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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Niffer's Lists

I stumbled into another blog that I'm liking a lot. Actually, it was only because he made a comment on my blog. Of course, since I didn't know who he was, I just HAD to click on his profile to find out why he had the nerve to comment. Just kidding. I love comments. I wish I got more of them. It turns out that he actually follows my blog! Crazy, I know! Anyway, he recently wrote a post that got me thinking about lists and I told him I would write about it.

I happen to think that my list story is pretty damn cool. Of course I also happen to think all my stories are cool, but this tops the list. Excuse the pun.

Long ago I took a step away from the norm and dedicated a whole week to telling the story between my husband and I. Maybe you haven't noticed, but I don't normally talk about anything other than my children.

Anyway, upon reading what I wrote, I was actually astonished that I didn't mention my list. So... here is what happened right before The Beginning.

I had moved out to MD the Fall of 2000 and had a horrible break-up with my then-boyfriend-who-I-once-thought-I-could-marry-but-thank-goodness-that-didn't-actually-happen-shudder. After a year of dating a little I got quite frustrated with the single life. I recall that sometime in the fall of 2001, I called my mom to complain. It was a long conversation filled that centered around the theme of "Woe is me. I'm not going to find someone who matches me here in MD."

My mom's advice? She told me to write a list describing my ideal mate. She told me to write down anything, no matter how stupid, that I wanted in the person I would spend the rest of my life with. She figured that if I could envision him, then he would come to be.

My reaction to my mom's advice? I thought it was the stupidest idea EVER. However, I figured that there might be some benefit to making a list. In the very least, it might clarify in my head what it was I was looking for. So, out came the list. I don't have it in front of me and I'm not even sure I'd share it with the world (hmmm... I'd have to think about that... it might be neat for my children to read what it was their mommy wanted from their daddy), but I would guess that the list had about 60-70 items on it. They ranged from how he handled his money to how he acted around kids.

I wrote the list and I waited. I waited for the man to appear in my life. I waited and waited. Until right before Valentine's Day of 2002, when I had enough waiting. I called up my mom and told her that her list idea was stupid, that I did what she told me to do, and he still isn't in my life. And here I am, stuck alone on Valentine's Day AGAIN.

Her response? She asked me to read the list to her. She said that maybe I forgot something. Huh? How would she know?? It's my damn list!! So I read it to her and sure enough she told me that I left out a very important item, "you forgot to say that he is present in your life."

Again. Stupid. She's crazy. How would that make a difference? But she insisted that I had conjured up this perfect person but said nothing about him actually BEING in my life. Mostly to prove my mom wrong, I took a pencil and wrote in "He is present in my life." I figured that I could always go back and erase it if I ever decided it seemed like a stupid thing to include.

Two days later was Valentine's Day, the "beginning."

We dated long distance for quite some time after that. I firmly believe that when you start a relationship in long-distance mode, it actually accelerates the relationship. We talked on the phone daily, often for hours. Just out of necessity to keep the conversation going, we were forced to talk about the serious topics that don't typically come up in a relationship so soon.

One day we ran out of stuff to talk about and I pulled out my list. One by one, I went down the items and asked him about them. Much to my surprise, he answered every question in a way similar to what I envisioned in my head, with one exception. He could not swing dance. But he did say he was willing to give it a try. Good enough for me.

Later, when I told him about the list, Michael was a wise man. His first reaction was to tell me to go get a pen and ink over the penciled "He is present in my life." He did not want to risk having that line erased.

Since then I've discovered that we love our lists. It was Michael's idea to put together a Treasure Hunt list. I actually have plans to some day write a blog about it but our treasure-hunting has slowed down significantly since the kids came into our lives. In a nutshell, we have a list of items we need to get from places we want to visit. Cowbell from Switzerland. Glass rose from Venice. Tea set from England. You can see some of our pictures here.

We're also wanting to start a list of the traits our ideal retirement location would have. We're hoping to search for places during our travels. It should be fun. Lists are awesome.

Wordless Wednesday XLVI

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Our little baby birds

Good news! We recently discovered that we have a nest of baby birds!

The bad news is that the mommy bird chose poorly on the location for her nest. I could see how it is deceiving. It LOOKS like a cozy little nook, but it's actually inside the storm drains on our roof. Yep. "Doh" is the word you're looking for.

