Friday, October 29, 2010

We're going to the zoo, zoo, zoo!

What a fun day! Gramma is here and we took a trip to the zoo. Do you know that song? "Mama's takin' us to the zooooo tomorrow and we can stay all day . . ." Anyway, it was one of the most relaxing trips to the zoo I have ever had. Sidenote: when I was growing up we lived in Florida and we went to Disney World all the time. It was always super exhausting until I realized, it is an amusement park. I started just coming in with the same attitude I take when I go to the park, you know just hang out and find something fun to do. And wow, there happen to be these great rides! It was so much better than having a frantic to-do list of all the rides we had to hit in the allotted amount of time. Back to main story: It was like that at the zoo today. We just treated it as a cool park to hang out in where they happen to have elephants

and zebras

But also, nice wooded spots to spread out blankets, crawl around and eat cheerios

while Mom and Gramma play papparazi. : ) (Check out the double camera action!)


We had a really nice day and we got home in time for dinner and we are not exhausted. Plenty of energy for more fun tomorrow. Woo!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Oh my goodness she's getting tall!

A couple of days ago, I realized that our tall little girl is at least an inch and a quarter too tall for her infant carseat. We are going to have to get a new big-girl one. In some quick online research, I found out most people say that for leggy babies whose heads are more than an inch from the top (like Ella), it's ok to use the seat past the height limit. But still, we need to start looking.

I know you all know of my little love affair with the Orbit Baby travel system. But in some more reading I did, I found that the infant seats actually failed some Consumer Reports safety tests. So that is helping me to know that I really should not even contemplate trying to afford one. But what to get? I really want to get something good. At the state fair, at a super-duper pots and pans demonstration, they had a little sign hanging up that said "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of the low price has faded away." That little mantra keeps running through my head as I fight with a broken plastic mop handle (a deal from a while ago) and keep rearranging my cheap area rugs that continually bunch up on the floor ($3.99 for the one in the bathroom!, perhaps that sweetness hasn't yet faded . . .yes it has). I'm also thinking about quality a lot with this next purchase. I think this does go along with the simplifying theme. Hopefully some of the extra cash for this needed purchase can come out of my old cheap clothing budget.

Anyway. I am trying to read up on car seats. Britax sounds like they make a good convertible seat. Anyone have any recommendations?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Waking up

This is how we wake up. If' we're lucky. If we're not lucky it looks much more frowny and whiny. But it always involves standing up tall, these days!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

State Fair

The trip to the state fair is starting to feel like a fall ritual for us. I guess North Carolina is really starting to get into our blood. When I went to the fair the first year I was here in Durham, I thought, please can I go home? It is just a huge maze of gross food, packed to the gills with people, except in the areas where people exhibit their best squashes and stuff (oooh!) where you have to park a mile away and just come home totally exhausted and broke. But every year, people kept convincing me to go back using arguments like, you have to go! it's fall! it's the state fair! And now, 6 years later, the force of those arguments has sunk in, and I subscribe to them wholeheartedly. Today, we just had to go to the state fair.

We parked, I think, the furthest we have EVER parked away, but put on our happy faces and trekked our couple of miles to the gate. I was really (really!) excited to see the gourds, the livestock, and the humongous pumpkins.

Big pumpkins huh? Taking this picture is part of the ritual, so you know. I have many of these shots, but I think this year, I look like I'm really getting into it. I am.  : )

Also, I have never understood why people would dare to consume all the fried you-name-its they have at the fair. I mean candy bars, peanut butter sandwiches, even coke!  And it's all so expensive! I still know all of this to be true. But like I said, the fair has seeped into my blood. Look what I paid $6 for today . . .

A burger sandwiched between 2 Krispy Kreme donuts. This is the first wild fair food I have ever tried. It was gross. Maybe I need another year to actually enjoy it.

This year we found some new things at the fair too--the art competition (very interesting), the folk arts pavillion (think 10-year olds tap dancing and singing solos), and the building where people have booths to try to sell you super hose nozzles and super steam mops (I got called on stage to try the steam mop! Paul didn't take a picture, doh!) All in all, it was a fun day. Ella enjoyed it too. This picture was taken in the flurry of a jostling crowd and you can tell, but I love this smile.

