Thursday, December 5, 2013

Frequent Feeders @ The Zoo

So it only took us 3 years to work out Rob's schedule so we could all go to the Houston Zoo together.  But on this beautiful Saturday morning, it was worth the wait! 

The Zoo here is awesome.  We almost always get to see some serious action with the big cats, the sea lions, the elephants, and the chimps.  But our favorite thing is: Feeding the Giraffes.
The giraffes' heads were as big as L & S!
I wish we could have gotten a shot of the girls' faces as they each held out a lettuce leaf, then watched a looong gray tongue come out of a big beautiful giraffe mouth and gobble it right out of their hands!  They were seriously in awe.  Next time I'm thinking about smuggling some romaine in with me b/c, at $5/3 leaves, the zoo is making a KILLING on these giraffes!

Second favorite thing at the zoo: Petting the goats.
Each kid gets a little brush and can walk around abusing brushing these saintly, patient old goats. 
Lily is really into "mothering" everyone and everything she interacts with.  And by "mothering" I mean bossing around and herding, mostly. 
It was so funny to hear her saying things like, "It's ooohhh-kay sheepy, it's oooohhh-kay." Or, "No, no!  Come over here!" Or, "Come on sheepy, let's go!" 
Wonder where she gets it from?  ;)

Even though it sometimes feels like a herculean task to get everyone out of the house to do things like this, I'm always so glad when we do!
  Seeing life through these little 2-year old eyes is just so EXCITING. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


I was a little worried as Halloween approached because neither girl would even get NEAR her costume.  But on D-Day, when tantrums abounded as I struggled to stuff flailing limbs into tights and fleecy polka-dots, I had a motherhood flash of brilliance.


It's not in any of the "what-to-expect" books, and it's not on any medical website, but a great toddler milestone is when they reach the age of understanding that there are consequences to their choices.  In this instance, the choice: let Mom put us in these ridiculous outfits; the consequence: CANDY.

A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  Especially when she's outnumbered, 3 to 1. 
Smiles all around when our mouths are full of chocolate!
We went with a garden theme this year.  Savannah and Lily were ladybugs and a 3 week old Caroline was a sleepy flower. 
And Mom was dressed up as a girl trying not to sweat as she shepherded her little brood to various Halloween activities.  
This year our activities included a church trunk-or-treat, Rob's work had an awesome Halloween party, and then of course there was actual Halloween.  We skipped the library costume parade, and a play-group Halloween party; I just ran out of Halloween spirit after awhile...
Arm painting at Rob's work party
All in all, Halloween was pretty successful this year.  The girls learned how to say "Trick or Treat," they learned that sugar comes in a LOT of different shapes and sizes, and they learned that being cute, blond, twin ladybugs pays big dividends at each door. 
One of Rob's coworkers thought this was pretty much the cutest thing he'd ever seen :)

2 months late...

...but here are some of our favorite newborn pictures we took with Caroline. 
Pondering the meaning of life
The Thinker

Sisterly Love

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Presenting: Caroline Hazel Ellis!

Everyone is napping, and I tried to nap but failed, so I guess it's a good time to record this important family event for posterity!

Caroline Hazel Ellis arrived on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 4:34pm weighing in at 5 lbs, 8 oz.

