Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Weekend

Had ourselves a lovely little Fall weekend. It all began Saturday morning when this little lady decided to help me make pumpkin muffins. She has become quite a fan of cooking and can't wait to get on the counter and start mixing. That morning was particularly exciting because she realized that something even more fun than stirring the batter is tasting it. Wow, the whole world opened up for her after that. She promptly turned into a pumpkin-muffin-batter monster as you can see in the photograph above. Unfortunately, the muffins didn't turn out so great (apparently baking soda is not an optional ingredient- who knew?), but we sure had fun anyway.

Our bellies full of dense muffins and caramelized onion and mushroom omelets (courtesy of my resident omelet chef, Michael B.) we headed over to Movenastics with the Miss Violet and Andrea. Wendy and the boys joined us, too so we said fair well to the toddler class in style. We had considered going to the Halloween hoot, hence the skeleton pj's, but opted out when I saw how tired Miss B was after all the tumbling and scootering and whatnot, so we left and she promptly passed out in the car.

On Sunday we headed over to Lyman Orchards with Andrea, Steve, Arlo, and Violet and picked up some pumpkins and apples. Arlo was very particular about which pumpkins he wanted, while Ella was more interested in rocks than anything else. She did, however, house 2.5 apples and then pass out in the car once again.

We ended our lovely weekend with Nathan T.'s 6th birthday party, which is always a costume party. Kristy had purchased this super cute garden gnome costume back when she was unable to go to a store without buying Ella a present. Remembering the family costume of my childhood (Candy was Strawberry Shortcake, my parents were Strawberry's parents, and I was a strawberry), I decided we should give it a try. Since Ella was the garden gnome, I became the garden and Mike the gardener (though he kept saying farmer just to spite me).

We wrapped it all up with a handful of candy corn and called it a day. Pretty awesome weekend all around. Hope yours was filled with friends, family, and Fall festivities, too. Happy October!

Friday, October 21, 2011


Yesterday, as we pulled up to the stop sign right before our house, Ella B said, "Home." It was not the first time she had said it, but it was the first time I started thinking about what this word means to her. For the first six months of her life we lived at my parent's house, a place that I have called home since I was two, but Ella will never remember as her home. This house that we have lived in for only a year is the only home she has ever known and will probably be the house she'll see in the rearview mirror as she drives off to college or wherever her life takes her. It's funny that this place where I feel so newly planted is the place where she feels the most rooted.

For homework last night, I asked my Creative Writing students to write a poem about their families. I had hoped to write one as well, but I felt too overwhelmed by all the planning and stacks of paper on my desk to actually do it, but as I was scrambling to get out the door this morning, the poem came to me- a poem about Ella and her home. So I stopped for a moment and wrote it down.

Coming Home

She says “home” now in her tiny voice that
extends and elongates the “o” and “m”
and I wonder what this means to her.

It used to be my belly- all tucked inside and
squished against my insides in a perfect circle
The only world she’d ever known

Home from the hospital meant
My parent’s house
So many years free of a baby’s cry
The harmony of three generations
easing the transition from
daughter to mother

There it was my bare chest
Her body curved against my breast,
A tiny hand reaching up to find me
in the dark, cold morning

And now it is this place
Blue house number 123
Pumpkins on the porch
Yard strewn with leaves
Long driveway leading
off to someplace else

It is so much bigger than me,
My womb, my breast, my memories
Bigger than the reach of my arm
You are so far away

But it always sounds the same


The “m” like mama, like mater, madre
Amma, Ahm, omm
The smell of baking bread,
Your hand in mine,
Of falling into something warm,
Release, contentment, comfort
Coming back to something
we can point at and say
That’s it, over there
that's where I come from,
that's the place I know

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yethsh and 9

Sp I picked up Ella B from daycare today and apparently she says "yes" now instead her super cute exaggerated "yeeeaaah." Of course, it's not quite "yes" really. It's more of a "yeth," or a "yesh," or a combo of the two, like "yethsh."Apparently she speaks Yiddish now.

