Sunday, March 30, 2008

Crazy Hair!

This is why you don't see Ellie's hair in pigtails very often anymore. It just goes crazy!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Werner Quartet

For the third Friday night in a row, Leif and I got to go on a date without Ellie. It has been amazing, and it has been wonderful. I'm sure if we could find a regular babysitter we would try to go on dates more regularly, but for now we resort to grandparents or kid swapping with friends.

Last night Leif's parents came out to watch Ellie so that we could attend a concert we'd been looking forward to for a few weeks. We went to see The Werner Quartet, a group of four teenage siblings (aged 18, 17, 16, and 14) who all play the cello. We saw them once before, when we went to a live taping of the From the Top radio show in December. So when we heard they were doing a concert here in town we were excited to go.

The stage was beautiful. Because the concert was at the Emerson, whose auditorium wasn't designed for acoustics, the quartet had an acoustic stage built for them. Its clean lines were beautiful and created a nice backdrop of light wood and white panels. I really liked that it was functional, too, in that it had several doors built in for entrances and exits as the show demanded.

The show was remarkable in that from the time the Werners stepped foot on stage until just before the last song, no one said a word. There was no introduction, no announcement of intermission, no explanation of the pieces. There was just beautiful music and changes in lighting. The program contained information on each of the pieces as well as the evening's musical lineup. It was well done and placed the emphasis on the music.

My single complaint from the evening had to be the costumes. When the Werners first appeared, the girls were clad in different colored formal gowns of the same style, while Luc wore a black and white shirt with wide chevron stripes. As I watched the performance, I couldn't help but be distracted by the dizzying stripes on his shirt. The last piece before intermission was a series of tangos and the girls changed into ruffle-sleeved shirts with flowing black pants. Luc tied a red bandana around his neck. Overall, these were the best costumes of the evening, save the encore performance costumes, but we'll get to those later. After the intermission, all four Werners had changed costumes. The girls had traded their tango shirts for ones that appeared to be inspired by Mondrian. Imagine something like this:

In the following color schemes: for Helene, black, white, and hot pink. For Mariel and Andree, one wore it in black, florescent yellow, and bright blue. The other wore black, florescent yellow, and hot pink. Helene's is the only one that didn't clash with itself. They all clashed with each other. And Luc traded out of his black and white shirt with upside down V stripes for one with right side up V stripes that gave his shirt the appearance of a poncho. I have to admit that while Luc's shirt had been a distraction during the first half of the performance, the combination of patterns and colors in the costumes for the second half left me literally nauseated. It was practically impossible to listen to the melodious sounds coming from the instruments when they were presented in such visual cacophony. As Leif can attest, it actually gave me a headache when I looked at the stage and I spent most of the rest of the concert with my head down so that I could enjoy the music and avoid the headache. When we arrived at the concert, I was disappointed to be seated behind a taller man with a large head. After the intermission I was thankful to be thus separated from the sight on stage.

Aside from the costumage, the concert was amazing. The Werners are all very talented children. Add to that the fact that they play one of the most beautiful instruments on the earth and it's bound to be an enjoyable evening. And enjoy it we did. Three pieces in particular stood out to me, and I can't go on without mentioning them. The first was Pohadka, by Janacek. It is a musical fairy tale based on the epic poem Kashchei by Russian poet Vassily Zhukovsky. It was a mesmerizing piece made all the more interesting by the fact that the cello represented the young Czar while the piano his beloved princess. It was so beautifully written and played that it was easy to get lost in the story of these two as they were brought to life through the music. The second piece that thoroughly drew me in was the feisty Four Seasons of Buenos Aires by Piazzolla. These were tangos, written by the man who brought the tango out of the shadows and into the limelight in the 1950s. There is something about the tango that is just exciting and fun, and Luc Werner's arrangement of this piece was perfect. It was during this piece that the Werner siblings showed off some of their versatility by playing different instruments for each of the movements, from cello to piano to bass. They really are a versatile group. The final piece that took my breath away was the final piece in the concert program. It was the Cello Concerto in C Major by Haydn. I waited the entire concert just to hear this piece, because this was played by all four cellists alone, with no piano accompaniment. I have loved the cello ever since I played a piano/cello duet in church with David Hastie. There is no sound so beautiful as a cello by itself. And when the four Werners play as a soloist and orchestra, it is simply breathtaking. It was the perfect way to end a classical concert.

