Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Signs of Spring

As hoped, March has gone out like a lamb. The weather is pleasant here in Charlotte and the area is thriving with blooming bradford pear trees, tulips, and daffodils. Jonathan spent some time appreciating my daffodils with our camera this morning. He was out with the camera because I had asked him to take a picture for me of something I was a little too short to get a good view of--we have a pair of birds nesting in a wreath hung on our front door. Luckily, they've made their home in the door we don't open, but Jonathan has been startled the past few nights when taking Gator outside by a bird flying out at him. He was going to try to start scaring it off, but then he noticed its carefully-made nest, and then he noticed eggs in the nest. Last night there were two eggs and this morning there was a third. I guess our bird family is here to stay for a while. We're actually pretty excited about our "bird's eye" view of this nest full of eggs. We can see it from the inside of our house through the glass door, although our door makes it look more like six eggs. I've scared the bird out of the nest twice today, though, just walking around inside. We'll try to me more careful from now on. I am taking a very amateur guess that our little bird family are House Finches. If that's the case, the incubation period is 13-14 days. So maybe you'll get an exciting update in a few weeks!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Can You Hear Me Now?

In case I mentioned to you that Ella failed her hearing screen for her left ear during her 5-year well visit last week, just wanted to give out the status update. I took her to see an audiologist today to get a more thorough hearing screen. She passed with flying colors. So I guess she has no excuse for that selective hearing she tries on me quite a bit...

During her hearing test today they put earphones in her ears like ones you get on an airplane. The audiologist asked her to repeat several words that got progressively softer and softer. Today Ella tested out Jack's hearing. She had Jack put the pom-pom's from her cape ties in his ears. She started saying words like "ice cream" and "hot dog" (all words that were said to her today) more and more quietly for Jack to repeat. I think she failed him, though, because he couldn't understand her whispers. Apparently he mistook "pinch" for "peach" so he needed additional screening.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Happy Birthday, Miles!

Our good friend Miles Brown will turn 6 in just a few days and we were lucky enough to help him celebrate today. We had so much fun that we closed down the party (and then some) and Ella even asked if she could live there. I'm sure Jack shares this sentiment--he loves the Browns and is best buds with Noah. We captured some photos of the four bigger kids (I don't think Griffin would sit still for it) after the party. I didn't notice while I was shooting the pictures, but saw when I got home that Noah took a bite out of Jack's apple during the photo op--too funny. Now that's true friendship! Miles, we hope you have an awesome birthday! Thanks for inviting us to your super fun party!

Friday, March 27, 2009

With a Little Help From Her Friends

We rounded out Ella's 5th birthday celebrations with some cookies and singing with her preschool class. Jack and I got to join Ella and her class for these 10 great minutes that marked her rite of passage of moving out of the preschool years and into kid-dom. Mrs. Cole ceremoniously moved Ella's picture from the '4' to the '5'. Ella ate up her friends' "happy birthday to you, cha cha cha"'s, and some cookies to boot.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Noah's Park

Our last morning in Florida was spent out at a park with Noah and Aunt Chrissy. It's a good thing we got out to enjoy the weather because we returned home to Charlotte for four straight days of rain. We're sad we missed Jacob before he left for school for the day, but we're looking forward to seeing you guys in just a few months! Thanks again for letting us visit!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Third and Final Stop: Orlando

After a fantastic weekend at Nonni and PaPa's house, we headed over to Orlando, our hot spot for family visits. Today we got to visit with my Uncle Tim and Great Grandma June, who has been home from a rehabilitation center for only a few weeks. Being home has put her in good spirits and we had a nice visit with her. Then we were on to Aunt Chrissy and Uncle Chris's house for a night of more birthday celebrations for Ella, shared with Aunt Jacqui, Randy, Aunt Chrissy, Uncle Chris, Jacob, and Noah. Man, Ella knew what she was doing when she asked to spend her birthday in Florida--what better way to feel special and loved than to share it with your family?!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More Pool Time!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Magical Birthday

Ella awoke on the morning of her birthday to find a very special Tinkerbell balloon from Nonni and PaPa. Tinkerbell is about as tall as Ella and whenever you whack her one (seriously), she says (accompanied by *magical* sounds), "What did you say, Tinkerbell? Oh, Tinkerbell hopes you have a magical birthday. She says may all your wishes and dreams come true." Apparently it is supposed to max out after 50 whacks, but I think I proved that off quite a bit on the drive home when Tinkerbell chimed in every time I changed lanes...) It was of course quite a hit with Ella (and Jack because he had free will to hit something!).

What a magical birthday it was for Ella. Her special request for her birthday trip down to Florida was to spend time with Nonni in her art studio. Nonni happily obliged Ella and the two spent several hours together, Nonni teaching Ella all about different mediums of art, still lifes, and various techniques and Ella listening intently and applying her own style to what she had learned. Ella drew a charcoal heart on newsprint, made a blow fairy with acrylic paints and a straw on canvas, and painted watercolor flowers that bloom on thick, hard paper that is wet. What a special time for Ella to share with her Nonni. Ella must've thought so, too, because she asked Nonni to capture the moment on her camera.

To keep Jack out of the art studio, Jonathan (who was able to fly in for the birthday weekend) and PaPa sought to distract him with man things. First he got to check out PaPa's jet models and even try on his fighter pilot helmet. After that excitement, they were off to let Jack drive the golf cart, spot alligators in nearby ponds, and to try some putting (which turned into football with golf balls for Jack) on the practice greens.

After a fun morning, we moved on to Ella's next birthday request--swimming! You gotta' love outdoor swimming in March! All grandparents should be required to live in Florida.

A little hydration after some swimming in the hot sun....although, Jack preferred the rum-spiked dacquirris we were drinking...

