Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Some people like to spread cheer during the holiday season.  I like to spread fear and discontentment.  

Let me back up.  My sister has been dating a guy named Joe.  She went to Australia for Christmas and was in a rush before she left, so she asked me to drop off a little gift for him that she bought. 

Yesterday afternoon I went to his house and knocked on the door.  A very pleasant, 30ish blond woman comes to the door.  Immediately I think, "Oh no, is this is ex-wife, here watching the kids?  This could be really awkward."  In fact, I tried to think of something I could say so I wouldn't have to leave the gift, but I'm just not that quick.  So here's how the conversation went:

Me: Hi, is Joe here?
Ms. Pleasant: No, he's not.
Me: Okay.  My sister wanted me to drop this off for him.  Would you give it to him?
Ms. Pleasant: Sure.  (with just a hint of a question mark at the end of "sure")

So I immediately go home and email my sister so that she knows his ex is currently reading her card.

Of course she immediately emails him and asks, "Is there any chance your ex was at your house today watching the kids?"  And he responds....

"No, but it is a funny story.  Your sis got the wrong house but just happened to go to a neighbor's house whose husband is also named Joe.  

The poor lady thought her husband was having an affair and that your gift was from a mistress.  She finally figured it out after she got herself off the floor."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A few notes from Daddy

Two weeks away from Christmas, these are the happenings in the lives of my kids (at least as I see them):

  1. Max is in partial potty-training mode.  He likes to wear big boy underwear, and is happy to use the toilet when we ask him, but really the only thing that motivates him to use the toillet himself is #2.  Apparently he's happy to sit in his own pee, but not his own poo. 
  2. Aviva loves peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, corned beef, and candy.  It makes me happy because no one else will eat PB&Js or Reubens with me.  
  3. Max wants LOTS of presents under the tree because that's how Christmas Trees look in the cartoon movies he's been watching.  Thanks Disney.  Thanks a lot.  I know that really it's my fault that I let him watch TV, but still.  I tried to turn the occasion into a teaching opportunity and really the only take-away was Max learning that he can trust his dad but not santa.  I don't know how it happened except that I was free-lancing.  Hopefully with Aviva I'll be a little better prepared.
  4. Aviva can cry and/or scream for an infinite period of time with little or no provocation.  Most recently (as in immediately before this post), she cried for 30 straight minutes as I first made a PB&J and then showered.  The crying started and stopped like a light-switch, with the only respite occurring while she shared the PB&J.  There is no ramp-up time and she has only two settings: quiet or full-throttle, "I'm really TO'd."  (Currently, she's screaming from the top of the stairs where Max and Keely were last seen playing; not sure if she wants me to rescue her or if she's waiting for Max and Keely to come back.)
  5.  I'd forgotten how cold Michigan gets.
  6. Kristin has started making Christmas candy.  Is there anything better in this world than a wife that is devoted to carrying on the traditions of her mother?  Didn't think so.  Not when the mother is DBQ.
  7. Max and I went out on the pond in the back a little while ago because it had frozen through.  Max loved it and it reminded me that sometimes all it takes to make a kid happy is to show them something novel.  
  8. Max and Aviva have lots of tender moments, especially in the morning and at night, right before bed.  A few nights ago, Max and Aviva hugged for a good 10 minutes.  And no one can make Aviva laugh like Max can.  I have come realize why my own parents wanted so much for us kids to be friends.  It's the best thing in the world to see your kids love each other and play with each other.  
  9. It's going to be hard for Uncle Travis to be Aviva's favorite uncle at Christmas.  Background: every time we see Travis he does his best to win over the hearts of all his nieces and nephews until he is undisputedly the favorite uncle; it usually works.  Well Aviva has a fever, and the only cure is more Uncle Shawn.  Let's see what tricks you've go up your sleeve this year, Uncle Travis.  It's on. 
  10. Aviva likes when Kristin combs her hair.  I'm pretty sure it's an inherited preference, as Mimi Ellis LOVES to have her hair brushed.  

