Thursday, October 30, 2014

Sound it out.

Every conversation these days is a sounded out, then spelled, then sounded out again. We find Ella in her room playing school with her imaginary students. Ella rips her book selections from the bookshelves, then proceeds to boss the heck out of these students. Often, they are getting 'bad marks' for being "disrestectful". She has figured out how to spell p*op, and breaks into peals of laughter every. single. time. 

Although our time with KatieRoz is not nearly what we wish it would be, these two pick up right where they left off. Big giggles, bossing and comfort.

Ella is such an awesome little sponge, soaking up information at school. Her teacher is a perfect fit for her (and me too!). My mama friends had warned me of the exhaustion. They were right. She is ready to sleep by 6pm. Ella has never been one to fall asleep on the couch after dinner until last week. I kept us like this, me editing away on photos and her curled up at my side, for hours. She is also a ridiculous bear in the morning with crying and screaming and over-all opposition to anything revolving around getting ready for school. Friends also warned me about this.

We've started in on the leaf situation. Ella is a determined little rake goddess, especially now that she has her own rake compliments of Grandma.

Lillian and E goofing on Crazy Sock Day.
Larry's TedX talk went live online this past week. Ella was amazed that her Daddy-O was talking on the computer! She sat like this enthralled until she looked up to ask, "When is he going to start talking about me?"

This past weekend was a wowza in our neighborhood. The university (just a few blocks away) celebrated homecoming with the annual parade through our streets. Couple that with our buddy Sophie's parade/birthday party, and Saturday was well spent.

Rufus and Tulia catching candy at the parade with E.

Did I mention face painting? Ella will never do it...but it doesn't stop me.

Saturday night: celebrating Lily's big #3 birthday!
We have new next door neighbors with young kids. It is great! We shared the pumpkin carving experience with them, too.

Ella drew; Larry cut.

We are looking forward to making some good memories with this crew, and I think we've got a good start going. Next up? Halloween celebrations because it seems to have turned into a week-long holiday.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday check-in!

There's no place like home. You know how Dorothy clicked her pretty little heels together and was whisked back to reality? The mantra has several meanings in our life right now. We have been little tornadoes of activity since my last post which is why the blog posts are suffering. Again.

This is also the theme of the 2nd annual moms group photo shoot blitz I'm involved in this fall. I have managed to photograph 15 families in the last two weeks while dealing with a whole lot of rain, Ella activities, my full-time job, laundry, dinner, homework and bath times. It is a lot of work. It is beyond fulfilling. I am forever grateful for Larry and Ella being complete troopers as I dash here and there around the neighborhood with my Nikon in hand.

But enough of the busy: that isn't going to change anytime soon and if it did, we'd all be bored!

What has our little Ella been up to??

1. Rocking out her school pictures!

2. She is featured on the bulletin board at school "How We Came To America".

We made sure she was comfortable doing this project for the Spanish teacher, who was also adopted and part of the project. The other student is her classmate Levi who was adopted from Ethiopia. It is super cute.

3. Hanging out at a bar for our pal's CD release party.

Thank goodness for my parents (again) who helped negotiate last Sunday's schedule. Our friend Jeff had his CD release party and Larry and I were in the thick of the event. Ella came for a bit with my parents, ate pizza, danced a little and took selfies of us. She is such a big-game player.

4. Thomas. We have stopped trying to contain him in any fashion. He ripped that cast off a while back and hasn't stopped. He occasionally limps about but is back to more antics than ever. Weekday mornings are hurried and crowded as we all share one bathroom to get ready. We also share it with this fool and his sister. This is not at all unusual.

5. Our neighborhood is glorious right now.

And during some hang-time with the Harrison's, we put them to work on the leaf removal!

6. Waking up early, even on weekends. Since school has started, Ella's sleep has been disruptive. We do a happy-dance if she can make it all night without screaming out for me. She had a good run last week and boy, was my body happy about that. She doesn't seem to get the memo about sleeping in on Saturdays. At 6:45 this past Saturday, she woke up, immediately informed me she 'had a lot of work to do on the computer'. I made a pot of coffee and fired up the laptop for her. She contently played educational games for the longest time.

I have been able to negotiate my work schedule to offer assistance in the classroom once or twice a week for her teacher. It is awesome!! One of those jobs is computer lab helper. I am amazed at how well these little five year olds navigate through their reading and math tutorials. The joy on Ella's face when I join the class is worth all the gold in the world. There will be a day when she rolls her eyes at my presence at school. Until then, I soak it all in.