But the concert didn't end there.

There was a lull after the final performance as we waited for the Werners to take their final bow. The lights were low, and we could hear rustling through the audience. Bags were being passed down the rows as something was being distributed to each audience member. Even after I had the object in my hand, it was difficult to determine what it was. Confused chuckles spread throughout the auditorium as people realized that we had just been given... earplugs.

I have never been to a classical concert where they passed out earplugs before. Nor had I been to one that ended like this would.

Our eyes were drawn to the stage as we heard the music welling up. The clean lines of the sound stage had been altered by psychedelic band posters. The grand piano had been replaced by a keyboard, and the stage floor was obscured by artificial smoke. And then, from four separate doors, the Werners appeared, changed.

Yes, these costumes were perfect. They appeared in head to toe sequin bell-bottom pantsuits. And they sported big-hair 80's wigs. The sleek lines of their acoustic cellos had been traded for... electric guitars and the skeletal appearance of their electric cellos.

It was a spectacular entrance, though, due to a sound glitch the first time, the second entrance was more spectacular. And so, earplugs in hand (though not in our ears), we were treated to three or four songs by the band Queen, including We are the Champions and We Will Rock You. And let me tell you, I have never heard these songs played so beautifully. The electric cello provided a hauntingly melodious complement to the keyboard and electric guitar. And for the third time that evening I wished the Werner Quartet had an album I could buy.

And so I stand corrected. That encore, with its utter contrast to the classical tones of the rest of the performance, was the perfect way to end the concert. And I got earplugs as a souvenir.

Stacking things...

Ellie's really into stacking things right now. Stacking and counting. She can count all the way to nine, except for seven. For some reason she always skips seven. She can stack wooden blocks six high, too, which is fun. Then she knocks them down.

stacking Mommy's stamps

Oh, and she likes jumping, too. She jumps when she dances and she jumps when she plays and, oh yeah... she jumps OFF of things, too. That's the most fun.

jumping off the bottom step

Friday, March 28, 2008

Monkeying Around

A few days ago, Ellie was tearing around the house like a crazy.

Although she's cute, we needed a respite, so I asked her to play in her room for a while.

A while later I heard banging coming from Ellie's room. It wasn't the usual knocking to let us know that she wanted out. It was different and persistent, so I went to take a look. When I opened the door I saw Ellie on top of her dresser.

Her dresser stands about a head taller than she. I was impressed that she managed to shimmy up there.

As close as I can figure, she must've used her zebra to climb on top of the bin tower and then up to the dresser. However, I can't figure how she got from the zebra up to the bin tower, as the latter is quite lightweight and wobbly and should've tipped over if she tried to climb it.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


We've been enjoying taking Ellie to the playground at the elementary school near our house.

She's gotten to be a bit of a daredevil on the slides. There's a smaller slide that she can manage all on her own, including climbing the steps to get to the top.

While that slide is fun, it's no longer satisfying. She needs a bigger thrill. Fortunately there is a bigger slide on site, with enough oomph to pick up her hair.

Sometimes, the thrill's a little bigger than she can handle.

Then it's time to go play in the caboose.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Easter Eggs!!

Ellie had her first Easter egg dyeing experience on Saturday. She was really excited about it! For starters, we let her stand on a chair in the kitchen so she could see into the sink! That's pretty exciting for a toddler.

The eggs go into the dye!

She even got to choose which color we dyed next! Though we've been working on her colors, she preferred the point method...

After waiting a bit it was time for the eggs to come out of the dye! She was very excited to see the eggs a different color. It was exciting for both of us!