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Aviva finally cut her other front tooth.  For about 3 months now we've been enjoying her one tooth smile.  It never fails to make me laugh.  I can't help but think she looks like a little cartoon character.  (It should be noted however, that mostly she's crying like in the picture in above).

She is the feistiest little thing ever.  She gets super jealous in two situations.  
  1. When Max is upset and wants me to hold him.  She throws her hands up in the air, screams at the top of her lungs, and hits my knees over and over until I pick her up too.  
  2. When Abram kisses me or hugs me.  She screams until he pulls away and then she stares me down for a good 30 seconds, as if to say, "don't mess with my man."  So sometimes when Abram wants to kiss me I tell him he'll have to wait until his girlfriend isn't around.

Jesus' Birthday

We decorated our tree before we left for Maryland so when we got back we'd be all set for Christmas.  It was so much fun with Max because he is SO excited for Christmas.  It's all he talks about.  Whenever he plays with friends he tells that that we're going to have Christmas at our house (like it's a special Ellis Family event).  

Well, the other day I was trying to take advantage of a teaching moment and I told him that Christmas is Jesus' birthday.  Instead of the interested reaction I had hoped for, he burst into tears because he thought I was saying that only baby Jesus was going to be getting presents for Christmas.  Nice.  I have a feeling getting across the true meaning of Christmas might be a little tougher than I originally thought. 

Friday, November 21, 2008


I know, I know, It's November 21st.  Here are Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm (Aviva and Ben) and an Angel and Spiderman (Keely and Max).  Thanks to Elizabeth E.  for the smashing Flinstones costumes (including Bamm-Bamm's adorable hat).  She just keeps amazing me everytime I turn around.  

Sunday, November 16, 2008

First Snow

Since Kristin only has time for posts on her food blog -- and yes, it is that important -- then I will post pictures for Ann Arbor's first fallen snow.   Yes, it is only mid-November.  

Watching Max eat the snow reminded me of being a kid and reminded me how I've become my dad.

Me: "Max, don't eat the snow, it's yucky."
Max: "It not yucky, daddy, it yummy."
Me: "No it's yucky.  It will give you yucky poopoo."
Max: "No it not.  I be careful.  I show you." 

And then he showed me.   We'll see who's right.


Indeed Max's poop was yucky.  But, it's hard to tell what caused it.  I think we'll call it a draw. 

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Aviva can't quite say Max's name.  At all.  Instead, she calls him "Dah."  When Aviva awoke this morning, the first thing she said (still from inside her crib) was "Dah?" -- as in, where's Max?  I told her, Max is still asleep, but she didn't seem to understand.

So after a bottle, what did she say?  "Dah?"  Where's Max.  

After playing for a while with the toy door and some other toys, Aviva heard a thump from upstairs.  "Dah!" she exclaimed as she ran for the stairs.  Sure enough, there was her Dah.  She was so happy she started screaming (her happy scream) and ran up to meet him. 

I'm really glad Aviva likes Dah.  It makes me real happy.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good news . . . or Great news?

First, the good news. I passed the Michigan Bar. It helps that I can keep my job and pay the bills. It was an uncertain outcome because I did not leave a lot of time to study for the bar -- only about 10 days. Plus, I hadn't been in school for several years, and let's face it, even while in school I wasn't that studious. So all things considered, this is quite the blessing.

Also, if you'll recall, I passed my first bar in 2005 and told recipients of the then-titled Ellis Family Newsletter (or EFN) that I had passed in a November 20, 2005 communique. In that very same newsletter, Kristin touted my support for one Barrack Obama. Yes, that's right, before there was a bandwagon, there was me. Here's an excerpt:

"Abram had previously asked Kristin for only one christmas present - the domain name, With their encouragement, Abram is already strategizing how to get in touch with fellow Obamamites."

