Tuesday, August 30, 2011

She talks! And DANCES!

Here are a few videos. Ellie has recently added "touch" to her vocabulary and it's her new favorite word. Fish is still a favorite, and sounds more like fish than "shish" these days. At the fair on Saturday she got so excited about the ducks and goats that for the day she could say those but has only retained duck when playing with her rubber ducky in the tub. She has also at some point thrown out words she doesn't normally use like snack, up, and juice. But, all I have on video is fish and hi. This video is a little quiet but enjoy.

Here is an older video of right after she started to say hi consistently in Preston and used it about every 30 seconds for a day or two. The end is the best part.

And here is what happens around our house lately any time there is music. This particular day I was watching a video a friend posted on facebook but never finished the video because I ran and got the camera. I've been trying to get video of her dancing for a week or more! Once again, there is a lull in the middle, but stay till the end and you'll get to see Steve's amazing "dancing" as well.

I know. She's fantastic.

Ellie's Room

So, I finally got everything put together that I wanted to decorate Ellie's room, so here it is. I love her room. The little decals and pictures make me happy. Hopefully it's something she likes too, if she even notices things like that on her daily mission to cover the floor with her toys.

Recent addition of new bow boards thanks to a friend Tawnya in Prosser, and my old stereo as Ellie LOVES music. She likes a tape I listened to when I was only a few years old of Bert and Ernie songs from Sesame Street and will dance to the music. She also hasn't been sleeping the greatest, so we've started playing Primary (children's church) songs as she sleeps at night and it seems to help out. She also LOVES tearing apart this alphabet puzzle. I only had to put it together 3 times and eventually toss her in the crib while I was taking these pictures to keep it together for 30 seconds.

Tawnya also helped me decorate the three mirrors, although we started them when I was about 8 months pregnant.... I know, I know, but at least we eventually got together to finish them! And I'm going to have to rearrange her bookshelf again already because she got some more books for her birthday and we need space for them. But boy does she love them! She is constantly sitting in front of this shelf happily quietly looking at book after book till there is a pile of them on the floor around her. I LOVE IT. Oh, and the random blank space on the wall is normally filled with an open door. Ellie's separation anxiety is awesome, so if the door even gets mostly closed while she is in and we are out, it's a meltdown. So, there was no real desire to decorate that space....

Grandma and Grandpa Rose got these pictures for her at a craft fair a while back and I knew exactly where to put them when they gave them to us, it just took a while to get them there.... Once upon a time they were centered over the crib, but we hung curtains to help keep it darker so Ellie would nap better and had to shift the crib so she wouldn't constantly be pulling the curtains down. By the way, the ADORABLE quilt and bumper set are courtesy of Grandma Bennett. I love it so much.
And the last wall. Not very cute, I know. And since this picture just the other day we learned that Ellie is tall enough to stand and pull things out of the top buckets (as well as off the kitchen table and shorter counter tops - joy!) so they are now empty or holding puzzles, toys, etc. instead of things she shouldn't be playing with. Also, ignore the cords. Unfortunately we have clearwire internet which needs line of site to our router and this is the only place it works in the house. Unfortunate, I know. Luckily Ellie hasn't cared enough to play with them yet.
Yup. She has too much stuff, and loves to make a mess with it, and we're only just getting started! But we spend a lot of time in this room and I love that she is so happy and content just to play in here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Ellie's Other 1st Birthday Party

After we got home, we had a little birthday party for other grandparents to attend. On the 13th my parents and a couple of families that have babies Ellie's age and we're friends with came to our place in Kennewick for a really informal little party.

We set up the pool for the babies, and after they were all done the older kids had a blast in it. We barbequed hamburgers and ate chips and jello salad. My friend brought some yummy cookies, and then eventually we at icecream cake.

Yeah.... So, my time in Preston was supposed to help me learn what to do to make Ellie's cake for this birthday party, and I even knew what I was doing to decorate it. Ellie loves the fish tank and constantly points at it and says fish, or "shish". So, we were going to have a rectangular cake with cookies for sand and some fish and seaweed in it (all candy and fruit roll-ups) so that it all looked like a fish tank. But, first my cream cheese frosting was lumpy, and then wouldn't thicken up still. After that, when I tried to take my cake out of the pan, it was so moist that it broke into 3 pieces... all about an hour and a half before the party. So, Grandma Kerry and I hit up Baskin Robbins and grabbed a really cute ice-cream cake with colorful dots on it. By the way, no pictures because I was with Ellie and Steve cut into it before we could sing happy birthday or take pictures.

