Saturday, July 31, 2010

Some thoughts about people and things

This morning we had a redo of a photo shoot we attempted a couple weeks ago with Annie Harrison.  It went sooo much better this time. We got together at 8:30 am this morning instead of 7 pm like before. What was I thinking with the 7 pm thing?! I mean I know what I was thinking, good lighting in the evening. But hello! Baby always freaks out at 7 pm. She did not disappoint on the freakout front that night. However our poor patient photographer was so kind as to offer to reschedule without even charging another session fee. She's so cool. : ) So this morning we took a bunch of photos which I think are going to be awesome! Annie let me see a few on her camera and I can't WAIT to have the disc! They looked really cute. I am in love with my little baby.

This whole episode reminded me of a big picture (picture, bah ha ha!) thing I've been thinking about lately. You should put people before things, relationships before accomplishments, community before location, etc. This jumped out to me while writing out and prioritizing a list of my roles for my mission statement. It turns out that my top 4 "roles" in life are relationships, way ahead of any jobs or other things I do. As I kept thinking about this, I realized that most tasks and activities are just a contexts for relationships: nursing is just caring for people alongside other people, keeping house is just creating an environment for love between people to take place, making art is just sharing beauty with people. They always say when you write you should keep your audience in mind first and foremost, and I think this is true for just about everything you do. You've got to do it all for people. And especially for the one most important Person (you know, God). So I should have remembered that Ellie was important, not the light. Doh! I'm trying to get better. : )

And in keeping with the idea that my bloggy audience would like some cute photos of our little pretty, here you go! These are of Ella with our farmers market flowers for the week.

Friday, July 30, 2010

We are having so much fun this afternoon!

Good morning morning!

Well, miss Ella woke mama up at 6:45 today, really a pretty reasonable hour. After the cold, we seem to thankfully be back on  the one wakeup per night schedule again. That is so nice and manageable. Normally though, after the 6-7 am feeding, I try to get Ella back to sleep so I can sleep a little more too. But today, even though she did go back to sleep, I got up. And I remembered why I am a morning person. (hard to remember when you don't wake up til 8!)

It is so nice and cool today! Heavenly outside. I found that out while unloading the car from my lucky strike yesterday at NC State. I finally took my last pattern-making project down there to finish up the class I hadn't been able to finish when Ella was born. It felt good to get that done. But also whoopee!--someone had donated the entire contents of a Carter's factory that had closed to the college of textiles, but they didn't need the stuff. My professor was even so lovely as to box up and help me carry out the loot she offered! I got a whole box of thread, some of it embroidery!, several ROLLS of fabric--probably more than 30 yards, 2000 yards of elastic, and 2 professional quality children's draping forms. What does one do with 2000 yards of elastic? That, dear readers, remains to be seen. : )

Ella's new mannequin:

Also this morning, I worked on my mission statement. This is something that was suggested by the cool mom who writes Inspired to Action, and explained in her little free e-book. I think I'll post more about that later when I get mine worked out. But it has been really good to think through. And I find that for me, the best time to think about things like life mission statements is really early on a beautiful day.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


 So let's talk carseats, folks.

 The picture above is of one of Ella's very first strolls way back in March. Can you see how tiny she is in there?

Do you like your carseat? I chose mine because it was recommended by Baby Bargains and it really handily snaps into this tiny stroller frame. I did not want an SUV stroller. So far, the seat has delivered. It is handy and tiny. But for being a thing you frequently carry your kid around in, I find it to be sooo lacking in so many features. And it's not just my brand of carseat, it's the whole bucket carseat thing in general. I'm sure Ella is very safe in her rear facing foam padded hard shelled 7 gajillion pound seat. But she is also hot, carsick and angry at being wrassled into the harness. Mama is hot from the wrassling, worried about sweaty little Ella (who is getting hotter in the seat because of screaming about it), out of breath from trying to lug the thing from car to stroller, and has a huge bruise on her thigh from it whacking into her as she tries to carry it with arm outstretched. Please someone make a better carseat system! Or I'm going to!

My perfect system would have a soft, breathable babyholder with no hard parts (except buckles). This would be able to be attached to you to wear like a backpack or front carrier, to a hard carseat shell in the car, or to a stroller. You would only have to fuss with the harness once, maybe even zip into it like a sleepsack or swaddler. You could even have several in different colors, all supremely washable. Am I dreaming?

However, I did, this morning, discover the orbit baby system. And I want it. Bad. It is not my perfect idea. (Phew! I can still invent it that means! And judging from the fetching price, I should go ahead and do it!) But it does have a flexible handle (THANK YOU!), a swivelling base (cool!), breathable fabric, and a snap in snap out system which is what I like about our current one.

