December 16, 2013

Giving Thanks

We've had a fun yet very busy few weeks. Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing... we decided to stay in Austin for our third Friendsgiving, and it did not disappoint. Our friends, Andy & Essie, were our gracious hosts this year, and they threw quite the shindig. Also props to Meghan Hack for contributing with her culinary delights. Somehow we escaped without having to lift a finger, other than chase Eleanor around to make sure she didn't ruin anything in the house the entire day.

We made a trip up to Georgetown over Thanksgiving weekend to visit Uncle Jim and Aunt Sally and some relatives that were in from San Antonio and Kansas City - Molly, Rosemary, and Emily Stamper. Even though our stay was short due to E's nap schedule, it was a great visit. Eleanor looooved Uncle Jim and kept calling him Grandpa. In fact, she would ONLY let Uncle Jim hold her... so cute. During our visit there, our daughter managed to "race" by food with Uncle Jim, gave herself a full tour of their house, played hide and seek behind the curtains, used the coffee table as a fort, and even went for a golf cart ride with Aunt Sally.

We rounded out the Thanksgiving weekend by putting up our Christmas tree. So far, Eleanor hasn't paid too much attention to it. As we were putting up the tree, she called all of the ornaments "toys." Then, for the first few days afterward we put the tree up, we'd walk down the stairs in the mornings, and she's squeal in delight at the lit tree as if she'd never seen it before.

New Happenings:

: Lots of new sentences with Eleanor. She's like a little sponge and surprises us each day with her new phrases like "C'mon, c'mon, Dad, let's go" and "I do it/I see it/I hold it" and "Audrey's house soon?"
: When I go into get Eleanor each morning, she usually spews a myriad of words, sort of stream of consciousness gibber gabber. I went in last week to get her, and she looked up at me, grinning from ear to ear and said, "Ellie happy, Mommy happy, Daddy happy!" Um, I'm not even sure she knew exactly what she meant/said, but I melted nonetheless.

: Last week when Auntie was watching Eleanor, she gave a deep sigh and shoulder shrug and looked over at Katie and said, "I tired." She must have caught onto that phrase as I say it at least 5x/day. 

: We have a clean freak that teeters on OCD. Eleanor loves throwing away trash and wiping up the smallest of spills on the floor.

: Aunt Katie has kept Eleanor BUSY BUSY, which is just the way our daughter prefers life in general. In the last couple of weeks, they checked out the new Dell Children's Museum, My Gym (a place where E can run herself down), yoga, music class, play dates with Audrey, etc. 

: Ellie insists on "cooking" every day. I bought her a 50 cent bag of beans, and she spends each day pouring them in and out of bowls with her various cooking utensils. 

Ogling over the big girl feeding ducks on the trail.

Snuggle time with Daddy

Little Miss in her new poncho

Little Red Riding Hood at her favorite coffee shop with Auntie. Notice the jingle bell bracelet that Katie gave her - she won't let it out of her sight.

Snuggling with Auntie and her favorite furry friends.

E learned about play-doh at her friend's house, and when I bought it for our house, she couldn't/can't get enough of it. The problem is that she wants US to do all of the work - pancake, worms, and ball making.

First trip to My Gym
Eleanor and Clark having a chat. Clarky and his girlfriend Kelli were in town for a wedding, and we had such a fun weekend with them. Eleanor couldn't get enough of "Clarky."
Very busy cooking her beans

We're loving that E has no clue about Santa or this Elf on the Shelf madness. I figure this is the last year we can get away with no presents. Even so, Katie thought it would be fun to send Santa a little wish list/picture at Macy's.

In house news, we now have a roof, walls, and windows! Up next mechanicals, plumbing, low voltage and drywall. It's slowly becoming a reality, and we're just crossing our fingers that we can move in before Baby Boy's birthday.

View from garage, stairs going up to the house. 

View from kitchen/dining area out to living room and covered patio.