Monday morning at about 3:30 am I woke up and realized I was having regular contractions but stayed in bed trying to get some sleep. A few hours later I decided that if we were going to have this baby soon, I might as well get the laundry done so I got out of bed. Contractions stopped, but my water broke!
On the way to the hospital!
 Once the doctor's office opened we brought the kids over to our good friends' house and headed in to get checked out. Sure enough he sent us over to the hospital to get the show on the road.
Welcome to the world, little Caroline!
 It only took about 4 hours from when I got my IV until she was born. I was progressing steadily until I got to about 5cm and the nurse helped me roll onto my left side. With the next contraction I felt some serious movement going on, called the nurse in and sure enough, Caroline was on her way out! The nurse told me NOT TO PUSH (I wasn't), rushed to get the doctor who ran over, suited up, told me to give one solid push, and she was here! I guess when you're only 5.5 lbs it doesn't take much...
Proud daddy
 The doctor's comment was, "Wow, you are BUILT to have babies!" Which, if it wasn't for the SLIGHT hiccup of becoming pregnant in the first place, I would agree with! I'm really grateful the delivery and recovery was so smooth, because life didn't slow down much just because we had a baby.
Proud Mommy
 Caroline was a week early, so when Rob's mom found out I was in labor she bought a plane ticket and flew in so she could be here to help when I got home from the hospital. I really don't know how we would have done it without her. Savannah and Lily just loved all of the attention she showered on them. I'm actually STILL trying to get her to come back!
Proud Grandma (and very curious sister)
After KK left, my mom and dad flew in and stayed for about 2 weeks.  Which was heaven.  Especially because I could tell how happy (and fed, clothed, bathed, entertained, etc etc) my children were at a time when I was still mostly in the la-la-land of no sleep and raging hormones. 
Grandma presents that have been a HUGE hit
Now that we're 5 weeks into this new chapter of life, I'm still not really sleeping but I have adjusted enough to function and keep all of us alive.  Caroline is a gem of a baby.  She pretty much only cries when she's hungry (every 3 hours or so), and when she's ready to be wrapped up, given a pacifier, and put down for a nap.  I'm really really grateful for this.  Heavenly Father knew I was already operating at close to capacity, so he sent me a baby that was just a leeeettle bit extra.  He didn't want to lose me to the loony-bin, which I appreciate!
Our sleeping angel-baby
Savannah and Lily have accepted "Baby Caroline" as a regular part of life and mostly just leave her alone.  This morning though, I was watching Lily play with her on the rug and she decided to pick Caroline up.  But she couldn't quite figure out how to get a good handle on her, so she said, "Oh, you're too big for me!" and gave up.  Lesson learned...for now!  Savannah does like to play games of 'Peekaboo' (aka throw her blanket over Caroline's head and wait for her to pull it off) which ends up being more like games of 'Almost-Smother-Your-Sister.'  But I just pretend that we're training Caroline to get by on less oxygen so she can someday be an Olympic synchronized swimmer!  There's always a silver lining, right? 
Little Sister is here to stay!
 I am just trying to keep everyone alive and find ways to make these busy days (and nights) pass as pleasantly as possible.  I'm finding that a little bit of exercise every day goes a LONG way toward keeping me sane, that we need to get out of the house every day to keep my children sane, and that Heavenly Father really can make you able to bear your burdens so that even though life may be tough, it doesn't always have to FEEL that way. 
Going for our morning walk in my new triple (!!!) jogging stroller

Thursday, September 5, 2013

WE ARE TWO!! And it's Terrific!

Full disclosure: Rob worked overtime to get this video done before their birthday....and then it takes me a month to get it up on the blog! 

My girls are 2!!  Their birthday arrived at the busy end of a very busy July, but we managed to squeeze in a little party with our Ellis grandparents, Auntie Emily, and some friends who were staying with us for the weekend. 

Things I don't want to forget about life right now:
  • How Lily chases Savannah around saying, "I'm gonna tickle! I'm gonna tickle!"  Followed by hysterical laughter and screams.
  • How Savannah likes to jut her chin out for emphasis whenever she's pretending to be dramatic
  • How Lily is "Nie-Nie" and Savannah is "Sanna"
  • How they both RUN to Rob when he comes home from work...screaming and squealing.
  • How Lily is constantly singing--twinkle twinkle, happy bird-day, spider (eensie-weensie), abcd's, mountain (I love the mountains), popcorn, temple (I love to see the temple), God (I am a child of God), etc etc.  Seriously, she sings ALL OF THE TIME. 
  • How Savannah loves to pray while we pray, folding her arms, muttering under her breath and finishing with a big "AMEN!"
  • How we are loving puzzles, books, sidewalk chalk, the pool, crayons, dancing, smoothies, and apples
  • How they LOVE to help me throw things away in the garbage 
  • How "share" means "give it to me now." And how they think that saying "please" pretty much guarantees them anything they want.
  • How they are best friends and great playmates. 
Basically, I am loving this 2-year old phase!  It is so stinking cute watching them learn to express themselves and making connections about this big world around them.   And now is the time that having twins is really paying off; I don't know how people keep a single 2-year old entertained.   