Let's be serious here. I know I can probably count my readers on my fingers and toes, but wouldn't it be awesome if I was one of those powerhouse mommy bloggers who gets awesome expensive stuff for free if she promises to tell everyone she liked it? Orbit baby? Are you out there? I really like you! But I guess I won't reaaaallly know if you are as awesome as I think until you send me the free carseat. ; )

$800 is a lot of money friends. Not exactly penny-pinching. However, these things are selling on e-bay for almost as much used. It's like an investment really. . . . sigh. Would it be worth it to spend that much on a really high use item? More importantly, could I make a convincing case to my husband for doing so?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

Four generations

This weekend Gramma and Ella and I drove allllll the way up to Pitman NJ to visit Ella's great grandmother, who is her namesake by the way. (We are all feeling much better now, thanks!) It was a 9 hour drive each way, but Ella is getting a lot of practice at tolerating her carseat and does really well considering she is just a sweet little tiny baby. Also it helped to have Gramma and birdie in the back next to her for part of the trip, both singing away. How fun! : ) Here are Ella and Gramma enjoying a relaxing rest stop at Mickey-d's.

It was fantastic to have Ella meet her great grandmother. My grandma is 99 years old, almost exactly 99 years older than Ella, and is really fading. She mostly sleeps, and can't remember anything at all. For instance, after a trip away from us to the nurses station she was rolled back in her wheelchair saying, "I know my family is not in there, I don't have a family." She is in a really hard part of her life right now. But she is definitely able to enjoy individual moments and absolutely loved meeting Ella. She was more animated that we've seen her in years. Every so often she would again notice Ella and say, "Well who's that little fella?" (Should have remembered a bow!) And once she was told who she was just kept saying, "hey little girl!" and practically giggling.

It was a really nice visit.

The 4 generations together:

Not a great picture, but a really great thing.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Y'all. The McCalls are sick.

Ella started the whole thing. The poor kid has been sniffling and snuffling and having the hardest and most uncomfortable time for the last 2 days. And to show you how selfish I am, I didn't post a thing about it until I came down with it. But I am not even that sniffly yet and my throat is killing me! Poor Ella couldn't even tell us she was feeling bad at that point. Boy am I telling Paul I'm feeling bad. And he in turn, tells me how bad he is feeling. (He stayed home from work today on an official sick day.)

The important thing now is for everyone to pray for Gramma (who is coming to visit tonight, yay!) not to catch it and bring it back down to infect our family in Florida, some of whom have enough ailments already thankyouverymuch.

Don't you hate being sick?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Look Ma, hands!

Today we had Ella's 4 month doctor appointment. She is getting so big! I mean she is in the 97% percentile for height again (only 80% for weight now), but I really mean in terms of skills and things. I just can't believe how fast she is picking up new abilities right now. It seems like there is a new trick every day. Now, if I put a rattle in front of her and walk away, when I come back she looks like this, rattle in hand, waving around. How cool is that? She has really learned how to use her little hands. Also she sat up in her bumbo chair for at least 10 minutes without puking today (normally the tummy pressure makes her blegh pretty fast), and righted herself several times after slumping over. She is also pushing up to 90 degrees on her arms. What a big girl! I am so proud!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Two unconnected things

 Ella's diapers on the new clothesline:

This represents further evidence of penny pinching as well as a lingering little bit of the Amish phase. 

Ella looking adorable in the diffuse light at the wine bar, where Paul met me before dinner tonight on his way home from work and my way home from the midweek farmers market:

Yes we brought our baby to a wine bar. Yes we felt sort of sheepish about that. But we all had a really nice time.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Small ox

Look what was waiting for me when I got home from work today!

I was very excited about the little ox, but when I opened it up I found something even better! A bunch of cute clothes for Ella from Paul's mom and sister!

What a nice surprise!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Birdie is all right after all

That last smile is in delight at the same song she hated so much a few days ago. I knew they would come around!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Weekend highlights

Weekend highlights: Saturday morning shopping with some store credits I had, $1 smoothies at Smoothie King both Saturday and Sunday (thanks for the tip new playgroup listserve!) phone conversation with my brother in England who was lured into calling me by reading my blog (yesss!), repeat watch of Julie and Julia (can I live in Paris please?), a brief Amish phase (turned thermostat up to 80 and tried not to go on the computer all afternoon-totally wussed out by 7:30pm), and my first workout run since before I was pregnant. Now here we are facing Monday again. Time marches on.

Here are some pictures of Ella enjoying her new toys from the Kids Exchange sale. She's diaper only in the top one because of the brief Amish phase.

