11 February 2010

Family Portrait

We haven't had a photo as a couple or a family portrait in a while, so when our AWESOME friend, Kutuh (a.k.a. Jessica Gaines, Health Counselor Extraordinnaire) came over, we played photo shoot.

I'm used to being behind the camera, so catching me was a bit of a chore at first:

Then it was difficult to get me to act seriously:

I eventually settled down for a nice husband/wife shot:

We were even able to add the kids into the mix:

But then we started acting up again:

As you can see by this last shot, Elsie plainly thinks we're crazy.  She is probably right now wondering what kind of family she got herself born into...

But at least we're happy! : )

10 February 2010

07 February 2010

Shakey Shake

I'm taking a bellydance class at our local YMCA, with the incomparable Malik Turley, founder of Hip Circle Studio and one of the troupe leaders of Zahara Fusion, a local bellydance troupe.  We meet weekly and shimmy and shake and work those core muscles and dance with women of all ages and shapes and feel good.  It's brilliant, and I'm happy to have finally found a medium which utilizes my many assets, including my rather shakeable botto!  Hooray!!

Just a note about bellydance - it's not what you're thinking.  It's not exotic dancing.  As Malik says, we may dance exotically to exotic music, but we are not exotic dancers.  Bellydance arose out of a culture of women supporting one another - primarily through childbirth, as those are the muscles it strengthens - but throughout life as well.  It's a multi-generational celebration of the beauty of women.  So there.

Over Christmas, Malik asked if I would join her troupe, and I jumped at the chance.  So now I'm bellydancing twice a week, and we will be hosting a hafla at the end of this month, which is a dance recital of sorts - mostly a community-building event where we invite our friends and family to come and appreciate the work that we've accomplished and get other people dancing, too.

Anyway, this is all a long introduction to a short little video that I took of Olivia wearing my coin belt.  Without further ado:


06 February 2010

Elsie Walks

Second children have it tough.  Not only must they split family time with their siblings, but the amount of photos and videos of them pales in comparison to the number of videos of the first child.  While baby #1 benefited from a mom who had two hands solely for her, and a camera always on the ready - and has photo documentation of her first everything, including first potty time - baby #2's photo collection is a compilation of hit or miss "firsts" that a tired mommy has pieced together through the melee of video and photo clips gleaned when she remembers to record them.

Elsie's been walking for weeks.  She officially started on her first birthday, but preferred crawling as the safer way to travel.  Little by little, however, she's walked through the house, practising at first, and walking more and more as she becomes more assured in her feet.  She's even added on carrying things in her fat little fists to Mommy and Daddy and Olivia with pride.

Here is an earlier video of her walking, taken a few weeks ago.  As you can see, they aren't her first steps, but we'll say they're close.  I can't even tell you the exact date, so I'm glad that my camera records that automatically for me.  February 5 - I even checked!  Enjoy!!

05 February 2010

Trips to IKEA

We love IKEA.  So much so that we went twice in two days last weekend.  We were "remodeling" our apartment, which included clearing out part of a huge closet we have to make room for an office for Nathan, and that involved some hit or miss purchases, and things being out of stock at the closer IKEA (in Schaumburg, 30 minutes away).  We had gone with Nathan and spent almost six hours in the IKEA labyrinth, but still hadn't gotten exactly what we wanted.  Nathan was exhausted.  I could have stayed longer, but Elsie and Olivia were a bit tired.  So the next day, the girls and I went to the "other" IKEA, in Bolingbrook, which is about 45 minutes away, and was tidy and well-stocked with what we needed.  Brava!

Here are some of the things we like about IKEA, which, if you didn't know, is a wonderful family-friendly place that specializes in furniture and household supplies that maximize tight spaces.  (Which is all us, what with four folks in a one-bedroom apartment!!):

Online List - the place is a madhouse and a sensory overload, so it's best to shop online first, where you can make a tentative "shopping list" - you can even pick your preferred store, and the list will generate where in the store you will find what you want.

