Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Maybe today is my birthday...

My actual birthday was Monday, but today, both girls were on the mend, someone else cleaned my house AND I received a package in the mail! Today was awesome!
Not that I get to keep the gifts my mom sent. Stephanie decided the gifts were hers (naturally, since the birthday was to be shared).
My mom knit a beautiful scarf, which I love for multiple reasons (she made it just for me, the colours remind me of her, it still smells like her...).
Stephanie loved it too...

Aren't those buns hilarious and adorable? That hairdo was one of many requests today that let me know my wee girl is finally on the mend (another being her telling me her teacher called her and told her she needed to come to school today because she is better).

Thank you, Mimi! You have made two girls very happy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Happy Birthday to Mama!

With round 2 of illness in the house and much lack of sleep on my and Stephanie's part, this birthday didn't feel quite so "birthday" as I might have intended...but it was pretty darn good nonetheless. We, of course, started the day with a treat (birthday brezel) and Markus sang to me while our girls miraculously slept in until the late morning time of 6:30am (whoa!).

Stephanie was home (sick) with me today, and she was insistent that we have balloons. We each needed our own colors on our own chairs. I was allowed to choose mine and Markus's, and they were supposed to be our favorites. I cheated and chose green for my chair because I liked the color combo. She accepted this.

Still reeling from Ellie's birthday extravaganza, Stephanie insisted today was really both of our birthdays, together. We sang to both of us and she helped me blow out the candles.

And there had to be "smash cake" (a chocolate dome like Ellie had), and Stephanie had to help me smash that too.

(and for the record, yes, Ellie was okay with all of this. she wanted to eat the chocolate smash cake so she was over not smashing it herself and she accepted our reasons for the double birthday song with Stephanie)

The girls were tired early, so Markus and I waited our dinner until after they were in bed. We enjoyed a nice date night at home with a very fancy bottle of French wine we cannot read and some gorgeous homemade risotto with peas and prosciutto. Perfect on a cold evening!

And will you just look at this very grown-up birthday cake?

I spent the morning perusing Perfect Cakes and ultimately settled on this, the Chocolate Pecan Caramel Cake. It is really more of a mousse (no flour! 8 eggs! 12 oz of chocolate!), but my oh my...dreamy! We thought it would be rich and dense and perhaps just too much. It is rich but light and heavenly, with a lovely lingering caramel aftertaste. Please come on over and enjoy a slice! Stephanie and I are happy to share our birthday with you!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Illness update

After four days of antibiotics, I can happily report that Ellie is back to herself and happy as a clam! Just in time for Stephanie to succumb...alas. Poor thing is tired, listless, and feverish with a bad cough. Very familiar. We'll watch it for a few days and see if she kicks it or if we'll head back to the doctor for antibiotics again. At least we know what to expect this time, and we can appreciate that it is short-lived and not nearly so awful as these viruses can be.

Stephanie's sleep has been much more disturbed by this than Ellie's was. We've gone through night #4 of broken sleep (fretful and clingy for a couple of hours in the middle of the night). She and I were up a good portion of the night last night, unable to overcome her cough for hours. I spent at least 2 hours with her coughing directly in my face, so we'll see if I'm next!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

And the doctor says...

Ellie got worse over the course of the day today. Not terrible or scary, but noticeably worse. I called the doctor and she had an early afternoon slot available, so we took it. The good news is Ellie's chest is clear, so no worries of bronchitis or pneumonia. No wheeze means no mild asthma. The verdict is a secondary bacteria infection in the wake of a viral infection that seems to be going around. She prescribed antibiotics, which Ellie started tonight at dinnertime. She's exhausted from days of being exhausted, but she went right to sleep without coughing (hello, vaporizer!) so we'll hope she'll have a good night.

Stephanie has been having a terrible time with all of this. First, Ellie had three birthday celebrations and loads of presents (way more than we usually do). Now, Ellie has stayed home three days this week while Stephanie had to go to school. It's all one big heap of not fair. She has been having tantrums to beat the band! It's very unlike her. We know why it's happening. We understand and agree that, from a 3 year old's perspective, it is certainly not fair. But. It has been trying nonetheless.

Markus arranged a while ago to have the day off tomorrow so he and I could have a little pre-birthday date, just the two of us while the girls were in school. Ha ha. Oh well. Such is life. At least we'll have a nice three day weekend together, even if our date plans for Friday are now a bit moot.

