Sunday, October 19, 2008

Harvest Festival

Today my father, Ella and I went to the Park Slope Harvest Festival at JJ Byrne Park. Ella had her first pony ride and fed the pony and a small goat. I thought she might cry or ask to get off when the guide took her from my arms to put her on the back of the pony, but she was content to ride. I think I may have been more excited about the ride than she was.

Anniversary weekend

Michael, Ella and I went to Santa Barbara to visit my parents and friends in September on our second wedding anniversary. We made a trip to the beach, and Ella loved the water, even though it wasn't an overly warm day and the water was cold.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New Pool

Ella tried the new inflatable baby pool today. She had a good time.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Staying home with a child is one of the hardest things to do (for me). A rough day at home makes any bad day I had during my working career look like no big deal.

Yesterday was one of 'those' days, when nothing seemed to go right. Ella is fussy about eating solid food (again), and melted down completely when I put her in her high chair for mealtimes, if I talked on the phone, if I left the room for more than a few minutes, etc. She was tired as well, so the only thing she wanted to do was nurse. Her naps were truncated, probably because she hadn't eaten enough food. I was tired and tried to nap when she napped, but she woke up after 40 minutes so I didn't sleep.

Amanda and Oona came over in the middle of the day to keep us company for awhile (they were having a similar type of day), and still, Ella and Oona were somewhat out of sorts, though they played alongside each other and tried to out-squeal one another a few times. When Oona ate, I tried to feed Ella, but she cried and refused food. Amanda tried to watch Ella while I made some phone calls upstairs, and Ella cried so much that I gave up.

By 3:30 in the afternoon, Ella was complaining a lot again (wouldn't eat any food I offered and wanted to be held). I put her in her stroller and tried to get ready to go out to the park, and she carried on crying while in the stroller in the entryway. I snapped.

I yelled at her ("stop crying!") which made her pause for a minute, and then really cry when she saw that I was angry. This made me even more frustrated, and I shouted again at her. She was crying in earnest now, and when I saw how upset she was, I realized that I scared her, and I took her out of the stroller, sat on the stairs with her in my lap, and all she wanted to do was nurse. Within 5 minutes, she was asleep in my arms, so I put her in her crib and she slept for an hour (from 4-5 pm).

I called her pediatrician and he suggested I cut out all breastfeeding during the daytime and encourage her to eat three meals a day. He said it will be "hell for a week or so", but she needs to understand that there are specific windows of time by which food will be offered, and she needs to eat solid food if she wants to address her hunger.

He feels she's not eating food because she'd prefer to nurse, although nursing does not provide her with enough calories to maintain her growth. I agree with this, but dread going cold-turkey because eating solids is already a source of a lot of crying, and the peaceful nap strategy we've had for months will also disappear. Can I handle 5-6 bouts of crying (around mealtimes and naps) for some unknown number of days in a row (in addition to crying when she wants to nurse at random times)?

Can I mentally stand the crying and the lack of sleep and the unhappiness? I'm not sure.

I am going to postpone starting this until the weekend when Michael will be home and can help distract her from wanting to nurse for at least to the first two days of this new phase.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Ice Cream with Golden

Today Golden was feeling really good. Jen called me while Ella was down for her midday nap and invited us to meet them for ice cream. As soon as Ella opened her eyes, we hustled out the door to rendezvous at a new ice cream place on 16th Street near PPW.

On the way there, Ella and I passed the actor John Corbett standing the street (-our second celebrity sighting in the last several weeks)*.

Golden went to the hospital this morning for a check-up and Jen said his numbers (blood counts) were some of the best he's had since he was diagnosed with LCH in December. It was clear when we met them that he was feeling great; he was smiling, waving and watching cars and trucks go by.

Although eating is a challenge for these kids (for different reasons), you wouldn't have guessed if you saw them polishing off their ice creams today. Since Golden and Ella were both holding up well, we went for a stroll along the park. It was a beautiful day and great to see Golden (and Jen) smiling.

* Two weeks ago, we passed Maggie Gyllenhaal and her hubby, Peter Sarsgard, walking on 6th Avenue in Park Slope.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

First Finger Painting

Saturday, July 13, started as a dream day. Ella slept in until 6 a.m. (a luxury!), and napped well (2 hours in the a.m!). The midday nap didn't go as well and she woke up cranky. We decided to head to Amanda's since new scenery and other small people to play with are two good remedies for crankiness. Oona was having the same sort of afternoon as Ella, so there was double the crankiness, but the girls generally enjoy being together, and getting out of the apartment is a good change of pace. After they splashed for awhile in the baby pool, we decided to try finger painting with them.

