So I know I've written before how there's just something about Ella. Something that others are innately drawn to. Something that causes strangers to turn their heads in our direction. Something that causes even the most stone-set hearts to reach out and smile at her. Some kind of invisible force that draws others to her. I'm used to going out in public with my kids. Used to kind strangers oohing and aahing over my adorable (no bias here..) babies, admiring my tow-headed little surfer boy 'twins'. But the attention my other kids get pales in comparison to the attention Ella attracts. There's just something so naturally sweet about her. Now I'm not saying that Ella is sweet all the time or walks around with a permanent halo over her head all day. No no no.. She can throw a 2-year old tantrum with the best of them. But there's something simplistically sweet and pure about her nature that others are just drawn to.
The other day I was running some errands in town. It was lunchtime and I knew if I tried to drive home Ella would be asleep within a few minutes and would miss lunch. Her doctors and I aren't as concerned about her weight as we used to be (ever since we hit that big 2-0 lb mark) but I still panic a little at the thought of her missing an all important meal. So McDonalds it was. We walked in and she wandered around a little while I perused the Dollar Menu, causing the typical smiles from workers and customers. We ordered our food, found a booth and sat down.
While we're at a restaurant, Ella and I have opportunity to come in contact with many people. Many MANY people. Ella is what some would call a slooooow eater. The girl averages around 20 minutes per McNugget. On the rare occasion we go to a restaurant, we usually end up spending a good portion of our day there (upside: free caffeinated refills). After a friendly conversation with an older couple who were obviously smitten with Ella ended in the man giving her a dollar (for me to buy her a candy bar with later.. obviously.) a booth was open near us.
Now I'm not sure if this is weird or not.. but I have this thing. Maybe they occurred at a very impressionable age for me (I was 17), but ever since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center I've been a little paranoid about going out in public. Not like I-can't-function-in-daily-life-and-never-leave-my-house-because-I'm-too anxious-paranoid. Just slightly paranoid. More like watch-people-who-look-scary-a-little-more-closely-and-plan-where-I-would-run-and-hide-my-children-if-they-suddenly-started-shooting. Is that weird? If so, then I'm obviously kidding about all this.
Anyways, it wasn't long into our meal that a couple of these shady looking characters walked in and immediately blipped on my radar. And I mean 'shady' as in: men, baggy pants, long hair, unshaven. Stereotypical? Yes. Hey.. I know. Anyways, the little part inside me that I'm totally kidding about if no one else experiences this, gave off it's signal that there was possible McDouble Danger. I discreetly looked to the booths, the nearest door, planned my escape strategy should I need it, and silently analyzed in particular, the man with his goatee in a braid, which you know.. isn't all bad, but when you add up the baggy pants, baseball cap, and shifty eyes.. well you know. And all the while what was my sweet Ella doing? Toddling over to their table, smiling sweetly at them and befriending these 'scary-looking' (to me) men. I watched as they looked at her, shifted uncomfortably in their seats, glanced at me, then focused again on the pig tailed little girl, staring at them so intently, waiting, and slowly smiled down at her. I saw her hungry eyes (remember 1 hour = only 3 McNuggets) settle on one of the man's yet-untouched chocolate shake (okay.. I should have known terrorists probably wouldn't order chocolate shakes with whipped cream and a cherry on top) and I honestly thought for a moment that he was going to hand it over for her to enjoy. It was as if her taunting eyes were saying to him "Hey, the last guy who sat here forked out a dollar for a candy bar. I bet you can do better." I sat astonished at the way these two grizzled men, who I had already tagged as potential mass murderers, slowly softened around the edges and showed a side I never would have seen if not for my sweet innocent Ella girl. I would have sat at my own little tale, surviving in my own little world, believing my own little judgmental stereotypes, and never given them the chance to prove that I was wrong.
And it wasn't just these two men that Ella connected us with. It was the older couple behind us who opened up a friendly discussion about their grandchildren (his granddaughter had shown up to their house with a key she had painted gold (or was it pink? the wife asked) and told him, "Grandpa.. now you have the key to my heart.") and the McRib sandwich (Why don't they offer it all the time??). It was the middle aged couple a few booths over who couldn't stop staring and smiling at us the entire time we were there and commented how sweet my kids were on their way out. It was the elderly man who told me "You better watch out when she's 18" after recieving one of Ella's famous impenetrable smiles. It was the harried-looking business man who slowed down a little to smile at Ella while we walked through the door. It was the young worker on her way past us to deliver drive through meals who paused to smile and talk to Ella every time she walked past.
