You can often find her: in the corner of the room, taking care of her baby dolls. By Madeline's side saying 'ha! ha! ha!' trying to make her laugh. Elbow deep in mommy's makeup bag. 'Writing' checks with my checkbook and a sharpie. Asking Daddy to hold her. Running away from Mommy. And for the rest (99%) of the time, right by Robbie's side.
Sources of comfort: oh dear, the list has gotten long. She calls it "MY STUFF!". It includes all 6 of her 'lovey-lalas' (small pink squares of soft blanket with an animal head at one corner and little nubs of fabric all around the edge which have been flicked by her as she falls asleep to the point that they are all worn grey), her pink blanket with satin trim, and her teddy bear. She insists on bringing all of it out of her crib / downstairs / into the car / in public places. I can usually talk her down off that ledge and compromise at ONE lovey-lala. It is a great personal triumph if I can get us out the door without any of it! A big source of comfort for this little girl is also her big brother. He can calm her fears, cheer her up, dry her tears and make her brave. She is lost without him.
When it's time to sleep: she is a hot mess. For naps, she goes down right away and is asleep within minutes. At night, she can be heard for hours counting, complaining that her foot hurts (or that it's hot! ha!), generally talking to herself, trying to make bunny ear shadows on the wall, and asking Robbie to wake up. When she's asleep though, she sleeps like her mom. Mouth open, dead to the world. I can walk into her room and get stuff out of the closet and she doesn't stir.
Get outta here: she loves going to church for any reason. She is great about going into childcare anywhere, including the gym, and this weekend after picking her up from Sunday School she said "Mommy? You were at yoga?" (No honey, I was at big church.) The woman nearby who overheard the conversation got a big laugh out of that.
If you want to put the child in a bad mood: tell her no. That is all. She's two, it doesn't take much. I'm finding that the firmer I am unnecessarily with her, the worse the response I get. If I can just keep my patience and cool, and deal gently and kindly with her even when she starts to get wicked-sassy with me, I can disarm her most of the time. Why is this so hard for me!? She has literally clawed at me in anger and scratched my face, and then 2 seconds later after I respond to her in love, she softens and starts in on emphatic and sincere "I love you mama"s. If I've said it once... Parenting is not for the faint of heart.
This is one smart cookie: She can count to 10, knows her alphabet, and has many of her favorite books memorized (current favorite: That's Not My Dinosaur!). She can sing the opening theme songs to her favorite shows. She helps with her own diaper changes (ha) and knows exactly how to delete apps on my phone. She's getting savvy in that way we all dread when our babies turn into 2 year olds, using bad behavior in public in an attempt to manipulate us. I say attempt, because I'm not afraid to hold my ground and be the fool carrying a screaming child out of Target if it means being consistent with rules / discipline / trying not to pander to bad behavior. Just this morning she crawled up into my lap and snuggled close and without warning said "Once upon a time dere was a little girl and a princess and a mommy. DEE END!" She loves when I snuggle up with her and tell her made-up stories always starring her as a princess. And now she's telling them back to me.
Sometimes things are hard: we are starting to really discipline her now that she's old enough to make choices about obedience and is showing us that she knows she's defying us as she does something by looking guiltily at us during the act or hiding to do the deed. She is especially sensitive when Rob uses a firm tone to correct her, and immediately startles and melts into a puddle of tears, then nurses the wound for a while and either refuses to go to him / look at him, or the opposite - tries to get him to laugh, love on her, or pick her up.
She has a hard time resisting the temptation to unbuckle herself in the car, now that she's out of the car seat that has a 5 point harness and has moved into one like Robbie's that simply uses the van's seatbelt.
After a particularly bad showing of behavior at Target the other day, we spent the remainder of our time in the van without something playing on the DVD player. Talk about a consequence - Robbie was BEGGING Ellie to apologize to me for her behavior, explaining to her that they wouldn't get to watch anything until she apologized and had better behavior! And she learned her lesson, apologizing and shaping up.
Recent tricks include: learning to encourage ("Good job eating your dinner, Robbie!" and "Good job coloring, Mommy!" and also "Good job rolling over, Madeline!")
The sibling bond: I was starting to get nervous that she wasn't going to take to Madeline. I should have known better - Robbie wasn't all that interested in Ellie until she was more responsive to him. Now that Maddie laughs and smiles and tries to talk back to you, Ellie loves interacting with her. She asks to help me feed her bottles, put her to bed, give her her paci, and tells me in the car if Maddie has fallen asleep in her car seat. She's a very helpful big sister!
Obviously she and Robbie are best friends, and they fight like cats and dogs too (as expected).
Injury and illness: Ellie has developed a little respiratory issue this Fall that is complicated anytime she gets a cold (which seems to be frequent for all of us right now). She just starts to wheeze and we now own a nebulizer, thanks to Blue Cross/Blue Shield. :) As far as injury goes, just this past Friday she tripped in the foyer over a bag. She fell face first onto the wooden stairway, landing right between her eyes on the edge of the stairs. I didn't see it, but I saw Rob swoop her up and hold her in the air above his head, and ask her if she was ok, where did she hit her face, and started to check for blood. This is not his normal "You're OK!" reaction, and so my heart started to race. Turns out, after 5 minutes of crying and the emergence a big goose egg between her eyes, she was fine. It has since bruised and leaked into a black eye that isn't horrible. The poor girl is fairly accident prone, always tripping and falling flat on her face / bum / belly. She's a tough one and usually brushes it off.
Quirky things I know I'll forget years from now: She loves to dip anything into anything. She still uses the palm of her hand to sweep her hair out of her eyes. She feels pretty when her fingers and toes are painted. She narrates her defiance - "I'm RUNNING away from you!", "I'm gonna HIT you!", "I don't WANT to go to bed. I will NOT lay down.". She loves to compliment me by saying "Mommy, your eyes are so pink! Your eyes are so pretty!" and "Mommy your hair is so 'longie' - it's so pretty!". She and Robbie both love our new morning wake-up routine; I come barreling in through their door singing "Rise and Shine!" and clapping as I throw on the lights once they are awake, and they jump in their cribs and sing along as they laugh. It's awesome. If she likes someone (like the nurse at our pediatrician), she says "Mommy, my nurse looks so good!". Her intonation is hilarious, and when she said it about her ER doctor who was male (after receiving her medication from him), I was slightly embarrassed.
Mispronunciations: Papa Smurf is "Papa Murth", Lizzard is "Wizzard", Glory is "Gory", and I'll add to the list as I think of others because I know there are more!
My favorite things about her right now: how sensitive she is, how beautiful she is especially when she first wakes up, the way she puts her open hand out as if to block me when she's being naughty and says "Stay, Mommy! Stay away!", how she loves physical contact (even the rougher kind Robbie offers during playtime), how independent she tries to be but how much she desperately wants and needs us at the same time, how proud she is of crafts she does in her class, the way she prays at mealtimes "Dear Jesus, thank you for my food, mommy daddy robbie maddie mommy daddy mima papa kelsey mommy daddy, AMEN!", the way she always remembers to say thank you, the way she crams too much food into her mouth when she's really hungry and ends up spitting it out by the handfuls and dumping it back on her plate, and how expressive she is.
Sweet Elle-bell, you are special and we love you just the way you are right now! And just like Robbie, we can't wait to see how God grows you into the little girl he made you to be. He has big plans for you and we love being your parents! You are precious to us.