Ella enjoyed putting her fingers in each of the paint containers, as well as putting the lids in her mouth (non-toxic paint). Oona didn't dig the scene much at all and wasn't up for painting. Since it was getting cool in the yard, we canned the painting idea, dried them off and brought them indoors to play. They were happiest then, walking, talking, squealing, and playing with Oona's push and pull toys. The compilation above was made by Amanda, and the caption she wrote under it says "One of these children would very much prefer not to get dirty".

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Old Videos

Ella bouncing in Jumperoo from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Ella in the Jumperoo at 7 months.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Clicking & Typing

For a couple of weeks now, Ella has been holding objects (the TV remote, the ceiling fan remote, our cell phones) up to her ear and 'talking'. She jabbers in her unique language but the pitch of her voice goes up and down and whatever she is saying seems to take awhile. She is talking on the 'phone' like her parents...

When Michael or I are sitting in front of our computer, she is quick to climb into our lap and participate. Initially she used to bang on the keyboard with her fists, but lately she has started to move the mouse and click like she's observed us doing. She hasn't figured out the relationship of the mouse to the cursor on the screen, but we wouldn't be surprised if she figures it out in the next month or two.

Ella typing. from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Posted here are videos of Ella at the computer and Michael on the Nintendo wii Fit doing a hula-hoop test.

Michael hoola-hooping. from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

First Drawing

Crayon on paper, 29 June 2008.

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Bean (pre-natal)
Ella Bella
Budgie budgie
Bunny (good bunny)

Happy FIRST Birthday!

June has been a big month for Ella.

In addition to a great visit with her grandparents and Uncle Ben, we had two parties to celebrate Ella and her friends' birthdays.

The first was the June Babies Group Party on Sunday, June 15th, at Amanda's house.

Pictured are the moms and babies sitting on the sofa in the living room at Amanda's house from left to right:
Amanda+stand-in (Oona was asleep), Melissa+Ella, Anneka+Henry, Shenan+Soren, Sarah+Alice, Nikki+Stella.
Also pictured are the dads and babies from left to right:
Jimmy+stand-in (Oona was asleep), Bryan+Henry, Michael+Ella, Nate+Alice, Nelsen+Soren, Pratik+Stella.

We had a party for Ella on the actual date of her birthday, Friday, June 20th, at Prospect Park. In addition to Michael and my parents from California, other guests included Maryanne, Ella's babysitter, Carrie Diamond and her son Jack (6 months), Rebecca Fausel and her daughter Eliza (11 months), Leonie Lewis and her children Ashley (4 yrs old) and Brody (1 year), Keri Altman and Naomi (1 year), and Amanda Kavanagh and Oona (1 year).

The New York Metropolitan Opera was rehearsing for a performance in the park later that same evening, and the rehearsal took place during the party. Throughout the afternoon, we were serenaded with duets from famous operas by world-class opera singers as they rehearsed for the evening's performance (see program pictured above)! Click on the program to see the details.

It was a great party, and Ella enjoyed being in the park surrounded by friends and family. When we got home around 530 p.m., she sat at the table and ate dinner with a birthday hat on, and went to bed shortly afterward without complaint.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

She Passed with Flying Colors

Ella had her one-year doctor appointment today, and Dr. Sarnoff gave her a good review.

Weight: 20 lbs 6 ounces
Height: 29.75 inches
Head circumference: 46.5 centimeters

He said she's in perfect health and is back in line with the growth curve by which children her age are tracked. She weighed 19 pounds at 8 months, and 19 pounds 3 ounces at 10 months, so Dr. Sarnoff had been concerned (at 10 months) that she wasn't progressing well on the rate of weight gain. Now she is back in line with where she should be relative to other children in her percentile bracket, and he is satisfied that she's eating enough, so Michael and I are relieved.

