A Play Kitchen

I have secretly wanted to get Ella a play kitchen since she was born.
So when she started making a direct line to any play kitchen she ever saw in a room we pounced on that and decided that that would be this year's Christmas gift for both the kids.
After tons of research and comparing we decided on this espresso Kidkraft kitchen (all of their kitchens are adorable) because it is one of their taller models so it should last us longer and it's gender neutral (I want Fenton to love this kitchen too and learn to love to cook).
I found it on sale (for almost half off their current price) and snapped it up and it is just as beautiful as I hoped it would be! 
I left the labor up to Adam, because even he said that it was better if I just sat to the side and didn't mess anything up. 
He spent several hours over two days putting it all together while Ella was asleep.
Seriously, a labor of love.
We set it all up for Ella to see it the next morning:
She got the hugest grin on her face when she spotted it and then dove right in:
I love that it is cute enough to have standing in the main part of our house and not look like an eyesore.
Ella cooks in her kitchen while I cook in mine.
Her favorite part of the kitchen is definitely the microwave. 
She'll put her food in it, shut the door, push the buttons, wait and pull the food out again.
She makes me pasta and oatmeal all the time.
And we frequently make food for her dolls too.
She has a little cup and spoon that she likes to bring with us whenever we get out of the house and run errands so that she can cook up anything at the spur of the moment.
I asked Ella if I could take a picture of her face and this is what she gave me:
And sometimes she uses the dishwasher of her kitchen to stash random toys for safekeeping.
So basically the kitchen was a huge hit.
And she looks crazy grown up with her hair all up like that, I can't even handle it!

She's a Character

This girl.
She is the funniest ball of non-stop energy I have ever encountered.
And holy cow is it exhausting to keep up with her!
But I wouldn't trade it for anything because her gigantic personality keeps me so amused and is just so full of life and happiness.
And this picture below.
Those turned-in feet with the red tennis shoes.
And her doll who she prefers to always have naked.
It's just too much for me to take in, I love this picture!
(They are admiring the bees in the bushes) 
^A lot of lovin' going on here (and Fenton isn't too thrilled about it).
I seriously walked into the room and found them like this.
And another day I walked into a room and found them like this:
She has made sure to leave her mark on every. single. piece. of paper within arm's reach in the entire house. 
And then I asked her to show me the crayon she was coloring with so that I could take a picture and she held completely still (that takes a lot of effort for this girl) while I took the pictures and didn't even budge until I said, "Okay, thanks!" which resulted in this gem of a picture:
And when I asked her to show me her Buzz and Woody, she also posed this (below) crazy face and held that face exactly like that the entire time I took the pictures until I said, "Okay, thanks."
If you ever ask her what she wants to eat her answer is ALWAYS "Oatmeal. Eggs." Even if she just had oatmeal at her last meal.

She says prayers that sound like this:
"Heh Fodder (Heavenly Father)
Uh nuh nuh day. (Thank you for this day)
Uh nuh nuh oatmeal eggs. (Something about oatmeal and eggs)
Uh nuh AMEN!"
More than once we have had people several rows in front of us at church turn around at the end of a prayer in the meeting because Ella has hollered, "AMEN!" at the end of it.
^Every bath time consists of filling up every single cup she can find with water and setting them up side-by-side on the ledge.
She says my name on repeat approximately 200 times a day, I am not even kidding.
In fact, here is a ritual we go through about 3-10 times every single day (no joke):
Ella: "Annie."
Me: "Yes Ella?"
Ella: "Annie. Annie."
Me: "What, Honey?"
Ella: "Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie. Annie...."
I am not even kidding.
That is the main soundtrack to my life.
You know how you are kind of hardwired to react when you hear your name?
It's impossible to ignore someone saying your name over and over, your nerves just won't let you.
Sometimes I'm afraid my head will explode if I hear my name just one more time.
And she has absolutely nothing to say, she just wants me to be 100% focused on her for 120% of the day (even while driving and talking to Adam and trying to put Fenton to sleep and while going to the bathroom, basically it's an impossible task to give her as much attention as she would like) and so sometimes this requires her to say my name over and over until one of our heads explodes.
And when she has nothing to say to me except for this crazy need to repeat my name I attempt to ignore her and that makes her frustrated and so she'll start screaming my name then I say in a very firm voice, "Ella. Please stop. I asked you what you wanted and there is nothing that you need so please stop saying my name."
And then that girl who is seriously a big ball of passionate emotions gets all afraid that I'm mad at her and when she is afraid of that she'll test out how I'm feeling by saying, "Hi Momma" with this tragically sad look on her face like, "Don't be mad at me!"
And if I respond with anything but a sympathetic look she breaks into tears (and then she gets even more upset when she notices the gigantic tears that have run down her cheeks and onto her chest and will beg for something to clean them off).
So I have to gently look at her and say with a smile, "Hi Ella! I love you!" And then all is well.
Until twenty minutes later when she feels the need to say my name on repeat again.
One day this phase will pass, right?

