Monday, February 22, 2016

two thousand one hundred ninety days as THREE.

Sunday marked six years (or 2,190 days) as a threesome. It was a weekend packed full of things we knew Ella would adore. And as one friend pointed out, this anniversary is an especially great milestone because we have been together longer than we waited to be together. [Our journey to Ella was over 5 years...in case you forgot!]

We felt like this on Saturday morning and although this was taken at the end of our adventure, it just goes to show you how cool it was.

We know some people, and by people I mean sweet friends who live in our neighborhood and also happen to work at our zoo. Without them, Saturday would not have happened. To say that we are thankful is grossly understated.

Ella got to be a zookeeper. Our friends brought their little pip Dottie along for the ride and she was a stellar zookeeper as well.

Red pandas were first up. Coral the zookeeper filled us in on so much stuff about these three little fuzz balls.

Ella was so blown away by the first stop we could have walked out of there and she still would have been floating. We started our duties at 9am - a full hour before the zoo opens to the public. That was super cool as well.

Next up cheetahs. Our zoo has three new one-year old firecrackers. We were told to expect hissing and growling. The boys did not disappoint. But we got to feed them raw meat with tongs (through the fence). 

This one really had his eyes on Dottie...

Let me just stop here to discuss the weather on Saturday. It got up to 60 degrees which is just crazy for us in February. The wind was also crazy but it didn't matter because WARM!!!

Ella is captivated by Baru the saltwater crocodile. He freaks us out because he is as big as our house. He also freaks us out because, you know, that mouth.

She didn't really skip a beat when she saw that his breakfast was two dead rats.
The girls waited patiently for the zookeeper to assume her position on the cat walk, with the dead rat hanging from a fishing pole.

And here he is just after snatching his first rat. The sun was so bright and at the worst position for me to get good photos so I put the camera away and just watched in amazement.

So we're on sensory overload at this point. Then our friends take us through some more back gates until we smell that smell...no mistaking elephants are near. Renee and Lucas are brilliant. Before Saturday, I never fully appreciated how da*n smart they are. They did fun tricks for snacks, just like kids :) 

And before this experience was all over, we were able to feed them ourselves. Ella opted out but Larry and I did it. Big messy, muddy fun!

Just when we thought the whirlwind was over, we hoofed it over to the house that holds those with hoofs. Sweet Michelle, the pig of a giraffe was an excellent playmate. We all had fun feeding her lettuce. Did I mention she was a pig?

Dottie was brave enough to put the lettuce in her mouth and let Michelle grab it from her! You can tell this little one has grown up with all kinds of animals in her business.

Aubry got some really nice love, too.

This guy, oh this guy was so gentle and beautiful. He is a Kudu and for the life of me I cannot remember his name and I feel badly about that because he kinda stole my heart.

I rubbed his face and fed him. He was like a dog but for those really impressive twisty antlers.
Ella was tapped out at this point but Wyn managed to get some one-on-one with our shy girl and she held her breath in shock as the Kudu tried loving on her.

Larry had to come in for the save.
We were famished. All that zoo keeping called for a big lunch with strawberry shakes, burgers, soda pops and fries at an old diner.
Topping Family Day next year is going to be super difficult after this experience. I think we are all still trying to process all that we did. We can't thank Dottie and her grown ups enough for these memories.

And what did we do on Sunday after that? Bought ourselves three movie tickets and a big, blue slushy and plopped down at the theater to see Kung F* Panda Three. Big fun! Pandas!

Happy Family Day to all of you too as you've been with us every step of the way!


Friday, February 19, 2016

"Blurry. Not Blurry."

Anxious Ella face. Roz looking on at her side for moral support. Mama looking on feeling a range of emotions and trying not to cry! 

With growth spurts come changes in vision. Since her eye check up in August, she has definitely grown. When the school nurse eye exam came home last month showing that her vision wasn't 20/20, I reluctantly called her eye doctor for another exam. I have my own reasons for digging my heels in the ground in denial, but at the top of the list was seeing her in glasses, more grown up than ever and less my little baby. Also, I remember getting glasses at the end of fourth grade. It was exciting for about 24 hours and I whined at my mom to get contacts from that point on. (It happened at the end of 8th grade...my poor parents.)

She does look stunning in them as she chose very cool frames! Her official statement was "Blurry...not blurry" as we walked out of the store. I find her looking at something across a room with them on then with them off - her face in amazement.

This morning at school drop off, she asked, "When I have my glasses on I feel like I'm seeing in bright colors."

So, she's getting the feel for it and appreciating all that perhaps she never noticed before.

Not only did Roz bolt over when we got the call the glasses were ready, she was with Ella when she picked out her glasses over the weekend. I am 100% sure that it went as well as it did BECAUSE Roz was there with her.What an awesome little friend she is.

Monday we spent the day being thankful for our presidents with Roz, Olivia and Thomas...and Henry too.

There was a sprinkling of fresh snow which added to the fun. We women-folk hung out in the kitchen and watched in the warmth!

This weekend is #6 Family Day for us. It seems ridiculous to even type six years. We've got a few tricks up our sleeve to celebrate and are delighted to have 55 degree weather tomorrow...in February!

Happy Weekend, Ella-Land! ~H

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mama Heather vs. First Grade

Batter up, Mama Heather. Apparently there was some talk in the teacher's lounge at Ella's school and Mrs. P told Mr. H that celebrating the Lunar New Year with Ella and me was huge fun last year. When he asked if I would be willing to do it again this year, I had to stop short from typing my response to him IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I WAS SO EXCITED. More importantly, Ella was stoked to have me teach again too.

So I did.

And I was so busy I took not one photo.

We had taste tests of sesame cakes, Phoenix rolls and a really interesting thing called jelly ice. The kids were required to try their hardest to use chopsticks to eat all three. There was a lot of laughter because picking up jelly ice with chopsticks is no joke. OK, so I took one photo that afternoon of the jelly ice. 

I was bum-rushed with hugs from every single child in that first grade class after teaching for 90 minutes. They helped me read this year and I looked at Mr. H with my mouth hanging open at the confident readers each of them has become. They have soared since I was in the kindergarten class helping out.

Later that day, the Daisies Troop got together for another round of New Year learning. There was more taste-testing. Ella's reaction to shrimp flavored chips. (Smelled so gross.)
And her happy, open face during their drum dance with the girls.

The last few weeks have had some growing pains too. She has shot up like a rocket and the dynamics at school with a few of her friends has been off.

There have been more tears than I care to count. Pouting. Stomping. There has also been a new dragon to watch over her - Fire Ball.

We've had a little bit more of this at bed time too...

Don't think we haven't had time for volcano science experiments, however. Because we have been mad scientists.

We've got another new development on the horizon but more on that next time!