View from living room into dining/kitchen area and stair to second floor.

Kitchen leading into mud room (on the right)

Eleanor was a maniac and was doing saw dust angels on the floor. We learned our lesson that we can't take her to the house until we have drywall in - she managed to find every nail and unsafe place in the entire house.

Justin and I spent this last weekend in San Francisco, soaking in some much needed adult only time. I hadn't been away from Eleanor overnight since last October, and it was glorious. While I love my sweet daughter, it was so refreshing to escape motherhood for a few days. The highlights were light packing and not feeling like a sherpa walking through the airport, no baby monitors to wake up to, no chasing toddlers around, engaging in uninterrupted adult conversation (although many of our conversations always came back to Eleanor and Baby Boy), no rigid schedules, etc. Speaking of schedules, my one request for the weekend was to NOT plan anything in advance. We spend our days working around our daughter's eating and sleeping schedules (not to mention my own work schedule), and I needed a break. Thanks to various friends' recommendations, we were able to hit up some great sites and eat delectable food the entire weekend:

: Thursday: Landed at 9:30 am; Early checkin in a room that overlooked the Bay Bridge; Immediately went to Tartine for coffee and pastries as we'd heard it was a madhouse on the weekends; Walked the Mission; Rested at Dolores Park; Rest/nap time at hotel; Dinner at Zuni Cafe with Andy (Austin friend) who happened to be in town for work. At the end of the first day, I told Justin that I was already so relaxed that it felt like we'd been gone a week!

: Friday: Coffee and (uninterrupted!) work catch up at Stable Cafe; Walked around Pacific Heights/Nob Hill area; Rest/nap time at hotel; Dinner at Nopa.

: Saturday: Perused the Ferry Building's farmer's market (this was no joke, the most extensive and beautiful market I've ever seen); Grabbed coffee at the famous Blue Bottle Coffee and breakfast sandwiches at Cowgirl Creamery; Lunch with old Chicago friends AV and Sonia Volkens (and their adorable 9 month old daughter, Vera) at Mission Rock Resort; Lounged at the hotel and watched the Jayhawks dominate; Dinner at Pizzeria Del Fina.

: Sunday: Brunch at Mission Beach Cafe; Strolled Union Square (the Mag Mile of SF); Rested and watched the Chief's game at the hotel; Flight back to the homeland... We missed our Ellie!

Happy Daddy at Stable Cafe

In the clouds in Pacific Heights. These hills are no joke!

Delicious and pretty coffee from Blue Bottle Coffee

Our view from breakfast at The Ferry Building
View from our hotel room at the W. Thanks to Justin traveling for a living, we stayed for free;)

The repercussion of walking all weekend, some pre-brunch calf stretching.

Meanwhile, Aunt Katie kept Eleanor busy back in Austin with Gingerbread making, arts and crafts projects, play dates, museum outings, shopping, lunching, etc.  We were able to FaceTime with them twice throughout the weekend, and E was really confused why I was on the screen (she's used to Justin FaceTiming).

Eleanor and Katie just happened to run her to E's best friends, Audrey, at the museum. Buddies!

Drying off after playtime in the water room

Making gingerbread houses! How fun is Aunt Katie?!

Final masterpiece - they improvised by not using tempting candy with these toddlers.
More arts and crafts projects from our budding artist, courtesy of Auntie 
I can't believe this is Aunt Katie's last week in Austin - the time has FLOWN by. It was so fun to see Eleanor and Katie form an almost immediate bond. Katie and I were so lucky to be surrounded by our aunts and uncles growing up, and I can't imagine it any other way for my kids. Um, Katie, that means you need to move to Austin! Warm weather, easy access to Kansas City, fun/easy going city... as Eleanor would say, C'MON!

As an overdue Thanksgiving post, we have SO much to be thankful for this year: our health, a new baby on the way, a new place to call home, the unmeasurable amount of help from family, our careers, our wonderful nanny, Laura... just to name a few things.

