Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dinner Time!

Rule Breaker should have been his name. Thomas cannot stand it when we humans eat and don't invite him ON the table. He's a big fan of take out Chinese food from our favorite neighborhood spot.
Ella is also a very big fan.

Mavis takes to messing things up on her level. If her food bowl is less than overflowing, this is the result.

My little chef loves to help me cook.

And Thomas has to be at her side just in case something should fall into his mouth.

Ella's pre-k experience is going very well. But for a few lousy drop offs with tears, she is excited for school the next day and busting in the doors on school mornings. Finally...only a year later! "How do you spell that?" Every conversation is interspersed with spelling lessons. Her mind is thinking in all new ways. It is great. We were blown away at how wonderfully her school pictures turned out.

Another great thing? The patience these two kittens have. They get carted around like babies All. The. Time. These three are thick and thieves.

New books from Aunt Cathy and Uncle JB!

(again with the rule breaking)

We spent four hours milling about our Art Museum last week with our Thursday crew. Ella took her first stab at print-making. I got all inky right along with her. (Agh!! Look how old they are getting!)

Even though I may have my nose in photo edits for a bit longer than I'd hoped for, Thomas makes sure I don't feel alone after Larry and Ella are sound asleep.

He also does a darn fine job of making himself at home when I try to go to sleep, too. 

Happy Wednesday, Ella-Land! ~H

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why Ella's Mama has been MIA and one awesome party.

A few months ago, my neighborhood partner-in-crime (Michelle) and I came up with a marvelous idea: 15 minute flash mini photo sessions for the families in our moms' group. It was a smashing success. Before it was over, I photographed 21 different families - all of them fun, cute and totally worth the extra editing work that I've had on my plate the last three weeks.

When Ella isn't with Roz, she spends time with these great children in our cool neighborhood. It is a testimony to what we are all trying to create for our families. Let's face it, the times of heading outside in the morning and playing until the street lights come on doesn't exist any longer. But this group of ladies is doing their part to give them the next best thing. I couldn't be prouder of them all. And yes, I'm pretty happy with my photos as well. (But I'm not done editing all of them...)

This past Saturday morning, Michelle and I also cooked up a Halloween bash for this group. (We've been busy!) The near-hurricane winds and chilly temps didn't stop us. We had bouncing, donut eating contests, mummified juice boxes, a parade and a mummy and me toilet paper contest. Did I mention this all went down at Ella's house? It did.

There were some serious warm up exercises in the bounce house...

Our Lady Bug was not the best model and 3/4 of her costume is covered because of her shivering. Promise better photos before October 31 gets away from us! Ella was reserved. She hung in there and enjoyed (the art table the most), but the super hero masks freaked her out. She wouldn't go in the bounce house, play the donut game, get wrapped with toilet paper. Zilch. In fact, I'm wondering how trick-or-treating is going to go this year. She is equal parts petrified and obsessed with the gore of this holiday. She's a girl after my own heart - you won't ever see me at a zombie party either, Ella!

Larry with a bad hair day.

Excellent art work by Larry.

Piper and Larry working on a few Barbie emails.

If you're going to host a party for 30 kids and their parents, you might as well dress the part. I didn't have to reach far to transform into The Crazy Cat Lady (thanks Roz for your cat contributions). Larry was pretty happy at his hair choice - it kept him warmer than most.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Reflections on connections.

Since my last post, we've spent a lot of time soaking in the last of autumn's offerings. They have been WONDERFUL. For such a lousy spring/early summer start, Mother Nature has provided a hundred fold the last two months. How anyone could not fall in love with a Midwest autumn is a mystery.

Our gardens are winding down quickly. The three of us will be spending as much time as possible in 'clean out' mode before the snow falls, which according to weather forecasts could happen in just two days. (Insert grumpy face.) I guess we should get busy.

Fang and Ella. Kunming sisters.
This past year, Larry and I were able to see a one-night only screening of "Somewhere Between", a documentary following four young ladies adopted from China as they pursued a search for birth parents. Many of our FCC families attended as well. We own the documentary DVD. It was powerful. It was good. (Available on streaming now!)
Fast forward to a week and a half ago. We headed north for an FCC event to meet Jenni Fang Lee, one of the young ladies featured in the documentary. The turn out was great and we met a lot of new friends. The organizers took special care of us. They knew Ella and Fang share a connection. They are both were adopted from the Kunming orphanage and as luck would have it both families had Xuilan as a guide during our adoption travels.
Fang sat at our table during lunch. There were some big talks about big stuff. We took it all in. Truth be told, the adults were a bit star struck that she was actually sitting at the table with us.  
Before leaving, you know this mama had to organize photos. And seeing Ella and Fang next to each other was like looking into the future: the eyes, the cheekbones, the chin, the mouths. The resemblance really is amazing.

Fang with the littles: Heather, Katy, Ava, Ella, Roz and Anna.
The Ho Family in their great adoption t-shirts!
Roz and her peeps!

Love Ella's sweet hands.

A group of our friends went on to a park. We decided to stay in the quaint little town and wander. As luck would have it, a river runs through it! What a gorgeous ending to a wonderful day.

One of our new little friends, Heather (another Heather!!), wandered to the river with her family, too. She is 6 yrs old and from the same province as Roz.

We are so very thankful for our adoption connections. Although Ella doesn't fully realize this good stuff at 4 years old, we are stockpiling this 'stuff' for when she's bombarding us with questions or concerns. Because she will...


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Housework and stuff can wait.

My day off with Ella could not be spent on catching up with housework. My dirty windows and piles of laundry would wait!

We battled the crazy autumn bees, felt the warm sun on our skin and hit the apple orchard with Roz, Thomas and Matthew. Ella's mood was far from perfect. I'm a bit on the tired side this week so the two of us were the dynamic duo, as you can imagine.

But we conquered it and had big fun intermingled with screaming and crying and time outs (and a few, "YOU MEANIE!!)

Crab Apple.

Later in the afternoon, we went to our second week of Mama/Ella yoga after a much needed nap. Our instructor Erin has an 8 month old and he joins us during class as well. KatieRoz are part of the team in this adventure. We are loving it and the girls are getting better each week. (Mamas are stretching muscles we didn't think we owned.)

Friday was Picture Day at school for Ella. I left her in a pool of tears because, "I don't want that man taking my picture and making me smile!!!!" I managed to eek out this smile from her in the parking lot. School pics are over-rated, Ella. It's ok.