Now, just when life has settled into a pretty great routine, we're going to shake things up with a new baby!  Does anyone have any good tips or strategies to help toddlers welcome new additions to the family?  Any ideas of what I can expect? 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The 2-Year Break

We learned by sad experience this month that it is very, very, very common for 2-year olds to break doing nothing other than being a 2-year old!

A week before her birthday, Lily was running, tripped, and fell on our kitchen floor.  The end.  No big deal, right?  Except she wouldn't stop crying and wouldn't put any weight on her leg.  And when she wouldn't even watch a show we knew something was really wrong.
We took her to the urgent care center and sure enough, she had fractured her right shin!  Prognosis: 4 weeks in a purple (waterproof) cast and she should be as good as new. 
This is the first time ever she's fallen asleep while normal life proceeds around her.
The first 2 weeks were pretty rough.  She wouldn't put any weight on her cast and got frustrated quickly with not being able to move around like she was used to.  We were both very, very, very happy at the beginning of week 3 when she finally realized that her leg didn't hurt anymore and first started hobbling, then walking, then running around.
Lily the Casted Cowgirl

This week, when the cast finally came off, she barely noticed anything had changed.  Now I just want to wrap these girls in bubble-wrap for the next few weeks.  Because as fun as hauling around a crippled toddler in my 8th month of pregnancy was, I can only imagine how fun it would be during this last month!  Anybody want to help me cover my house in pillows? 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Super Friends take New Braunfels by Storm

July started with a BIG bang.

(Almost) the entire Ellis clan congregated in New Braunfels, TX for a week of relaxing on the Comal River, playing games, and lots of crazy cousin time.  (We missed you, Aup, Mark, & Spencer!)
Super Friends in a Super Family = Super FUN
On many days our itinerary was as follows:
    1.  Wake up, eat breakfast, put swimsuits and sunscreen on.
      Tubing with Papa Stan, Rob/Lily, Christa/Savannah, Mama KK
      2.  Grab tubes, walk down to the river.
      3.  Hop in tubes, leisurely float, observe the wildlife, and let all of your cares drift away
      Stress?  What stress?
      4. Walk back to our rooms to play games, do crafts, eat, take a nap, etc.
      Doing crafts in the main lodge
      5.  Rinse.  Repeat.

      And in case any of us were getting TOO relaxed, we had a few day trips planned.

      The place we were staying was right down the road from Schlitterbahn water park, so one full day was spent playing playing playing at the park.  
      Savannah, Lily, and Mauri bonding in the water
      Mostly Lily and Savannah spent their time in the shallow kiddie pools.  But Rob discovered that Lily has the heart of a daredevil when he took her on a not-very-lazy river ride....and she LOVED it.  She had no problem sitting in her own tube and holding on for dear life through all of ups and downs and rapids. 
      Plumb tuckered out
      After we left New Braunfels we spent a day at Sea World in San Antonio.  It was beastly hot (especially for my poor pregnant self), but the girls have been asking to see "the animals" every couple of days since we got home.  So I guess it was worth it. 

      And when we got home we discovered a sweet-potato in the pantry that looks EXACTLY like a sea-lion (one of the BIG hits at Sea World).  The girls keep petting, kissing, and hugging it.  I'm definitely not going to have the heart to actually eat it now...

      This year the theme for the reunion was Super Friends so many of our crafts/activities were superhero themed.
      All the cousins made their own super-hero capes
      Each family made a Super Friends movie to show at our Oscars Night

      And Kit made everyone AWESOME shirts to wear to remind us of our true identities.  
      7 months pregnant, carrying two 2-year-olds.  Just another day for Super Mom!
      By the end of the week everyone was pretty partied-out, but that is to be expected when you are a part of one of the most funnest families around.  We're excited for the next big reunion b/c the girls will be old enough to really enjoy all of the cousin time, instead of being mostly shell-shocked at all of the action around them.
      Tribe 6 is turning out to be pretty super indeed!
      And this picture just makes me smile...