Friday, July 16, 2010


This week Paul and I are changing the plan from me working one day a week to one day a month. I think he was liking the day with Ella, and I was enjoying getting out and seeing my work friends too, not to mention working=money. But he's not able to work from home any more, so I have been hired as stay at home mom. (Except one shift a month to keep my years of continuous service with Mr. Duke up.) This is cool and I'm really excited about it. But I am more motivated than ever to make sure I am productive and efficient with our resources. Hence, I have taken up penny-pinching.

I always thought coupons were too much work for 50 cents. But now I'm clipping. And I'm proud to report that last trip to the store I got $12 off with what I clipped (I did accidentally buy 2 things of conditioner instead of 2 in 1 for Paul. Doh! I'd say I'm still new at the coupon thing, except that was just me not reading the label. I'm sure he will enjoy the soft silky hair he would otherwise never have experienced.) Also I got us some free pavers from craigslist for a project Paul wanted to do in the back yard. And today Ella and I took a trip with our friends Mama Stephanie and Baby Evelyn to a giant consignment sale in Raleigh to pick up some of the things Ella will soon need. We got a bunch of sleep sacks- 5 for $12, a jogging stroller for $20 (very used, but what a price!), baby cups and bowls and spoons for $6, a bouncer for $7 and a crib bumper for $20. I really splurged on the bumper, but it was "almost new" and I came in way under budget with the other things.

Here are me and Ella in the thick of it. Isn't she funny hanging out of the Ergo that way? Also, I must say about the baby carrier thing, Stephanie was looking for an Ergo, and 2 or 3 other moms asked me about it there. It is a great thing. Reason number whatever is that I put the little cover up and was able to feed Ella while waiting in the 40 MINUTE CHECKOUT LINE. She was glad.

Here is the sea of baby stuff. It was all pretty well organized though:

Here are a bunch of organized Elmos. Don't they look funny all together? Quite a crew:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

4 months old!

Today is Ellie's 4 month birthday! The time is JUST FLYING! I can't believe how blessed I am to get to take care of this precious little girl.It is so thrilling to watch her learn to do things, and to think about all the things she will learn to do soon. Motherhood is so much more than I imagined. I am so thankful for all of it and for my beautiful four-month-old little Ella. Happy birthday baby!

(Try as I may, I cannot seem to get Ella to enjoy the whole fun birthday thing. She is grumpy today. But at least she got to wear a little chickie bib with a pretty new 9 month onesie. Bib was $1 at Baby Bear Consignment. More about my new penny pinching hobby later!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Welcome ducky and birdie!

Ella got 2 new friends in her pack and play today. Or should I say, 2 new members. Making friends has been a bit of process. To be fair to her, these new characters are pretty wild and psychadelic compared to the original crew of lion, zebra, elephant, giraffe and (wait for it) bunny. (this is hilarious to me. why bunny? the rest are safari animals! but he was included with the set, go figure.) The new guys are multi-colored, and only vaguely like real earthly animals. Ducky is ok. All he does is crinkle and rattle if you touch him. But birdie is another story. He was extremely rude and burst into song when Ella accidentally bumped into him without having been introduced. Her eyes got as big as quarters, she paused, and then shrieeeeeeeeeeek! I tried to explain and work things out between them, but still, whenever he starts with the music, the lower lip comes out. I think it will just take some time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Funny boxers

Ella and I always have a fabulous time folding clothes. She lies on the bed and we talk and smile and give kisses and tickles while I tackle the laundry. But we have never had more fun than today. Paul's green boxers are apparently hilarious, especially when shaken. I'm not sure I quite understand the joke, but Ella made me crack up nonetheless. Who can resist baby giggles, chortles even?! (I know I just posted a giggle video, but this one is SOOO much better than the last one. I think you'll be glad!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

We went to the beach on Saturday for the first time since before I was pregnant I think. Ella was too little to appreciate it, but she was a good sport. She wore a super-cute bathing suit/cover-up combo and tolerated the time in the carseat and enjoyed being held by several of my 4100 buddies. As far as the water, we'll try that again later! : )

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Cafe McCall


Here is where we've been having our evening dates after Ella goes to sleep. Those lights just have a magical effect on the back deck. It feels like somewhere special now. Not sure why Paul's making that face . . . probably something about me and a bug. Sometimes we have to close early when the mosquitos have devoured us too much or if a wild, crazy, rude and disgusting palmetto bug comes flying in (like tonight). Last night, a stink bug rode into the house on the fan when we brought it in. (We've been using it to hopefully blow the mosquitos away. Not sure if it's working. I guess they could be worse.) Today he spent the whole day crawling around on the kitchen window. I don't mind stink bugs too much, they don't move a whole lot and are kinda cool looking. Do they actually stink? I've never smelled one. I do know this though, the one in our kitchen was wearing bell bottoms. I can appreciate a bug like that.