Saturday, December 8, 2012

Early December 2012

I don't have pictures, but want to record a few memories from the past two weeks:

1.  Leo had his tonsils "shaved," his adenoids removed, and tubs put in his ears this week.  How grateful I am for modern medicine.  How the Ellis-male gene pool made it through evolution is a little unclear to me:  we are all born with gian tonsils, huge adenoids, and ears that don't drain fluids.  I've very happy for Leo that will hopefully be able to hear better, sleep better, and get sick less often as a result of these procedures.  Already he's talking more and more clearly.  It's pretty remarkable.  (It reminds me of when Max had his tonsils out and what a difference it made for his life also.)  We're very blessed.

2.  I worked from home yesterday to be close to Leo and to help Kristin a little while she prepared for her first quasi-catering gig.  It was excellent to be at home so much and see the kids when (a) they're not waking up and getting ready for school (their 2nd-least favorite time of day) or (b) getting in pijamas and getting ready for bed (their least favorite time of day).  They were -- not surprisingly -- so much happier and better-natured during the day.  They made jokes, smiled easily, were helpful around the house, and pleasures to be around.  It made me grateful for the home environment Kristin has created where our kids are happy and well-adjusted.

3.  Max in particular has been a huge help around the house.  He's been cleaning more, offering to help Kristin take things up or downstairs, and he's just been wonderful.  It reminds me that little acts of kindness make the hugest of differences in people's lives.

4.  Max spent the night at Aunt Shauri and Uncle James' house the other night, and our home felt just a little bit empty (and a LOT quieter).  When Aviva woke up the next day she came to our room and said, "I miss Max."  We all did. 

5.  I recently went in to the kids room to kiss them good night and Aivva was already asleep.  I asked Max why he was still awake and he said, "I was just thinking about space and how it never ends.  I don't get it.  How can something never end.  It's keeping me awake trying to figure it out."  I remember being his age and thinking the same thing.  I told him so.  I told him I've been trying to figure it out for 30 years and so far no luck.  I told him instead I think about something else before bed, something I like.  We decided he might fall asleep better and more quickly if he thought about pokemon or Jack and Annie books instead of space. 

6.  When Max was gone, Aviva really talked a lot.  She really relished the opportunity to talk without interruption, and loved the attention.  It was fun to hear more from her.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Miscellaneous Pictures from the last 18 months

It has been a while, and rather than try to rehash everything that has happened in the last 18 months, I'll let a few pictures guide our family's history.  More to follow hopefully in the next little while.

1.  Leo's dancing:  for many, many months Leo's only form of entertainment was watching the Wii dance routine to "Jump On It" on youtube.  Over and over and over.  He was actually pretty good, and his stamina was impressive (often besting adults).  His dancing moves are unique.  And they make all of us happy.  Here are a few dance videos.


I think this compares favorably with Max and Aviva dancing on stage from a while ago:

2.  Halloween photos.  These are actually from 2011.  I'll have to see if Kristin can send me Halloween photos from 2012.  But I love these pictures.  Good work, Kris, on costuming the children:

3.  We went to DisneyWorld earlier this year.  Great vacation.  I haven't been that tired since I was a missionary.  It was absolutely exhausting.  Lots of walking, lots of carrying Leo (even though we had a stroller), lots of crappy, unhealthy food.  But still, it was awesome.  A few things I loved about it:  (a)  Leo spontaneously chanting "Disneyworld, Disneyworld, Disneyworld" whenever we were driving or on the bus to the parks;  (b)  Max in perfect glee going on the water rides (splash mountain, or the many wet rides at Universal Studios);  (c)  Aviva loving the different characters and telling Kristin about one of the princesses who showed extra attention "I love her";  (d) Leo being spooked on almost every ride, except for the Winnie the Pooh ride, where he simply said "Again" at the very end [that was the only ride to get the Leo seal of approval!]; (e) Grandma being upset about being so wet after splash mountain; (f) Aviva never wanting to go on splash mountain again, and perhaps never trusting dad again; (g) feelling like Disneyworld represents the best and worst about capitalism; (h) Max never once sitting in the stroller until Thursday (we got there on Monday), and doing a whole day at Universal Studios without stopping; (i) riding the Harry Potter ride at Universal Studios and having all of the good memories of Harry Potter crystalized in that one good ride [seeing the castle, seeing Max and Aviva talk about the castle, hearing Leo say over and over again "Harry Potter"]; and (j) thinking, I'm really glad we won't have to do this again at least for five more years.