Sick kid, round two

Stephanie may have fallen asleep for the night at 4:30pm yesterday, but it's Ellie who is home sick again today. The fever hasn't returned, but she has an awful hacking cough now. Trying to keep her in the bed is proving challenging, but she needs to rest. Tomorrow may well involve a trip to the doctor...

How she really feels

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Round two

Stephanie was in bed fast asleep today by 4:30pm.
Let Round 2 begin...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sick day

Last night at 1am, I heard Ellie shuffle into our room and stop at Papa's side of the bed. He didn't stir, so I asked her to go back down to her room. Since we all tend to get up before morning light (sigh), it's not uncommon for her to wake in the night and want to get up for the day. She told me she needed someone to put lotion (meaning Vicks) on her chest. Reluctantly, I dragged myself down the stairs, dutifully coated her chest and dragged myself back into bed. Then, I heard her start to cough. And cough. And cough. I went back down, feeling sorry about being so abrupt before, propped her up on some extra pillows and gave her some water. She was soon fast asleep.

At around 4am, she was back beside Papa. This time, he took her down, but he was soon back up, asking for the Panadol. She had a fever. He also put cooling wet cloths on her ankles to pull the heat away from her head. Again, she was soon asleep.

I kept her home from school today (obviously). Stephanie surprised me by making only a minimal fuss about being taken to school while Ellie stayed home. Poor Ellie was bright pink in the cheeks and had that eyes-glazed-over look that a fever can give, but otherwise her spirits were good. Her fever wasn't particularly responsive to the Panadol, but again the wet cloths on her ankles seemed to do the trick after a few rounds. She didn't want any breakfast but was excited about, though only picked at, the melted cheese on crackers I brought her for a snack. She happily stayed tucked up in bed most of the morning (again surprise), which I think was largely made possible by her newfound reading ability.

She started getting feverish again at the time we had to pick up Stephanie, but she still wasn't complaining at all. Luckily, we live close to the school now so her time up and about was brief. As soon as we returned home, she quietly moseyed off to her room, where I found her like this:

Sweet girl.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ellie's art party

Last Saturday, Ellie celebrated her birthday by hosting an art party for her friends along with her co-party girl Danielle. The party was set from 9:30am to 11:30am, and we asked the parents to drop the girls off and pick them up later. There were seven girlies from their class at school plus two sisters and two birthday girls, Danielle's mom (Kaye) and grandma, Markus and myself. Whew! Luckily, all those adults on hand and all those girls who were friends meant everything was smooth and fun from start to finish!

As the girls came in, we helped them make melted bead bowls, which they would later use to hold sweets (if you're curious, I detailed the how-to on my public blog here). They really enjoyed making them, and everyone was happy with the result.

We mostly let the girls run amok and play together as we waited for all guests to arrive.

First up was singing the Happy Birthday song to Ellie and Danielle, and then all the guests decorated their own cupcakes and snacked on fruit, popcorn and fairy bread (white bread smeared with butter and sprinkled generously with 100s and 1000s).

I feel particularly proud of the rainbow cupcakes.

More running amok and playing ensued until all girls were done eating, and then we set them up painting acrylics on canvas boards outside. Some girls rushed through it (Ellie included), while others took their time and were quite detailed.

The other activity we planned was hair clip decorating. Kaye manned the glue gun and helped the girls glue precut felt onto their hairclips. The girls used regular craft glue to attach sequins and pompoms to the felt. There was mixed success with this technique, but they all had fun doing it so that's what counts.

We had initially planned for Markus to take Stephanie out to play during the party (she's still very shy and nervous around large groups or even individuals she doesn't know well), but Danielle's sister Madison came along. They are great friends, so the attempt to take Stephanie out was a big fail. It turned out well, though.

Just before it was time to go home, we brought out the "smash cake" Ellie has been requesting for the past three months leading up to her birthday. I had purchased a copy of Australian Women's Weekly Kids Birthday Cakes for ideas long ago, and Ellie immediately fell in love with the inspiration within. She did extra chores for a week to earn her own copy, and she keeps it in her bedroom for frequent reference. Since day one, her most favorite has been the piƱata cake, which is a chocolate dome covered in Smarties (M&Ms) and filled with sugary treats.