Over the following few months, my adoration of Obama continued and finally, for the first time in my life, it looks like (and I really shouldn't post this out of fear of jinxing the outcome) I will have supported the eventual winner of the presidential election. That's right, I (like Ben Affleck, if you watched SNL) have always supported the losing candidate. Here's how it went:

1992 -- I supported Bush 41. I know, it's unexplainable really, except that I can only applaud the brainwashing efforts of my parents (kidding) and the pulpit (kind of kidding). I also liked Ross Perot, but that didn't really help either.
1996 -- I was on a mission and was really just mourning the death of former French president Francois Mitterrand.
2000 -- supported Gore as I finally embraced my Blueishness
2004 -- half-heartedly supported Kerry

We will see what happens tonight, but I am very excited about the prospects.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Tour

For our birthdays, Shauri gave Abram and I tickets to the So You Think ou Can Dance tour and a night at the Westin.  It was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo great.  I can't even tell you how much I needed this.  I feel refreshed and patient and happy.  And did I mention that I love Joshua?     

A Little Catch Up

Larissa and Beck came to visit us.  It's not often my friends from college end up in the midwest, so I get crazy excited every time we get so see them.  

 We went to Erwin Orchad and ate the best donuts I have ever had in my life.  I know you all think I'm a little prone to hyperbole, but trust me on this one.  Here are some pictures of the kids.  Oh, and I should just mention to the world that Lisa refused to share a bag with me because she is certain that her family will eat an entire peck of apples this week.  I'll let you know when they DON'T.  But I'm not bitter. 

Collin, apparently yelling at the driver to get a move on. 

Super Models

Abram came home from work early on Friday with two huge pumpkins ready to be carved.  Here are Max and Emmanuel getting their jack-o-lantern on.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Overflowing Heart

Most of you know that I am a fantastic murmurer.   Probably the best I know.  You give me any situation, and I will find the negative, speak eloquently and provactively of that negative, and never let it go.  

Well today I'm trying to use my powers for good and find some positives in my life, since there are so very many.  A few are listed/described below.  

  1. Nighttime with the kids -- since moving to AA, I now get daddy time at night in stead of the morning.  What a difference it makes.  At night, Max and I can play hide and seek with flashlights, put together puzzles by firelight, and cuddle in bed while Max falls asleep.  I love playing hide and seek with Max -- he's fairly predictable (as am I) in his hiding spots, but he always loves being found.  Aviva also loves when I come home.  So I immediately pick her up and my little "tumor" stays with me until bed time (except for when I visit the bathroom -- then she just stands at the door screaming until I'm done).
  2. Nighttime with Kristin -- even though we sleep in separate rooms, and even though she devotes as much attention to the computer as she does to me, I love that Kristin becomes a new woman after 7.  It's like the inverse Cindarella effect: instead of turning into a pumpkin, she turns into a princess.  She's a great story teller that keeps me posted of all the days events, she is a great thinker and we have had some great conversations about the turmoil our country is now in, and she doesn't mind that I exercise really loudly while watching some of our favorite shows.
  3. Cousins -- Keely and Ben play such a special role in my kids lives and in mine.  I love that they make for good playfellows for Max and Aviva, that they live right down the street, and that little Keely is alternately the easiest person to tease and the most brilliant little child ever.  I wish Max and Aviva had more time with all their cousins!
  4. Grandparents -- I don't get to see them enough, but I feel their presence on an almost daily basis. 
  5. When Max and Aviva play together.  This morning, they played "I'll throw cheerios at you while you run around the kitchen."  Max took the role of cheerios-thrower and Aviva the role of runner.  It was so worth the extra cleanup when Max turned and said, "Daddy look, I play Awweewa and she happy!"  And it was true.  Aviva of course loves to play with Max, and she's very good at helping me find him when playing hide and seek and at holding puzzle pieces while Max and I work on puzzles.
  6. Puzzles -- Generally, I hate puzzles.  Oma tried to teach me the beauty and I never learned.  Kristin and Garret like to puzzle.  But I hated it.  Until now.  That's because Max is a puzzling fool.  He'll puzzle anything.  And he's really good.  He can see dimensions and shapes better than I can and it's pretty amazing to see how it works.  Nice to know that he got some of Kristin's genes.
  7. Kisses from Aviva -- she only knows how to soul-kiss, which is a little troubling.  I figure I can teach her to close her mouth later.  But for now, some times she just dives at your mouth, snot/saliva/tongue all mingled together in one giant open-mouthed kiss.  Pretty disgusting.  Except that it's possibly the cutest thing she does. 
  8. Aviva hates to see me rough-house with Max.  At first I thought she didn't like the violence.  Turns out, she just wants in on the action.  The other day she tried to get involved by body slamming me while I lay on the ground after a particularly intense rough-house with Max.  And that was it.  She just threw her body on me and laid there.  Apparently she thinks she's Andre the Giant and thinks one body-slam will be enough to subdue any opponent.
  9. Aviva is FOCUSED.  Nothing deters her ever.  I've never seen such determination in anything not named the Little Engine That Could.  It makes me so proud.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Other Blog

