Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Little Monkey Girl

(I'm sorry, I can't see that title without thinking of Animaniacs and the "little monkey boy with no eyebrows..." quote! Ah, the things that stick with you a decade or more!)

About a week ago Ellie discovered that she could hang onto the treadmill and pick her feet up and swing back and forth. While she does this, she sings, "Swiiing, swing, swiiiing, swing!" She can't swing for very long, but it is a new found discovery that seems to make her happy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Knock, Knock!

Ellie just told her first Knock Knock joke! =D

I've been saying, "Who's there?" when she says knock knock, (which she says every time she knocks on something) and just now we walked through the door and she grinned and said, "Knock knock!" and I said, "Knock, knock!" and then she chimed in with "Who's there?" and when I repeated it, she said, "The door!"

She gets it! Sort of.... (we still have to work on the punchlines!)

Running with the Horses

On Saturday Leif took Ellie to Three Forks to see the horse drive. It's much like a cattle drive, only faster! The horses are set to roam freely during the winter months, and then they are rounded up and driven to their summer fields each spring. Along the way they are driven down main street in Three Forks, MT, where crowds of people gather to see the spectacle. I had to teach a class at the scrapbooking store that day, but I would love to see it myself one of these years! It amazes me that we can live here for five years and just now find out about some of these things that happen every year! Imagine... a couple hundred horses running down main street! Leif said Ellie really enjoyed it. She's pretty enamored with horses these days. And now she apparently thinks it's normal for horses to run freely through the street and will occasionally look around and ask, "Horses?" Oh, the things that will confuse a girl. Despite the whirlwind that was the horse drive, Leif managed to get a few good pictures to give you (and me!) an idea of the event.

Here they come!

Running down Main street!

Monday, April 28, 2008

First Hike!

Yesterday we went on our first hike of the year! It was a nice day out, so after Ellie's nap we decided, upon the recommendation of Susan Beth, to drive out to the Madison Buffalo Jump for a hike! We had never been there before, though have been saying for the past few years that we needed to head out there. And there's no time like the present, right? So we loaded Ellie up into the pack and headed down the trail to the top of the cliff. The websites all said there was only a mile of trails, but I'm pretty sure the one we took was more than a mile! All told we spent about an hour and a half hiking. I carried Ellie in the pack on the way up, but she walked almost the whole way back by herself! It's the first time she's gotten to hike on her own, and she did a GREAT job staying on the trail and discovering things along the way! She was very excited to be hiking.

Here is the observation and information pavilion that tells all about the Madison Buffalo Jump. The Native Americans used to drive a herd of bison onto the cliffs and get them to stampede so they'd run right off the cliff onto the rocks below, where they either died or were injured enough to be killed. Then they were harvested to provide for the Native Americans. Pretty much every part of the bison was used, from skins, to meat, to bones.

This is the view of the pavilion from the trail. Doesn't it look a little like Stonehenge? I'm pretty sure that's not what they were thinking when they built it.

We got to see our first wildflowers of the year on this hike! There were a few yellow bells along the lower portion of the trail. It's so exciting to see signs of spring! We also saw a LOT of yucca along the trail. I don't remember ever seeing yucca before, but I got a kick out seeing little cacti all over the place!

We hiked up to the top of the cliff and saw that there was another cliff a bit further, so we decided to go to that one, too. It was pretty much solid rock, without much grass on top. Here's a picture of me and Ellie standing on that cliff.

There was a little puddle in the middle of the cliff, and with such an abundance of rocks, we let Ellie out of the pack to play for a bit. She was very happy to get out and had a blast throwing rocks into the puddle!

For once, we actually thought ahead, and brought the tripod so we could get a family picture. That's the buffalo jump cliff in the background. We took a few to ensure that we could get one good one, and these three were right in a row. It was a pretty windy evening, and I guess a gust of wind tried to take us out in that middle one!

As I said before, Ellie got to hike down by herself, staying on the trail and holding our hands when the trail got steep. She did a GREAT job and only had to be carried a little way! She discovered all of the ants along the way, and pointed out every bird she saw. She pointed out the flowers and rocks and trees, and generally enjoyed exploring the outdoors.

On the way home, we got to see the beautiful bluish gray layers in the distant hills. I remember when we moved to Montana and I'd see paintings like this on pottery. I didn't think it really looked like that, but it does, and it's beautiful.