This is it, mid-decoration. I had to melt extra chocolate to glue on the Smarties and mini-M&Ms. I've been nervous about making it almost as long as she's wanted it, wondering how hard it would be to make and hoping to Heaven I wouldn't mess it up and disappoint her dearest request. Luckily for me, it turned out really well without any trouble. And the fun they had whacking it apart with wooden spoons!

Her friends all gave her wonderful gifts, and Ellie did a beautiful job finishing up her thank you notes yesterday. She truly had a wonderful birthday!

Happy Birthday, Eleanor! We love you!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Snacktime proclamation

The following dialogue began this afternoon when Ellie looked up from her afternoon tea of hot scones...

Ellie: I’m not going to marry Zephyr.

me: Why not?

Ellie: At corroboree, he pulls my hair. When I work, he distracts me. When we’re on the playground, he chases me. I tell him all the time “Stop! I don’t like that!” but he keeps doing it and he’s a naughty boy and I don’t like naughty.

me: I’m not sure he’s naughty. Sometimes boys do those things to get girls’ attention.

Ellie: Well, he doesn’t need attention. He’s a little bit annoying.

**For the record, she also proofread this post before I was allowed to share. It has been given her approval for accuracy in reporting.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kiddie lyrics

Songs often get changed around here. Right now, Stephanie is singing to herself "The Farmer in the Dell":

The farmer runs away.
The farmer runs away.
No more Cheerios.
The farmer runs away.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Ellie is 6

So, yes, there was (coffee) cake this morning AND "real" cake in the afternoon. Birthdays are special! I'm with Marie Antoinette on this one: "Let them eat cake!"

Stephanie placed the Smarties in between the icing flowers. She did a very careful job (also very carefully placed one Smartie in her mouth for every Smartie on the cake...). In case there are any foodies reading this, the cake was the buttermilk layer cake from Nick Maglieri's Perfect Cakes and the frosting was the instant fudge frosting (minus the chocolate, plus pink food coloring gel) from Smitten Kitchen. OMG. That's all I'm saying.

This morning after I dropped the girls off at school, I zipped over to the party store and bought six helium balloons in 3 shades of pink. Oh yes, she did notice and appreciate. That girl loves pink!

Stephanie was impressed with the decor too.

After school, we had invited our current and previous neighbors to join us for cake and ice cream. Rosemarie made Ellie a new birthday crown, and I had decorated the shirt for her to wear today. Look how excited she is!

Ellie was thrilled to have so many friends celebrate her special day! She could hardly contain herself! She also seemed to quite enjoy having a second cake...

That one last candle would not go out, no matter how much she huffed and puffed. Ever helpful, Will (seated across from her) took care of it for her in the end, though I don't think she noticed through her laughter.

After we tucked the little darlings into bed tonight, Markus said he suspects this is the best birthday (perhaps best day) Ellie will say she ever had. She was excited excited excited for weeks ahead of time, and she stayed that excited right up until all her energy was completely burned and she passed out in her bed. And she still has her joint birthday party to look forward to this weekend! What a happy girl! What a happy day!

Good morning, Birthday Girl!

(I love that we start our birthdays with cake for breakfast...and it seems I'm not the only one)

We can hardly believe you are six years old today! We're so excited to celebrate you!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Chopsticks breakfast

I'm behind on my shopping, so there was no obvious go-to breakfast item in the pantry this morning. I decided to bend my own rules about sweets on a school morning and baked up some cinnamon biscuits with a wee bit of icing (I did serve with strawberries).

Ellie was excited and tucked right in.

Stephanie, on the other hand, believed more complicated means of food acquisition was required...

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Spring day

What's not to love about a relaxing weekend, especially one with beautiful sunshine following a night's hard rain? This morning, we left the house for a walk on the beach, packed with raincoats and galoshes. Drizzle fell from the grey sky...until we pulled up near the shore. You can see the clouds moving on in the first picture (taken with my phone, since I'd expected it to be too wet for my camera).

The storm last night churned up a swarm of "blue-ies", the super-nasty bluebottle jellyfish not typically found around here. Most of the blue-ies we spotted were tiny (and man, were they everywhere!), but some, like the one below, were quite big with their 2+ meter tentacles still attached and strung along the sand (shiver at the thought of touching one in the water...).

We had a blast, walking and discovering, and of course, tossing small children who just need tossing...

What a beautiful place!

Life at home is pretty good too. Especially if you are pint-sized, enjoy nudity, and fit inside buckets of water in the garden...