Here's a brief summary of Ella's activities so far:
+ walks independently
+ picks things off the floor and can stand up from a sitting position without holding on
+ holds each of her feet up to allow me to put her shoes on while she's standing up
+ climbs the stairs with her hands and feet, and sits down on each step to descend
+ says "ma ma", "da da", "hiiiii"
+ waves bye bye
+ sometimes greets strangers with a handshake
+ bops ('dances') to music, tries to sing along to familiar songs and tunes (with single syllables....)
+ plays ball with people
+ responds to most of our directions: "can I have that, please?", "Sit down", "Can you put that in the garbage?", "Come find me", etc.
+ "talks" a lot
+ plays games: peekabo; pushing her wagon into my ankles to get a laugh; walking back and forth between Michael and me to give us hugs (repeating many times); playing ball; putting foreheads together; trying sunglasses on together in front of the mirror
+ enjoys 'Music Together' and swim classes
+ focused on getting into cabinets, drawers and baskets and emptying them
+ likes to move furniture (pushing chairs)...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ella's Travel Log - Year One

1st Subway trip: July, 2007, to visit SOHO with Moira for a 1/2 day of shopping (5 weeks old)

1st car trip (overnight): August, 2007, to Montauk, NY with Moira to attend Sheila's birthday beach party (6 weeks old).

1st airplane trip: October, 2007, to Columbus, OH, to visit Birgitta and kids (3.5 months old)

2nd airplane trip: October, 2007, to California, to visit my parents (4 months old)

3rd airplane trip: December, 2007, to California to visit family for the holidays (6 months old)

4th airplane trip: December 07 - Jan 08, to Australia to introduce Ella to family and friends (6 months old)

5th airplane trip: April, 2008, to Fort Lauderdale for a weekend Australian Football trip (10 months old)

2nd car trip: June, 2008, to Boston, MA for Ben's Harvard graduation; Hanover, NY for Ben's Dartmouth graduation (11+ months old)

6th airplane trip: June, 2008, to West Palm Beach, FL, to visit Elvy & Norm Birch and go to the beach with Sonja and Frank (Grammy & Grandpa). 11+ months old.

Racking up the miles

Over the past twelve days, Ella has traveled to Boston, MA, Hartford, CT (by car), and Lantana, FL (by plane).

We attended Ben's graduation from Harvard (weather was cold and rainy) and Dartmouth (weather over 100 degrees F and sunny). One of the pictures above shows us immediately after the Dartmouth graduation (from left to right: Melissa, Ella, Sonja, Natalie, Ben, Bridget, Dad). We didn't pack clothes that were warm enough for Boston or dressy enough for Dartmouth (dress code suggested dresses for women, and neither my mom nor I brought dresses or skirts on the trip).

My cousins John, Paul, Anna and their kids joined us for the Dartmouth graduation and dinner afterward (picture).

Ben doesn't do anything halfway. Both graduations were impressive, and he now has three masters degrees... With his experience, education and brains, he's well-armed to ascend the ranks of management quickly at Google when he starts later this summer.

Ella was a good soldier on all legs of the trips. We were dreading the 5+ hour car trip from CT back to NY (she has proven she can scream for up to 50 minutes in her car seat before crashing into sleep), but she didn't scream once.

My parents, Ella and I spent 3 days in Lake Worth, FL, visiting my mom's Aunt Elvy & Uncle Norm in the Finnish-American Rest Home and enjoying daily trips to the beach. Ella loved the beach. When we'd get near the surf, she'd squirm to be put down, and once on her feet, would head straight for the water (and walk right into the waves). She was fearless.

The warm Atlantic ocean in Florida makes it easy to want to swim.

Ella has 6 teeth now: the front four teeth on the top, and two front teeth on the bottom, with more coming this week. She's been walking for about six weeks, and improving her stability every week. The week of Ben's graduations, her confidence improved a lot with all the extra family members around. She started doing u-turns and bending down to pick up objects and stand up again without holding on to anything for support.

Yesterday, while lying in bed wishing we could sleep longer (Ella has been waking up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. ), we realized we now hear the pitter patter of bare feet on the wood floors...a milestone that crept up on us and caused Michael & my father to hurry to the store to buy a second safety gate for bottom of the staircase. (We have one installed at the top already.) Ella loves to climb the stairs with or without help, but has

Thursday, May 1, 2008

5 Teeth

If you click on the photos, you'll see larger versions with more detail. First time using a toothbrush (her first toothbrush!). She has a cold and cough so her nose has been running all day.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

First Steps!

Tonight the three of us were in her room playing with a ball before bedtime, and it rolled away from her into a corner. She held my hand for support to walk toward the ball, but since I was sitting on the floor, my arm didn't extend far enough to allow her to reach the ball. We stopped holding hands, and she paused for a moment on her feet as though she was checking her balance, and then carried on walking by herself for a few steps to get the ball! 10 months and 10 days old.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

June Babies Group Meeting today

This week's mothers group met at our place today. Here are two videos taken this afternoon.

June Babies from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

In the video below, the order goes (from left to right): Henry, Matteo, Stella, Ella, Soren, Naomi and Oona. All the babies wore their "Golden Child" t-shirts in honor of Thomas Golden Randolph, who is a charter member of the group and the only guy missing from the original 8.