7. Friends. Joy.

Yesterday we had a much-needed afternoon with Roz and Ava. I had a much-needed living room pow wow with Sar and Katie. I think the pictures speak for themselves, don't you?

Happy Monday, Ella-Land!! ~H

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Of course, Thomas. Of course.

It isn't unusual for us to hear things fall, bang around and naturally assume that Thomas is the culprit. That cat gets into everything. And he's agile. He sleeps on kitchen counters (don't shudder...it happens) when I'm not yelling at him to get down. But when he comes hobbling up to our room in the morning, and then proceeds to hide out under Ella's bed for the next 24 hours...well, you know something is not right. One early morning trip to our vet confirmed that rather quickly: Thomas had broken his paw straight across.

Because of the location of the break, he isn't a candidate for surgery. He IS a candidate for a splint/cast for the next 6 weeks.

He spent his first few days in la-la land on heavy pain meds. He also spent most of that time sleeping or being carried around like a newborn by all three of us.

This was his safe place for the first week. He would hunker down in one of Ella's toy boxes and sleep the day away. He looked like one of the misfit toys.

Yes, he did this, a lot - like he was really interested in what was happening on my computer.

He is about 3 weeks into this recovery. He has successfully removed his splint once and had a new one put on. He has lost the 'cone of shame'. His sister has become his primary care-giver. Ella spends a good deal of time checking on him and bossing him about his increased ornery behavior. He can now negotiate windowsills, stairs, beds with his bum leg.

And in a few weeks, we will go back for repeat x-rays and say a little prayer that his young bones have healed back together again.

How did he do it? We still aren't certain!!


Friday, October 3, 2014

Highlights Reel.

We've been in the Kindergarten Trenches for a full month now. We are still adjusting, grown ups included. Our days start at 6am, which is about 45 minutes earlier than they used to begin. 45 minutes of lost sleep is a big deal at that hour when you're wrangling a little person who is still struggling with anxiety about an eight hour day of school. (Did I mention anxiety??)

She's making baby-step progress. Sometimes it is two steps forward and five back.

She loves her teacher.
We love her teacher.
I am able to help out in the classroom and computer lab twice a week.
Her head is exploding with new knowledge and lots of German words that she interjects into her conversations.

For five consecutive days, she was able to walk into school without wailing for all to hear. She had an incentive:

The much-coveted and cried about Panda Back Pack from Costco was her light at the end of the tunnel. Since getting this last week, her really awful crying at drop off has dwindled.

 Aunt Kay and Uncle Pete sent her a great package of new books and a panda bookmark to help start out her school year in proper form. We've been squeezing in Roz time whenever we can. It still feels so weird (sad) to not be seeing them twice a week. Like I said, the parents are adjusting to this new ball game, too.
There have been some impromptu meet ups with friends in the neighborhood as well, like meeting Piper, Oliver and Brooke at the neighborhood park last week.

Speaking of neighborhood, ours has been hopping lately. We had our annual block party bash and my moms' group rolled out vintage Old Orchard t-shirts...and sold out!!! Piper's daddy did the graphic design perfectly.

Larry's band added some music to the event.

Ella got to run wild in the streets with her girl, Piper. The rain and tornado sirens held off until 7:30 when we all had to make the mad dash home!

We helped out with United Way's Day of Caring, too. Yet another honorable mention to Piper's Daddy as he designed this wall. It. Is. Awesome.

Mama Heather and Mama Brooke on clean up duty (photo cred: Ella)

So awesome!!!
We are most proud of our own, however. Larry was asked to participate as a speaker in this year's TedX Conference. He spent hours and hours on this 15 minute talk about Americana music and Woody Guthrie. 
 I was able to take a vacation day from work and mom took over picking up Ella from school. It is such a cool event. We got to hang with friends as well and there were about a dozen hip moms from my neighborhood there as what turned out to be Larry's cheering section. It was so sweet.

Without me knowing it, this shot was captured of  me watching Larry on stage. For all of his work and rehearsing this talk, I never once heard it. That day was a surprise for me, just like everyone else. I was a nervous, giddy, proud girlfriend right here!

The cherry on top was the location of this year's event: my old high school auditorium. Since my time there, part of the school has been torn down and rebuilt in conjunction with the YMCA. Man, did it feel weird to be in and out of that main hallway for eight hours. What a perfect day.

It is possible that Ella has one of the coolest Dads in the region. I sure think so.