I didn't get as many pictures, but here are a few:

4.  The kids biking.  You should see these kids bike.  Max and Aviva both love to bike, and are very good -- although they fly around blind corners way too fast!  It's been fun to see them both grow to be very good bikers and to really enjoy it.  And bless Leo's heart, he keeps up with them the best he can on his little scooter.  He was very excited for his third birthday this week to get a much faster scooter.  We spent almost an hour outside practicing on his new scooter even though his hands were completely red from the cold and he tried to keep one hand in his pocket while pushing his scooter.  If you want to picture what Leo riding a scooter looks like, picture someone taking a piece of wood and standing on it with one foot and slowly pushing with the other foot.  Leo must have legs of steel because he never stops.  He just keeps pushing.  I used to think that Aviva was the most determined person I know (she probably still is), but in the scooter department, Leo gives her a good run for her money.  Here's a picture of the kids playing with some friends after biking.  Sorry no pictures of them biking.  But at least they have a well-done make-believe teepee. 

5.  Birthdays.  We area all a little bit older.  Max turned 7, Aviva 5, Leo 3, me 36 and Kris will turn 35 in December.  I only have one picture of a birthday in my files, and it's mine.  Not sure how that happened.  But we had some good birthday parties this year.  Max really wanted a chuck-e-cheese party, which was disappointing.  But we did it anyway.  And Kris was so disappointed that he didn't want the pirate birthday she had planned for him, that we did the pirate adventure anyway.  For that, we went up to Annapolis, rode around on a boat doing a legit pirate adventure (the kids did all the work, no involvement from the adults), and had lots of fun.  Max had fun for his chuck-e-cheese birthday, but he agreed that the pirate adventure was better.  Leo got the shaft for his party.  We celebrated it just after Thanksgiving and it mostly consisted of that 1 hour out in the cold on his new scooter.  But he loved it, and the cake.  Aviva's birthday was also very cool.  Kristin arranged for Aviva and Max to go have a horse-riding lesson.  Aviva was a natural (althoug a little timid).  She did excellent, and really seemed in her element.  Max had a good time, too, but fell off a couple times (I blame this on the instructor, who purposefully seemed to keep instructing Max to lean over in a way that would make him topple off the horse. I don't think Max liked her, and I don't blame him.).  Here's the picture on my birthday, which was awesome because it was a Saturday and people celebrated me the whole day.  (Thanks, Delsa, for the cake.)

6.  Playing together.  Our kids do a really great job playing together.  Some of their favorite games:  (a) "smacking booty" (I don't know where they learned this game, but -- as the name would suggest -- you run around and smack each other's booty; Leo loves to play this game naked.); (b) "pretend" (where Max and Aviva go around saying things like, "Now pretend that you say ..." and "Now pretend that I do ...."), which usually turns into a fight about what one is and is not allowed to pretend; (c) the Wii princess game (although Aviva is getting more tolerant of playing Max's games), even though I've tried to make DDR and Just Dance part of the rotation, Ellises just aren't good dancers; (d) bike riding (see above); (e) fort building (Kristin realy makes the best forts, and I'm sure this is why they love the game); and (f) blockus.  Sadly, I don't have pictures of any "smacking booty" in action, but here's a picture of them all being happy together. 

7.  Shauri and James.  I don't have any pictures to document it, but our kids love having Shauri and James around.  Max will often say things like, "here's a rock I just know Uncle James would love" or "I wish James was here to go adventuring with us.  He'd love it here."  Aviva loves it when Shauri picks her up from pre-K because it often means ice cream, nail polish, and crafts (even though Aviva will deny that she ever gets treats with Aunt Shauri).  And Shauri is the one who taught Leo how to sleep in a bed.  They just love them so much. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

President's Day

This year we wanted to attend the Alexandria, VA President's Day parade. We had a date with some friends, the kids were excited (especially Aviva), and we even had a bag of supplies ready. But then it started to rain. So we improvised.

This is our President's Day 2011 Parade.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lazy Saturday in November

What would you say if you're at the mall, one lazy Saturday in November and you see two kids dressed like this?

Would you:

(A) Blame the mom?
(B) Quietly whisper to your kids to stay away from them?
(C) Leave the play area immediately?
(D) Encourage your kids to pull the "wild thing's" tail?

Today, we took our kids to the mall, and that's how they wanted to dress. We didn't put up much of a fight, but we did take a change of clothes. Except when we got there, we realized we didn't actually have a change of clothes for Max. So he walked around the mall as Max, King of the Wild Things.

At the play place, no fewer than 3 kids chased Max attempting to grab his tail. One little kid actually did get a grip on the tail for a minute and Max promptly dragged him across the floor. But it didn't deter the other kids, it only encouraged them. (The craftswomanship of the outfit really shined through today -- good work Larissa Kindred!)

Max also had his own fun with the tail. While walking through the mall, he had the unseemly habit of pulling the tail up between his legs so that it hung out the front of his legs. This was apparently my limit, because I told him that he could not have his tail hanging out in the front between his legs. He said he understood, but he still did it a lot.