Happy 5th birthday, Ella! We hope it was a magical one! Thanks, Nonni and PaPa, for helping our sweet girl feel so special.

p.s. Don't miss the new posts from last week!

Happy 5th Birthday, Ella!

Friday, March 20, 2009

She Seeks Seashells by the Seashore

Next stop on our Florida trip was Nonni and PaPa's house, which is south of Tampa. We wanted to make this 5th birthday weekend extra, extra special for Ella, so, to nurture her love of seashells, Nonni and PaPa took us for a day to the seashell-hunting hot spot of Sanibel Island. We had an amazing day taking in some lunch, seeking seashells by the seashore (there actually is a store on the island named She Sells Seashells by the Seashore--but who needs to buy them when they're on the beach for the taking!), and dolphin sighting. Jack's favorite pastime--making sand pies! We hit the beach close to high tide, so it was up to PaPa to grab handfuls of shells out of the water and pile them up on the beach for us. Mission accomplished--we left the beach with two buckets full of beautiful shells.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Westside Park

Nana and PopPop took us to an awesome playground in Gainesille. It actually has a merry-go-round! I never see those anymore. I suppose they can be dangerous, but on a weekday morning Ella's about the biggest kid on the playground. My kids were the only ones chanting, "Faster, faster!"

We sure were glad PopPop was able to spend the morning with us! We know the hospital needs him, but we selfishly keep hoping he'll retire.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Florida or Bust!

Anxious to get away from this lousy colder-than-average Charlotte weather we decided to take an early Spring break and head South (those geese have the right idea!). Actually, we've been planning our trip for months, the retreat from the cold and rainy weather was just an added perk. This year for her birthday Ella asked to spend time in Florida with family in lieu of having a party with friends here at home. We were happy to oblige, so we packed up the car and took a road trip.

First stop--Gainesville, Florida. Gville is home to my alma mater and home base for Jonathan's parents (Nana and PopPop). Within 15 minutes of arriving, Jack reminded us, in case we'd become remiss, of the importance of supervision around pools. He fell in the pool fully clothed and barely made a sound in doing so. It shook me up quite a bit (felt like I was in slow motion trying to get his head out of the water) and probably increased our vigilance around the pools, but never got in the way of our fun.
Ella's tour de birthday celebrations started here--expect another week or more of birthday-related posts! Thanks, Nana, for the cupcakes and fun!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our Schnoodle

Ella has been asking and asking for her very own puppy. She has narrowed the puppy she wants down to a poodle or a schnoodle (schnauzer and poodle mix). Perhaps one day when she's old enough to actually participate in the care of the puppy we'll consider it, but for now it's out of the question. To appease her for now we just decided to turn Gator into a pseudo-schnoodle by giving him a poodle haircut. Great idea, right?

Well, I know you didn't buy that. The first part is true. Ella does want her very own poodle or schnoodle puppy. But our sweet puppy Gator got his leg shaved for his teeth cleaning. It was a stressful day for me. I know this had to be done to keep him healthy, but I really hate the idea of the risks associated with him being put under. I dropped him off at 7am and didn't hear any word until nearly 4pm! If you haven't picked this up already from reading our blog, Gator is our first-born child. We love him dearly. Needless to say, we're glad to have him back home...and with shiny, white teeth.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fruity Fresh Breath

Tonight while brushing Ella's teeth with a new tube of Oral-B Princesses Bubble Gum toothpaste, Ella gave me the thumbs up. In our house the true meaning of this requires no explanation--she has given us her approval of this new toothpaste. For you see, even the slightest hint of a minty or cinnamon flavor "burns" the inside of her mouth, calling forth the kind of drama only a 4-year-old girl could muster. Colgate's Barbie "Bursty Bubble Gum" was apparently a little too "bursty" for our girl and results in tears of pain, even when we try to sneak in this pink toothpaste (yes, yes, forgive us for ever doubting her--she has passed several blind tests). I turned the Colgate Barbie toothpaste into my travel toothpaste for a bit. That lasted all of one trip because, to me, it has so little mint flavor there's no fresh feeling after brushing with it. Ella's aversion extends beyond toothpaste--candy, cinnamon-spiced foods, gum. She can't even handle Orbit's Watermelon Mint flavor. Is she doomed to a life of fruity fresh breath? Jonathan and I both know the origins of all of this......ahem, Nana. We still laugh when we think about little 2-year-old Ella freaking out when Nana brushed her teeth with grown-up toothpaste. Well, no need to worry about her oral health--luckily the Oral-B bubble gum toothpaste has fluoride and Listerine has berry-flavored kids mouthwash. And sweet brother Jack thinks this is the best thing in the world because every Christmas he hits the jackpot with twice the candy canes.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring Forward

This first week of March came in like a lion and out like a full-fledged late Spring day. We've run the gamut of weather this week--from rain to sleet to snow to cloudless skies and from sub-freezing temperatures to shorts weather. It's definitely easier to entertain the kids on a warm, sunny day. A day spent at a playground and just out in our own front yard is the best kind of day.

Jack has been OBSESSED with Star Wars for the past several weeks. A few weeks ago we went on a playdate to Hayden and Ryan's house. They have a basket full of Star Wars toys. While Ella and Ryan (Hayden was at school) played inside and out for an hour and a half, Jack just sat in their playroom in awe, carefully examining every Star Wars toy. He hadn't seen any of the movies until this week when Jonathan watched Episode II with them (fast forwarding through certain parts). This has fueled the fire. We are constantly role-playing Star Wars characters, the only consistent one being that Jack is always Yoda. When they were watching the movie Ella said, "That Yoda is small but he sure is tough." I couldn't pick a better character for Jack--although, Gator's got those ears down better... Here Jack and Jonathan are playing light saber "beating" with our golf clubs.