She has also started using the number 9 in conversation. So, if I ask her "how many" she will always answer with "9" no matter what the question is. Here is how the conversations go:

"How many feet does Ella have?"
"How many squirrels do you see?"
"How many grapes are on your plate?"
"Do you love hummus?"

It got me thinking about the different ways kids change- with a whimper or with a bang. Sometimes the changes happen so quickly that you pick her up from daycare one day and suddenly she has a whole new vocabulary, or she has learned how to sleep on her cot like a good girl. And then sometimes it happens more slowly and quietly until one day you realize that she doesn't need your help getting on the couch, or she can feed herself with a spoon, and you ask yourself, "Can she really do that?"

And, of course, the answer is:

"Yethsh" and also "9"

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Thanks to Jeremy and Christina for doing five different blog posts in the span of a weekend and making me feel like such a dead-beat blogger that I am now blogging at 10:30 on Sunday night when I should be sleeping. PS- check out their awesome new blog over at when you have a chance.

So, yesterday we popped over to Woodbridge Rec for a little toddler gymnastics class run by my dad, aka "Pop Pop," aka one half of Ella B's most favorite people on the planet. Enrollment for the Fall class has been low, super low, so I tried to recruit some of Ella's besties to come with us, but no one was free. So, we ventured to class anyway and ended up being the only ones there. Yes, picture this: Ella B in a giant gym full of balls, things to bounce on, things to slide down, her Pop Pop at her side, and no one to share it with. Needless to say, she was in baby-girl heaven. Of course, I think it would have been a whole lot more fun with Violet and Bella there, but this little lady didn't seem to notice. Sorry gals.

She spent the entire hour leading her Pop Pop around from station to station, sliding head first, stepping off high things, chilling on the balance beam, running as fast as her crazy legs would take her, and basically doing everything I was (okay, am) afraid to do.

The whole thing gave me flashbacks to when I was the little girl in gymnastics class who refused to swing on the parallel bars. The instructor at the time told me she would bring me a box of salt water taffy if I did it just once, and I still couldn't do it. I guess the only thing that trumps food bribery is fear of being upside down, but I digress.

All in all, it was an hour well spent. Unfortunately, they won't be able to keep running the class if enrollment stays like this. So, if you've got a little munchkin who needs a place to wiggle it all out, won't you chill with us on Saturday morning at 10:30?

I hope everybody else had a movenastics weekend!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Not Wordless Wednesday: Bounce House BFF

As I've told you before, Ella is quite enamored with our neighbor, Arlo, and every time we drive by his house or play in the yard, she points and calls his name. Sometimes I tell her "Arlo is sleeping" or "Arlo is at school" because, honestly, no matter what time of day or night it is, she knows what those things are and it makes her stop. Other times, like when I want her to get in the car at daycare or to get her to leave somewhere fun, I will use the Arlo bribe, telling her that if she does x (whatever x may be) we can go and see Arlo. By the time we get home the Arlo bribe is usually forgotten and we can move on to the next obsession (swinging "big" in the swing, "driving" the car, etc.) but sometimes the thought of Arlo is still fresh in her mind and I am obliged to keep my Arlo promise. So, we trapse over to Arlo and Violet's house unannounced (ya know- cause we're BFF's) and interrupt whatever nap time/meal time/playtime situation they have just recently begun and settled into.

We joke about Ella's obsession with Arlo (his father suggested she needs a signed poster of him above her bed), but I think that when she says "Arlo" she is actually talking about both Arlo and Violet. I realized this when the girls were sitting on the lawn mower together and Ella patted Violet's back and said, "Arlo." Unfortunately, "Violet" is just too much for her little brain and mouth to figure out right now. So, Arlo it is.