Her favorite part of the whole process, though, had to be getting to dump out the dye and watch it go down the drain. I don't know what it is about messes, but this kid loves them!

And here we have the final result... colored eggs! Happy Easter!

Isn't She Pretty?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Our little druid

Ellie decided to pull one of my nerdy shirts out of the dirty clothes and put it on.

In case you're wondering, the shirt derives the period of the earth's orbit from its mass and its distance from the sun. See, I told you it was nerdy.

Friday, March 21, 2008

It must be SPRING....

Because I put away the electric blanket today and now it's snowing up a storm. Wet, heavy, spring snow that doesn't stick for too long. Happy Spring!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

There are changes afoot...

I am working on transforming Ellie's room from a green and yellow nursery to a pink and green toddler room! Nothing too spectacular, but I wanted to add a little color and some flowers. Since Leif isn't keen on the idea of painting, I found these wall stickers on clearance at Target and used them instead! They peel right off and don't leave any residue on the wall, so we should be able to move them when we decide to move Ellie to another room.

We had a green and yellow valance that matched Ellie's crib set, but it was time to change that as well. So I picked up some pink (with little purple dots on it, but you can't see that from the picture) and green material from Walmart and made a new valance! It's not perfect, and it's not fancy, but it only cost me $4 and it was quick and easy! Next on my list to do is to make 3 small wall canvases to hang over the crib (which we will move out once Ellie's no longer napping in it) where the star pictures are now. I have a few other ideas, too, but we'll have to wait and see if I get around to those. One thing at a time....

While I was taking pictures of the curtains, Ellie thought we needed OUR picture taken, too.

You're Not Daddy...

This morning I heard Ellie knocking on her door and calling, "Daaaaaddy..." Leif usually lets Ellie out of her room in the morning and gets her milk. Today, however, she woke up after he'd already left for work. So I responded to her knocks and calls for Daddy. When I opened her door and said, "Good morning!" she looked at me and said...

"You're not Daddy."

and turned around and walked back towards her bed. When did my child develop such an attitude? Apparently I was not the way she wanted to start her day.

Right now she is sitting on the bed next to me, pretending Leif's mp3 player is a camera. She holds it up to her eye, says, "Camera!" then points to the little display panel and says, "Mommy!" as though she has just taken a picture of me and is reviewing it. It's true. My 20 month old is a member of the digital age and knows nothing else. She already knows how to turn her CD player on and off at will. She knows the TV and computer well. She knows that she watches a "show" on TV and "Clue's Clues" on the computer. (She has started doing the little double-handed "Blue's Clues" sign when she says it, too, which is hilarious.) Because I have been sick, she has watched more TV/videos than usual. She has asked for Blue's Clues about a dozen times already this morning and the last time I told her no, we weren't going to watch Blue's Clues, she ran over and turned on the TV! Thankfully she turned it off when I asked her to. And like any good, power-conserving child, she even turned it off at the power strip instead of just on the TV. That's our girl, ha ha!

Now we're off to find some activity to occupy us this morning, Ellie and her "not Daddy"! =D

Friday, March 14, 2008

Oh, the things she says.

Today in Walmart Ellie was especially chatty. It was a good thing. She started our visit to Walmart asleep in the carseat, but I had to wake her up to go into the store. When I awoke her, she smiled at me, said, "Night night." and closed her eyes again. I picked her up and she layed her head on my shoulder and said, "Sleep." in a dreamy voice. I asked if she wanted to sleep in the cart and she said, "Yes." and snuggled in closer. It was precious. I put her in the cart, all wrapped up in a blanket and she giggled all the way to the door. It was her "Silly Mommy! I can't sleep in this bumpy thing!" giggle and she was happy. She kept the blanket over her head for a good long while in the store and was very chatty.