Of course, Ellie wasn't satisfied with the pictures on the camera and she asked Daddy VERY nicely if he could help her see the baby birds. He's such a good daddy.
Afterwards, Ellie and I spent a good amount of time sitting and watching Mommy bird bring food to her hungry babies:

Ellie: What she doing?
Mommy: She's feeding her babies. They're very hungry.
Ellie: Oh. Where she going now?
Mommy: She's getting more food for her babies.
Ellie: Because they eat a lot?
Mommy: Yep. They eat lots and lots of bugs.
Ellie: Is da mommy bird going to the bug store?
Mommy: Yep.
Ellie: To get bugs for her babies because they're ree-a ree-a hungry!

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Look

For those of you using Google Reader, you should take a moment to click on my blog to see my new look. I'm liking it a lot!

Tid-Bits XIII

I love how it only took me 8.5 months (and Lord knows how many wipes) to realize that, contrary to popular belief, Addie's nose is not covered in carrots/squash/sweet potatoes. It is indeed orange.See?O-R-A-N-G-E!

I love how Ellie starts off "reading" a book to us - "One time ago..."

I love how Addie continually flexes and relaxes her feet as she is eating.

I love how Ellie has recently started to joke around. We told her that when she was a baby she would count "One... two... two..." and now when she's being silly that's exactly what she does. It's pretty darn funny in her mind.

I think it's pretty cute how Ellie seems to have a formula, some precise order in which to make a funny look followed by a funny word, for what makes Addie laugh and when it doesn't work, she is very disappointed. 98% of the time, it works like a charm.

I love how when I pick Addie up into my arms, she turns to face forward in a determined way as if to say "Now, onward!"

I love how Ellie answers with a confident "Yeah!" whenever we ask her something like "Do you know..." She's excited to hear the answer even though her words and enthusiasm make it seem like she already knows the answer.

I love how Addie just sits and stares out the window whenever she's in her car seat (and assuming Ellie is not around for entertainment); she just soaks in the world around her.

Everyone involved laughs whenever I color with Ellie and she reminds me ONCE AGAIN that "You can do it like diiii-isssss!" and shows me that I can put my marker lid on the back of the marker while I color. You'd think I'd learn, but you'd be wrong. I forget EVERY time.

I love the fish-face that Addie makes. It seems to be a favorite of hers.

I love how Ellie talks out her pretend. For example, if she's pretending to make tea she'll say "Pour. Pour. Stir. Stir." If she's pretending to get a piece of candy she'll say, "Grab da candy. Open. Open. (places candy in mouth) Throw away. (places wrapper into pretend trash)"

I love that Ellie says "Blue Ska Do, we can too!" whenever she jumps over something. Apparently she has to jump over all painted areas in parking lots or sidewalks. She also ska-dos over Merlin.

I love how Ellie can list off random things as if she's reading from a phone book and yet it makes Addie laugh hysterically. Car. Laugh. Hair. Laugh. Forehead. Laugh. Tree. Laugh.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Crazy Monkey Ears

Ellie's latest favorite hair style, usually complete with a few monkey sounds.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Those darn ogres

Ellie: Look Mommy!
Mommy: What?
Ellie: Fiona is now a Shrek too!
Mommy: Yeah, she turned into an ogre just like Shrek.
Ellie: Yeah, Fiona is a yogurt too!
Mommy: Yep.
Ellie: But it's ok because she's a nice yogurt.
Mommy: Are ogres nice?
Ellie: Only Shrek and Fiona are nice yogurts.
Mommy: Are there mean ogres?
Ellie: Dere's da scary yogurt at da restaurant.
Mommy: Oh, yeah, that's Yoda.
Ellie: I don't like dat yogurt.
Mommy: (pause - what can you say to that?)
Ellie: Mommy?
Mommy: Yeah?
Ellie: Can I have some yogurt?
Mommy: You want some yogurt?
Ellie: Yeah, da strawberrwy kind!

Hide and Seek, Take IV

Another attempt at trying to play Hide and Seek in the car. Some day she'll learn. They say not to worry about potty training because a kid is not going to go to college wearing diapers. I suppose the same can be true about Hide and Seek, only minus the diapers.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Married to the Muffin Man

A few weeks ago, we had this conversation that still makes me chuckle...

Ellie: Hey, Mommy? I want to tell you someping.
Mommy: What's that?
Ellie: I'm marweed to da Muffin Man!
Mommy: The Muffin Man?
Ellie: Da Muffin Man!
Mommy: You're married to the Muffin Man?
Ellie: He lives on Dweamy Lane!

