk toy selections that I would spend the next two weeks stepping on, cleaning up and eventually throwing away. And then she saw the ukulele. Her face lit up. She couldn't even bring herself to touch it. She whispered ever-so-softly, "Mama, can I buy this? Can we go pay now?"

She was at the biggest toy store available to her little 2 1/2 year old self. She chose the ukulele. She picked it off the shelf, ran to the check out line and never looked back. Technically, the ukulele is not an 'it' but rather a 'she'. Ella named her Dinah just like someone else we know. See this recent post to jog your memory.

We are gearing up for a busy weekend. And wow! It is March already!!

~H, L & EML

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Confessions of a Working Mama.

Dear Ella,

This is your Mama writing. I must admit my faults. Well, I'm going to admit one. This blog has become our milestone record of your life, even though I could be better at it. Try as I might, I am not writing your Ella-isms, milestones and development in that funky little journal next to my bed. You know, the same journal that's collecting copious amounts of dust...the same journal that your Daddy and I wrote in if not daily, then weekly during the four (plus) years we were waiting to meet you.

I should. We should. I have Mama friends who are fantastically religious about doing this daily for their daughters. I applaud them but I am confessing that I. Am. Not. That. Mama.

I also have Mama friends who have achieved scrapbooking genius in preserving photos, mementos and art work. We have been a three-some for two years now. In the last few months, I finally conquered getting all of our China travel photos into two photo albums. I nearly threw a party.

The guilt subsides slightly as I ready myself to order up another hardbound copy of your blog from the last twelve months. You love to look at your life in 'book form'. We love it more.

So, when you're a disgruntled teenage powerhouse, leafing through these Ella At Last books and fuming about what I won't let you do, know this: if we didn't have time or energy to write, it was because we were living, loving and laughing (Let us not forget how much time and energy is consumed in trying to photograph your uncooperative self, as well.). And I pray that even at your young 2 1/2 years, you already feel this.

Love, Mama