True to the pattern, we left exhausted.

Here we are about to embark on our 2 mile hike back to the car. Do you see the car from the demolition derby in the background? He drove all the way to the gate with a bumper dragging and making the most horrible noise. It finally fell off just as he was leaving. Maybe I'll appreciate that stuff too in a few years.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ella the explorer

Ella is so busy checking out everything she can get her hands on these days. So much to do, so much to see, so much to touch, so much to taste. : )  Watch as she intrepidly explores the back deck. She can hardly decide where to go first.

The chair wound up being the most fun. Look what you can do with it:

Of course, you can find some interesting things just crawling around, too.

Just before we went inside, she started getting some other exciting ideas:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More new tricks

#1 (drumroll please . . . . .)  monkey lips.

This is really hard to catch, the pictures are blurry, but I think you'll get the idea:

#2 sitting on Daddy's shoulders:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fall yardwork

It was such a beautiful fall weekend here in Durham! We had a great time working in the yard and spending good time with friends. Here are a few snapshots:

We'll start with some more fall fashion:

Both Saturday and Sunday we worked in the yard. That's the McCall's favorite way to enjoy beautiful weather. While Paul and I weeded, installed edging pavers, and shoveled and spread mulch, Ella and Lucie took care of the lawn-mowing, goat style.

I don't know who started it, but it was really funny to watch them both eating grass together side by side.

Here is our cart full of mums to plant. I took a picture because it was the prettiest shopping cart load I think I have ever had.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sleep sheep

It's Fridayyy!!! And we are home before 7:30 curfew like a good Mommy and Daddy. Who knew you graduate back to that when you become a real grown-up (by having a baby)? Anyway, Paul has a movie from Netflix for us to watch about surfing. It has curl in the title, that's all I can tell you. But those surfing movies are usually pretty cool.

Today was a PERFECT fall day. (Except that it was too cold for the clothesline to work.) Ella and I went to the library this afternoon to get some books about globalization and this is what she wore.

I love those little booties. I was sure they would stay on. And they don't. But they stay on better than other things we've tried. Oh well. They are stinkin cute.

When we got home from the library, a really great surprise was waiting for us on the front porch. A sleep sheep from Grandma Pleasant! How cool! I didn't know these existed before Ella was born, but have seen and admired them in action with some of our friends. We are going to love using this! We have just been improvising with a fan, but this little sheep is way cooler. And Ella loooves it.

Thanks Grandma Pleasant!

I'll let you all know if my globalization books give me any insight into living less suburbified. I was all worried that the checkout person at the library would think I was a communist based on the books I got, and imagined what her face would look like in my mind several times. Want to know what happened? They have self checkout at the library now. So anti-climactic. ; )

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The best things in life are free . . .

Well. It's turned out to be a beautiful afternoon after a thunderstorm this morning. And Ella is positively precious. Today I learned that if you swoop your face in close to her suddenly while saying shhhhh, she cracks up. Love that! I also have a fantastic video of her playing with Birdie.

But there is something else I want to share. I read this post by Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience, and if you are a person who loves Jesus, I think you should go read it too. Especially if you are an American who lives in a house in the suburbs and goes to Walmart from time to time. Ann has recently returned from visiting the child she sponsors in Guatemala. The last lines of the post just slayed me. The conviction has just been piling upon itself for me lately regarding materialism and the suburban attitude in general. This week in my Bible study we read about John the Baptist in Luke chapter 3. After John goes after people for having no evidence of their faith in their lives, and they ask him what they should do, you know what he says?

1. If you have 2 shirts, give one to the poor.
2. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.
3. (to tax collectors) Collect no more than the government requires.
4. Don't extort money or make false accusations.
5. Be content with your pay.

That's it. All his directions are about money! He doesn't say a word about not swearing or alcohol consumption. Not that there aren't other sins that keep us from a productive life, but I think this one is bigger than we suburban Christians have allowed ourselves to believe.

Also we watched this documentary about global poverty the other night and it was terrible. I ask, along with those who went out in the desert to get ready for Jesus with John the Baptist, and with Ann Voskamp who is fighting the slide back into normal life after a trip to the third world, what should I do?!