Wordless Wednesday XLV

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The weddings in our near-future

This last weekend, while buying a super frilly birthday girl dress for Addie...

Ellie: I like dis one because my favorite color is gween.
Mommy: But we're not getting you a dress today. This is Addie's birthday dress.
Ellie: But I like it. Can I have it please?
Mommy: Oh, that was good asking.
Ellie: Can I have it please? Can I please spin in it? Please?
Mommy: That makes it hard to say no, but we can't buy this dress today.
Ellie: (suddenly very worried) But... but... I want to go wif you to the marrieds!
Mommy: Oh, you want to go with me when my friends get married?
Ellie: Yeah! And I don't have a special dress to wear!
Mommy: Awww. That's because your special dress is coming in the mail.
Ellie: But I want to go wif you.
Mommy: You can go with me when my friends get married. We'll both wear pretty dresses.
Ellie: Ok.

Later in the car...

Ellie: Mommy? My dress is coming in the mail?
Mommy: Yep. There are two weddings we're going to. One for my friend Melissa and one for my friend Jen. They should be fun. I'm excited.
Ellie: Me too. I have an idea, Mommy!
Mommy: What's that?
Ellie: You can marry Miss Lissa and I will marry Miss Jen. Ok?
Mommy: Actually Melissa is going to marry her prince, Todd. And Jen is going to marry her prince, Jason. We're going to watch them get married and dance together. We can wear our special dresses too.
Ellie: Ok. And den I can spin and spin!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Life hands you lemons...

... and we made lemonade!

A couple months ago Ellie had a really bad dream. It was heartbreaking to listen to it, as it went something like this:

"No stop! No, no no! Stop! Can you stop? No, stop! Stop please! Can you please stop? No no! Can you stop please? I asked ree-a nicely. Can you please stop please? I asked like a big girl. No! Please stop! Can you please stop please? Please?"

OMG! She asked nicely! Whoever you are, just STOP for the love of God!

In the morning, I asked Ellie what her dream was about and she said that her wall was moving towards her and it wouldn't stop. Her wall? Wow. That would be pretty scary. She even showed me which wall it was. I told her that maybe the wall just wanted to play with her.

And that's how it started.

Ellie's new favorite bed-time activity is to play the Mr. Wall game. Ellie hides under the covers and I have a conversation with the wall:

Mommy: Mr. Wall?
Wall: Yeah?
Mommy: Do you know where Ellie went?
Wall: Ummm... I think she went swimming.
Mommy: Swimming?! Without me? Well I guess I'll just lay in her bed and wait for her to come back... Hey, this bed is really lumpy. Wait a second... That's not a lump! That's an Ellie!
Ellie: (giggles) Do it again! Ask "Mr. Wall, do you know where Lori-lelle went?" and dis time I go to da zoo!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day 2010

I know I'm a day late (surprise surprise) but it's partly because when I think of trying to describe how I feel about the father of my children, I always fail at finding the right words.
I'm sure you'd expect me to say things like "He's the best father in the world" or "these two are the luckiest girls - to have him as a father" and though both statements are true (of course), I'm not feeling like that's what I want to focus on. Don't get me wrong, he IS a wonderful father and just adores his little girls, who adore him back.
But the thing that I can't stop thinking about this year is how it's because of him that I can be such a good mommy. For Mother's Day, he wrote me a very sweet card about how wonderful I am. What he doesn't know is that I'm wonderful because of him. There is no doubt in my mind that if he wasn't with me on this journey, if I had to do it alone, or even with someone else, I would not be able to be as patient, fun, playful or kind as I am. It is because of this man that I can enjoy as much of parenthood as I do. It is because of this Daddy that I love being a Mommy. As thankful as I am that he is so wonderful with the girls, I'm even more thankful for the way he empowers me with the ability to be the same.
Enough Mommy mush. It wouldn't be a true Father's Day post if I didn't show off one of the creations we made for Daddy. This is one of many things that Ellie helped make (not to mention the items she made herself - which I can't photograph because Daddy ALREADY took them to his office). I thought it turned out pretty darn adorable and it was cute to see how amazed Ellie was that her (and Addie's) handprints could be turned into elephants. Anyway, Happy Father's Day, Daddy. We hope you know how much we love you.