Luckily, at the mall, we ran into some of our favorite people in the whole world Aida, James and Papa (Jamie). They were our neighbors in Quaker Hill. How we love them. For the first few years of Max's and Aviva's life, they had me as their dad and Papa as their Papa.

They didn't even notice that Max was dressed as King of the Wild Things and Aviva was dressed as ... something (Aviva said she was pretending that the pack of underwear was a bag of cookies and she was trying to go as Little Red Riding Hood; not sure I believe it). Other people at the mall clearly noticed. Many people were highly amused and I'm glad Max could bring some joy to their day. Other people were clearly not as amused. Luckily, Max didn't notice those people because he was too busy playing with the tail in front.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stowe, Vermont -- Abram's View

While Kristin was in Stowe, Vermont with the girls, Abram was in Alexandria, Virginia with the kids. It was a great weekend. Even though I had to enlist the help of our babysitter on the first two days (Thursday/Friday) because of work, Saturday and Sunday were just us and the kids. A few highlights:
  • Baltimore Aquarium. On Saturday I took all the kids to the Baltimore Aquarium and it was awesome. We learned that Leo is part dolphin. When one of the dolphins introduced himself with his dolphin-speak, Max looked up and said, "That's how Leo talks." And is if on cue, Leo proudly responded to the Dolphin with his own Leo sounds. Max and Aviva laughed very hard. I also learned that taking three kids anywhere where a stroller isn't allowed is like taking dogs on a log without a leash. And I am no dog whisperer. But the kids had a great time. I have no photos to prove it, but that's because I had three kids and no stroller. (Funny story: while I was in the parking lot near the aquarium, another family saw me get the stroller out. They told me no strollers allowed. Silly me put the stroller back in the car and then carried Leo/dragged Aviva the six blocks we needed to travel to get to the aquarium. Apparently, you're allowed to "check" your stroller at the aquarium. If I ever see that family again, I will update them on the aquarium's policies.)
  • Uncle James came over after Church on Sunday. And that's the only reason I made it. The whole weekend was great, except for Church, where I accidentally brought our super-bright markers and Aviva was wearing her flower-girl dress and a white cardigan (the mom behind me audibly gasped when Aviva first start pulled out the markers), Leo had a blowout during the sacrament so I had to drag all the kids to the men's bathroom to make the change and then drag them back in after (tough be reverent with all the dragging). So by the time church was done, I was ready for Kristin to come home. Luckily, James came over for dinner and maybe without even realizing it provided the adult companionship I needed to keep my sanity. Thanks, James. (Oh, and he helped clean up, which I'm sure Kristin appreciated!)
  • We normally have the kids get dressed, eat breakfast, and read a book of mormon story before they're allowed to watch TV. I fudged on those requirements over the weekend, and they loved me for it. I'm a bad dad sometimes, but it sure feels good to be loved.
Here are a few pictures of Aviva, unrelated to this weekend, but still cute.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Stowe, Vermont

I went on a girls trip to Vermont in October and it was amazing. Lot's of laughs, good food, and good friends. I can't think of a more perfect trip.
Brandi and I

Shauri adoring me

Val and me.

Val, Brooke, Shauri, Mom, Brandi and Teresa at the Cider Mill. Gormet Magazine ranked their donuts #4 in the country. Yes, I organized my trip there around the food.

Mom, Brandi, Shauri, me, Val at the Cider Mill

Shauri, Meredith and me, snuggled up to the bear who looked like he really wanted a hug.

The Quinn Girls

Half of Emily, Arah, me, Jana and Lisa at the Ben and Jerry's factory tour.

Brandi and Shauri

We stayed at a ski lodge at the base of the mountain. It, and it's manager, Cliff, provided the comic relief for most of the weekend.

Here's Cliff grilling hamburgers for us in the fireplace during Shauri's bachelorette party. You heard me.
Cliff's headlamp

That's the kitchen window you're looking at. It was the perfect parting sight as we left for the weekend.

Doesn't she look thrilled?

Shauri and Becky

Brandi, Brooke, Emily, mom, Teresa, Shauri, Becky

Emily and Mom

We went horseback riding and it was SO MUCH FUN. It's been so long I'd forgotten how great it is. We got to canter with the horses along the trails and it was exhilarating.

Val and me

We missed the peak of the leaves changing color, but the scenery was still gorgeous. Here are some photos of the landscape.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Aviva's Dress Up Party

Aviva turned three in September and was very excited about having a dress up party with a Hello Kitty cake. We outlined a runway with balloons so after they put together their outfits they could strut their stuff. Aviva was most excited about being "in charge" of her party. It was her day, and she knew it. And took full advantage of it. Here are a few photos.

Blue Steel