Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Katie's Birthday Party

Here are the highlights from Katie's Dora party on Saturday:

We started out playing in the toy room (appropriately with the Dora dollhouse!) until everyone arrived. Everyone got Dora party hats, and then we made bracelets like Dora's (they had a flower bead in the middle--Dora's is certain colors, we made ours unique with different colors). If you've ever had little kids make bracelets, you know that can be frustrating for them, as the beads slide off the other end so easily, etc. Here's a tip I got from Shelli: use chenille stems instead of string or wire. It makes it so much easier for them to slide the beads onto something stiff, and the beads stay on!
After that, we went looking for Katie's "stolen" pinata. We had a whole adventure, just like the Dora show, going from "Locked Gate" to "Troll Bridge" and finally to "Cherry Tree." We had a Map, and Aunt Echo helped by playing clips of the songs for Backpack, Map, the Grumpy Old Troll, and Swiper (thank you, Echo!). Partway through we ran into Swiper and played "Pin the Mask on Swiper," which was Katie's least favorite part. She continues to tell me not to have Swiper at her parties anymore because she's afraid of him. I had no idea he was such a "bad guy"!

We ended up at the pinata (Dora from WalMart), and the kids took turns pulling the strings to get the candy. It worked out perfectly because everyone had at least one turn before the candy came crashing out. They used their Backpack goody bags to collect their loot. (Sorry, no pictures of the adventure, we only took video!)

Then the adult family arrived and we had lunch. Katie picked the menu, so it was sandwiches (pb & j for the kids, deli meat and cheese for the adults) and chips and pop. She opened her 3rd Year DVD and we all watched it, and then she opened presents. At our request, she received a lot of small toys; little Princess and Polly Pocket dolls, Littlest Petshop Pets, etc. She also got her own (pink) Legos from us, as she's been asking for them for a while because Isaiah is pretty possessive of his. And now he's possessive of hers, too, unfortunately.

We ended the party with cake and ice cream. It's a tradition in Adam's family to have a train cake for the 3rd birthday, so we had to have a Dora train cake. If I were less pregnant or more creative I might have figured out how to make it into Azul, but this is what we ended up with:

Katie couldn't seem to get the candles to blow out, so Isaiah helped:

Katie said she had a good time, except for the part with Swiper, of course. All in all, it was a fun party.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Thanks for voting in the name poll! It's good to get some honest opinions, and I think an anonymous poll helps with that. For those of you who are wondering (because several people have asked), yes, we really are planning on Max for his name. Yes, as his full first name, and no, we don't yet have a middle name, but we're working on it. I realize that more than half of the people who voted weren't in love with the name. There are no guarantees until he's born, so if we hear something else that sounds more right who knows? But even the kids know we're calling him Max, so they'll have to be convinced, too. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

To mark the countdown (50 days until my due date!), I'm posting all my favorite things that make pregnancy easier. Some are product recommendations, some are more general.

  • One of the first things I used to make life easier in pregnancy was a tummy sleeve, also called a belly band. The one I have (and love) is a white one from Motherhood, and it's held up great despite being much cheaper than the more fancy brands. If you've never seen one, it's a stretchy band you wear around your waist with your favorite jeans (unbuttoned when you can no longer squeeze into them). It holds up your pants and looks like a layering cami or tee. I've used mine from about weeks 9-28, and I anticipate using it again postpartum when I want out of the maternity clothes/pajama pants but can't yet squeeze back into my jeans.

  • TUMS. Anyone who's ever been pregnant knows I don't need to say more. (But anyone who knows me knows I will . . . ) I have had increasingly worse heartburn with each pregnancy. When Katie was born with a full head of beautiful dark hair, I felt it was worth it. This time around it started in the first trimester--and it has sucked. Somehow a hairy boy just doesn't seem as worth the discomfort, but we'll see. I've heard that the new "smooth dissolve" TUMS are awesome, but I couldn't stomach the price tag for the way I chow down on antacids, so I've found that the berry flavored ones (and even the berry flavored generic) work great for me. P.S. Rolaids are not the same. The package my sweetie picked up for me in a moment of thoughtfulness is relegated to the car for emergency-only use because they are so chalky.

