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Monday, April 30, 2012

Ellie's Garden

What started out as a spur of the moment and very last minute idea for a small gift for Ellie's birthday, turned out to be her biggest gift and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way it turned out.

It starts with the bed. Ever since Addie's big girl room, we've known that we were going to get Ellie a similar bed, only we would set it up as a loft so that she has a cozy little cave to play in. Gramma helped us make a curtain, and the fence that used to be Ellie's headboard made for a wonderful piece to close off the end of her cave. Add a big leaf for her to sleep under and already Ellie has herself a wonderful new bed.

But it's what's hiding under the bed that makes it so magical. Nana bought her this wonderful garden playmat and I decided to make a bunch of gnomes with little homes so that Ellie has an entire garden village to play with. The mat is wonderful! It fills up the majority of the space under her bed.

We've folded her "grass" blanket to cover the remaining floor space, so that we had more room to add a fairy castle in the corner.

Add a pretty lamp and her little garden turns into a nice little cozy nook to sit and read books.

Awww, the makings of a gnome village. Wanna see more details? Here's where the cute-factor really comes in to play...

Gnomes in their homes:
Here's a gnome in her matching tulip home sitting in the field of tulips (OK, it's really a field of poppies, but Ellie doesn't know this).

And this one lives in a mushroom house among the field of mushrooms.

This lady has found shelter on a cozy leaf somewhere in the forest.

And this little fella loves the smell of daffodils so he has decided to make his home among those happy flowers.

And with this one in yet another flower home, I'm beginning to think that inside every flower there is a gnome!

Gnomeo and Juliet have decided to live in the daisy fields.

This little lady has found a perfect home in the apple tree.

And it even opens up and has a cozy rug inside!

And here is the garden castle. I'd like to live there.

But alas, this winged soul has taken up resisdence at the castle instead.

These two pocket gnomes have decided that the watering can is perfect for them. I can't help but agree.

Oh my gnomes! Look how amazing this house is! It even has a swing! How fun!

The treehouse even has a door and window sill complete with flowers and toadstools. Have you ever seen a prettier house? I think not.

And a view looking down on the house, there is even a comfy chair for the gnomes to rest their tiny tired feet. Perfect.

Gnome Pets and Friends:
A mommy and baby turtle hanging out in the marsh.

A strawberry fairy hiding in the strawberry patch. I'm thinking she could use a couple strawberry gnomes to keep her company!

Two super tiny super heros camping out in the bottom floor of the garden castle.

A ladybug wondering through the gardens.

A bunny hanging out with his friends in the pumpkin patch.

Here's a couple hedgehogs hiding out in the bushes.

Aww, how sweet. There's even a bird and her little egg. She decided to build her little nest on top of the tree house.

Other Items in the Garden:
Here's a strawberry fairy door, because we don't want to exclude our fairy friends from joining the garden fun!

And last, but not least, is the magical heart that has found its place in the center of the toadstool circle. It sparkles with lots of magic.

So that's Ellie's Garden. I love how it turned out. I'm actually quite amazed it turned out so nice! There is still room to add more and I have ideas for other houses. The mat has soooo many things on it, it's stunning. It makes me do a little happy dance to know that I've given Ellie her own little corner of the garden, filled with magic.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mommy Ink

Do you remember my pregnancy cravings? If not... let me refresh your memory. During BOTH pregnancies, the only REAL craving I had was to get a tattoo. Yes. Niffer with a tattoo. Can you imagine? Well, surprisingly I've never quite shaken the feeling and now here I am years later finally coming to a conclusion that I am absolutely comfortable with (today... we'll see about tomorrow).

The challenge is to find a tattoo design that incorporates everything I want in the same image. There is no way I would get more than one tattoo, though I've heard they're addicting. If it was going to happen at all, then the tattoo would have to accomplish ALL of it. This is easier said that done because of the challenge of coming up with something for Ellie (born in the spring), Addie (born in the fall) AND Michael.

Without further ado... I give you this:
It's absolutely PERFECT!!! Do the leaves in autumn colors and we're good to go! We have the spring, we have the fall and the twisted trees are yin-yang-ish enough to represent my wonderful soul mate. PERFECT.

So the gameplan? I'm going to work out. Shhh... don't tell anyone. Yes, this Niffer is going to work out. I'm going to lose the weight I've gained since becoming a mother and when I finally reach my goal I'm going to reward myself with a tattoo.

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

I forget... what was the topic?