And to the Grandpas in our lives... all four of you... the same goes for you. I'm glad that Ellie was excited to call each of you to say "Happy Fawder's Day!" We love you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kaboom!

I'm reposting this because the video didn't seem to work yesterday. I'm not sure what was up with it, but it is worth the wait. Besides, there are worse things than having to look at the pictures again. =) Please feel free to reassure me that the video is working today.

I had forgotten how much fun it is to play games with babies! And Addie and I discovered our first game to play with each other! Blocks!How could I have forgotten how wonderful these blocks are? It's such a simple concept. Step one: build tower. Step two: knock it down. Step 3: repeat over and over again until you go crazy. But oh, the smiles! Oh the laughter! You'd think that it was a comedy show or something.And for those of you who are audible learners or just simply feel like the pictures don't do it for you, here's a wonderful video. I absolutely LOVE how she starts to anticipate the Kaboom towards the end!
video

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Big Sister Quote of the Day XL

I love how when we're lying in my bed in the morning, Ellie will pull Addie close to her, give her a big hug and say "I'm just snuggle-ing wif my baby!"

Overalls are da bomb!

Anyone with me on this one? I KNOW that there are people out there who agree with me because one of the most common searches that bring people to my blog is a search for "sexy overalls." Strange? Well you wouldn't think so if you saw me back then! I totally rocked those overalls!

Still don't believe me? Two of my favorite pictures of Ellie were with her wearing overalls. Just look...
If you still don't agree with me that overalls are the best clothing in the world... well prepare yourself! A change in opinion is about to occur! Just soak in these precious gems...And now, look at me in the eye and tell me you don't agree that overalls are da bomb! Can't do it? Yeah, I didn't think so!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Big Sister Quote of the Day XXXIX

Surrounded by grown ups, Ellie is sitting on my lap and Addie is on Aunt Erin's, Ellie makes the announcement...

Ellie: Dat's my baby sister! Her name is Add-line!
Friend: It is? I bet you're a good big sister.
Ellie: Yeah I am!
Mommy: What do you do that makes you such a good big sister?
Ellie: I make my baby smile!

Wordless Wednesday XLIV

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival

I know it's a little late (let's blame a faulty internet router, shall we?), but one of the things I got to do for my birthday was to take Ellie out on a special date with just her, Mommy and Daddy. Addie stayed home with Nana while the three of us went to the Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival. Since she has her own set of chalks for the driveway, I thought she could be inspired to step her own drawings up a notch. =)

It was really cool! Artists drew pictures with chalk (the feeling of that much chalk on my hands would drive me crazy!) and after the festival is done the streets are opened to traffic and the artwork remains only in people's photographs. Really cool!Right off the bat, Ellie's favorite picture was the one of a Mermaid, whose name is Ariel of course. She wanted a picture taken with us next to it.And then, the sweet little girl wanted to tell the artist that she really liked her picture. Ellie must have been quite impressed with it because she walked up to the artist, obviously a complete stranger and said "I like your picture!" The artist thanked her and told her that it was very nice to hear. Then she let Ellie help! She gave Ellie a chalk, told her to draw on the picture and to rub it in with sand paper. I'm pretty sure that Ellie was quite honored to be asked for help.Many of our pictures didn't really turn out because the shadows from the sun would make it nearly impossible to see the painting, but we did go back to take pictures of some of our favorites after the shadows were gone.This one was quite impressive. The picture on the actual ground didn't show anything, but once you looked at the reflection in the cylinder, you could see a man! WOW! We were impressed but once Ellie saw his face, she decided he was a little scary. I'm nearly certain that the other side of the painting shows an indecent figure but since I never actually looked, I can't make any guarantees.This one was my favorite. Ellie's a sucker for princesses and she gets it from me. I asked her which princess she thought this one was and after some thought, she decided it was Ella Frella (Ella of Frell from the movie Ella Enchanted).Regardless of how stunning some of the other paintings were, it was this one that Ellie wanted to return to for more pictures. The girl knows what she likes.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lives Lost

A good friend of mine posted this the other day. It really touched me. I considered writing about it myself but I ended up just sending emails to some of my closest friends instead. I then went on with my Friday, in a bit of a funk but tried to shake it off by spending more attention to my Baby Addie than any other normal day. That night I discovered that the same post put my husband into a funk. And by sharing it with my sister, I managed to put her into a funk too.