I've had a few people ask when my recipe blog would be up.  I've made a few references here before, but I suppose it wasn't completely clear that I had already started it.   So here is my shameless self promotion:  Click HERE to go visit You Got Served, my recipe blog.  As an added bonus, Janie is the Guest Chef this week, so you won't want to miss out.  

Spooky Spiders

Joannah came over for Family Home Evening this week and made sparkly feather boa spiders with the kids.  How cool is that?  Never did I think such craftiness could take place in my house.

Jo-jo and I used to work together and one of the highlights of moving back to Ann Arbor has been getting back in touch with her.  

Monday, October 6, 2008

Last Sunday night Keely & Co. were over for dinner.  Afterward the kids wanted us to turn on the music and they started dancing.  We, of course, were egging them on.  At one point Keely was sweating so Lisa took her sweater vest off.  Max then insisted that we remove his shirt.  He really loosened up after that which got a big laugh from the group.  Keely wanted to milk that reaction for all it was worth, so she pulled Max behind the wall, and when they reappeared, Max had taken his shorts off too.  

We started laughing and cheering, and I kid you not, he sets his feet more than shoulder width apart, puts each hand on the things that secure his diaper, and rips his diaper off.  All the while dancing like his life depended on it.  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  We almost died we were laughing so hard.  I mean, what in the world?  It was shocking.  Really.  But so very funny.  


Vivi is doing the cutest things lately.  She just learned how to clap and wave goodbye, but my favorite is that she spontaneously plays peek-a-boo, and whether you are paying attention or not, when she opens her eyes, or pulls the blanket away, she cracks up at herself.  That's right, shoulders shaking with that big old one tooth smile.  Gets me every time.  

These are pictures of her right after we went raspberry picking.  I know, I know, the white sweater wasn't such a good judgement call.   

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I Miss the Crib

This is where Max fell asleep for his nap yesterday.  Our closet.  Look closely, he's in there.  

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Aviva's Cake

We wised up with Aviva and didn't have a big party for her first birthday.  Instead, we just had her cousins over and spent the money on this beaut:
A coconut and chocolate cake with vanilla swiss and Belgium chocolate butter cream.  Mmm.  Way better than a party.  And I think it's safe to say she enjoyed it:

Max Turns Three

Max's birthday couldn't have gone better.  I was a little worried when he started telling people there were going to be lions there that his expectations might not be met, but a few balloons later he couldn't have been happier.  Well, until the candle episode...

if blogger will ever let me post a video here I will .

Saline Fair

I took Max to the Saline Fair.  This was him before every ride:

This was him during every ride:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Early Bird

I'm playing with the idea of going to bed by 9:00 every night so I can get up at 5:00.  I know it sounds crazy, but I just think an hour to myself before the kids wake up would change my world.  Ideally my kids would wake up at 7 and I could wake up at 6:00, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards, so do I go for it, or no?  Thoughts?  Testaments?  Concerns?

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Day

Here's Max on his first day of preschool.  I got him all prepared, telling him I would stay with him as long as he wanted and when he was ready for me to leave he could tell me, but I wouldn't leave until then.  We were there for maybe ten minutes, surrounded by kids clinging to their parents like white on rice when he glanced back at me and said, "Mama, you leave now."  Well all righty then.  I'm trying not to be offended but instead grateful that he's ready for some action away from me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hooray for Visitors!

We had a great Labor Day weekend with lots of visitors.  The Hales drove up from Virginia and Travis and Garrett flew in from Utah.  Shawn and Lisa had a full house too with Steve and Debbie (Lisa's sister and bro-in-law) and Shawn's old roommate Mark.  

Max and Nikolai were so excited to see each other.  Whenever Mary mentioned leaving Nikolai would say something to the effect of, "But I'm going to miss Max so much."  When Max woke up this morning he said, "My friends still here?"  And then in an impossibly pitiful voice, "I don't want my friends to leave."  Break my heart.  I miss my friends too.  

Aviva and Luke also got a kick out of each other.  They mostly just followed each other around babbling back and forth. 

This weekend was the Michigan/Utah game, so the first thing we did when the Hales got here was take them downtown to buy some appropriate Michigan gear.

That afternoon all the boys went to the game.  The traitor in the middle is Shawn's old roommate Mark who went to the U.  

That night we went out to eat and then back to the house to hang out with everyone. 

Sunday was nice and relaxing except for dealing with Max and Nikolai who didn't go to bed until 10:00 the night before because we told them they could have a sleep over in the same room.  Big mistake.  We came home to them jumping the bed together.

Monday we played a little basketball, a little football, and had a cookout.  Abram got to use his smoker and made Italian sausages and I made beef brisket.  We just wanted to make sure everyone had their share of unhealthy meat.   

That night we took Steve and Mary down to campus.  Here they are in the Law Quad.

We told the babysitter to put the boys down in separate rooms, but apparently a major fit was thrown and we came home to this:

I live for weekends like this.  We're going to miss everyone so much.  Thanks for coming to visit!  

Friday, August 29, 2008

Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger

Blimpy Burger: "Cheaper Than Food since 1953"

I just wanted to declare to the world that I love Blimpy Burger.    I went with Garrett today and I had a double cheeseburger (don't judge me, they have quadruple burgers in that place) with bacon, onions and banana peppers.  Sigh.  It was so good.  Granted, I can only go there twice a year if I don't want to suffer the consequences.  Garrett said the only time in his life he has had a gut was the year he lived down the street from Blimpy's.  So that's it.  Krazy Jim, whoever you are, I love you.  


One of Max's very favorite activities is putting things together with his daddy.  He could (and sometimes does) do it for hours.  So nothing gets him more excited than seeing us bring home something from Ikea.  This is how they spent yesterday morning.  

Playing Together

Just this past week Max and Aviva have started playing together.  The first time we were in the living room and Max crawled over to Aviva and put his head in her lap.  She giggled and pushed it off and crawled away.  He did the same thing again and she started laughing and responded the same way.  The did it 4 or 5 times and I was so pleased to see them interact.  

Previous to this week, the most interaction they've had is in the car if Max is in a bad mood.  Aviva will squeal and Max will yell, "STOP YELLING, AWEEWA (Aviva)."  She thinks it's a game, laughs, and does it again.  He of course screams at her again and this goes on and on.  

Yesterday they started playing chase and hide and seek together.  It doesn't last long, and it usually consists of hiding on the other side of the door, but they both love it and I couldn't be happier.