The library is almost always a traumatic experience because she feels this crazy need to go ballistic within it's quiet walls every single time we go even though she loves it there.
Too bad I'm addicted to that place and it's free movies and books (well, almost free, because I can't return the library stuff on time to save my life, but it still costs less than a Redbox).
^As we grocery shop she likes to pull the stickers off the bananas in our cart and stick them to her shirt.

She has really started to grasp the concept of now and later.
She'll ask for a snack and I'll say, "As soon as we get to Target you can have a snack."
And then she'll remain silent until we drive into Target's parking lot she'll exclaim, "Target! Snack!"
Also, yes, she recognizes the Target parking lot because we go there that often.

Out of the blue she told me the other day, "Dada eh Fenton eh coot (cute)."
And she tells Baby Lulu that she is "coot" on a regular basis.
She even told me a couple days ago while she was jumping on my bed, watching me get ready for church, "Nice, Mama. Eh nice."
Which pretty much translates to her telling me that I look nice or something, which is what we tell her when she puts on bracelets and sunglass. 
I'll take it!
Over Christmas vacation she informed my grandpa's cat, "I Lala. I two."
Unfortunately if you happen to hold up how many fingers she is when you ask her how old she is she'll tell you that she's "peace" instead of two, because my little brother decided to teach her about what a peace sign is and so now it's impossible to reteach her that actually that means a number and not just the word "peace."
Thanks a lot, Kevin.
She can (almost) count to 10!
Except the numbers 4 and 5 always get left out, apparently they aren't important.
She can tell you with 50% accuracy, what color things are.
If she gets it wrong and you correct her and tell her what color it actually is she will remember it when you ask her in the future, which makes me think that maybe she really has no clue what color anything is, she's just guessing and using her memory.
Oh well, whatever works.
But she can point out with 98% accuracy the letters B and W (she sometimes thinks Ms are Ws, which is understandable) and R and P.
And can tell you the sound that W makes.
She likes to know what words say, so when she sees my grocery list she will point to a word and ask, "What's that?"
And I'll tell her "bread" or "milk."
And later on she can point out which of the words is bread and milk, but she does it based on memorizing where they are on the list and not because she actually recognizes the word.
Uses the word "dee" to fill in syllables of words that she doesn't know.
For example she calls her cardigan a "car-dee-dee" because she doesn't know how to say "-digan."
And a fruit leather is a "foo--dee-dee" because she can't say "leather."
Her favorite food in the world is the multi-colored fish crackers and her ideal scenario is to have a bag of fishies in her hand while watching Toy Story ( or "shoy-shory" as she calls it), standing as close to the TV as possible.
Loves the Incredibles.
And when it starts and Mr. Incredible comes on the screen she'll say, "Bob." (Because that is his name) and it's hilarious.
And sometimes she'll tell me, "I not happy," quoting Mr. Incredible's boss.
Another line she quotes a lot, "Oh no! The orphans!" from Toy Story, except sometimes "orphans" sounds like "Fentons!"
She's also into Cars and Frozen songs on Youtube (like every other kid--and adult-- in the world right now), and she had a short-lived love for the Lion King.

It cracks me up to watch her interact with other kids.
First of all, she loves them and always wants to be around them.
At church last Sunday she saw some kids (who she has never met before) running around and she hollers, "Hi kids!" and then blew them a giant kiss.
When she gets to nursery at church she turns around and tells us with no hesitation, "Bye!"
But then she's just as excited to see us at the end of nursery too, which is fun.
And at the mall she saw some kids running around, against their mom's protests and she leans forward in her little stroller and points her finger and says in her high-pitched sing-song voice that she reserves for other kids and babies and Fenton and says, "No no no! Kids. No no no."
Covers her little mouth with her hand when she giggles (where did she even get that? I have no idea but I die every time).
For some reason she loves trucks. 
She always lets me know when she's heard one drive by our house and in the car she will exclaim, "Hi truck!" as we pass by them.
But when we saw a truck covered in dirt in the parking lot last week she exclaimed, "Duh-tee!" (dirty) over and over again.
"Meekah! (clean up) Meekah tuck! Duh-tee!" She couldn't get over how dirty it is.
She is still totally OCD about things being clean.
If a single tear comes out of her eye from crying she exclaims (mid sob) "Meekah eye!" and is always asking for a "tiss-you" (tissue) for unseen snot coming out of her nose.
And I am constantly preventing her from wiping down every single table we ever eat at because apparently she has this desperate need to clean restaurant tables.