She said, "Hi!" to pretty much everyone we passed. Most people ignored her. Some smiled. One shopper was kind enough to smile and say, "Hi!" back. And by doing so she opened the door to what may very well have been Ellie's first real conversation with a stranger:

Ellie: Hi!
Lady: Hi!
Ellie: How are you?
Lady: I'm good! How are you?
Ellie: I'm good. Bye!
Lady: Bye!

I'm delighted by her interactions with other people, especially when they are as sweet and courteous as this was. I love that she is learning the give and take of conversation. I love that she is learning polite social protocol. And I love that every once in a while someone will take the time to practice these skills with my daughter. The world needs more people like that in it.

In general Ellie has been saying cute things a lot lately. When I picked her up from a playdate today, my friend told me how impressed she was at how big Ellie's vocabulary is. And it's true. I gave up long ago trying to count the number of words Ellie could say. She's just a little talking machine right now, and it often leads to cuteness. Case in point:

A couple weeks ago we were at Cosmic Pizza for lunch. There are celestial shapes painted all over the restaurant and Ellie loves looking at them. On this particular day she started to get out of her chair when we asked her, "Where are you going, Ellie?" She looked at us, pointed at the wall (which has a moon painted on it), and stated matter-of-factly, "I go MOON."

She has also started imaginary play, beyond "talking" on the "phone" (which may or may not be an actual phone). The other day she came into the bedroom with an empty bag. She dumped it upside down and shook is delicately, "pouring" something onto the window seat. Then she moved over, chattering all the while, and repeated the action again, making another "pile" of whatever she thought she was dumping out of the bag. She moved a third time and made a third "pile", at which point she looked up as if someone had said something to her. She looked toward her first "pile" and nodded her head saying, "You want s'more, bunny? Okay." and returned to the first "pile" and proceeded to "pour" some more. It was at that point that I realized she was pretending to feed the bunnies that live under our deck. She was pouring out the "food" just like we do with the cat food we give the kitty that also lives under our deck. (Though we haven't seen the bunny since the kitty returned, so I think only the kitty lives there now.) Again, I love to see how she learns, grows, and interacts with the world around her. And I feel so very thankful to be able to stay home with her. How much I would miss if I couldn't!

Little Miss Cute Boots

The other morning I was met by this cute little sight:

Of course, when I tried to get a better picture, I was greeted by this response:

Followed by this response!

Do you see the utter destruction she leaves in her wake when she runs away? Yes, it's like having my own personal tornado to clean up after.

I never did get a good picture of her with her boots and PJs, so I finally gave up and got her dressed for the day. Around noon the boots made another debut, accompanied by her umbrella this time:

I only wish I had some puddles for her to jump in. That would have been perfect. I settled for watching her twirl gleefully in the living room instead. She loves her boots and umbrella.

Hello, Goodbye



and have a good day!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Reading Books in Bed

Here's a video from a while ago, back when Ellie had her ear infection. She was laying on her bed reading books when I found her, and it was just too cute not to video:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Clue's Clues

We went to a birthday party a couple weeks ago and Blue's Clues was on the TV. Ellie was mesmerized. She saw less than half an episode. Then last week we went to Zach's house and she got to see a little more Blue's Clues. As soon as it came on the TV she pointed and shouted, "Clue's Clues!" It's her new favorite show. She loves it. She's obsessed with it. And I'm glad we don't have cable. Because if we did, I would hear, "Clue's Clues?" all day long until I relented. But as we are limited to PBS, we'll stick with Sesame Street and Word World, neither of which she is overly excited about.

Bucket O' Baby

She climbed into her dress up clothes bucket and asked for her blanket, then told me, "Night night!" Silly thing.

Piano Time!

Can you hear how much she's jabbering while she's playing the piano? She pretty much jabbers like this all day long. She's going to have to pay for her own phone minutes when she's a teenager if she keeps this up!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


It occurs to me that some people just aren't silly. I guess I'd never realized this before because I come from a long lineage of silliness. I never really considered the possibility that I may someday have a child who isn't silly. I'm not sure what I would do with a child like that, since I am pretty much silly to the core. Fortunately for me, my daughter is silly to the core, too. As if to prove that point, here she is playing a couple weeks ago:

The Colorer

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to color. She would climb up in a chair at the table and say, "Color?" and wait patiently while her mommy got her some paper and a crayon. She loved to color. She was very good at it, too. This little girl tried to be careful and didn't color on anything but paper. So her mommy was always happy to let her color at the table and didn't think anything of it.