Golden Children from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ella's Progress

06/20/07: weight 7 lbs 14 oz height 20"

06/25/07: weight 7 lbs 11 oz.

06/28/07: weight 7 lbs 13 oz. height 20" head cir 35.5 cm

07/05/07: weight 8 lbs 2 oz.

07/17/07: weight 9 lbs 2 oz

07/26/07: weight 10 lbs 1 oz; height 22"

08/20/07: weight 12 lbs 4 oz; height 23.25" head cir 40 cm

09/19/07: weight 15 lbs 1 oz; height 24" head cir 41 cm

10/25/07: weight 16 lbs 6 oz; height 25.5" head cir 43 cm

02/20/08: weight 19 lbs 0 oz; height 28.5" head cir 45.5 cm

04/23/08: weight 19 lbs 3 oz; height 30" head cir 46.5 cm

Sunday, April 20, 2008

10 Months Old

Ella is 10 months old today. Recent developments include the arrival of several teeth; louder squealing and shrieking; 'cruising' on her feet; pointing; nodding her head 'yes', and talking with a lot more vowel+consonant combinations.

Foods she's eaten this weekend:
+ fried egg yolk on toast (now becoming the breakfast standard)
+ guacamole & hummus on toast
+ hamburger
+ lettuce
+ lots of cheerios

Our attempts to persuade her to eat steamed or fresh vegetables and fruit have not been successful yet. She feeds herself by using her hands and seems to dislike foods that have a wet or moist texture, so fruit or vegetables that have been cooked in any way have not been popular.

She had her 9-month checkup today (though she is 10 months), and she passed with flying colors except for weight. Two months ago, she weighed exactly 19 pounds and was in the 95th percentile for babies at 8 months. Today, she weighed 19 pounds, 3 ounces, and had dropped to the 50th percentile for babies at 10 months. The doctor indicated she should be gaining weight consistently and staying in roughly the same percentile range each visit. We'll keep trying with the food every day, and hope for better results at her one-year checkup.

Her walking is getting better and better. The push wagon has been a welcome addition to the toy collection, and she loves getting pushed up and down the hall on the scooter. Walking around the playground and watching kids play at the park is one of her favorite activities, and she tries to get along holding only one hand instead of two.

Here's a video taken two days ago after Michael got home from work.
Ella pushes wagon 3 from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

We're guessing she was at least partially inspired to raise the volume level on her shriek as a result of observing all the other shriekers at the playground in Prospect Park, which is usually crowded and noisy when we visit in the afternoons. Now she could be in a varsity shrieking league. She shrieks for fun and to signal displeasure or impatience (e.g. when I'm trying to wipe her face). We're expecting the hallway mirror to crack any day now.

She went to the first swimming lesson yesterday at Berkeley Carroll school and liked it. As soon as I put her down in the pool area, she walked to the edge of the pool and would have stepped right in if I'd let her hands go. The instructor laughed a few times when giving us instructions: she felt Ella's expression said "Do you really think it's a good idea to put us on our backs in the water and blow bubbles near our ear?". Her music class instructors say they have to work hard to get smiles from her too, though she'll break out the happy shriek when the puppets, bubbles, parachute and live guitar playing are featured in class.

The separation anxiety phase seems to be fading a bit. She is slowly accepting her sitter, Maryanne, and she now willingly goes to Michael and looks forward to seeing him in the mornings and when he gets home from work.

Best news: she had taken two bottles of breastmilk in the past week, so we're realizing the bottle resistance was due in part to disliking formula.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Oona on a roll

Oona came over this morning to test drive the Radio Flyer wagon. Here's her first run:

Oona pushes Wagon 1 from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

And here's another video of Ella pushing the wagon yesterday (Thursday).

Ella pushes wagon 3 from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Ella pushes wagon

Two videos taken this morning of Ella pushing her new wagon.

Ella walks with wagon 1 from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Ella walks with wagon 2 from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Training for F1

Ella continues to practice walking most of her waking hours every day, and though her balance is improving daily, her confidence still overshadows her sense of balance and danger. Last week, while standing and talking to her reflection in the glass doors of the office, she fell over like a tree and bruised her temple on the edge of the metal doorframe. I came across the Thudguard and Bumper Bonnet while surfing for some electrical outlet plugs and other items needed to finish babyproofing the apartment.