Anyway, the babies seemed to have fun in the pool until they each got tired of being splashed, got cold, or got a little clingy with so many people around - that one was Ellie.
Ellie enjoying some balloon time with Grandma and Grandpa after she wanted to be held and Steve and I were working on dinner.
Then we had dinner and opened presents. Once again, when I'm the one with Ellie, no pictures. Sorry, I know, I suck.

Finally, we had our ice cream cake before everyone called it a night. We really didn't expect Ellie to go for the ice cream cake since she wasn't into the cake in Preston. However, we were sorely mistaken. She took one little piece and dropped it surprised by the cold, but when she tried what was left on her fingers.... She went full fisted into the piece of cake. Literally. She was grabbing whole fists full of cake and shoving them into her face. When all the cake was gone? She poured all the melted ice cream onto her lap so she could find little pieces of cake buried in the mess and eat those. All she forgot to do was lick the plate clean. The aftermath... Thankfully, a couple of spray n'wash cycles later her clothes did survive.

Ellie once again made out like a bandit, getting clothes, books, stuffed animals, a doll, and an activity cube. Thanks to the Hansens and Dawseys for coming and celebrating our little girl with us. It's been a fun year watching Miles, Tess, and Ellie all interact. Here's hoping they're friends for years to come!

Ellie at 1 Year

So, unfortunately for Ellie we spent most of her birthday in the car. She leaked out of one diaper and then completely blew out a second to the point that I am still trying to get stains out of those white leggings... But, she did really well in the car and was happy to be home and have all of her toys and room back. I think it was probably a relief after moving, camping, and family visits to come back to a previous place and find things as they were before. At least she seemed relieved and excited when we got home and I showed her her room. And, after getting all sorts of fun toys in Preston and having all of her old toys back at home, how did she spend the night?

That's right, those are potatoes. She saw them in our plastic bin and decided they were a fantastic toy. She came back to these for a few days and played with them frequently before (I'm assuming) forgetting they were there.Don't ask me about the head thing... She likes to do this and look straight up lately, especially in her stroller or carts at stores. Oh, and you've got to love the painted toe nails. Grandma did that for her birthday the morning we left. (And yes, her hair really is that wild now, even brushed. We pretty much have to wet it down and brush it before we go anywhere if we want her to look like we brush her hair at all...)

Anyway, I'll post about her birthday party next, but this is where I try to record some of the fun things about Ellie at this age before I forget how truly amazing she is! First off, stats. On the 15th Ellie had her check-up and became a pin-cushion for vaccinations. We LOVE her pediatrician, and Dr. Dernbach said there wasn't a single thing she could find to worry about on her. (Yay or not permanently damaging our child yet! At least, you know, visibly....) Anyway, Ellie is one long lean girl these days. She's pretty much worked off her little belly and has slowed way down on eating, so I'm not sure it's going to make a reappearance real soon. She is 31.5 inches - still at 97-98%, and 22 lbs - down to 75%, with her head being around 75% (the nurse never tells me how big that noggin is, but I can tell you we had to have Grandma Reva sew some snaps onto the neckline of her shirts so we could get them over that 75th percentile noggin).

Ellie also continues to teeth - with no breaks! She now has 8 teeth! She cut the bottom left tooth while we camping, and then we just noticed that she had cut the top leftmost tooth like two days ago out of nowhere! It never ends! Dr. Dernbach said that she could see Ellie was working on a couple of new teeth, and that bicuspids come in before canines, but it's still funny to see the big gap followed by a tiny white bit of tooth.

Now, the more fun parts of Ellie. She still loves music. She perks up when there are musical numbers in church, and today was trying to sing with a number the Relief Society instructor played for us. In fact, favorite memory of Preston BAR NONE: Reva was practicing her piano numbers for Relief Society and Primary and Ellie recognized a few of the Primary songs and sat snuggling on my lap (there are benefits to separation anxiety) while she sang with the piano in the other room. Yup, I cried. I struggle to know when and how to introduce the Gospel into Ellie's daily life where she is so little still, but that made my heart just about burst. And not only does she like to try and sing, but she dances now too. At random moments - halfway through songs, during commercials, always for Sesame Street music, she suddenly bops up and down and swings her arms back and forth. So cute!