Addie: Where's Mommy? Ellie: At home. Addie: No, at work. Ellie: No, at home. Addie: No, at work. Ellie: No, at home. Addie: No, at work. Ellie: No, at home. Addie: No, at work. Ellie: No, at home. Addie: Wha are you talking bout? Ellie: I'm telling you where Mommy is. Addie: But why?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grandpa's Birthday Card

The girls picked out cards for Grandpa's birthday and of course they had to pick some that made sounds. Here is the one that Ellie picked: Singing Toilet Card "You're going to see me later if you drink lots of beer... drink lots of beer... drink lots of beer... You're going to stick your head in the bowl you see right here. Happy birthday! Go drink beer!" (BURP!) Let's just say that we definitely got our money's worth of entertainment from the card. The poor thing could barely function by the time Grandpa saw it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Fantastic Photos

I wish I could do this... This man's photos of his two girls are absolutely wonderful! Check them out here: The most beautiful photos of two beautiful girls. I love them! They made me smile, especially the rocket one.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Strawberries and Flowers

Last weekend we went to Pearl Street Mall to see the tullips. I love this time of the year because it means I get to have an excuse to dress my girls up in pretty outfits (hats included, of course) for bright cheerful photos with flowers that force you to smile and think "Life is good."
My girls in their strawberry hats... I KNOW they were cute because I kept hearing people passing by comment on their hats. I love it when people notice that my girls are as cute as I think they are. Heheheh... Their hats help, but really I think it's their smiles and excitement.
I don't ask for too many photos with me and my girls, but my annual spring photo is a must. After all, I think everyone needs to update their Facebook profile picture at least once a year. Sometimes getting the perfect photo is not so easy, and this is especially true on a sunny day with big brimmed hats casting wondeful shade into our faces. Good for our eyes, not so good for the photos. In the end I think we succeeded, even if I had to tickle the girls occasionally to get results. Though they try to give me great smiles, their real ones are far better than their fake forced ones.
And if I struggle between deciding which photo I like better, even if it's just two wondeful shots, I consider it a very successful outing.
Family photos are also another thing I don't demand too often, though sometimes I wish I did. I feel like it is so rare to get photos of all of us together, but I try to make it happen twice a year (Christmas and Spring time). I treasure the ones I get, though... Happy happy Niffer.
My wonderful strawberries... Nothing can be sweeter.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'll pretect you

I absolutely love the side of Ellie that has staked claim as her little sister's protector. So many tiny moments like this one pop out from time to time, and each one makes me feel all the more blessed. Addie and Ellie were watching a movie (Anastasia) and Addie was scared of the bad guy. Without hesitation, Ellie said "Here, I'll pretect you" and put her arms around her little sister for support. Sigh.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

F.I.V.E

Today is a very difficult day for me. I'm not sure what it is about the big F.I.V.E that makes me want to put my arms around my daughter and never let go, hoping that somehow it would mean she would't keep growing at the pace that she is. And yes, I've told her so. Sometimes when I leave her at school I can't find the strength to let her go and I ask her if it would be ok for us to hug forever. She of course agrees with a big "I'd like to see you try" smile on her face. I continue to hug her for a while and then jokingly stand up with her still in my arms and try to walk out the door. Without fail we end up in agreement that the day would only get more and more akward if we were to continue hugging each other forever.

But that doesn't mean that I don't wish that I could.

My little Ellie is 5 years old now. My guess is that only parents of children who have already turned 5 can fully appreciate the weight that sentence has. FIVE YEARS OLD. Five years ago I held my daughter for the first time, so exhausted from labor and so emotional that I could do nothing but cry and cry. Five years ago magic was introduced to my life (a nice follow-up to the love that was introduced to my life just a few years earlier).

I think that 4-years old was a difficult year for Ellie. She struggled a lot with maturing and making sense of the rules that should be included in the "Ellie's Way of Life" book. She struggled with falling distant from her best friend, only to come close again in the end. She struggled with finding the balance on being a team leader and a commander. She struggled with understanding that there is a difference between how she sees the world around her and how someone else does. She struggled with trying to teach Addie lessons that she was far too young to understand, yet Ellie was required to live by. Heck, she even struggled to understand those moments when Mommy and Daddy failed to live by the same rules we expect from her. Those times are rare, but I know for a fact she caught me slipping more than once.

I think Ellie struggled a lot this last year. I think the amount of frustrating confrontations was my number one indicator. That being said, I am not using the word "struggle" as a bad thing. Look at the growth she has had in just one simple year! No wonder she has had her moments - her whole world is still being defined, but more importantly... she's defining herself. That's not an easy journey, no matter what your age is.

But look at the results! Recently I've noticed that things have gotten much easier with Ellie. She's more joyful and loves to snuggle with me like never before. She appreciates the magic that a quiet "Mommy" moment can have. It seems that I am often just what she needs when she's having a bad day, and I know that's the case in reverse. After a long day at work, her big smiles, hugs and special pictures are all I need to wash away the negative. We seem to understand each other.

As soon as she sees someone in need of some comfort or support, she quickly jumps up to the plate to offer a hug or kind encouraging words. This is especially true for her little sister.

One of Ellie's strengths is the ability to come up with solutions to problems. If two friends are fighting over something, her teachers say she's often the one who comes up with alternatives or compromises that her friends agree to. She has also taken great strides in resolving conflict for herself. If Addie does something she doesn't like, instead of running to tell Mommy and Daddy, Ellie uses her words and explains calmly (there's a range of calmness) why she's upset and what Addie did wrong. Surprisingly Addie often listens and apologises (the alternative is to continue doing what Ellie is annoyed by, but we're not talking about Addie being 2... we're talking about Ellie being 5).

Ellie is so proud of herself. She knows that if she keeps practicing, she'll get really good at something. This is quite apparent in her drawings when she learned how to draw penguins and puppies. She also talks about practicing hard for swimming and was so good at her last class that they decided to move her up to be a Seal instead of a Turtle! She has been practicing her reading too and can read a few books on her own, and her writing skills are incredible. I'm such a proud Mommy, not necessarily because she's so smart (though I know that to be true) but because she works so hard to do better and better.

This morning when I woke Ellie up, I told her Happy Birthday. I told her that I couldn't believe she was so big and that it has been 5 full years since she came out of my tummy crying. She asked me why she was crying. I told her that she was a little scared because inside Mommy's tummy it was dark and warm and outside was bright and cold. I told her that she cried and cried because she was so hungry but as soon as she touched me when I tried to feed her, she would go to sleep. Ellie laughed about that story and asked me to tell her again and again.

I love how something that was so frustrating at the time has turned into a beloved story that brings a smile to Ellie's face.

We had a serious moment when I told her that it's hard for me to see her be so big, but I told her that I was so proud of her too. Her face beamed and she gave me a hug. Then she looked thoughtful and asked "Can I hold all my Bun Buns today?" How is it that she can go for so long without thinking about Bun Bun yet she knows that her cherished bunny should be present for special important days like this?

Today is a celebration. I see it as a reminder that with great challenges comes great rewards. Ellie was certainly a challenge for us when she first came, but the rewards? OH MY! I wish I had words to describe it... but know this, Ellie - even if the words aren't there, the feelings are. I love you dear kind soul.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Overflowing with Love

Ellie: Mommy! Look what I made for you!
Mommy: Wow! That's a lot of love!
Ellie: Yep! It's how much I love you and see this? This letter (!) makes you know that you yell "I love you!" with lots of excitement because that's how I feel.
Mommy: And you're that excited for EVERY heart?
Ellie: Yep and I ran out of hearts for how much I love you. I need more hearts.
Mommy: Oh, I don't know... I don't think I've ever seen that much love in one picture.
Ellie: Oh I know! I'll put this letter (!) at the top so that you know that the entire picture is super super excited with love. Then I think it's ok.
Mommy: Holly smokes that's a lot of love!
Ellie: Yeah but I still ran out of room. You'll just need to be ok with a really big hug for the rest of my love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Tid-Bits

Mommy: What's your favorite color?
Addie: Ummmm... Sparkles!

Ellie: When my horse says "Neigh Neigh" it means he's happy. Neigh Neigh. Sometimes when he says "Neigh" it means he's hungry. He says Neigh a lot.
Mommy: Addie, what does your horse say?
Addie: He says "carrots" lotsa times!

I love it how Addie says her foot is "cinkly" when it falls asleep. Ellie says her foot is "wrinkly." Too cute.

Ellie: I'm cold. Can I please have some socks?
Daddy: I'll go get you some socks.
Ellie: Stinky socks, please! They keep my feet warmer!

I love that whenever Addie realizes she's following me down a hallway, she starts roaring "Rarr!" and clawing with her hands as though she's a monster chasing me.

I giggle at the fact that Ellie now knows about my blog. If one of the girls does something that makes me laugh, she says "Are you going to write that one down?" I wonder what age she'll start saying "Oh, please don't right that down!" instead.

Ellie: Mommy, did you know that you listen to me better than anyone else?