  • A body pillow. Oh, heaven in a pillow. I have heard that some husbands are just as comfortable, but I can't squish mine under my belly, through my legs, and under my head in the same way. And considering I roll over and/or get up to pee at least every hour, I don't think he wants me to.

  • A massage. I had never had a massage while I was pregnant until a week ago. I highly recommend it. Of course, now I'm craving one about every evening when my joints and muscles have reached their breaking point for the day, but just the memory makes me happier. Thank you, thank you, Adam for the sweet offer to get the massage! (I'm also really looking forward to a pedicure. I'm waiting until I'm farther along and ready to have the baby since I've heard there are pressure points in your feet that can help get things moving. I'll let you know how it goes.)

  • My favorite maternity shirt: a v-neck tee from Target. Sometimes simple is best. This one just happens to be the most comfortable of my maternity shirts: no ties, low-cut necks, and it's cool because there is no need to layer. It's a flattering cut. And it was only $10.

  • My favorite skirt: a basic black skirt from Target. Non-maternity, but a super-super stretchy waist (stretches to twice my regular size, and it's a good thing, too). I may wear this one home from the hospital. How fancy would that be, to leave the hospital in something other than sweats or pajamas?!

  • A great haircut. Betsy at Legends Salon is awesome. Love the girl. She talked me out of a drastic haircut during the pregnancy blahs with the promise that she would do something fabulous with me postpartum, which in retrospect is a much better idea. Then she trimmed my hair back to a manageable--even good-looking--state, and now I will be able to continue to pull it up and not do it when I'm having "one of those days" during the remainder of the pregnancy or early postpartum.

  • Babycenter's weekly newsletter. With my first pregnancy, I devoured all the books detailing every day of my baby's development, scoured What to Expect, and went through several baby naming books. With two kids running around, who has time for that?! And yet, there's something magical about looking down at your swelling belly and knowing that right now your baby is the size of a pear (or head of lettuce, or a poppy seed, or whatever). Babycenter does a good job of condensing interesting info and a bit of humor in a quick email, but providing links to more detailed info for those times you have more time or specific concerns. (I think even Adam has subscribed at one time or another because he sometimes refers to our baby as a cucumber or mentions that he should have kidneys by now.)

I could probably go on, but I'm getting really long-winded. I just wanted to share some of the things that make my life easier in the hopes that they could make someone else's life easier, too. And happy 50 days left to me and baby Max!

Katie's Three!

Yesterday was Katie's birthday, but we're not really celebrating until Saturday. So, she's had cupcakes and a couple of cards from family, but the real celebration is happening with Dora and a train cake and all the trimmings this weekend (I'll keep you posted!).

Here's my video tribute to my beautiful girl, sans her final birthday picture, which will be added later for the DVD:

I love you, my sweet Katie! It's been so great watching you turn into a big girl this year, I'm so proud of you. Hope this birthday is the best!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Watch out for those peacocks!

This morning Isaiah and Katie were playing and I overheard Isaiah say, "And you can't come in here because there are scary animals that will make you bleed, like . . . peacocks!"

Adam and I burst out laughing at the idea of a big, bad peacock coming after us. Isaiah wasn't so amused and insisted that the big Momma Peacock was going to peck us with her beak (and that she had fire in her wings that she was throwing at us).

It's occuring to me that my kids are sounding a bit violent, but really it's not as bad as it sounds. Katie's "nunchucks" turned out to be Wii remote nunchucks, and Isaiah wasn't intending to actually hurt anyone, just cause drama in the pretend play (I used to do that as a kid, but I was always dying and coming back to life--"oh, be sad, cry, I'm dead, oh! wait I'm really alive!" etc.). And it's just as cute to see the kids be sweet with each other, but not as quotable for the blog, for sure . . .

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ninja Mommies and the Changing Weather, among other things

I overheard Katie as she was playing pretend with her "sisters" (pretend daughters) today:

"Okay, sweetie hons, get your nunchucks and lets go!" Giggle, giggle . . .