      Monday, July 15, 2013

      April 19: The Last (probably) Manhattan Schneiber Wedding

      My baby brother (now 22--when did I get so old??) married his high school sweetheart, Megan in the Manhattan temple this spring.
      Waiting for Megan and Erik to come out of the temple
      Quick family photo-op
      Megan is seriously one of the most awesome girls ever. She began investigating the LDS church as a teenager in high school and decided to get baptized during her freshman year at college. She is one of the sweetest people I know, but she has an incredible amount of determination and drive. We are SO SO SO glad she is now officially part of our family! Erik is seriously one lucky dude.
      The Huets: Awesome family!

      Our new SISTER!!
      The temple wedding was Friday afternoon (Rob had to come straight from the airport and BARELY made it--like with less than 5 minutes to spare!), followed by a wedding party/family luncheon. Then on Saturday night the Huets threw a beautiful reception out in CT.
      Megan is her mom's mini-me. 
      Passed out at lunch after a long morning
      The reception was absolutely perfect. They had a lovely ring ceremony, explaining a little about what had occurred the day before at the temple, followed by a delicious dinner and tons and tons and tons of AWESOME dancing. Seriously, I've never been to such a fun wedding reception!
      And watching my little brother, who has had to overcome so many challenges in the past few years, being the life of the party and dancing up a storm was one of the sweetest things to see. I'm so proud of and happy for him. He and Megan really deserve nothing but the best from life.
      One of the best traditions that has sprung up around these Schneiber-Manhattan weddings has been the involvement of some of our closest family friends in CT. When Rob and I got married, his entire family was hosted by the Checketts and Quigley families. When Katie got married, my parents no longer lived there, so the entire Schneiber and Hill families were hosted by the Pratts and Quigleys and Quinns. And now, when Erik got married we all descended (again) on the Quigleys and Pratts, for (probably) the last time. At this point, these wonderful friends probably receive every Schneiber-family wedding announcement with mixed feelings, but I absolutely LOVE getting to spend time with them. It's amazing how being somewhere where people love you can still feel like home, even after all these years.
      After a long, FUN night
      My Mom is glad that Jacqueline will probably NOT be getting married in the Manhattan temple (b/c it's been so long since we've lived there now), so we won't have to impose on all of her friends, but I kind of hope she does so we can have one more excuse to make it back there to visit. :)

      *Megan's uncle was their wedding photographer and did an awesome job.  You can see more of their pictures here*

      Sunday, June 2, 2013

      April in UT: Family, General Conference, and the Stomach Flu

      When Rob and I were going to BYU, we loved going down to the Conference Center in SLC twice a year to participate in our church's semi-annual General Conference.  It's such a neat feeling to be a part of the crowds of people coming together to receive instruction and inspiration. And the music! The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is just so awesome to listen to in person that the chest-reverberating, goose bump-inducing music is worth the trip alone.  But since we've moved away we've had to be satisfied with watching Conference on the TV/Internet.

      Rob and I have been talking about how much we wanted to actually BE there again, and decided we'd better go in April when we'd only have to buy 2 plane tickets instead of 4.  Then we found out that Rob's Dad was going to give one of the talks during the Conference and that ALL of Rob's siblings were going to be there too!   Great, great timing.
      Some of the boys
      The trip was fast, but in addition to going to watch General Conference, we managed to squeeze in some GREAT grandparent/cousin time, lots of game-playing, a bridal shower for my new sister-in-law Megan, and lunch with some old friends.  Oh, and we did all this while poor Savannah was super sick with the stomach flu. 
      After Papa Stan's talk
      While it wasn't the most relaxing 4 days I've ever had, we were so glad to be able to see all of our family and support Stan during his talk.  He did a great job.  Even though I felt like I wanted to sleep for about a week when we got home, there's something really special about being with the people you love most and feeling like you are growing closer to God.  I'd do it again in a heart beat!