On top of loving music, Ellie currently loves her dolls, puzzles, activity cube, toy cars, stuffed animals, and balloons that are still at our house from her birthday. I love that recently she has taken to grabbing stuffed animals and then snuggling them tight to her face while squealing in delight. She loves to do this with a giraffe she has and her bush baby from Grandma Kerry. She's also funny to watch her try to figure out how to drag her dolls through the house while crawling and eventually give up with a doll in the middle of the hallway.

While we were in Preston she accidentally stood for a good 10-15 seconds with no support while eating snacks before she realized what she was doing and immediately plopped down. She did the same thing at her birthday party here a couple of times. She can stand on her own, and when she holds things almost never holds tight enough for any assistance balancing, but she is convinced she doesn't want to do it on her own yet, so she won't, and sits right away when she lets go of things. If she wants to use both of her hands, she'll even belly up to something and stick her tummy way out to still feel like she has the support. This girl cracks me up.

What she does want to do all on her own is feed herself. She has recently taken to refusing even food she likes for a minute or two if she can't give it to herself and will refuse other foods just to do it at times and establish her independence. I am struggling to know how much to push and how much to give in so we don't turn our "goat" into a picky eater. She loves her milk that she's now allowed to have, which makes life much easier on us since she needs a lot of it daily. Our only complication is that now we live in Kennewick our water is fluoridated so we have to schedule when she gets her fluoride and milk so they don't overlap - apparently calcium interferes with fluoride intake in the body. But, all in all, she still likes new foods once you convince her to try them, and is doing well.

She added new words to her reppertoire while we were in Preston. She went through a phase where she said "hi" about every 30 seconds for two days or so. Then, she turned to the word "cat". She can also say something like "do-ot" for dog, a word that sounds like "toy", and since we have been home has gotten "fish" (ok really "shish") back and now says "shoes" every once in a while as well. She repeats words every once in a while, but doesn't keep them. But, except for our fish, most everything is still a "cat" especially birds. She is really insistent that birds are cats. She is starting to say hi and wave to people at church and stores though. Ever the flirt.

Oh, and fun fact which makes getting pictures much harder: she no longer smiles at the camera. No, no.... Now she squints and scrunches up her face or turns away right away. Hopefully you enjoyed all the previous pictures, because I don't know how many we're going to get to share in the next little while....

Other than all that, our Ellie girl is a fast-crawler, tummy sleeper, stranger-lover, all around good girl. And she amazes me all the time. Especially when she figures things out and you get to watch the wheels turn. A couple of weeks ago at church she decided that she could climb up stairs, even though she'd never done it before. She made it up a good 10 steps or so too before deciding she wanted back down and was stuck. After that, she watched Primary-aged kids climb down the stairs over and over trying to figure it all out.

We are so in LOVE with our absolutely AMAZING little girl!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August 11th: Bear Lake

August 11th is my Mother-in-law Reva's birthday. Since we were there, Steve and I wanted to make sure we did something fun on her birthday so it didn't get lost in all the excitement going on other days. August is busy for us where our anniversary is on the 10th, Reva's birthday is on the 11th, and then Ellie's birthday (and our trip home this year) is on the 12th. So, Steve had the idea to go to Bear Lake. It was a beautiful day and the weather wasn't too hot, so we loaded up in the beamer and headed to the beach. A swim diaper, swim suit, and a lot of sunscreen later, Ellie was ready to live it up at the lake.

At first, everyone just sat enjoying the warm sand and nice breeze off the water.

This girl can play in dirt and rocks forever and be quite content. That is until you have to cram your fingers into her mouth to pull the rocks out. But still.... she loves it.
Eventually she made her way down to the water - with some help if I remember correctly. (Like, we went and plopped her down at the water's edge...) Still though, there were rocks and dirt to play with and she was enjoying herself.