Recall Addie's obsession with "I go to da field today!"...
Ellie: Addie, do you know why I'm mad at you right now?
Addie: Because you did not go to da field today?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thankful

These last couple of weeks have been strange to me. On one hand they've been difficult with the combination of the girls being sick and what can only be explained as my sweet Addie proving to me that she is indeed 2 years old. On the other hand, it seems that I have been bombarded with other stories and events that just make me stop and realize how lucky I really am.

I am thankful to not have to be the mother of a 5 year old struggling with cancer.

I am thankful to not be the mother of a healthy baby one day but a victim of shaken baby syndrome the next.

I am thankful to not be the mother of a child suffering from injuries in a freak accident.

I am thankful to not have to watch my child's abilities and personality slowly deteriorate over time.

Heck, I'm thankful to have children at all. Some people don't.

I am thankful that my marriage is healthy and I am still very much in love with a wonderful man who is a wonderful daddy.

I am thankful that, though we're not rich, money is not a daily concern of survival.

I am thankful to not be the one who just lost her soul mate in a bad car accident.

I am thankful that my sister and I are really close.

I am thankful that I have an outlet for my time and creativity that puts a smile on people's faces every day.

I am thankful that my hobby allows me to help those in need in an easier fashion than ever before.

I am thankful to live in a beautiful place, yet I haven't had to worry about tornadoes or wildfires sweeping away my house.

I am thankful that though we've been bombarded with house maintanence bills, we are able to pay them.

I am thankful for my few good friends, near and far.

I am thankful that my husband and I do not have debt to pay off.

I am thankful to not have any tramatic childhood events to recover from.

I am thankful that even though my children challenge me, they are well behaved beautifully polite young girls who go out of their way to try to cheer people up.

Today I am thankful. It may be a bit out-of-season, but something needed to be said.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Rapunzel

I love it when my girls put on a nice scarf and insist that they're Rapunzel.

One can never have too many pretty scarves because fighting over the purple one take away from the magic of the moment, don't you think? Nothing a good hug can't fix. Or a good nap.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Ellie's 1st Puppet Show

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At the Children's Museum, Ellie decided to treat us to a puppet show. It was her first, so please excuse the technical difficulties of getting the puppet on the right side of the curtain. Maybe he's just a little shy? Or maybe he's dying.

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After the pig has recovered from his stage freight, I'm not sure I can claim the show was much better. Just exactly WHAT is that horse and pig doing???

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Ahh... finally... after much practice (and giving up on the curtain all together), we now bring to you the new and improved acting cast! They may still be drunk but at least they're not horny like those silly barnyard animals!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Happy Birthday

I've been wanting to get this on video for a while now because of having a similar one from Ellie. Addie just wouldn't work with me... but FINALLY I have one! Addie is about 3 months older than Ellie's version, but it still makes me smile.

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No, it wasn't anyone's birthday. We're just practicing.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Decorating Gramma's Walls

A couple weekends ago we visited my mom in Santa Fe. One of the surprising favorites of the weekend was simply sitting around drawing pictures. My mom had a large pad of paper and it didn't take long for Ellie and Addie to start working on decorating Gramma's plain walls.

I love seeing this type of picture. Why? The first time Ellie asked me to show her how to draw a penguin she got frustrated because she couldn't do it either. For the next week I found versions of penguins littering her cubby at school. Now she draws them like a pro and is so proud of herself. The same is true for puppy tails. The dragon and unicorn simply make me laugh, but I love to see all the things that Ellie is most proud to draw... all in one pretty picture of happiness.

Of course Ellie had to draw a picture of Gramma and her granddaughters. I asked what the squiggles were... Well, duh. They're wind of course. Why else would Gramma's hair be so crazy? Oh. I also get a kick out of her signing her name "LV" as though she's a true artist. Hehehe.

Another pretty picture for Gramma, complete with a letter and labels for who is who. You know, just in case Gramma forgets.

Gramma pointed out that Ellie forgot Daddy in the previous picture. Ellie defended herself by saying that was what she was going to draw next. Hehehe.

This weekend even Addie decided to pick up a crayon and be proud of her creations. She would ask "Whas sa want me draw?" I would suggest things like flowers or suns and she would always respond with "How 'bout polka dots?" I suppose I can't argue with that. She was pretty proud of her ability to do those and do them well. Ellie showed her how to draw circles and eventually those turned into fruits.

But Addie's polka dots prevailed. She kept drawing them and every time she was finished, she would decide where to hang her masterpiece.

Addie chose to hang her pictures in different places, but Ellie liked hanging hers all on one wall.

And of course, I saved the best for last... a special request from Mommy. Well worth the money.