The Last of Christmas

^Okay, first off: packing.
Pure craziness when you are trying to pack for yourself and two little people for a 10 day vacation. 
It seriously takes days to get everything ready to go.
You not only have to get an outfit for each day but you have to plan for potential blowouts and spit-ups  and throw up and general toddler messiness, which seems to happen way more often when you are away from home.
And then there's all the layers necessary for a traveling to a cold place (sweaters, coats, hats, gloves, socks galore, scarves, snow clothes), and making sure that there is enough of all of those to survive blowouts as well, oh my gosh, seriously so much to pack!
And I haven't even begun to mention Fenton's pack-n-play and a mattress and fans (for the white noise for the kids because if they don't sleep then their mom turns into a crazy person) and a boppy and a booster chair and enough diapers and wipes and snacks and bottles to last us for 10 days. 
I put Ella in the tub to keep her entertained and put Fenton in a position that he could watch Ella so that he was entertained and started stuffing things into suitcases.
Ice skating outside in the middle of the city is the best!
^After a walk with "Pa."
^My parents have a picture of me at this same age in a costume just like this so when they were recently in Hawaii they picked one up for Ella to relive the past.
My grandpa's cat, who usually tries to avoid Ella's claws, was following her everywhere while she wore this, trying to eat the grass skirt.

^My sister-in-law is a tour guide at BYU and so she gave us a tour of our old stomping grounds, which was really fun.
It was neat to be back at the place where Adam and I first met and first kissed and then got engaged and now to be back there with two kiddos in tow!
Also, awesome how we are all in thick winter coats and gloves and the poor 5-month-old is in a cardigan!
I think we were cuddling with him on the tour and there were blankets so he was warm enough but he looks so neglected in this picture!

My parents watched the EllaFents while we went on a couple dates during the week (which was so wonderful of them) and one of our dates included going to see The Saratov Approach.
I had never heard of that movie until my brother mentioned it, I'm not sure it played in any theaters outside of Utah, but it was wonderful!
One of the best movies I've seen in a while; I was thinking about it for days afterward.
My favorite part of the movie was the message that light always overcomes darkness.
Such a nice thing to hear in a world that seems to get scarily darker with every passing day.
I feel like I've mentioned the scariness of the world a few times on this blog lately but it's something I think about a lot, especially trying to raise kids, I can't help but notice how hard I will have to fight to teach them where to find happiness and goodness and truth.
But it was nice to take a break from the worrying while on vacation and just be with family! 

Continuing on with our Christmas Vacation of Happiness and Joy

^E's babies watching her eat breakfast because there's nothing she likes more than an audience.
Ewok child.
 ^This picture cracks me up.
Somehow, the words "beef 'n' veggies" totally fit with that round face!
  My dad took all these pictures at Temple Square and I think they are gorgeous!
 ^Ella was a shepherd in the nativity at my uncle's house, except she was much more interested in the baby dolls than in any sheep and she kept stealing Baby Jesus and running off with him (much to Mary's concern), exclaiming, "Oh! He's Sad!" 
I think she said that because the doll's eyes were closed and she has a book at home that has a little boy with closed eyes who is crying because he's sad and apparently she connected the two.
 "Food, Baby? 
Said Ella at the tea party with her babies.

Meanwhile, Fenton was studying up on how to defeat everyone in Seven Wonders.
See below for an explanation as to what on earth is even happening in these pictures.

One thing I left out of the first post about Christmas vacation was the curse of stomach flu that hit us all and left us laying only partially conscious on the couch and watching Toy Story on repeat with Ella with a box of Saltines in hand.
It was awful.
Three people woke up with it on Christmas Eve, two more people were struck on Christmas, one more person bit the dust on Boxing Day and then a couple of days later, when I thought we were safely out of the epidemic, I was struck down.
That means multiple days where all of us did almost nothing when we were supposed to be partying away.
But at least Fenton didn't get it, that's what I was praying for, because it is the saddest when a tiny baby is in pain.
What is it with the flu hitting on Christmas?
Last year when we were having Christmas with Adam's family almost everyone got it then too.
Nothing like vomit to mix in with your holiday cheer.
But one thing that we could still do while feeling so awful was play games, which we did and it was wonderful!
Games are the best because it's such a fun way to interact with everyone and get talking and laughing.
The games we played on repeat were Who What Where and Times Up, although we did have a round of Liar's Dice and Seven Wonders in there too. 
In Times Up there is a round of charades, which explains the strange and wonderful poses in the pictures above.