Friday, February 22, 2013

Love letters to L & E

On Valentine’s Day I wrote these notes to my kiddos, capturing a few of the distinctive traits that make them preciously themselves. What a wonder it is to get to know new facets of them as they grow, and to see how some traits that first arose in their baby stages are still powerful pieces of who they are.


The Helper: A request for help is immediately followed by a rapid, “thump, thump, thump, thump” of your racing feet. You relish helping in any capacity, with a true heart to serve and assist.

Miss Independent: At first you would tell us “I do, I do!” and now your phrase is “No,  I do it myself!” From washing your hands, to getting dressed, to everything else in your life, you like to do things on your own. Sometimes it can be a little frustrating when I explain for the seventh time that day that only Mommy can properly buckle your car seat straps, but I love how it pushes you to new achievements and helps you play on your own admirably.

The Concerned Sister: If Luke falls, you rush to his side, kneeling down and earnestly asking, “You okay Luke?” You’re also often quick to check in with him to find out what he would like to do, utilizing your verbal strengths saying, “Luke, you want to play ____?”

The Mischief Maker: There’s an undeniable twinkle of mischief that often flickers in your eyes. Sometimes it lands you in time-out but other times it leads to sweet, spunky sillyness that we adore.

Little Princess: If your stool isn’t placed next to your chair at the table, there’s sure to be an indignant squawking, “Where my stool?!” Erik jokes, “How about I just crouch down and let you climb up on my back?” In your kingdom, rain boots are appropriate footwear every day of the week, no matter our desert biome. All your particular ideas about every detail make us laugh, and help me put my own princess tendencies in perspective. (:


Mr. Joy: On multiple occasions throughout each day you earnestly exclaim, “I love this day, Mommy!” and brighten even my dreariest moments with your ever-ready sunshine-y grin. Eleanor has picked it up from you too and will make the same sweet proclamation. Your joy is contagious, dear one!

Mr. Mover: Since before you turned one, you’ve had an insatiable desire to move items en masse. Here you are collecting toys and other paraphernalia to fill your train, conveniently parked in the middle of my kitchen.

The Artist: One warm afternoon, I set up a tub of shaving cream and glitter paint for you and Ella to mix and manipulate. Within seconds you jumped in to fully immerse yourself in the gooeyness. You take on all things touch-sensory with gusto and the messier the art project the better in your book.

The Brave & Tender-hearted: You feel deeply, whether it be a show or a book, even mildly sad plots grip you with compassionate concern. It’s not uncommon that you don’t want to continue because your emotions are so intense! But you’re also brave, lately it seems you’ve even been seeking out bravery-building. You choose to sleep without a nightlight (with your door closed too!), you squish bugs in the house with your bare hands, you’re always willing to try new foods, and you try not to cry when you get an ouchie.

Rule-Maker: You seem to enjoy picking up rules of the world and passing them on to others. It makes you a wonderfully protective big brother pointing out dangers to Eleanor, a vigilant back-seat driver, and sometimes a little comedic. Recently you informed me when I was frustrated over something, “That’s just how life is, Mom.”

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Party princess

Our Ellabelle does love a party. All week she beamed excitement when we’d work on little tasks for her Valentine’s fete or talk about her friends who would be coming. Then at the party she was just bubbling with joy. What a treasure to make her so happy. If only it would always be this easy!

I entertained grand plans of a big girly-themed shindig, but ended up keeping it super-tiny to avoid overwhelming us or the Ellabelle. We went with the seasonal flow and chose a Valentine’s theme, which I was already well stocked for since I store more than my share of hearts and pink.

We started off the party with one of Eleanor’s favorite books, “It’s My Birthday” by Helen Oxenbury. Ella delights in making the noise for each animal and cautioning the cat to be careful. The sweet friendship and teamwork storyline is a winner too, a cherished gift from an East Coast friend.

Then we had a Heart Hunt! The girls took bags and collected heart-shaped foam stickers in the playroom. Luke did a super-job helping Erik hide them and coaching the girls on where to look.

Next up were the heart leis. The kiddos strung cardstock hearts and straw segments on a string. Ella may not have alternated her hearts and straw spacers exactly like I had in mind, but look how proud she is!

The necklaces were the perfect portrait accessory. What grown-up girlies they’re getting to be.

When the wiggles brought an end to the photo shoot, there was an intermission for hugs.

Followed by some sticker resist heart painting.

After all that hard work (heart hunting, necklace-making, and painting, oh my!) the kids were definitely ready for lunch. Erik made tasty quesadillas and then there was cake.

We love you, Ellabelle! It was magical to prepare for the morning with you, may we find lots more parties and projects to work on together as the years go by!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Eleanor’s birthday–part II

Even though we had an early celebration with my parents and brothers in NC, we couldn’t skip an actual birthday date celebration back home in NM. This time, Daddy made the cake with Luke and Eleanor. Or as Luke likes to say when we cook together, “You be the cook and I’m the chef!”

Then there was some decorating, and balloon sillyness of course.

Two balloons for our two-year-old girlie-pie!

Even though it was just a party for our little family, I hung up my Target-clearanced Chinese lanterns, in perfect cheery Ellabelle colors!

You can see that I need to work with Eleanor on her blowing technique. Eventually the candles were extinguished, perhaps with a little breeze from Luke’s direction...

Next up was present time. And what a well-loved girlie she is with gifts from near and far.

She was launched on a princess kick by the darling castle from Grandma and Grandpa. It’s so sweet to watch her carefully set the princess in her bed and then bring her down to eat at the table.

And she loved her new bike from Nika and Papi with custom streamers from Auntie C!

Now she and Luke aren’t taking turns on his balance bike and her biking motivation has skyrocketed. Erik has slowly raised the seat over the past few weeks as Eleanor’s started to glide a bit. Here they are, the matching Strider-riders.

We love you Ella-belle! Now there’s just one more mini-party to go, a Valentine’s themed Ella fete with two sweet little friends this Friday. I’m squeezing that in just before Luke’s big day, turning FOUR next Tuesday!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Hearts of the home

My admiration for hearts and all things red and pink has waned little as the years have passed. How could such prettyness have an age limit? So last week while Erik was gallivanting by train and taxi through snowy France (for work), I pulled out my red and pink stash to keep me cheery.

Eleanor is of course my cutest photo prop, but I do love my hand-sewn felt heart garland too.

The heart print was a free printable I downloaded a few years back. I just taped it on a pink canvas by the kids and changed out our couch pillow covers.

I couldn’t neglect our kitchen table, so it got some heart garland too, and a little Valentine’s Day trail mix.

The kids enjoy V-day books and crafts with me. Inspired by “A Zillion Valentines” Luke has prioritized quantity over quality this year, so after some initial cookie-cutter and potato stamping experimentation he’s been stuck on mass-producing construction paper hearts with a quick marker scribble and generous glitter glue on top. I love when he presents the biggest ones to me, a la another V-day book we’ve enjoyed, “A Kiss for Froggy” (which he finds hilarious). My final Valentine’s Day book pick comes from Eleanor. She prefers “Olive My Love” and requests it most nights. Happy hearts to you!