The truth is that the best things in life are making your baby giggle, being totally in love with your husband, having great adventures with your friends, enjoying long thoughtful conversations with your parents, happening to briefly meet a friendly stranger, singing with all your heart at church, etc. My life would miss none of this if I lost all my extra stuff. In fact, I would probably get more of it since I wouldn't feel guilty about not doing the laundry or mopping the floor if I spent time hanging out. It's just hard to know the practical steps to take to change your life. The only thing I know to start with is prayer.

And, if you have stuck with me through all that, I'll just ask for your thoughts and prayers and leave you with a sweet video of Ella and Birdie, which is what you came here for in the first place!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baby whisperer

Ella has started whispering. It is sooo sweet. She says, "t, t, t." I tried to catch it on video. She's sitting in the ergo, which is why it is so close up. If you get motion sickness, you may want to pop some dramamine before clicking to play. But it's cute.


"It's not what it looks like!" she said. (When I found her, she had her paw over Birdie's little loop!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Visit from Vovo`

Paul's mom has been here this weekend. We are all really glad for the time together!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Crash McCall

We have even more new tricks this week. Starting yesterday Ella has pulled herself all the way up to stand on her own several times. Unfortunately there has been a bit of a learning curve. When she has a toy and is standing, she forgets all about holding on and bangs it just like she's sitting in the chair. And that can only last so long before, down she goes. Today has been a lot better, but yesterday I think she tired herself out so much that she was even clumsy and falling with her regular crawling. Poor thing! Here she is testing her new legs . . . (I had to catch her once she got really excited with that Zebra.)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Dinnertime antics

Ella has picked up this funny habit lately when she's eating. After I give her a bite, she purses her lips, stares intensely, and breathes hard in and out of her nose. Some of you may be thinking, crazy lady! she's choking! This may sound like choking. But it's not. After the first few times when I was worried about her and fussed, she stopped immediately. Now if I imitate her, she laughs. I'm not sure what its all about but it's really funny.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Another very special doggie

This little pup was Ella's very first toy! When we were in Georgia last year and I was just baaaarely pregnant, and sick as a, wait for it . . . . dog, I was at McDonald's with my mom and sister (for some reason Mickey-D's cheeseburgers were one of my few morning-sickness-safe foods, mmmm) and Mom must have gotten a happy meal or something. How did that go again? Anyway, somehow we got this doggie at McDonalds and Mom gave it to me for "the baby" as "its" very first toy. I stuck it in the purse I was using then and forgot about it til I was cleaning out my purses to give away a few weeks ago. Ella has been really enjoying him! (Very tasty!) How fun to think back on our long wait for little Ellie!

Saturday, October 02, 2010


Or at least $50 richer than this morning. : ) The clothing sale was a success and many things were still donated to Goodwill, and Paul and I can pay the babysitter and have a date tonight! Woo!

Also, it is full on fall here now. When I got up and started working in the driveway, it was clear and cold and the stars were out. A beautiful cool weather morning. The yard was full of leaves which I raked during lulls in the sale (yes productive saturday!). And Ella wore fleecey pants, a sweatshirt, booties and an adorable pink hat! Isn't fashion one of the most fun parts of the season?

Friday, October 01, 2010

Clothing sale!

If you've been following me for a little while, you'll know I've got piles of clothes to get rid of. And tomorrow is going to be the big day! I'm going to have a little (yes, spur of the moment) sale in the driveway from 7-10am. And whatever's left is off to Goodwill. If you're local and want to come check it out, leave me a comment and I'll tell you how to get here!

Brave Lucie

Lucie is just such a good doggie. It is so fun to watch her relationship with Ella develop. They are interacting more and more as Ella is able to crawl into her bed or chase her around the living room (slowly). It is really cute. Lots of people ask if Lucie is good with Ella, and she really is. However let me just reassure anyone out there who may worry about such a big doggie and such a little girl that we never forget that Lucie is an animal and not to be trusted with expensive throw pillows, let alone precious tiny girls. I am always right there when they play.

Anyway, our fierce, brave Lucie found a new possible threat in the house today. Watch below as she examines it closely, but then in the end determines that whatever it is, her own toys are way better. Enjoy!

Oh my silly Lucie. We McCall girls have good times.