Car Carts - Not all IKEAs have these, but our Schaumburg one does.  One could effectively put four children in one of these carts - two in the car, and two in the regular seating basket.  But that would involve four small children under five, and I don't want to think about that...

Dining at IKEA
- Fun things, like tray carts, Swedish meatballs, and a kid's seating area, make dining fun.  Olivia contemplates the mashed potatoes,

while Elsie protests confinement in a high chair.

Smaland - Olivia, who doesn't like to be "lonely," requests to be dropped off at the IKEA playroom every time we go.  She eagerly removes her shoes when we sign her in and has no more eyes for us at all as she dashes off to play with the trees or play kitchen or ball pit.  And she can even go potty by herself there.

Family Bathrooms - As a nursing mom,  I love that they offer a lounge area for other nursing mamas (or bottle feeding mamas, but that's not quite as exposing) within the family bathroom.  Elsie loved the sink, which was just her height:


And Olivia loved everything.  We were at IKEA, after all.  Here is a dance to prove her joy:

We have a few more returns to make and a few more things to purchase for Nathan's office, so we will be going back next week, on our way to visit family in Rockford.  Oh, the joys of IKEA.  Just don't tell Nathan...

04 February 2010

Something About Elsie

I had a great little anecdote about my one year-old flitting about in my brain last night as I drifted off to sleep.  I can't remember it all now, though.  Of course.  Some things stick in my brain pretty well, but other things just fall out of my ear while I sleep, I suppose.

We have been watching a friend's son recently, as his dad has started a great new job working weekdays.  We watch Ma'ani Tuesday through Friday, from about 11 to 5:30 or so, depending on the car situation (i.e. who's got the car and the accompanying car seats?).  So now we have three children - a one year-old, a two year-old, and a three year-old going on twenty.  Ma'ani has been adjusting pretty well, considering that he is an only child most of the time and has only recently be thrust into middle-child-ness.  He absolutely adores Olivia, whom he calls "Eeah," and follows her around and says cute little things like "Be back, Eeah!  Be back!" when she gets too far ahead.

But he and Elsie are enemies - arch enemies.  At least Ma'ani thinks so.  Elsie loves him and follows him around and grabs his hair and tries to roll on him and hold his hand.  All of which are sure signs of a one year-old's loving adoration.  But that can't be explained in words to a two year-old.  Ma'ani is constantly on the defense, and spurns Miss Elsie's advances unflinchingly.  His favorite catch phrases in relation to Elsie are "No, no, no!" and "That's Ma'ani's!"  Anything Elsie does elicits this response:

Elsie touches Ma'ani's coat
"No, no, no - that's Ma'ani's coat!"
Elsie walks over to the refrigerator (where Ma'ani and Olivia are playing)
"No, Baby Elsie - that's Ma'ani's [refrigerator?]!"
Elsie points at Ma'ani
"No, no, no - that's Ma'ani!"

Poor Ma'ani.  I suppose he'll eventually get used to not being the littlest anymore.  I'm not quite certain how to acclimate him to the new situation, and remain aware and fair to the needs of the girls as well.  It's a tricky balancing act, and I suppose time will help iron things out.  If only Ma'ani weren't so afraid of contact with Elsie - which on one hand is cute but on the other is unavoidable!

I mentioned this perplexity to my friend, Corinne, saying that Ma'ani is afraid that Elsie is out to get him.

To which she replied, "because she is."

Oh, well.


Boneless is a great attribute for a chicken breast, but people??

Olivia told us last night about a boneless friend of hers, whom we hadn't met.  Here's a brief description, gleaned from the little bits of info that we could extract from a sleepy three year-old:

She was light pink
She was tall as the ceiling
She had no bones (of course)
How old was she?  What comes after five?  I don't know!

They had met at IKEA's playplace, and Olivia had held her hand when they jumped in the ball pit.  But that's all we'll probably ever know about Olivia's boneless friend.

But the best part was the song that Nathan came up with to commemorate the discussion:

"Bone people and no-bone people,
Bone people and no-bone people (people, people...)"