One day, a couple weeks ago, this little girl again crawled up into the chair at the table and asked to color. Her mommy was in the middle of getting ready for the morning, but stopped what she was doing to give the little girl some paper and a crayon. The little girl said, "Thank you." and sat coloring happily. So her mommy returned to the bedroom to get ready. After curling her hair, the little girl's mommy came out to the kitchen and found the little girl half in and half out of the chair. Assuming the girl was done coloring, the mommy put the crayon and paper away and they went about their business.

A little while later the little girl's mommy went into the front bathroom and this is what she saw:

It turns out that the sweet little girl was not climbing OUT of her chair when her mommy found her, but climbing back IN. She had gotten up, gone into the bathroom and colored on the toilet and bathtub, and was climbing back into her chair so her mommy wouldn't know. When Mommy showed the little girl the mess she'd made, all the little girl did was point to the toilet and say, "Colors!" Thankfully, crayon is easy to remove from hard surfaces like toilets and tubs, so the little girl did a little cleaning and all was forgiven. The end.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Oh, goodness

Ellie has learned her second expletive. Like most kids, she quickly mastered "uh oh." Now, she says "oh, goodness" after perilous situations which she endures without harm.

Who's the big nerd?

For work, I needed to learn how to write a small piece of software for Mac OS X. I really had no clue how to do it, so I knew I'd need some uninterrupted solitude to figure it out quickly. It turns out that I can find that kind of environment at home more easily than at work, often times.

So, I brought a Mac Mini from work home. While I was taking a break, Elizabeth sat down and started playing with the Mac Mini, making a movie with iDVD. She was also using my Linux box and her Windows Laptop at the same time.

When I met Elizabeth, she was an English major who made fun of the nerdy boys like me. Who's the big nerd now?

I thought this was funny until I realized that when I connected to work from home tonight, I was simultaneously logged into 7 computers. The pot relents.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Last Friday we had Zoe over to play, and Taylor brought Corinne over to join in the fun, too. We pulled out Ellie's box of dress up clothes for the first time, and the girls had a blast! It was great to watch them put on "hats" (which is what Ellie called the headbands), necklaces, and various other pieces of clothing and carry around purses. THIS is part of what makes little girls so fun.

Checking out Zoe's attire

They had been standing in the doorway waving to each other saying, "Bye! Bye!" - It was priceless!

Cowboy Corinne

... and the Easter Bunny?

No longer sleeping like a baby...

...She's sleeping like a big girl now. Here's Ellie all snug in her toddler bed, where she now sleeps every night.

She no longer tries to get up and play after we put her to bed, and as far as we know she sleeps fine all night. She gets up earlier now, but she plays quietly in her room until about 7:30 or 8, and then she knocks on the door for us to come get her. For now she is still taking naps in the crib, since she usually doesn't want to take a nap (even when she's tired) and will just get up and play if we put her in the bed for naptime. Her naps are down to about 2 hours a day now, and every so often she just skips naptime altogether. On those days she is especially happy to climb into her toddler bed to go nigh-night.

Our backyard at night

Our backyard at night really isn't that busy. In 5 minutes, only a few cars went by.

Our Rings

Elizabeth decided to clean our rings a few nights ago. Since they were clean, I took the opportunity to photograph them. I don't think we had such pictures taken at our wedding. It's the first time that I've taken a picture of a ring since I tried to email a picture of the ring that would be Elizabeth's to her parents to get their approval and instead accidentally sent it to her grandparents. That mistake necessitated some explaining I hadn't planned.

It definitely gave me an appreciation for the difficulty of photographing jewelry.