We also got to see a couple exciting birds while we were driving. We saw an osprey (isn't it beautiful! We were SO close to it!) and 14 sandhill cranes. It was pretty exciting! Ellie was very excited to see the birds, and so were we!

So now that we've been to the Madison Buffalo Jump, I would recommend it. I would do the hike again (though I'm not sure I'd do it again with a 30 lb kid on my back!) and I think it's a good place for a picnic. It's a neat place and I'm glad we went.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Baking Cookies Together

Today Ellie and I made cookies together for the first time. She is getting old enough to do more and more activities together, and I thought she might enjoy a little baking. With 6+ inches of fresh snow outside, we needed a nice indoor activity and I thought this might just be the thing. She was hooked from the moment I gave her an apron.

I thought ahead and pre-measured everything so that Ellie could dump the ingredients into the bowl on her own. And aside from her snitching a pinch or two of sugar here and there, it all went very well.

She had quite the technique to her ingredient dumping...

She was very patient while the batter mixed. I thought for sure she'd lose interest and want to go play, but she didn't. She just kept watching and saying things like, "Cookie!" and "Baking."

Soon it was time to put the cookie batter on the baking sheets, and she wanted to be a part of that, too! So every time I scooped some batter up, she'd grab the handle and say, "Squeeze!" and squeeze as hard as she could. Of course, she couldn't squeeze the batter out, but she didn't know that I was the one really doing the work. It seemed to make her very happy to have a job for this part of the cookie making process, too.

She also seemed to think that one of her jobs was to pick the craisins out of the cookies when she thought I wasn't looking and eat them. So I just gave miss sneaky her own pile of craisins to munch on so our cookies didn't have to go without.

All in all, it was a fun little adventure. She is definitely ready for this sort of activity, so I'm hoping to do more of them in the future! She was excited and engaged through the whole process, and she listened well when I told her what to do. It was fun to do together, and best of all we got to sit down and eat cookies together afterward. That's the best!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Many afternoons or evenings we take Ellie "swimming" in the hot tub. She has learned to get excited about changing into her "swimsoup" (as she pronounces it) and heading out to go swimming. She is now tall enough to stand in the deep part by herself, with her head above water, and this new found freedom means she gets to have more fun! She is very cautious, but tries new things every so often. Like holding onto the side of the tub and jumping in the water. Or standing on the seat and jumping a little ways to me in the other seat. She knows I will catch her, and it's so exciting to see her confidence blooming. She also recently started going from the seat to the deep center part by herself, and I love it when she does this. She closes her eyes and holds her breath before she takes the step down off the seat, because she thinks she might go under. It doesn't scare her, and I wouldn't let anything happen to her even if she did go under. But she prepares herself for the possibility when she steps down. And when she plants her feet on the bottom and her head is still above water, she grins and giggles at me while I tell her she did a good job. I am happy to see her exploring her world, and growing in confidence as she tries new things.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

She loves to color

Eliana loves to draw and color, with just about anything, ON just about anything. It has been so fun to see how her coloring skills have changed over the months, too, from large scribbles, to dots, to lots of little scribbles all over the paper, and most recently, swirly designs. I love the art she creates, and I love to just sit back and watch the joy in her face as she colors. She talks and sings to herself while she does it, and sometimes she talks to me. I can't often decipher what it is she's saying, but whatever thoughts are going on in her head while she is drawing, they're happy thoughts. And they make me happy. I love the way she steadies the paper with her right hand as she colors with her left. (Yes, she is still coloring and doing pretty much everything with her left hand.) And I love the way she sets the marker cap on end next to her paper while she colors.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Down to the River...

The last few weekends Leif has taken Ellie down to the Gallatin River while I do other things. These pictures are from the first time he took her down there, while I was away at our church women's retreat. When I got home I asked Ellie where they went. She told me that they went to the "river!" and then tumbled out with all the things she had seen there...

Goose, ducks, birds, robbin



Fish (It's hard to see, but there IS a fish in this picture.)

While they were walking along the trails, Ellie found a stick to carry around with her.

She was VERY excited about her little trip to the river. She talked about it for days. They went back to the river again yesterday, and took Zach, Kathleen, and Neal with them this time, too. It's becoming one of her favorite places to go.