What a great nurturing mommy, taking her girls out for some lessons in the uses of ninja weaponry.

I've noticed a change in the weather, and I'm not the only one. I've been anxious for the fall (for more than one reason), and it's finally, slowly, happening. The mornings are cool and it's staying under 100 degrees, for now. Which means it's finally not too hot for the kids to play outside again!! So today we uncovered the sandbox, and . . . . that's right! There was quiet in the Ellis house. At least for an hour or so. Here's what the usual noise-makers were up to:

Yes, Katie was a encouraging the dropping the sand all over her. Crazy kids!

And this weekend marks another baby milestone: only two months left to go! Be sure to vote on the name poll. For now, we are calling this baby Max. Well, ask Adam and he'll say that's his name, and it was my idea so I should be more sure. But I really have no sense of what this baby is like yet, so I'm waiting for the final decision until he's born or I have some sort of epiphany. If you have middle name ideas that make it flow with our last name better, feel free to suggest!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Toddler Time

Since Janine asked, I thought I'd post about how our toddler time is structured. Keep in mind that I can't take credit for any of it. My sister-in-law, Shelli, came up with the basic plan and has refined it with both her older children. Shelli has taught kindergarten, is a fabulous preschool teacher and a very fun, hands-on mom (and I'm so lucky to have her around to get great ideas from!).

We meet once a week for an hour and a half, and we take turns hosting/teaching for 2-4 weeks at a time, depending on the schedule. When you teach, you plan the themes for those weeks, plan and direct the activities, and provide the supplies. We have six kids, ages 2-4, in our group, which is just enough; more and we don't fit in each other's living rooms and kitchens. Here is our schedule (we added the letter activity this year, since the kids were a year older and ready for more):

10:00 Free Play/Moms Chat
10:25 Clean Up
10:30 Circle Time:
Ring the Bell
Welcome Song
Nursery Rhyme
10:45 Large Motor Activity
10:55 Letter Activity
11:05 Craft/Project
11:25 Clean Up

When we have circle time, moms sit with their kids and participate (having chat time at the beginning helps us keep focused on our kids the rest of the time). We pass around the bell so each child can ring it. The songs, book, activity, and craft all center around our theme that week (bugs, picnics, colors, hats, holidays, etc.), and we try to make our crafts very hands-on, process not product affairs. We sign up for weeks and plan our themes the first couple of weeks, during our free play/chat time.

The kids fall into the routine very quickly, and each look forward to certain things (Julia loves craft time, while Lucy can't do without the welcome song, etc.). And it is a great social outlet for both the kids and the moms. I love that Katie is learning while we do something social; it's more than a playgroup. She knows how to spell her name from the name song we learned at toddler time, she is learning important literacy concepts from practicing nursery rhymes and storytime, and she understands more about her world and herself from all the activities. And I feel like a better mom for being involved in her social and intellectual development.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Graceful Girl

This has been a busy week for our family. Katie started toddler time and dance and I started a photography class--and we're only halfway through the week!

I was really excited to start toddler time again. We weren't going to do it, but we had so much fun with it last year when Shelli organized it that I felt like we really needed to do something again this year. I was mentioning this to Shelli and she suggested that everyone might be interested in doing it again--and sure enough they were. I volunteered to coordinate this time, we recruited a new toddler and her mom, and we started at our house this week. It was funny how the kids (and moms) remembered little things that made it such a special time. I'm really looking forward to the experiences we'll be having there for the rest of the year.

Last night I started a four-week photography course through continuing ed with Haley. The first night was really interesting; I'll have to post some of my homework this week.

This afternoon Katie and her cousin, Keirra, started a dance class together. Katie took dance all last year, but after 9 months of a class geared very much toward 2-year-olds, it was time for something a bit more grown up (and that taught actual dances and technique!). It was a grand time, and it was so fun to see the girls show how much they can really do. Some pics of my graceful girl and her equally graceful (but much more precise) cousin: