Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Funny Ella-isms

Today in the back yard Ella was standing on the ladder to the slide. I playfully swatted her behind as I walked by.

She gasped. "No spank butt!"

"Why not, Ella?" I asked.


Quintessential Ella

Ella was in fine form today. On top of her game. She gave 110% today. Sent in the "A" team.

It started pre-breakfast when I was feeding Penny and heard a funny tinkling sound.

"Girls? What are you doing?"



More silence.

I finish feeding Penny. Sammy is glued to the television, oblivious to her surroundings (mental note, less t.v. time). I walk into the kitchen.


She jumps a foot off the kitchen chair, hand caught in the cookie jar (actually the sea monkey container). There is water on the table, but the container is 3/4 full still. I grab the container from her, still live sea monkeys. Good. Our new, fancy, shmancy sea monkey castle container(thanks Troy and Vivian!) is intact thanks to the small opening at the top, it is, however, missing the lid. I find that under the dishwasher.

Later, after her doctor's appointment (she has contact allergy rash on her face), I give the girls a snack of raisins. Again, I need to feed Penny and put her down for her nap. (I'm trying to get her used to sleeping in her crib for naps instead of the bouncy seat. ) I hear another sound, this time a funny rustling sound.

"Girls? What are you doing?"




Again I emerge. Again, Samantha glued to television (note to self: seriously, less t.v.). Again, in the kitchen.


She jumps, again. And then rapidly begins shoveling into her mouth the raisins she dumped on the floor from the gigantic box I just bought on Monday.

"Sorry, Mommy," she says, standing up. She walks over to the cupboard, retrieves the dust pan, and begins cleaning her mess up. (She does this stuff so often, she is trained to clean it up.)

Later, we're out in the backyard. She hands me a bird leg. Then I hear,

"Poop! Mommy! POOP!"

"Yes, Ella, I know there's poop over there. I'll get it in a minute. Just leave it alone."

Too late. She comes over with a chunk of poop on her finger. Into the house to wash up we go, Ella holding her finger outstretched like a torch in front of her.

Later, I'm feeding Penny before bed (are you sensing a theme here yet?). I come out, Samantha is glued to the television (my life is a perpetual loop). Ella has brought over her rocking lamb (like a rocking horse, only a lamb), positioned it in front of the television, standing on top of it like a circus performer standing on a horse, and poking the television, that is not yet strapped to the wall as we couldn't find t.v. straps this weekend.

She's asleep now. No more havoc until tomorrow.

Bye Bye Birdie

This morning I let the dog out in the backyard as usual and proceeded to get the girls breakfast and dressed for the day. This took longer than usual, and the dog was outside for a solid hour. Admittedly, I had forgotten about her until I heard her barking in the back yard. This was not her typical, hey-you-forgot-me-again bark, this was a vicious-defending-the-property kind of bark and it caught my attention quickly. (We have had numerous break-ins in the area with people going through the back yard in the middle of the day and I'm pretty sure someone has been in our garage twice in the last month.)

I went to the back and looked out the sliding glass window to see Missy, hackles raised, jumping at the side fence where our neighbors, on a ladder, were intently examining their orange tree. Not too unusual, they keep up their yard nicely and I often see them tending to their plants. I opened the door and yelled at Missy to stop and tried to get her inside. She stopped barking, but decided to keep vigil at the fence.

A short time later, we were getting into the car to take Ella to the doctor to get her face rash looked at (she has a contact allergy from something), and the wife came up to me. She wanted to look around our driveway because her two six year old finches had escaped. They had been in the orange tree, but flew away and were last seen flying over our fence toward the driveway. We looked, no such luck. I told her I'd keep an eye out for them.

After lunch, the girls and I headed out to the backyard to play. I needed to water the plants. I headed up to the top of the yard, Ella following behind, and heard the tell tale "peep peep peep" of a finch. I could tell it was in the large tree just on the other side of our back fence, but with the thick foliage, I couldn't see the bird.

I decide to go next door to see if maybe the bird would come to my neighbor. As I turned, I saw standing in the middle of our top tier, holding something over her head.

"Stick, Mommy," she said.

I looked. Sticks aren't bright orange. I go and grab it out of her hand. It's a finch leg.

"Ella, where did you get that?"

"Wight dere," she said, pointing.

I go to look. There is the rest of the bird, covered in ants, and completely featherless. Plucked like a chicken. Nothing else obviously missing.

As I'm contemplating exactly how that happened, (how could 50 lb Missy pluck a bird and not mangle it in the process, how could even Tabby manage it, very strange), Ella sticks her finger in some cat poop I had failed to pick up.

Into the house to wash hands, then back to pick up bird and poop. Then, heading over to neighbor's with the bad news.

As I'm heading over, I hear the "peep peep peep" again. I look up. Finch #2 is sitting in our tree, too high for me to reach even with a ladder. I ran into the neighbor, coming up her driveway. I tell her about the unfortunate finch #1, we go to look for finch #2, who has flown away by now.

She asked for the body. Being a veterinarian, my instincts to shield people from seeing their pets after horrible accidents kicked in. I told her I threw it in the trash, but I could get it if she wanted. She didn't.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Reducing My Carbon Footprint

You may have noticed a new button on my sidebar saying "My Blog is Carbon Neutral". I'm always trying to be conscious of how I'm impacting the environment, so when I received an e-mail from Christin Gericke about their project in Germany to neutralize CO2 emissions by planting trees in Plumas National Forest in Northern California, I had to participate. According to the e-mail, a blog with 15,000 visitors a month generates 8 lb of CO2 emissions a year. I'm not even kind of close to that, but, hey, you never know.

It's pretty easy to do if you have a blog and want to join. You just go to the "How you can join" page of the kaufDa website, choose one of the buttons to add to your blog and write a post about the initiative (like I'm doing right now), then follow the instructions on e-mailing a link of your post to them. For each blog that participates, they plant one tree.

There you go. One tree planted. I'm doing my part to help the environment, and it was really easy. Maybe some day we'll take the girls to the National Park and visit my tree. Maybe we'll plant one in our yard this year, too.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Little Sisterly Love

One of the most enjoyable parts of being home with my kids is watching them develop their relationship as sisters. As Ella becomes more verbal, they're interactions are becoming more complex.

The fighting started first and it was cute (at first) when they would argue over toys. Now, they have all out screaming, hitting, biting fights and it's not so cute. Then they started to play together. At first, Samantha would include Ella in her pretend games, instructing her what to do. Now, they both join in, although it's still usually Sam's idea. It's not unusual for me to see them both sneaking around the couch, then one will scream, "Bear!", and they run, screaming through the house.

Then, my favorite, the love, began. They hug each other, are concerned when the other one is hurt. Last night, Ella woke up crying. I went into her room, to try to calm her down. Half awake, she cried, "Sammy? Sammy?"

"Sammy's asleep in her bed, right over there, Ella," I said.

She quieted and rolled over, "O.K., night Mommy."

Right back to sleep, comforted by the presence of her big sister.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

I heard a loud crash from the girls' room with Ella screaming "Mommy!" simultaneously. I heard Ella crying, hysterically and Samantha's feet running from her room as fast as possible, her high pitched voice screaming, "Mommy! Mommy! Come quick!"

As soon as I heard the crash and scream, I knew something was terribly wrong. I was in the kitchen, finishing dinner. I took one large step onto the carpeted floor of the living room and laid Penny quickly on the carpet, barely breaking my stride. I met Sammy at the hallway and pushed passed her.

In the bedroom, the six drawer high dresser was tipped over, resting against the toddler bed, drawers open, clothes on the floor, the piggy banks, binders, and barrettes strewn across the bed. On the floor, between the dresser and bed was Ella, screaming and crying for me.

I reached the dresser and hoisted it up. It had shifted so the back feet were setting on the wall.
I pulled it so it rest flat, letting the rest of the drawers fall to the floor. Ella had moved as soon as she was free.

I turned to her, my heart pounding. She stood in the middle of the room, screaming, terrified, blood coming from her mouth. The light in the room was dim. I scooped her up and ran to the living room where Penny still lay on the ground, screaming herself.

I shouted for Sammy to get me a wet washcloth while I tried to calm Ella down enough to see what was bleeding. Looking in Ella's mouth, she had bit her tongue. There was no other bleeding I could see. No cracked teeth. One cheek seemed maybe a little swollen. She calmed down and chewed on the washcloth. The bleeding had stopped. She told me her mouth hurt. No where else hurt, she said.

My heart still pounding, I went to pick up and console Penny and returned to the couch, sitting there for a few minutes with my terrified, but okay, little Ella Bean. Sammy began rapidly recounting the story to me.

Ella had been trying to reach her T-shirts in the third drawer. It's unclear if she just grabbed the drawer, pulling the dresser on top of her or if she was climbing the dresser. Regardless, I realize Ella would have been crushed, possibly killed, if the bed hadn't been there to keep the dresser from falling all the way. If Ella was taller, her head would have been smashed between the dresser and the bed.

I consider myself a relatively cautious mom when it comes to childproofing the house. We have outlet plugs in all the outlets, including those that would require climbing to reach, we have toilet locks on the toilets to prevent drowning, we now have a refrigerator lock, the locks on our doors are too difficult for a child to open on their own and run into the street.

I never really thought I needed to secure the dressers to the wall. I had read it was something to do when childproofing, but my kids don't climb the dressers. Tomorrow, we will be securing the dressers to the wall, and the flat screen television, too.

I'm lucky my child wasn't seriously injured or killed today. Learn from my mistake. If you have small children in your house, secure your large furniture to the wall.

What are they thinking? Tylenol

When asked what she wanted for breakfast, Samantha said, "Tylenol."


She hasn't had any Tylenol in a few months. I didn't even give her any when she had her last 101 fever since she didn't seem to be too bothered by it. Good thing I keep the Tylenol on the top shelf of the cupboard that even I have to stand on tip toe to reach.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Barbie World

As the group, Aqua, so eloquently put it: "I'm a Barbie girl in this Barbie world. Life in plastic, it's fantastic. You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere. Imagination, life is your creation. Come on Barbie, let's go party, ah ah ah yeah."

Growing up, I loved Barbies. I had seventeen Barbies, and I played with every one. My sister and I built a Barbie town in our basement, using blocks, boxes, and doll houses. We spent hours drawing and cutting out little paper money for our Barbies to use. Each of our Barbies had their own job. Of course, we always had one favorite Barbie, usually the newest, and she and Ken lived in the mansion in town (we each had a Ken and a mansion), and that couple was the center of whatever plot we were playing that day.

We even had a convalescent home for Barbies that might have special needs. The one who had a skiing accident off our banister and lost a leg (Ken left her shortly thereafter). We built her a wheelchair out of cardboard. The one that wasn't a real Barbie and her scalp could swivel making her blonde or brunette. She had an unfortunate hair cut that necessitated her stay in the home. And the one who, on the same ski trip, broke her neck (the kind with the little ball on the end). We could put her head back on, but she had no neck afterwards and was shorter than the other Barbies. (The other Ken left her too. Our Kens were real bastards.)

Samantha, has already discovered the wonders of Barbie. She also loves them. Her collection is starting to approach the vastness of mine, that took years for me to accumulate. This is mostly due to the addition of the Disney Princess Barbies she got for Christmas from her Nana. (I don't think they're Mattel, but close enough.) She loves them. She sleeps with all seven of them and they must always be in whatever room she is in.

Today, we won a silent auction bid at her school for a basket entitled "Barbie Explosion". In addition to three new Barbies (she got one, her sister got one, and I'm saving one for a birthday present, probably), there were Barbie stickers, Barbie jewelery, Barbie coloring pad, and other Barbie things I'm not even sure what to do with.

All this new Barbie stuff made me realize how far Barbie has come since my days. I'm not just talking about her new, "more realistic" figure. I'm talking about the sheer volume of Barbies out there. Barbie was always an active gal, but now, my God, she must be exhausted. You can get veterinarian Barbie, Doctor Barbie, astronaut Barbie, Bride Barbie, surfer Barbie, and mermaid Barbie. Samantha's win today was a Rapunzel like barbie with hair extensions you can snap in and out.

Barbie also varies her size and shape to fit her profession. The new surfer Barbie we got today has wide, flat feet. No perma-high heel feet for her. And, I was shocked to discover the seven princesses cannot interchange their clothes. They are different sizes. Jasmine, Ariel, and Snow White are petite little things whose clothes do not fit easily on more average sized Tianna and Belle. And, apparently, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty are gargantuan Nordic women, because you can't even get Jasmine's genie pants over their thighs.

With all these new Barbie developments, I am having a hard time pacing myself. I find myself browsing the Barbie aisle in stores, looking for something Samantha may like. I can't wait until she and I can go to the aisle and dream of all the Barbie dolls we she can have. I can't wait until she starts wanting new clothes to put on them so I can buy a case with hangars like I had.

I know a lot of moms dislike Barbie because she sets up an unrealistic body image. Not me. To me, she's just a doll---the best doll in the whole world!

(Sorry for getting that annoying song stuck in your head. I felt this post needed a sound track. And if you don't know the song, whatever you do, don't go looking for it. You'll never get it out of your head.

Potty Dance

Resist though I may, Ella has decided it is time to potty train.

It started innocently enough. She would take off her diaper when it was dirty, occasionally wanting to sit on the potty. It became frequent enough and she wanted to sit long enough, that I got down the Sponge Bob potty seat. It fits on our regular seat making the hole smaller so they don't fall in. It progressed to hours a day of her asking to be on the potty, trying to get herself on the potty, and sitting on the potty. I found myself being interrupted far too often. I couldn't feed Penny, finish making dinner, help Sammy find a doll, or use the potty myself, without her calling for me to help her.

I finally decided, if she's that interested, she can train herself. Go for it, kiddo. However, I'm still not ready to devote a lot of time to it. She's still young and, I realize now, I started pushing Sammy too young, hence it took almost a year to train her. But hey, if Ella wants to be self-directed, she can have at it. I just need it to be not so time consuming for me. So, this week I got down the little potty that sits on the bathroom floor and has a container you have to empty. The first day, Ella sat on it for hours. I couldn't keep her off it. And, she managed to only have one accident all day long. Not too bad.

After the first day, the novelty wore off. She still sits on it, usually right after she's dirtied her diaper. She does succeed once or twice a day.

When I potty trained Samantha, I tried a variety of reward/encouragement techniques, finally settling on M&M's, one for pee, two for poo. She just wasn't motivated by anything else. Ella, on the other hand, is not only self-motivated (I think really she's just copying her big sister), but she also enjoys the potty dance.

The potty dance (and song) occur after a successful potty in the toilet and, as importantly, after diaper and pants are back on (that stipulation has really saved me a lot of time). Anyone who is home joins in the dance, which can be any kind of dancing. The song, which is sung to a conga beat, goes, "Potty, potty, pot-ty. Potty, potty, pot-ty. Ella went pot-ty. Pee pee in the pot-ty," ad nauseum, finally ending with a "woo-hoo" and high fives all around. We repeat the whole thing twice. (And yes, those witty lyrics are courtesy of yours truly.) As soon as Ella (ahem) makes a deposit, her eyes light up and she says, "Potty dance?" It's quite an event in our house.

Hopefully, we'll be having a lot more potty dancing around here in the next few weeks, but if not, that's fine. I'm not going to become obsessed with potty training, I have other things to focus on right now. I'm much more go-with-the-flow (bad pun intended) the second time around.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three's a Crowd

I have been dreading this time since Penny was born. I knew it was coming, I had just hoped it wouldn't come so soon. Actually, I was hoping to somehow avoid it altogether, as unrealistic as that was.

You see, we need a triple stroller, and I really don't want one. Much like some men resist buying a minivan (Sean), I resist the very thought of a triple stroller. It is somehow too frumpy mom-ish. Three kids in one stroller is just too much. I don't care how you break it down, triplets, a set of twins and a singleton, or three closely spaced singletons, like mine, triple strollers are for people who got big families fast. You see them passing you in the mall and you just know those parents have no lives. Their house is all about kids all the time. Although my life is pretty much kids all the time, I resist an object that flashes like a neon sign, I have no life.

However, if we don't get a triple stroller soon, I really will have no life. My one break during the day is to take all three kids on a walk after nap. Up until the last two days, I have buckled the older two in our double stroller (that I loathe), hooked them up with a snack and a drink, lashed Penny to my chest with the Baby Bjorn, grabbed my cell phone, and walked for thirty to forty minutes (depending on how many times I have to stoop to pick up a wayward shoe or cup). It's my "me time".

Penny now weighs around seventeen pounds, and she's getting long, too. She's really heavy to carry for that long and her little legs flop between mine with each step, so I feel like I'm tripping all the time.

So, for the last couple days I have tried to devise a way for the double stroller to hold all three kids. Samantha is getting bigger and she always wants to walk instead of ride in the stroller, so I thought, maybe she could walk with me some (bonus burning off some of her abundant energy), and stand on the standing platform that the back seat has a little if she needed to rest. Samantha was excited about the prospect, so I've been giving it a try. Penny, in her car seat, attached to the front seat of the stroller, Ella buckled in to the rear-facing back seat, Samantha by my side with the admonishment to keep up.

Yesterday, Samantha walked all the way to the end of our driveway before announcing she was too tired to continue and hopped onto the platform to eat her snack. Today, she didn't even pretend to want to walk. She wanted to eat her snack and ride.

Although I have managed to make it for the two mile walk both days, I am in pain. The weight distribution of the stroller, with sixty pounds of kid over the back seat is just too much. Maybe if I lived in an area where I didn't have to pop the stroller up and down the curbs to cross streets and the walk wasn't so hilly, I could manage. But since the handicap accessible ramps to cross streets are halfway up the block (who planned that?) and I have no intention of walking halfway up the block and back just to cross the street, I am forced to lift the back half of the stroller up every time we cross a street. It's killing my back. It's also very crowded on that back seat and there has been fighting and grabbing of each other's food and screaming both days.

We need some physical separation. I'm not sure the weight distribution on a triple stroller will save my back any, but I'm hopeful. So, I'll probably persist with this double stroller for a couple more weeks until either the stroller or my back breaks. Then it's off to find the dreaded triple stroller, announcing to everyone I pass that my life revolves completely around little people right now.

It's a Sea Monkey Miracle

To catch you up in our ongoing Sea Monkey Saga: I finally got my parents to buy me sea monkeys and then managed to kill them off creating a serious mourning episode for Samantha.

Today's new development: There are three sea monkeys in the tank! They are little, but I definitely see three. I think maybe there were some unhatched eggs. I saw them and took my little straw and aerated the crap out of that tank. There will be no more dead sea monkeys!

Samantha is still at school, so she doesn't know. I just know my little drama queen will squeal in delight and hug me like it's Christmas.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

My Sensitive Girl

Samantha is my sensitive little girl. By that, I mean she cries over just about everything. In the last couple months it has escalated to almost daily tears over pretty silly things.

I've already written about her ant heartbreak. She also has a proclivity for snails, apparently. We regularly find snails in our yard, in our sandboxes, in our playhouses, in our garden, everywhere. The girls are really fascinated by them and their slimy little bodies. Samantha learned last month that when a snail's shell breaks, it dies. This has not stopped her from screaming when she sees one and having me chuck it over the fence or anywhere out of her sensitive sight.

However, on the rare occasion she is interested in touching a snail, it becomes a sacred creature worthy of deep empathy. One day last week, some snail caught her fancy and she proceeded to hold it and examine it. Ella, ever the copycat, wanted to hold it also, so Samantha placed it with great care into her little sister's hands. Little sister, startled by the cool sliminess, dropped the snail and it landed on the concrete patio with an echoing crunch. Samantha's lower lip quivered and tears began to spill from her eyes as she turned, running to my arms to be comforted for the loss of her beloved snail, what's-his-name. She talked of the snail often that day, reminiscing what a good snail he had been, and how sad it was that Ella had killed him by cracking his shell.

Today, yet another tear producing event occurred: the sea monkeys all died. Sean and I had both suspected a complete die off of the tank this weekend, but this morning, for sure, there was nothing swimming around in the tank. (I believe it to be a poor aeration issue, as in, I haven't been aerating the tank with my straw.)

Samantha asked to see them, so I said, "Oh, Honey, I think they're all dead." Her face dropped and she turned back to her oatmeal, hunched over. I noticed drops splattering off the table.

"Samantha?" I asked.

She turned to me, unable to contain her sadness, and jumped into my arms, burying her face in my shoulder as she sobbed for her poor sea monkeys who had such a short life.

I now see all the disappointments and death that surround a four year old's world. I try to shield her from it, but it's all around, and if it isn't, Samantha finds something to cry over. She is my sensitive little artist.

And, although I hate seeing her so upset over what I consider silly little things, every time she mourns an insignificant little creature, I smile. She has learned empathy. We've done something right.

P.S. We will be ordering more sea monkey eggs, and an aerator. (And maybe some food that makes them red, because that's just cool.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Me First

This morning at the breakfast table, Ella noticed Penny's bouncy seat had turned off. It has a fish mobile on it that plays music and the two fish inside blow bubbles and kiss each other. Penny likes to watch it and I frequently put her in it when I'm trying to take care of the other two.

"More, Mommy," Ella said.

"More what, Ella? More juice?"


"More toast?"


"More what?"

"More fish."

"More fish? You can't have goldfish for breakfast, Ella."

"No, more baby fish."

"Baby fish? What are you talking about?"

Samantha figured out the interpretation first, and quickly jumped off her chair. Ella started to get down, too, but Sammy was faster and closer. She turned on the bouncy seat fish mobile.

"I got it, Mommy," she said proudly, climbing back on her chair before Ella managed to get off hers.

This promptly started screaming from Ella, "NO! ME! ME DO!"

She ran over to the bouncy seat and turned it off, which started Penny, who had indeed wanted to see more fish blowing bubbles, whining and fussing.

Ella put her hands on her hips and squared off to Sammy.

"Me do, Sammy," she said. "Me do."

Ella then turned back on the fish mobile.

"Me do first, Sammy," she said.

"No you didn't. I did it first. You did it second," corrected Samantha.

"No, me first," insisted Ella.

"No, me first," said Samantha.

This continued for five, yes five whole minutes before I thought to distract them with the Sea Monkeys. I was not on top of my game this morning.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mommy Has a Cold

My head is so hot,
My feet are so cold.
My whole body aches,
I feel 300 years old.

My throat, how it hurts.
My voice sounds like a frog,
but then, in the distance, as though in a fog,
I hear three small voices, three cats, and one dog.

Mommy she hit me!
Mommy she bit me!
Mommy, please, Mommy
please Mommy, come quickly

Mommy, I need you!
Mommy, what shall I do?
My hair needs some brushing,
and I've lost my new shoe!
Mommy, oh Mommy,
please wipe my butt, too!

The beds all need making,
the house is a mess.
There's dusting and vacuuming
and all of the rest.

So I sniffle and snuffle,
I moan and I cough.
Do I whine and complain?
Oh, no, I do not!

This household, it needs me,
there's just no other way.
So I drink some green tea
and get on with my day.
Suck it up is my motto,
and that's all that I'll say.

*** I wrote this in response to this post, by Evonne Lack, my favorite mommy blogger.

Sea Monkey Natural Disasters

One of the great things about having kids is being able to relive your childhood by buying them toys you loved or wished you had when you were a kid. My sister is definitely on board with this idea, having already bought Samantha an Easy Bake Oven and one of those spinning disc art things.

I have my own list of things I never had, but wished I did, and plan to buy for my girls as they get a little older: shrinky dinks, an ant farm, and a chemistry kit top that list. Also on that list are Sea Monkeys. If you don't know because you were deprived as a child, like I was, Sea Monkeys are little shrimp that you hatch in a container of water and watch swim around. At first, they're tiny, but they grow to about a half inch long and live a couple of years. You can buy toys for them and special food, or just watch them tool around. They're cool, really, they are.

While visiting my parents last week, my parents bought each of us girls a little something at the Children's Museum gift store. The girls each chose a doll, while I got Sea Monkeys. I set them up on Monday, and now we have tiny Sea Monkeys swimming around. I show the girls every day, I'm not sure if they've actually seen them yet, but they say they do.

Because the girls are still pretty young, I had to tell them not to touch the container. I pictured them grabbing it and spilling all the poor little sea monkeys all over the place. Those poor sea monkeys would experience an apocalypse.

Today was the first day to feed the sea monkeys. I gathered the girls and fed the little guys while they watched. We also need to aerate their tank, which can be done by simply blowing bubbles in with a straw. I figured the girls could handle that. I gave Samantha the straw, and she blew with great enthusiasm, so much enthusiasm that water splashed out of the tank, along with a few sea monkeys, I'm sure.

A tidal wave had hit their home. The survivors are just grateful to be alive and are hoping for no aftershocks. From now on, Mommy will aerate the tank.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Adventures in La Quinta

Last week, the girls and I took a little vacation to my parents house. Once we arrived, we had a fantastic time. The girls behaved themselves and, due to days of extreme excitement leading to extreme exhaustion, all slept through the night in their own beds. We had many adventures in La Quinta, but I believe the girls' two favorites were The Children's Museum of the Desert and the swimming pool.

We went to the children's museum on Friday morning. It really is a fantastic place for kids to explore. Upon entering, there are floor to ceiling windows on two sides of the wall, letting in bright, natural light. There were exhibits all over the place.

The girls were buckled into seats attached to pulleys that we grown-ups pulled to raise them off the ground.

They dressed up as archeologists and excavated some rubber things.

There was a veterinary clinic where the girls examined stuffed animals in lab coats. They had some really good information about choosing a pet and the pet overpopulation problem posted in the area.

There was an attic designed area upstairs full of dress up clothes. (Samantha was in heaven.)

And, there was an art area with an actual VW bug to paint. The girls had a great time smearing paint on it (and yes, the paint does come off clothes). The employee stationed at the car, Carmine (get it, car mine, he'll tell you if you don't) was an Italian grandpa like man. He handed out paint cans and sang "That's Amore" quietly under his breath while going about cleaning and supervising. He has quite a sense of humor, although some of his jokes don't go over so well, he told me. Ella was especially thrilled with the car painting. She kept asking (and continues to ask), "Paint car?", any time an art project or trip is mentioned.

On Saturday, after playing at a local playground and a picnic, we all headed over to the pool in my parent's community.

Grandma and Grandpa took Samantha and Ella in the water, while Penny and I lounged in a cabana. (Note to self, get cabana).

We plan to go back again in the future (although we may have to wait for the grandparents to recover).

*** Extra bonus points to my parents for entertaining the two older girls and feeding them breakfast in the morning so I could sleep until eight! (Yes, eight! I can hardly believe it myself). As well as for helping Ella steer the little motorized Barbie car they have around their courtyard, again, and again, and again (and letting her ram into their legs with it, too).

How To Brew the Perfect Cup of Tea

I enjoy green tea and, as it's supposed to be healthy for you, I'm trying to drink more of it. My biggest problem is brewing the tea. It seems to take forever for the water to boil and I'm never sure how long I'm supposed to steep the bag. My girls, always trying to make my life easier, helped me this morning figure out how to make the perfect cup of tea.

1. Fill tea kettle with water, set on stove, and turn on stove.

2. Run to see what all the screaming is about. Give blankets back to proper owners, dry tears.

3. The water should be boiling by now. Put tea bag into cup, pour water over.

4. Run to see what all the screaming is about. Find each girl their own Tinkerbell magic marker coloring book and pink marker. Set girls down at opposite sides of table.

5. Your tea is now perfect. Remove tea bag, pick up, and sip. Still a little hot.

6. Run to see what all the screaming is about. Stop Ella from tearing up her sister's art work.

7. Return to tea, which has now cooled to the perfect temperature. Enjoy. Preferably with some ear plugs if you actually want to finish the cup.

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Car Trips

"Life is a journey, not a destination."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mr. Emerson clearly did not travel with three small children. The girls and I headed down to La Quinta to my parent's for a little vacation last week, a good time was had by all (more on that later), once we got there.

I have learned in the almost four years of parenting I have under my belt, to plan my travels around sleep schedules. Things go more smoothly if I have sleeping children at least part of the time. And so, I chose to leave for my parent's home after Samantha finished school at one o'clock. That way, she and Ella would have just finished lunch, and it would be time for both Ella and Penny to take their afternoon naps. Samantha should be fine for the two and half hour car ride, as long as I made sure she used the potty before we left school. So, that's what we did.

We left the parking lot of Samantha's school at one twenty. Penny began crying immediately, because she hates the car unless we're going fifty-five miles an hour. I headed toward the freeway, stopping at the gas station right before the on ramp at one twenty-five. I pulled up to the only open pump, got out, and tried my credit card. There was a glare from the sun on the screen, I heard beeping, but couldn't see anything. I pushed the clear button and swiped my card again. Shading the screen with my hand, I still couldn't see anything on the display. I then realized the beeping was from the adjacent pump and my pump wasn't working.

I was a little annoyed, anxious to get on the freeway with the screaming baby, but I calmed myself down. No problem, I got back in the car and waited for the white van in front of me to finish. And I waited, and waited. Getting more annoyed, I realized the driver was inside the gas station. Then I looked around and noticed every pump was filled with white vans, and all the drivers were in matching grey pants and navy blue shirts. Fantastic, a fleet of some kind was filling up. They were strolling in and out of the gas station, chatting with each other, and overall dilly dallying.

Penny was screaming by this time, so I started the car and headed across the street to another gas station, apologizing to the girls for the wait and trying to hush Penny. I pulled up to the pump, got out, and then noticed this station didn't take credit cards. (Seriously? Who doesn't take credit cards?) Back in the car and back over to wait for the fleet to finish. Finally, after twenty minutes (yes, twenty) I managed to get gas. We got on the freeway at one forty-five.

Penny was in a state, screaming her head off. Soon, I assured her, soon we would hit that magic fifty-five miles per hour. I pulled onto the 105 freeway. Traffic. Going thirty miles an hour. Not fast enough for Penny. I pulled into the car pool lane, we were able to go fifty, still not fast enough. The traffic slowed to a stop as we exited to the 605. Crap, crap, crap. Screaming baby, whining Samantha, at least Ella was asleep. We finally, made it to the 60.

Still traffic, still screaming baby. Samantha started in with the "are we there yet?" every two minutes. When I repeatedly said no, she continued with the "are we almost there yet?"

Still crawling along in traffic, despite being in the carpool lane, Samantha said, "I have to go potty."

You have got to be kidding me. I was not familiar with the area. I looked to the right, we were just coming up to an exit. I was in the carpool lane, no chance to make that one. I exited and pulled over four lanes of traffic, getting off at the next exit. I noticed we just passed a strip mall. Perfect, we'll pull into the strip mall. Ella is still asleep, Penny is still screaming. We'll just pull into the parking lot, I have a portable potty in the car for just such occasions. I can feed Penny, since we've now been on the road an hour and a half, then get right back on the freeway with Ella still sleeping.

Of course, I pulled off one of those exits where the strip mall was not accessible and into a residential area that lasted a few blocks, before entering an area of heavy construction. I saw some shopping center areas up ahead. The first has no parking. I decided to get to one across the street so I could easily get back on the freeway. Bad choice. I got stuck in even worse traffic, I had to make a U-turn to enter the parking lot, and then had to wait through three traffic lights, not moving, just slightly too far to enter the driveway. All the while, Samantha was wiggling in her seat, "I have to go potty! I have to go potty!" Penny was still screaming. Finally, it became clear we weren't going to move the four feet, so I took the SUV a little off road on the sidewalk into the parking lot.

I found a nice secluded spot, situated the portable potty in the passenger seat, and got Samantha in position. Penny was still screaming.

"I don't have to go potty," said Samantha.

No kidding. No potty. I did feed Penny, Ella did wake up, crying. A full thirty minutes after we exited the freeway, we were back on. Still in traffic. Penny screaming, Ella crying, Samantha asking if we were close yet. It was now three o'clock. I estimated we had another two hours of driving. I considered turning around, but didn't. There was traffic the other way too.

After another twenty minutes, the traffic let up and we had an uneventful, yet loud, two hour drive. We arrived at five o'clock, after spending ten minutes with the security guard getting through the gates. (Did he really think I was up to no good? Really? If I were going to do something illicit, did he really think I would bring along three screaming kids? Just give me the freakin' pass already, I'm on the list.) We pulled up to my parent's house, exhausted and ready for bed (Oh, wait, that was just me. The kids were well rested and ready to tear up my parent's house).

The return trip went much more smoothly. I loaded everyone up at bedtime. By the time we hit the freeway, less than twenty minutes later, they were all asleep. I turned on some classic rock, popped open a Diet Coke, and enjoyed the silent drive.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Baby Monitor Troubles

The last four nights, my baby monitor has not been working properly. When Samantha was a baby, I was so worried she would need me, I found I actually had to turn the monitor off. Any time she rolled or squirmed, the monitor would click, and I would sit straight up in bed, listening for her cries. Not very conducive to getting any sleep. Once I turned it off, I was able to sleep through her small noises, but woke when she cried. When Ella was a baby, I was less nervous about everything and found I could keep the monitor off. I easily woke when she cried, but still managed to get a good night's sleep.

Now that I'm on baby number three, I'm very laid back, and tired. I do not wake up without the monitor. Penny is now only getting up once a night (not bad for a three month old), but I will sleep right through it without the monitor.

The first malfunction of the monitor was me forgetting to turn it on. I woke up in the morning, and thought Penny had slept the whole night, only to realize I hand't turned on the monitor. Poor Penny! She probably woke hungry and cried and cried and I was too comatose to hear her.

The next night, I made sure to turn the monitor on. I double checked the little green light was on. I awoke the next morning, and again, realized Penny had not fed the entire night! I felt so much better about the night before. She really was sleeping through the whole night. Then I checked the monitor, the little green light was not on, the batteries had died overnight. Oh, no! I thought. Poor Penny! Crying and hungry two nights in a row. My poor neglected baby!

Sean changed the batteries for me the next night and I made sure that green light was on. At three thirty I was woken by Ella coming into our room. As I groggily reached down to pull her into our bed, I realized Penny was screaming, very unlike her to make that much noise. I looked at the monitor, the green light was off! Crap, the stupid thing must be broken, I thought. I'll have to go get a new one in the morning. Off I went to feed Penny. I told Sean about it in the morning, and he said he had put in rechargeable batteries, and they were probably old. So he put in brand new batteries yesterday for me.

This morning, I was again woken by Ella climbing into our bed and again heard Penny screaming. I looked at the monitor, the green light was on. What was going on? The volume was turned off. Sigh. Off to feed Penny, after turning the volume back up. We'll see if I can get it working correctly tonight, or if Penny is going to suffer through another night of crying out in hunger to no response.

**Note: The girls and I are going to Grandma's for little vacation later today, so I won't be writing for a few days. (Not sure if the vacation is for us or for Daddy.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Craft Time: Pine Cone Bird Feeder

Today we did a great project and I thought I'd share. It's not often I find a fun, easy project both older girls can do on their own with minimal assistance and that they both like. It's a very simple project: collect pine cones, have the kids use a spoon to smear peanut butter all over it, have them roll it in bird seed, tie a string to hang it with, then hang it from a tree.

Overall a fun project. I'd give it a 6/10 on the messy scale. There was birdseed on the floor, mostly from 22 month old Ella. It swept up easily, but I wouldn't do it over carpet. The dog did try to lick off Ella's peanut butter as she carried it to the tree.

Samantha after peanut butter and bird seed.

Ella applying bird seed.

Outside, ready to hang.

In the tree.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Samantha likes to tell secrets. She understands the idea that a secret is something between some people that other people don't know. She hasn't quite mastered her technique, yet. She either tells you she has a secret and whispers so quietly and without moving her lips that you have no idea what she is saying, or she puts her hand next to her mouth to shield it from view and stage whispers loudly enough for anyone in the house to hear her secret.

We have thick, well loved Disney storybook including all the Disney movies with pictures. It no longer has a cover, the binding is torn, and many pages are torn and missing. Last night, they were fighting over who got to sleep with the book. Ella had it first, so she got it, which led to a half hour of Sammy crying. This morning, as soon as Ella let her guard down, Sammy took the book and flaunted in Ella's face, then sat down to hold it. This led to new fighting, that I promptly ended by confiscating the book and putting it on the desk.

At breakfast, Samantha covered her mouth to block my view of it, and stage whispered to Ella.

"Ella, after breakfast, you tell Mommy you need your diaper changed, and I'll get the book. Okay? Okay? You tell her you need your diaper changed. Okay?"

"Okay," came the reply.

Already, the conspiring begins.

What are they thinking? The Raisin

This is the second installment of "What are they thinking?" where I write about crazy things my kids do that make me shake my head and wonder, What are they thinking?

This morning, Ella and I were doing a little art project while Sammy was in school.

She gasped and said, "Oh, oh, nose boogy!"

I handed her a kleenex and she blew her nose.

"Ouch!" she whined.

"Ouch?" I asked.

She handed me her kleenex with a raisin inside.

*Photo of Ella in her "Little Miss Trouble" shirt. I should have known better than to put her in it.

**Note: The raisin was from her morning snack about five minutes earlier. I left her in front of the television with her raisins to change Penny's diaper.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Driving Miss Jessie

One of Sean's roles in our relationship is official chauffeur. Whenever we are going somewhere together, he drives. I really don't care for driving overall, and I care even less for driving in Los Angeles. Even after five years living here, getting on the freeways makes my heart pound, and there really are a lot of crazy drivers in L.A. Really. A. Lot.

Today, Sean was driving us to his mother's house and it got me thinking about different driving styles in different areas of the country. I grew up in Minnesota, where everyone is very polite about everything, including driving. They come to a full and complete stop at every stop sign. They use their blinkers for every turn and every lane change, even when no one else is around. They let you in if you need to change lanes. They use the passing lane for passing only, not for driving in. And they leave at least one car length between them and the car in front of them. Very polite.

Sean, is a typical Los Angeles driver. He is a defensive driver, if you think of defensive in terms of a football player trying to tackle someone. He cuts in and out of lanes, signaling only when he's going to cut someone off. He drives way too fast. He rolls through stop signs. And he tailgates, really, really close. I always tell him, being a passenger when he's driving is an aerobic work out. My heart rate shoots up into my target zone for a sustained period of time, my muscles contract and relax repeatedly, especially in my right leg, which is slamming on an imaginary break. He will tell you, honestly, that he doesn't get into accidents, so he's a safe driver. I concur he doesn't get into accidents, but I think he's a lucky driver more than a safe one.

I used to be a Minnesota driver, very polite and very safe. After living in Los Angeles, I can say if I were to drive in Minnesota today, people would think I was a crazy driver (they would think it, not say it, because it's not polite to say it). But, I'm not Los Angeles crazy. I signal, most of the time, when there are other cars around, unless I'm in a turn lane or making a right turn, because then it's pretty obvious what I'm doing. I stop at all stop signs, briefly, but I stop. I drive over the speed limit, but not much. I still leave a car's length between me and the car in front of me, too many crazies out there cutting in and out, unless I'm in heavy traffic, then I follow close so I don't lose my spot.

**Note: I really don't like the nickname Jessie, but it worked well for the post title.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Swing Incident

In our backyard we have a little baby swing hanging by yellow rope from our shrimp tree (that's what my mother-in-law told me it was called because the flowers look like fuzzy pink shrimp, so that's what I call it). The girls love to swing in it, but I hate putting them in it. It's pretty high off the ground, and since it moves, it's a little difficult to get them into. Plus, they argue about how long each one gets to swing, and they would swing for sixteen hours straight and they always throw fits when I tell them it's time to stop. Samantha can finally reach the swing and wriggle her way onto it after about five minutes of trying, but if she goes into the swing, Ella has to also, and whining and fighting ensue.

A couple days ago, we were in the backyard playing after our afternoon walk. It was sunny, but windy and getting cold as the sun was setting, as it does this time of the year. The girls were up on our second tier, playing around the swing. They wanted to go in it, but I wasn't in the mood, so they amused themselves, pushing it back and forth on the ground.

Penelope wanted to eat, so I decided to go into the house to feed her. Normally, I would stay outside to watch the older two, but it was cold and I could hear the neighbor boy and his friend playing next door, and they are prone to popping their head unexpectedly over the fence and I wasn't feeling like giving an anatomy lesson that day. The dog was with them, and I left the sliding door cracked to hear them, so I felt they were pretty safe in our fenced yard, even though my view of them was obstructed by our garage when I went inside.

Shortly after beginning to feed Penny, Samantha came to the door, wanting to come inside. I asked her what Ella was doing. She told me she was swinging. I told her to go play with her sister while I fed Penny, because I couldn't get up right then to let her in. (Although cracked, the door is too heavy for her to open on her own.) She whined outside the door for the five minutes it took me to feed Penny.

I opened the door, Samantha came in, and I called for Ella to come. She didn't. Typical for her, she loves to play outside. I carried Penny toward the swing to retrieve Ella. As I mounted the steps between the first and second tiers, I saw the neighbor boy's head popped up over the fence, with Missy jumping up at him, her hackles up, snapping awfully close to his nose.

"She's been up there forever!" he said. "We heard her crying for you and we thought there was something wrong. We've been watching her."

"Thanks," I said. "I had to feed the baby."

There was Ella, buckled in the swing, waiting for me to get her down. When questioned, Samantha said she had put Ella up there (apparently, Ella grabbed on and Sam pushed her feet up). I advised her not to do that again, as Ella could fall and get hurt.

"But Mom," she said, "I buckled her in."

Friday, March 5, 2010

Momma Had a Baby and It's Head Popped Off

Samantha and Ella were playing in the tub after their baths a couple nights ago. Samantha was playing with Ella's new bath doll, smashing it up against the side of the tub, when suddenly, the doll's head popped off!

Samantha gasped and looked at me, eyes wide, mouth in a large O shape, with a look that said she knew she was going to be in some BIG trouble. Ella looked at the doll, then started crying.

"Dolly, broken. My dolly broken," she said between sobs.

"I'm sorry Mommy, I didn't mean to do it. I'm sorry," Samantha began, trying to explain her way out of the situation.

I took the doll and put it's head back on. Big smiles all around. Ella grabbed the doll and hugged it.

"You fixed it!" Samantha yelled excitedly.

"Yes, I did," I said. "But play more gently with it. I might not always be able to fix things that get broken because you're playing too roughly with them."

Suddenly, Ella popped the head off the doll. She and Sammy both gasped.

"You broke it!" Samantha yelled. "Mommy can't fix it again!"

Ella gasped again, then started crying, again.

"I can fix it again, " I said, taking the doll and popping the head back on, "but this is the last time. If her head comes off again, I'm not fixing it. Got it?"

"Yes," they both said. Then they started making the doll pee on each other's head.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mommy's Little Helper

I have been on a Diet Coke binge the last few weeks. I'm so tired, I need the caffeine at nap time, so I've been having one a day. I ran out yesterday, and fortunately, Sean needed to go to the store, so I did not have to go through withdrawal today.