Once I took her out in the water.... not so much enjoyment, at least not at first. Hey, it was much warmer than the ocean from the week before!Eventually she took to holding my pant leg with one hand while making big splashes with the other hand, going from side to side. She loves the water, she just had to get used to the lake.
After quite a while playing in the water, we went back to showing her the great rocks and mud that could be found just inside the water line.
We grabbed a few family pictures of course.
And then had a very tired girl from all the sun and excitement.
But, it was a fun day at the beach!
Afterwards we went and grabbed milk shakes at the Bear Cave before heading back to Preston. As an entertaining side note, the next day we read about the high levels of E coli on the beach. Luckily, Ellie never seemed to get sick, but she did only try to eat the one rock that day. What can I say, guess she wasn't very hungry... Or maybe the rocks just weren't very tasty that day.

Anyway, we hope that it was a fun birthday for Grandma. I know Ellie had a great time. Here is a fantastic picture of the two birthday girls together.
Can you see the beaming? Duh. They love each other.

August 10th: Our Anniversary

Steve and I have seldom been able to do something for our anniversary, so usually we exchange gifts, and go to a dinner sometime in the next month or two. Last year we were unable to do even that as we spent our anniversary in the hospital, then sleeping from being up all night, and then the next day went back to the hospital and didn't leave till Ellie was ready to come home.

However, things change when you're with family. We had ready-and-willing babysitters in Grandma and Grandpa, so we decided we would go out for our anniversary - on our anniversary.

We got all dolled up, even with Ellie crying and needing comfort every time she heard the bathroom door open - poor girl was having a hard time with the separation anxiety that day... And grabbed a couple of photos before heading out. Guess which one Steve randomly had us do last minute?
Then, we headed for Salt Lake City, UT. Steve had made reservations for us at The Roof in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake. The restaurant was on the very top floor overlooking the Salt Lake Temple. The sun was right behind the Temple, but they had screens across the windows, so we still got a gorgeous silhouette of the Temple as we ate. It was a gourmet buffet style dinner. We bought an overpriced bottle of sparkling cider, sampled a lot of delicious dinners, and each tried about 3 desserts. It was fantastic. I told Steve it's funny because our dates used to only be good if they were "fun" but this date was great because it was so nice, calm, and adult. (Even if we still both feel like we're just playing dress up and pretending to be adults.)

Since we were right across the street, after dinner we went and walked around Temple Square, stopping to sit in the old Tabernacle, visit the Visitors Center which focuses on paintings of Jesus Christ, and viewing the Christus as our last stop. I don't know if it was because of the calm, happy way we felt to begin with, or because we were dressed up so we were more reverent in our thoughts and actions, or something else all together... but for some reason this particular visit to Temple Square I felt the Spirit so strong, much stronger than the few times I've been there in the past. I was moved. I really felt like I could focus on the Savior and feel His love, and it brought me to tears. It was a really special moment to share with Steve 4 years from the day we were sealed together for time and eternity in the Holy Temple.

After leaving such a spiritual high, what did we do? Saw a movie. I know, right? But, we had seen the last 3 Harry Potter movies in theatres ever since I convinced Steve to give HP a chance, and we actually had a babysitter! So, we headed to Layton to catch a show.

Now, I have to say - this may seem blasphemous for some HP fans - we didn't love it. We really felt like they missed the mark on the final movie and it left us completely unfulfilled. But, we were still glad we saw it and finished the tradition.

We enjoyed a nice car ride back to Preston, enjoying some side roads and a quiet evening. It was a fantastic date, one that makes up for missing last year and could probably make up ahead of time if we miss next year. But, although it was great to have us time, when we were at Temple Square we kept thinking of our Ellie Bell, how much we wanted her to feel the Spirit there with us, and how grateful we were for the Priesthood and the Sealing powers that can be found only in the Lord's Temple. It's been a great 4 years. We are so much more grateful for the decision we made 4 years ago now that Ellie is with us, and this is only the beginning.

August 6th: Ellie's 1st Birthday Party

While we were in Preston, the Bennett side of the family had a little birthday party for our soon to be 1 year old. The whole thing was a great experience, even if Ellie was no longer napping well at this point in our trip and was fairly grumpy that day.

First Reva, Kathy, and I talked about what kind of cake we might want Ellie to have. I wanted something that was fairly simple, but still meant something to Ellie at this age. Ellie really likes Elmo's World on Sesame Street lately, so I thought it might be fun to make Elmo's face for her first cake. Kathy and Reva baked the two cake layers, and then Kathy and I frosted Elmo. It only took us a solid two bottles of red food coloring to get our Elmo frosting red.