After seeing the effect it had on us, I realized that I still needed to write SOMETHING about it.

What is it about a news story that just remains in the news until you discover some link between you and the victim? I didn't know the mother but I had heard the stories. I thought it was horrible but I shoved it out of my mind. I'm definitely someone who needs to think about the good in the world and when something horrible happens, I try to ignore it. If I focus on the beauty then that's all that exists, right?

Anyway, enough analyzing me. That's not what this is about.

I'll never claim to understand mental illnesses. In all honesty they scare me, but nothing scares me more than PPD or PPP. I think the thing that scares me most about it comes from knowing how strongly I love my children. For an illness (be it chemicals or whatever - again, I don't understand) to have such a strong effect on a mother to wipe away that bond... well that's powerful. And not in the good way.

It took me a while to get attached to my own children. It's hard to unconditionally love someone who is as needy as a newborn can be. Sleep deprivation is what got to me. And knowing how much a simple lack of sleep affected me, I can only imagine what it would feel like to actually be diagnosed with PPD.

And then to go one step further and find yourself the victim of PPP... that's scary stuff. That's like black magic. When there is a force strong enough to make a mother, who loves her son dearly, go to such an extreme - well that's not something you want to mess with. That's not something anyone can understand, even if you've found yourself unfortunate enough to say "you've been there." I don't think anyone is capable of understanding, which goes to show how strong the black magic really is.

I guess I'm not sure what to say about it. I did not know this mother even though she lives 20 minutes from me. I am, however, good friends with someone who thinks (and still does) the world of her and that says a lot to me. That speaks volumes. As much as it sends chills through my bones, I have to admit that... well it could have been anyone. It could have been my friend. It could have been me.

To have such a loving person become someone that most people would so easily label a "Monster"... for a mother to have to go through depression alone, even after reaching out for help from her friends, family and doctors... for a mother to do that to her own child... there are simply no words to describe how painfully sad the story is.

I'm not sure what else to say, but I believe I'm needing a hug from my girls.

R.I.P. sweet baby boy. My heart goes out to your family right now.

A girl and her dog

We got Merlin when Ellie had just started walking, and though she loved her new puppy, once he got bigger she was really just indifferent towards him. I think one too many knock-downs was what pushed her in the other direction (excuse the pun).
Addie, on the other hand... I predict that this girl is going to love her dog. He's much more mellow now that he's older (though he has always been a really good dog) and he is fantastic with the baby, grabbing fists and all. It's actually somewhat funny to see her grab a chunk of hair and the pain sends him to his knees (do dogs have knees?). But as soon as she lets go he returns for more attention, only to get a repeat grab. These two photos make me laugh. They even look like each other! I think they're going to make a great team in the years to come!

Friday, June 11, 2010

"Forever" is sooner than you think

On the arrival at The Cracker's house:
Ellie: I haf a fwiend named Brynn!
Cracker: (silent)
Ellie: We just went swimming yesterday (really last week)!
Cracker: (silent)
Ellie: She's my best fwiend! We're going to be best fwiends forever!
Cracker: Wanna play trains with me?
Ellie: Yeah!

On the departure from The Cracker's house (3 days later):
Mommy: Did you like playing with The Cracker?
Ellie: Yeah. We play wif da trains!
Mommy: The Cracker is a nice friend, isn't he?
Ellie: Yeah, he's my favorite fwiend!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm a hopeless romantic

I have to admit, I am one of those people who truly believes I have married my soul mate. I'm a hopeless romantic and I happen to think that "our story" is a pretty darn good one. As such, I love to hear examples of people meeting their soul mates, like this one.

In a nutshell, an engaged couple starts to collect photos of their childhoods for the wedding. In one of the bride's photo, it shows her at Disney Land at the age of 4 years. In the background is the groom's dad pushing him in a stroller! Crazy? The groom apparently lived in Canada at the time and the bride was from Florida.

I love thinking about soul mates whose paths cross before they're ready for each other. Love it. The hopeless romantic in me wonders if something like that would happen to my girls. Is the little boy from her class the one who will be her first kiss? What about baby Thomas from MD - maybe he'll come back into her life? The chances of something like that happening are slim, but the possibilities are endless.

I hope that when the time does come for my girls to get married that they've found a man who not only loves them but respects them. A man who knows that she is his equal. A man who trusts her and can be trusted without a doubt. I hope that they complete each other and push the other to be a better person. I hope that they don't feel the need to fight even if they disagree.

