Monday, June 24, 2013

Hello! Goodbye. Hello!

This weekend was a revolving door of goodness.

Friday was our last day of swim lessons. I can't say that she's 'better' about being in the water but she is more educated on water safety. We feel a lot better about that.

Before class, we bee-bopped around in the main hall, which also happened to be the main hall of my high school. When my high school was torn down (weep) and rebuilt a few years back, they saved the gymnasium, auditorium, main hall and incorporated it into the newly built YMCA. It wasn't until Friday that I realized Ella was traipsing the same halls I once did.

Game Face before the last class.
Upon leaving the Y, Ella was given shouts and hoorays from the staff, and handed an ice-cream cone. "I really like this Y place, Mama."

We hurried home to welcome our weekend visitors. It didn't take long for Ella to have nearly everyone's attention around the sandbox.

It also didn't take very long for Ella to attach herself to the girls, who were unbelievably awesome with her.

Marie and I whipped up a feast for the family (including Roz and her parents, of course) on Saturday night. We all fell into bed exhausted.

I took a LOT of photos over the weekend. (More on that in a later post!) But this one is by far, the one that steals my heart. Agree, don't you?!

And before they packed it up and left after enjoying Ah-men and breakfast together, I was able to capture this great shot!

I should have fallen in a heap. Ella did and Larry did too. I did not.

I did this.

Yep. Our Humane Society needed help. And since we have another 10 days before shoving off for vacation, I knew we could give it. Pictured here is Belle, Sugar and Diesel (Snowflake was hiding). Ella woke up from her nap as I was coming through the back door with them. She was so shocked and HAPPY. (She cried pretty awful crocodile tears when Jesse, Marie and the girls left. The timing was great.)

I don't know who is happier to have the kitten euphoria again - Ella or me!!

They are a bit bigger than our first litter and a lot more active (note the blur of movement). We've got some work to do in eight short days but we're up for the challenge.

Just this morning, I was able to cuddle with Snowflake much better than I could last night. Progress! And in an effort to keep sanity, we had to get out the permanent marker and make a bright pink dot on Snowflake's right paw. The two white kittens are identical females.

Ella is slipping back into her helper mode nicely. I can't wait to see how she handles the kitten baths tonight. They need them desperately. Oh the wonderful chaos this will be!


Friday, June 21, 2013

Picture Perfect Thursday.

Thursday with Thomas and Roz was wonderful. We spent a lot of time investigating a new sweet spot filled with gardens and fish and music and puppet shows and bee hives.

And rock-wall climbing! Go Roz, Go!!

Thanks go to Sue our personal tour guide to the grounds. We can't wait to return!


Daddy-O Time.

This past week is a blur. It started on Friday night with our friends JT and Allison and band in town for a performance. It continued with staying up through the wee hours and letting our heads hit the pillow just as the birds were singing their morning songs. Saturday? Well, blur of hanging out with our overnight guests until they got on the road for the next gig and naps. Oh the naps were lovely...and I'm pretty sure we've not fully recovered from all that lost sleep!

Then Father's Day celebrations...

Christmas 1968
45 years later. And I can't believe we're all in the same positions!!
Allison, Brandon, Grant and Nicole.

Just this morning, Grant departed for South Korea to begin a pretty exciting chapter, teaching English to a bunch of little ankle-biters. I wish I could be there on his first day when his tall, lanky self walks into the room! He will do well - better than well. But we are all a bit off kilter today knowing that we won't see him for 365 days.

Bubbles with the cousins, Matthew and Michael.


Daddy Brian and the boys.
The somber sisters.

Some children were a little less agreeable about being photographed, as you can see.

The house is ready for a weekend of family from Cinci. We are looking forward to spending time with my cousin Jesse, his wife Marie and their girls Kaia and Anna. The connection for Kaia and Ella is one that we hold dear. My camera is charged!

AND it looks like we may be providing a little extra love BEFORE we go on vacation. Ella doesn't know that when our out-of-town guests leave on Sunday, we will be heading to the Humane Society to pick up a litter that needs our hands on attention. To be honest? I could use some kitten pitter-patter antics after watching one of my babies leave the nest to go so, so far away. And if I'm really, really being honest, I've been missing Sunflower, Simba, Bootsy and Una something fierce!

Grant stopped over to say good-bye last night. I look 4' tall next to him.
 One last bit of news from this week: swimming lessons. Ella loves the idea of swimming. Ella does not actually love the act of swimming. The girl will play in and around water all day. It has been a challenging week for her and us. The first three nights were filled with screams, screeches, tears and then more tears when told that class was over. (She is a walking contradiction.) On Day 4 of 5, last night, she got her head entirely wet and laughed nearly all through the class. Tonight is our last class. We are super proud of her and she has made progress. Don't ask the girl to stick her face in the water to blow bubbles, however. She'll fight you like a bull.