Once we had our first layer of frosting on him we decorated his mouth and then textured his face so he looked a little more like Elmo before adding his eyes and nose. By the way, an apricot makes a fantastic Elmo nose, but the boy at the store will look at you funny when 3 women and a little girl go to the store and buy a single apricot for 4 people.

While we were decorating her cake, Ellie had a great time discovering what fun balloons can be!

This is the final product of her Elmo cake. I think he turned out pretty darn cute.
And this is what the happy birthday girl looked like when we all sat down for dinner followed by presents. She had some ups and downs that night, deciding to randomly be afraid of her Aunt Lori, although she was fine with her a couple days later. But, she really enjoyed her birthday dinner of dutch oven potatoes with hamburger in them and jello salad. So she was a happy girl when Lori, Bridget, Kathy, Amanda, Grandma, Grandpa, and Steve and I all sat down with her to do presents.Even if she was still giving us the stink-eye at times.
This girl loves to tear paper, so although she started out really squirmy and tentative, she was soon ripping paper with enthusiasm Grandma Reva could be proud of.She made out well getting a couple of puzzles and toys, books, and clothes.

After presents, while we got the cake ready, she enjoyed more balloon time with Aunt Kathy and Amanda.
And then it was time to strip her down. Funny memory to record: We thought there were birthday candles, but as it turns out, Grandma and Grandpa were fresh out. So, like any resourceful family we turned to the next best thing. Grandpa pulled out a small candle stick and we placed that next to the cake while we sang. Ellie kept trying to grab the flames, so eventually I blew it out for her. And then it was time to see what she'd do with cake.
Honestly, at this point she was tired, not at all hungry after a great dinner, and a little sick of being stared at I think. She grabbed for her cake enough to dump it off its plate and get a little frosting on her fingers before deciding she was not going to enjoy the sticky frosting and then wouldn't even let me give her a piece to try. She did however get really excited and dance in her high chair repeatedly when Daddy played the theme to Elmo's World which he had recorded for her beforehand. Ah yes, and you can attribute all the frosting you see on this exhausted child to the loving finger painting of her cousins. Bridget started the baby-painting festival and Amanda was only too glad to pitch in and lend a helping hand.

You think she's tired yet?No, maybe now?Yup, I'd say she's had it.
After taking this picture (and maybe 1 or 2 more) to record the day's events, we tossed our completely exhausted child into the bathtub so we could watch the water turn red and she could not be covered in frosting for church the next day. She slept well that night I think... But, it was a great first birthday and Reva and Kathy were so great to make sure I felt like I was a big part of planning her party and teaching me some about decorating her cake. Happy birthday (party 1 of 2....) Ellie!

Preston Trip: Aug 4th - Aug 12th

Technically we left for Preston on the 3rd right after Steve got out of meetings, but we got a late start so we grabbed a hotel room in Boise for the night before charging on to visit our friends TJ and Tenille and their boys Cohen and Raiden in Twin Falls and then on to Preston the afternoon of the 4th.

While in Preston, Ellie got to enjoy doing a lot of new things for the first time. Such as:

Going for 4-wheeler rides with Daddy.Steve took her out a number of times to show her the different farm machinery in action while Grandpa was raking and bailing hay. She was fascinated by the machines.
She enjoyed the new sport of chasing farm cats - she only gets to chase seagulls at the park here at home. Deprived, I know.The cat really was pretty good about letting her get fairly close before running a little ways off, and when it got tired of the game, under the car it went.
She learned to play beautiful music with Grandma. This was a fabulous distraction when she was going through some separation anxiety and Steve and I needed to get things done.
She also got to enjoy learning a few things, like:

She LOVES her cousin Amanda - and thinks she's pretty darn hilarious.
Grandpa always has the remote, and if you go see him often enough, sometimes he'll share.
Walks with Daddy are much more entertaining on his shoulders.
It's fun to meet new, big animals,But she likes them much better from afar....
Dogs aren't scary once you learn to just climb over the top of them. She also learned to recognize the bark of a dog and would point at them and say "Do-ot" over and over. Now she can't tear her eyes from dogs we see at the pet store. I know my dear, your daddy wishes we had one too....
And, she got to enjoy blowing my mind on a daily basis with how big she's gotten. How did I miss that???
Basically, we had a fabulous time in Preston. Thanks to everyone who made it that way!