Ella has a way of connecting people. Of bringing out the best in everyone around her and bringing us together. Of opening the lines of communication between people. Too often we go about our own individual, busy lives and rarely have the opportunity to connect with others. Too often we are surrounded by people, yet feel isolated and alone in our own worlds. Too often we sit in a McDonalds for hours on end and instead of interacting and getting to know the people around us, we isolate ourselves in our own booths, in our own worlds, and tag complete strangers as potential murder suspects (or maybe I'm the only one who does that..). But because of Ella and her simplistically sweet nature, I am finding myself learning more about others and getting to know people who before would have remained forever unknown. I find myself connecting with others. And realizing just how alike we really are. If not for Ella I would have sat through the rest of our meal (which could have been hours..), feeling slight fear of these two men who sat mere feet away instead of exchanging smiles and 'have a nice day' before they got up to leave. Because of Ella I have these opportunities more and more.
When Ella was first diagnosed with CdLS I worried that whenever we would go out in public people would know there was something different about her. I worried people would stare. I worried people wouldn't be able to take their eyes off of her. Turns out I was right.. There's just something about her.
Yes.. I realize Halloween was like.. over 2 weeks ago.
And yes, I'm just getting around to posting our Halloween pictures.
But unless you're willing to sleep a night in my bed, don't judge.
(Wait.. that was supposed to be a play on "Unless you're willing to walk a day in my shoes,"
but I don't think that came out quite right..)
What I'm getting at is nights around here have been a little rough lately.
And days too actually now that I think about it..
A prime example of the other night:
All day long: Ella and Hudson fuss and whine and both need to be sitting on my lap at ALL times.
Boys come home from school: Fight and wrestle and tackle and bite and scratch each other until bedtime.
9:00- Kids are finally all asleep.
9:01- Ella wakes up crying. JJ goes up to rock her while I sit with Hudson on the couch.
10:00- Child #1 wakes up with horrible sounding cough. Husband administers cough drop.
11:00- Ella wakes up crying again.
Midnight- Exasperated husband brings uncontrollably fussy Ella downstairs for me to deal with.
12:01- Husband sits Ella on my lap. She smiles sweetly at me.
12:02- Husband realizes he still needs to lock up the animals for the night (morning?). He goes outside. It's snowing.
12:10- Husband brings Child #4 back upstairs with him.
Midnight-1:30- Ella and I play happily in the living room (well, one of us was happy about it)
1:30- Ella climbs the stairs and wanders around upstairs while I doze on the couch.
1:31- Follow Ella upstairs to rock her.
1:32- Rock with Ella
1:45- Hear Child #2 get up.
1:46- Continue rocking
1:50- Hear Child #4 wake up- starting to get hungry.
2:00- Husband switches shifts and takes over rocking with Ella.
2:01- Change Child #2's sheets.
2:02- Listen as Child #4's hungry pleads get more serious.
2:05- Lay with Child #2 until he is almost asleep.
2:10- Husband brings desperately starving Child #4 to me.
2:11- Go back to bedroom to feed Child. Husband and Ella are in the recliner.
2:12-Take Child to bed with me to feed him.
2:20- Husband gives up rocking and brings Ella to our bed as well.
2:21- Ella proceeds to perform her version of STOMP between our covers.
3:00- All are finally almost asleep.
3:01- Child #2 comes back into room. Announces he's hungry.
3:02- Husband tells Child to go downstairs and get a banana. Child leaves.
3:03- Husband looks at me. I look at husband. We laugh. Purely because the only remaining option is to cry..
3:05- Child comes back and eats banana in our room.
3:07- Husband tucks child back into bed.
3:20- Toe starts throbbing uncontrollable for unknown reason.
3:30- Drifting off to sleep again.
3:30- Child #4 wake up. Hungry again.
4:00-6:00- We all sleep like kings. Kindof.
And this night came sandwiched between multiple other nights of our lovely children sharing the stomach flu with each other.
And an entire week of me not leaving my spot on the couch holding 2 sick whiney babies, getting up only in very very extreme cases of having to pee..
So, yes. I've been a little tired lately.
And busy washing wet sheets and pukey clothes.
PLUS, I really really wanted to take more Halloween pictures. Really cool ones. Like, the older boys lined up looking like they're going to snap the football (Hudson) laying between them. And them tackling each other and me (the ref) throwing a flag. And JJ doing some sort of funny coach stance and Ella cheering and it was going to be really awesome but since that never got done let's just all take a minute to close our eyes and pretend there's really the most amazing Pinterest-worthy Halloween photos ever posted here and you can all ooh and aah and feel free to leave comments about how much you LOVE these pictures and I will reply that they were really so effortless to take and the kids really just cooperated perfectly and we were all as happy as we look in those pictures. Let's just pretend that happened, okay?
Wasn't that fun?
Okay.. now I feel like I need to compensate for that pathetic plea to humor me.
Ummm.. I made a really cute ghost cake/cupcakes for Charlie's class. See?