The funniest part about it is that these two girls who can't wait to see each other don't actually spend any time playing together. Andrea says that Violet is forever pointing towards our yard and yelling, "Hi! Hi! House," but as soon as the excitement of seeing each other wears off, they go running in opposite directions. The only time they interact is when Ella tries to bully Violet into giving up whatever toy she has, or Violet decides to sit in the wagon seat that Ella has decided was hers. Andrea and I spent a solid twenty minutes giving each of them a turn in the swing while the other one fussed from the ground, yelling "wee! wee!." When they are together I spend a lot of time trying to get Ella to understand sharing and being nice, but I wonder if she is too young to be a good friend or a good hostess.

Despite all of this, there is apparently one thing that can bring these girls together and that is a good old-fashioned bounce house. We brought the whole crew to the Bethany Harvest Festival last week and set them free amongst the cotton candy stands, hay mazes, and mechanical bulls (seriously). Violet found the bounce house first and fearlessly dived right in to the sea of eight-year-old giants. Ella was a little more timid, but once she saw her gf in there, she couldn't pass it up. They were having so much fun playing in there- no fighting, no pushing, no whining- that I had to go in and drag them out. I guess every friendship needs some sort of anchor, some common ground, and in this case that ground is all squishy and filled with air.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ella B and Mason D

Today is my nephew Mason's 1st birthday and it couldn't have been a more beautiful day to spend some time running in the grass, laughing with family and friends, and enjoying a little dump truck shaped cake.

My wise old friend Christina once said, "Nothing reminds you of the passage of time like seeing children grow up." I thought about this at the party today as I watched Mason and Ella play in the yard. I thought about how exactly one year ago we went to the hospital to see the brand new Mason, all shiny and pink, and how Ella was just six months old herself. I took her for a walk in the Baby Bjorn and stumbled upon an old cemetery. It seemed an odd juxtaposition at first- a cemetery right next to a hospital- but maybe because it was such a beautiful day, a day just like this one, it felt like a complement to the new life emerging next door.

And here we are, one year later, and these two little people have changed so much. Their lives have already doubled, while that same year for us seems like just a blip. I can only imagine what the next year will bring. Happy Birthday, little man. I can't wait to keep watching you grow.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

1 and a half

Dear Ella B,

The other day you turned one and a half. To people without little kids, this probably doesn't seem like a big deal, but to us it is. Every day you are shedding a little more of your baby skin and becoming a person, a real person with thoughts, ideas, opinions, and dreams. You know exactly what you want. Today you got upset because I wouldn't keep my raincoat on in the house. Last week we had an argument about which dress you would wear for the school pictures you refused to take anyway. You won't wear the bunny shoes even though they fit you the best and are also super cute. You tell me "no" when I try to sing in the car, and you have to stand in the fridge to decide what you will eat for dinner.

You love your "nanights" or blankets and like to carry around several of them at a time. You like to put your princess chair on the couch and bounce in it, or use daddy as a slide. You have 13 teeth and your bark is just as big as your bite. You are starting to get the hang of the toothbrush. You have a butt that can already be called a booty. You hold your bangs up in the morning until someone does your hair Pebbles Flinstone style. You love to talk about our neighbor, Arlo, and even lie in bed singing his name until you fall asleep.

Sleep. You do that now. All on your own. It is hard to believe that just a year ago (less!) you were the baby I used to nurse all night on the couch because you just screamed if I tried to put you down. You are a bully at school, but they adore you. You are one of the favorites. You love it so much there that when I picked you up today you cried the whole way to the car saying "gool! gool! gool!" You love your Nene and your Pop Pop more than anything on Earth. You are fearless, and bratty, and terrible, and wonderful and you are mine.

It pains me to know that you won't remember this. It will be the stuff of legends to you, bedtime stories where you'll ask, "Tell me about the day I was born. Tell me about my tiny fingers and toes" as I did (do) to my mother. It is strange to be the memory keeper of someone else's life. It is a lot of responsibility to hold the sound of your tiny voice saying "Aya", the clomp of your quick, barbaric steps against the wood, the shrill laugh that comes when your father barely touches your neck, and to hold those images safe until you ask and I can say, "I remember, I remember, I remember..."