I could go on and on about my hopes for my daughters' future husbands, but 1. I'd be going on and on, 2. I'd only be attempting to describe my own husband and 3. I'd be getting WAY ahead of myself. After all, Ellie is just beginning to learn how to write her name and Addie is just starting to learn how to crawl. =)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Happy 8 Months!

Guess how old Addie is?Oh you're good. You're really good.

I can't believe how quickly the time is going and how much we're enjoying having Addie in our lives. Little Miss Addie could not be a happier, easier baby. It's just not possible. Trust me. If you don't believe me, just ask me. I'll tell you the truth.Addie loves to make cute little sounds. She has started to say "ma ma ma" and "da da da" and "ma da ma" but squawking is still her favorite. She hums when she's hungry and she moans when she's tired. I'm telling you, it's like she has a built in user's manual.I predict that this is the month that Addie will start crawling. She's so close now and so proud of herself. She'll get up on her knees and rock back and forth. She has even tried to take "steps" but hasn't realized that she needs to alternate her legs in order to be successful. It looks like she's taking after her big sister, who crawled on Christmas Eve when she was 8.5 months old. Addie is close though, so very close.

Wordless Wednesday XLIII

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Sleep!

Last night Addie slept from 6:30 pm to 6:15 am without ever waking to feed! This was the 5th time (not in a row) that she's done it! Woo hoo! Add a 2 hour nap on top of that and Niffer is on cloud nine!

Big Sister Quote of the Day XXXVIII

Reading a cackly baby book with no real words to her baby sister...

"One time ago dere was a giraffe had fwiends. And D-EN da giraffe ate wif his fingers. Giraffe's don't have fingers! Dat's silly! And D-EN da giraffe ate a dinosaur! A dinosaur? Giraffes don't eat dinosaurs! And D-EN it's ok to play with boys because Add-line is special. And den she gets bigger! And de end!"

Monday, June 07, 2010

Tid-Bits XII

I loved that the first time Ellie watched Monsters Inc, she cried when Boo didn't get to see Sully anymore. She sadly said, "Kitty has to go now."

I love that Ellie has a magical word that is guaranteed to get smiles and laughs out of Addie - "Tooty!"

I love watching my daughters sleep. I don't get the opportunity to watch Ellie sleep very often, but Addie is filling in the blanks. She is so peaceful. I love to stay awake as long as I can, just watching her. Then I love to fall asleep with her breathing on me.

I love when Addie gets into the "I'm so tired that everything is funny" mode. She cracks me up.

I love how when I do get to take a nap with Ellie (which only recently has become a success), she rubs my back to relax me to sleep.

I love how no matter how upset Addie might be (hungry or tired), if she can hold my hand and know that I'm right there, she seems to know she's strong enough to hold on a little longer.

I love how Ellie has taken responsibility for trying to keep Addie happy in the car. It's her job to make sure that Addie is "smi-ler-ing" and Ellie loves that she can do it.

I love how when Ellie (3) made friends with "The Cracker" (7), she informed him that her best friend was Brynn and that they just went swimming yesterday (last week), followed by "We're going to be fwiends forever!" "The Crakcer" had no idea who Brynn was but Ellie was obviously proud of her friendship.

I love how good Ellie is with Addie. She's very gentile and still always offers to help. She loves to make Addie laugh. On the rare occasion that Ellie accidentally hurts Addie, Ellie gets very upset because she feels bad and didn't do it on purpose. She will also give Addie a kiss and tell her she is sorry.

I love the feeling of my baby gently running her fingers through my hair or across my skin whenever I'm breastfeeding her or rocking her to sleep. The caress is ever so gentle but runs sparks through my body. I love seeing how easily she falls into a deep relaxation at the touch of my skin or hair.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Niffer Saves the World 2010

Every year I donate a chunk of money to charities on my birthday. It has become a tradition that means a lot to me. There is no better way to celebrate another year than to help others who are less fortunate than myself. It makes for a happy Niffer and we all know that's a good thing!

The charities I donate to vary from year to year. Really, it's what ever calls to me in the moment. The advantage is that I have saved everything from the salmon to domestic violence victims. I've bought cows for a village and helped stop child trafficking. I love to know that I've helped such a variety of people.