Here's a photo of Ella modeling the Bumper Bonnet, which she wore after a good session on her scooter. She vetoed the Thudguard -- wouldn't allow it to sit on her head even long enough for a photo. Michael and I survived our childhoods without helmets, so we won't be subjecting Ella to the bumper bonnet going forward (she's learned to bend at the waist and fall on her bum since last week, and the number of falls is diminishing). But it did make me feel slightly less anxious when she wore it this morning for roughly a half hour while standing unattended in the living room, and it was good for a lot of laughs.

Now for some big news (cue the drum roll):
Ella slept from 630 pm until 530 a.m. last night without eating anything during the night. No night feeds. "Slept" is a slight exaggeration; she woke up at 10 pm and cried on and off for 45 minutes (a time when I would have nursed her in the past), but eventually went back to sleep and didn't wake up again til 530 this morning.

So we are finally on our way to sleeping through the night. We're expecting a few more nights with occasional protests but hope that she'll be sleeping (or putting herself back to sleep without any intervention from us) by next week.

Now, if we can figure out how to get her to eat solid food and take a bottle or sippy cup, we'll be all set!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

NY Aquarium Visit

Today Amanda, Oona, Ella and I visited the NY Aquarium in Coney Island (Brooklyn). Here are videos of Ella and Oona taken at the Walrus exhibit, courtesy of Amanda.

Ella & Walrus 1 from /ella jean. on Vimeo.

Ella & Walrus 2 from /ella jean. on Vimeo.


Recently we've started to find Ella sitting up in her crib in the mornings and after naps, and yesterday she crawled a few feet on her belly to reach a toy without crying even though we were all sitting nearby in the living room. The only thing that has motivated her to crawl in the past is to reach one of us, but yesterday she was heading for a toy. She may be realizing the benefits of being mobile without waiting/crying for someone to help her walk.

Her preferred method of locomotion is still walking, and she's getting braver by the day about walking while using only one hand for support. She has started to let go with both hands to stand unassisted. She's bonked her head a few times but doesn't usually cry.

This is a video of Ella doing the belly crawl a few days ago while crying. At the end of the video, you'll hear her switch from crying to chattering as soon as she's up on her feet (about the span of a hearbeat!). The first part of the clip is a good example of the 'complaining' cry, and shows how quickly she can turn it off when she gets where she wants. I'll try and film a happy crawl and a clip of Ella sitting up later this week.

Ella crawling. from /michael. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

9 Months

Dear Ella,
You turned nine months old last week. You have a great smile that features one tooth in the middle of your bottom gum. You're quick to smile, and enjoy joking with me by putting your fingers or paper in my mouth to see what reaction you get, playing peekaboo, accomplishing new feats like turning the bedroom light on and off, pointing the remote at the radio, banging on the xylophone, etc. Your hair is growing in and starting to curl in the back -- you may have inherited some natural wave from your father! You are still not wild about 'solid' food. Somewhere along the line during our month-long trip to California and Australia, you decided not to eat solids on a regular basis, and I still haven't convinced you to resume a regular eating pattern. Last week you started clapping, and you've been a good jumper since you were five months old. You're not a cry-baby: when you got your second flu shot last Monday, you didn't cry, and when you tumble at home, you don't get upset unless it's a bad fall. You enjoy the books we've been reading to you since you were less than two months old, and can open the flaps of your "Spot goes to [the farm/school/etc]" books by yourself. You also follow all the instructions in 'Pat the Bunny' and you like books by Sandra Boynton, so we've collected the whole set. You smile whenever the phone rings and we answer it, and playing with the phones, going for walks in your stroller, and especially walking with assistance at home are three sure-fire ways to cheer you up anytime of day. Lately, you and I have become especially close. You're in a 'mom' phase right now, and when you get tired, you prefer to be bathed by and hang out with me, but you'll let your father read you bedtime stories and put you to bed, and you'll allow almost anyone to hold your hands if they'll walk you around the house. You have proved you can crawl by scooting along the floor using your hands and legs 'commando' style, but you cry the whole time, and only do it to reach me if I sit a few feet away and refuse to help you, which I don't do often (or often enough). You prefer to practice walking with help, and are happiest if I park you at the coffee table to explore, or in front of the glass doors of the office, where you can talk to your reflection. Every day, you 'talk' a little more and thrill us again with your smiles and laughs.

Here's video of clapping, and some recent pictures from Easter Sunday (walking with your Uncle Ben), crying, and a smile that shows your tooth.
Ella clapping from /michael. on Vimeo.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bed Head

Taken when she woke up this morning and I went to get her out of her crib.