No nap + swimming lessons = This.
Happy Weekend, Ella-land!!


Monday, June 17, 2013

Thank you for giving us joy.

For just about three weeks, our house was filled with the pitter patter of kitten feet, squeals of laughter from Ella, mornings of bolting out of bed to let our four loves out of their 'cave' (aka cage), carrying each of them around like babies, purring...

It was also filled with (what seemed like) endless kitty litter box cleaning, securing every breakable item, hoisting curtains up over the curtain rods, feedings, medicating...


On Tuesday, we returned to the Humane Society with our little foster kitties. We had done our job, and done it quite well. Each had more than doubled in weight. Each was healthy. Each had been socialized, grabbed and held by more hands than I can count.


We were thankful to have KatieRoz join us to lessen the blow. And I treated the girls to ice cream after we left them behind. Ice cream always helps.

Simba and Ella and Eskimo kisses.
But when we got home and the house was painfully quiet and all the routines of playing and cleaning up were gone, there were sobs from little Ella - sobs like I can't remember ever hearing from her. And I cried too. There we sat on the couch, crying over kittens. She fell asleep for 3 1/2 hours that afternoon.

It would have been sooooo much easier to keep one or two of our fosters. What we did was harder: loving and growing those little souls so that a forever family could give them a happy life. I had a few ulterior motives to this project and I feel quite pleased that all were met. Ella bonded with pets...and boy did she. Here we are six days after their departure and she is still talking about them and carrying around photographs such as these here. We provided a parallel to her life before us and how very important foster parents were to her first months. We laughed. A lot.

There is another side story to all of this, too.

This little girl with Ella adopted Una. She and her mama are friends of ours and live only a few blocks away. Ella will be able to keep up to speed on little Una (now named Darling). This weekend has been a flurry of smart phone pics and videos already!

We can't wait to prep the house in a few weeks for our next litter. I've been told that letting go of your first fosters is the hardest, that it gets easier. Maybe??? But we're up for finding out because the joy that was going on in our house far outweighs it all.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Once Upon A Time.

(This is a post mostly about me. Sorry. You'll have that.)

Before Ella.
Before Larry.
Before High School.
Before Junior High...

...there were kids. I became an Aunt for the first time at age 11. My baby-sitting skills were sharpened at an early age. I have lost count on how many children and families I grew up with. Because I did, really...grow up right along with all of them. Helping grow other children was my livelihood. I never collected a real 'paycheck' until my freshman year of undergrad. (This may shed some light on why I cannot help myself to love on or grab for other little ones in my life. It is who I've become.)

Last weekend I shed my Mama cloak for a glorious 24 hours. Thanks to my great husband and wonderful parents for their help.

I picked up my Nikon (and trusty smart phone), got behind the wheel with tunes blaring and headed two hours north to assist NicoleLeePhotography shoot a wedding.

It wasn't just any wedding.

Julianne. The Bride.
One of my little ones grew up, found a sweet guy and said "I Do" at the family cottage in front of about 50 family members and friends.

I drove home early Sunday morning with the biggest smile plastered across my face. The entire day was filled with images such as this one above.

And this...little Paul (bride's brother) and me. Twice a week, from the tender age of 6 weeks old, this guy was a fixture in my family life as his parents worked. He's all grown up too, obviously.

And this...

And this...

And how Mother Nature threw us a bone, threw away the 80% chance of rain and storms, and gave us an unbelievable evening.

And this...energy and love.

And this...you may recognize Father of the Bride as "Fireman Chris" from a few months back? I can still feel the love when I look at this image.

And this...in between dancing and laughing and eating and drinking (yes, even the photographers), Mother of the Bride and Babysitter/Lifelong Friend/Photographer stole a quiet second.

What I could not capture in smart phone images:

  • how I cried uncontrollably from behind my camera lens as Julianne walked down the aisle on her daddy's arm;
  • my sore stomach muscles two days after this event (from laughter);
  • the 2am hotel giggling fits that NLP and I had, sprawled on our beds, with dirty-black feet, looking through the images on our respective Nikons;
  • the renewed spirit I had after exercising my creativity surrounded by these people;
  • the blessings I feel to have been a part of it all.

And so that y'all don't think I've forgotten about my Ella Girl (who survived beautifully without me for 24 hours!) in this post, look who got all Big Shot on us the day I returned...

The strides she has made since we took this video are just awesome. We are super proud of her!

We are wrapping up our kitty fostering duties tomorrow. More on that later, promise :)