The disadvantage to doing so, though, is that one of my email accounts has become nothing but mass emails from charities and I'm constantly calling charities to request that they stop sending me stuff or even gifts during holiday seasons (way to make Niffer feel like a Grinch!) Last year, I thought it would be fun to offer to match any donation my friends and family made (combined with matching from my company, their donation would effectively be tripled). As much fun as that was, it definitely exploded the spam side of my life, not to mention the effort it required while filing for our taxes. So this year, I'm going to the opposite extreme.

Babies are calling to me. I can not even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose a child to cancer or to an illness of any sort. And in this economy - add financial strain on top of any of the emotional breakdowns would be enough to break just about anyone. Balancing the desire to stop living myself with the knowledge that I'd have to go on for the sake of my other child, well that's something I hope will never be needed. Little people who act braver than most adults - these are the ones who are tugging at my heart this year. Knowing that a child can still laugh, play and find joy in their lives even though they're in pain just melts my heart.

Contrary to popular belief, I take my life for granted. I try to soak it all in and appreciate every little detail. I even probably succeed more than most parents at doing so. However, my efforts are slim compared to how much a parent must soak in during the limited time they have with a sick child. To pray to God to be given a child, only to end up praying that you will be able to keep him... that must force a level of appreciation for life that I don't think I'll ever be able to reach. Instead of worrying about scraped knees or hurt feelings, you start wishing your child can make it long enough to experience even those moments - that's... well... that's... powerful.

And so... without further ado... I'd like to announce that this year Niffer has decided to save the children by donating all my charity money to The Children's Miracle Network, who according to Charity Navigator is a four star charity - BONUS!

Their Mission Statement:
"Children's Miracle Network's mission is to generate funds and awareness programs in partnership with and for the benefit of member hospitals/foundations and the children they are privileged to serve. We raise funds for more than 170 children's hospitals. Countless individuals, organizations and media partners unite with Children's Miracle Network hospitals to help sick and injured kids in local communities. Donations to Children's Miracle Network create miracles by funding medical care, research and education that saves and improves the lives of 17 million children each year."

Happy Niffer Day!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Meeting the Cracker

We went to visit our friends (parents of The Cracker) for Memorial Day weekend. We were nervous about the trip since it would be our first with both girls and it is a longish drive (7 or 8 hours including stops), but it was a success!

The drive wasn't too bad. The girls did as well as we could have expected them and Ellie went out of her way to try to keep Addie happy in the boring car. It was really only toward the end of each drive that either of them started having issues. They're good sports.

The weekend was a blast. We did one activity a day, which was a nice pace. Poor Addie - since she was the most easy-going, we decided to forgo any sense of a nap schedule for her. It was necessary because Olive usually naps from 9:30-1:00. Ellie usually naps from 1:00-3:00. Someone had to give up their naps in order for us to do ANYTHING!!! But she was a good sport, given that not only was she tired, but she was also sick. She's such a sweet little thing - boogers, sleepy eyes and all.

Ellie went to sleep late every night but was still in decent spirits the following day (though we're paying the price now that we're home). I think the main reason for her being so well behaved was The Cracker (7). It was the first time that Ellie was able to hang out with an older friend and I loved to see her interact with him. It made me kind of sad to know that Ellie is the oldest of all our local friends' kids because it would be neat if she had more chances like this.

She adored the Cracker. She wanted to do everything he did. She ate what he ate. She said what he said. She played what he played. She ran where he ran. He was her idol. She even slept in the tent all by herself (without either parent) because the Cracker was with her. We heard them talking about mature topics like which train they each want to be and why. It was obvious that she loved being one of the "big kids" and felt so mature.

And I absolutely loved it! I loved watching her with him and best of all - I LOVED THAT SHE DIDN'T NEED ME TO ENTERTAIN HER!!! She met Graeme and that was the last I really saw of her. It was nice for a change.

To my surprise I didn't take many pictures of the weekend, not that I can show them to you anyway (our internet is currently misbehaving). I thought about it at the time, but I was enjoying the relaxation and didn't want to spoil it. The trip was a huge success and Ellie wants to visit the Cracker more often.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Wordless Wednesday XLII

(and believe it or not, there's more where those came from)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Big Sister Quote of the Day XXXVII

Addie: Da da da da.
Ellie: Look Mommy! Addie is talking!
Addie: Da da da da.
Ellie: She says "I want my sister."