When I went to the fridge this morning, there was my brand new case of Diet Coke, already opened and waiting for me. I thought, how nice of Sean to have even opened the box for me. Then I realized his actual motivation behind the gesture. He hates the way I open those boxes.

I can never get the punch part to work, so I just open the flaps on the box. At first, every time you open the fridge, a can comes rolling out. But, once those first few are placed in the fridge, it works just fine. I opened the last box wrong, and I bet it drove him crazy to see it like that for two weeks.

It's the same thing with the toilet paper rolls. When we used to actually put our TP on the wall thing, before the kids decided unrolling new toilet paper rolls all around the house was great fun, he preferred to replace the rolls. He likes them either rolling from the bottom or the top, I can't remember. I just put the thing on, and whichever way it's facing is the way it goes. Works the same both ways. But it really bothers Sean. He has to change it the right way.

There are things he does, that I just prefer to do (so they're done right). For example, I don't like the way he makes a bed. (Laying on the bed and pulling the covers over your head, then getting out of the bed is not right.)

I guess that's the way it goes in a marriage. You complement each other, between the two people, someone knows how to do everything to keep the house running. I just need to figure out what more I can do incompetently enough to have him take over.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eggs For Dinner

I don't much care for eggs. Never have. About once a year I'll have two scrambled eggs for breakfast, thinking they are really pretty healthy and a good source of protein, and then I'll remember exactly what I don't like about them and not eat eggs again for another year.

My kids don't feel the same way. They like eggs, at least scrambled eggs, which is fortunate for me. They are easy to make, nutritious, and good for dinner on nights like tonight, when I've managed to, yet again, forget to buy one key ingredient for every meal I have planned for the week.

Last night, we had tuna noodle casserole despite me forgetting that I was out of chicken broth. I was very proud of myself for thinking of use the broth from some chicken noodle soup and diluting it with water. No one knew the difference (until now). Today at two, I went to prepare the sweet potato enchiladas I had planned. Whoops, no enchilada sauce. I also didn't have the cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups and the sour cream I needed to make stroganoff. I didn't have time to start the crock pot for the beef stew I'm going to make (for which I do have all the ingredients), and the pizza crust I have is frozen solid.

So, eggs it is, with some whole wheat peanut butter and jelly toast and blueberries. Not too bad nutritionally, but certainly not a gourmet meal. I guess it's a tad better than cold cereal for dinner, which happens when I'm also out of eggs.

What are they thinking?: Ella's Underwear

Sometimes I catch my kids doing or saying something that just makes me wonder, what are they thinking? So, I thought I might do an occasional short post about them. Hope you enjoy.

Ella has been really fighting her naps lately, and frankly, it makes me angry. So, instead of fighting with her, I just put the baby gate in the door to their room and let her wander around. She eventually gets tired and goes to sleep.

The other day, she was doing that, and then called me, again, for something. I went to her room and opened the door. I looked down at Ella, smiling up at me, with three pairs of her sisters panties on her head.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Girls' Day

March 3rd is Girls' Day in Japan. It is a day to celebrate your little girls and wish them happiness and growth for the coming year. You can read more about it here and here.

Every year, the girls' Nana buys them each a hina, a princess doll, that we display in the house. The traditional dolls are porcelain and wear beautiful kimonos. They are displayed in enormous glass cases. Fortunately, my mother-in-law recognized the fact that I have no room in my house for such gigantic (and kind of scary looking) dolls, so she began getting them these beautiful painted wooden dolls. The two on the left are Ella's, the little purple in the middle is Penelope's, and the other four are Samantha's.

I thought the first one Samantha received was so beautiful, I just kept it up. Turns out, you're supposed to take them down, otherwise your daughter will be a spinster. So, the next year I took them down about a week later. I learned this year, the correct way to display them is to take them out a couple weeks before Girls' Day, then put them away the next day, otherwise, you will have a spinster. So, Sammy and Ella are destined to be spinsters, but I will from now on put them away March 4th. Penny should be fine, and perhaps, because my girls are hapa and their mama didn't know any better, the spinster Gods will be forgiving for Samantha and Ella. (If you don't know what hapa means, Sonia Brown gives a nice description on her blog A Hapa Girl and her Hapa Family.)

I never really know what I'm supposed to do as far as a celebration. Apparently, there are special foods to make, but I don't know how to make them. This year, my mother-in-law brought over hina-arare, special rice crackers the girls are supposed to eat for luck. So this year we will be celebrating with the crackers. Maybe next year I'll just make a special meal for them and then repeat it every year so it becomes a tradition.

If you have any little girls in your life, it's a good day to celebrate them and wish them happiness and growth.

Monday, March 1, 2010


My kids are obsessed with boogers. It's getting out of hand and really, a little gross.

Ella has a perpetual runny nose, so there is no shortage of boogers around here. Every morning, Ella wakes up, snot crusted under her nose, hair adhered to her face by booger glue. I gently peel her hair off her face, leaving little booger crumbs stuck in her hair all day. Then I tell her we need to go get a kleenex, to which she responds by blowing her nose without the kleenex, leaving big streams of snot running down her face towards, or sometimes into, her mouth. (I know, my mistake for broadcasting my intentions. And you would think I would learn not to do it every morning, but I'm sleep deprived, and its really early, and I'm not quite awake.) Then I go to wipe her nose and she moves her head, smearing more snot onto her face. Fantastic.

Samantha, not to be outdone, also blows her nose, without a kleenex. The snot usually hits her chin. Then she runs away as I try to wipe her nose, again smearing snot across her face to dry like snail trails around her face.

This repeats itself all day long. Every time I try to wipe or blow someone's nose, they both blow snot everywhere.

To add to the boogerfest in our house, Ella has recently discovered the use of her fingers up her nose. She can frequently be seen digging for treasure while watching television. A couple days ago, she pulled out a particularly large booger, displaying it to me with outstretched arm on her fingertip.

"Stop!" I yelled. "Don't move! That is a giant boogy. I'll be right back with a kleenex."

To which Sammy replied, "A giant boogy! Let me see!"

She moved toward her sister.

"Don't move, Ella! Don't touch, Samantha!" I exclaimed as I ran to the kitchen for a kleenex.

When I returned, I stopped in the doorway to observe my children. They sat, practically nose to nose, Ella's prize between them, staring intently at it. Entranced by a boogy. Such a proud moment.