C'mon, C'mon!

Chez Eleanor

Shirtless snacking... insistent on hiding in fort-like places

Bedtime wind down

November 25, 2013

20 months

The Fall is flying by! Unlike our days in Chicago, we've been blessed with lots of 80 degree days this month, so Eleanor has been able to play outside quite a bit. It turned bitterly cold this weekend (what Austin folks call the 40s), and we're wondering what our KC and Chicago friends do with their kiddos all winter. I can't imagine. Eleanor just learned what a winter hat is, and when I pulled out a basket full of gloves, she asked "What's that?" I put a glove on my hand to explain the purpose of gloves, and she started laughing hysterically. Texas Girl on our hands here!

Last weekend, we took a family field trip to Lockhart for some good old fashioned Texas BBQ. Lockhart is a super small town about 30 minutes outside of Austin. We hit up Smitty's (our favorites there were the sausage and pork ribs) and Black's (our favorites there were brisket and delicious sides - creamed corn, potato salad, mashed potatoes and gravy). As you can see below, Eleanor soaked in her first true BBQ grazing experience. 

Open pit at Smitty's

E diving into her first pork rib.
No forks allowed!

Finger lickin' good.
Daddy and Eleanor sharing a modestly sized 1.5 lb rib.
Relaxing after an exhausting day of play. Toddlerhood is rough.
Katie and Eleanor during a South Congress outing.

NBD. Just some naked wheeling with her Jayhawk hat.
Play date with Hadley Greager.
Play date with Audrey Beadle. Lounge time. Notice that E insisted on wearing 2 different shoes that night.
Dell Children's Museum Preview Event - the new location opens in December, and we can't wait!
More museum time.
Girl loves her puddles. 

Is that a push up??
Lunch date with Auntie.

My very sophisticated grocery list. Notice the adult column is short and sweet.
Self portrait.
Reading about world travel at her favorite coffee shop, Fair Bean Coffee.
Auntie Love
Katie ended up having to buy these shades at Target because Eleanor refused to take them off.

We've gone vertical on the new house! The race is ON - house or Baby Boy first? Fingers crossed that baby is still cooking as we attempt to create a peaceful abode for his birthday. We'll soon be Clarksville stalkers as we do creepy slow drive bys to check in on the progress. This is a side view of our home. On the left will be sliding doors out to a covered patio. On the far right will be a stucco'd courtyard entrance to our front door.

View of the garage/back of the house from the alley.

In other new tidbits:

: Eleanor is mastering putting multiple words together: "New one" when referencing the new house, "Mommy/Daddy see/come/do it/sit," "Oh no, what happened?" when seeing the leaves falling from the tree - had to explain that leaves fall from the tree when it gets cold outside.

: Other new words: messy, empty, cereal, bowl, boots, spoon, yoga, Abby (yoga instructor), heavy

: Our daughter is a professional flirt. She's drawn to boys and men more so than their female counterpart. Smirky little grin, cute little voice, and hand holding - we're in trouble.

: When we ask her where baby brother is, she points to my belly and most often says, "Baby sleeping."

: Justin taught E how to blow bubbles in the bath, and she's already mastered that. 

: Eleanor is barely eating these days. What happened to my daughter with the hefty appetite and extensive palette? These days, her sustenance is milk and cereal. Sad. Even sadder is that you can see her ribs. We need to figure out a sneaky way to fatten her up.

: I've heard of this but hoped we would skip this phase - E is now spitting and biting, and it's not necessarily in frustration or anger. She bit my arm the other day and almost broke skin. We continually tell her that it's not nice to bite and that it hurts people. Not sure she's caught on yet...

Eleanor is a full on Mr. Walter (music teacher) groupie. This is at his Book People gig. She was exhausted but showed some subtle spirit in her grooves.

Baby Bear accompanied her to the jam session. So sweet of her to share with a complete stranger.