Sunday, September 8, 2013

Summer with Ellora

We got to have my niece, Ellora, with us for the entire month of August.  It was great.

When she was littler, my brother's in-laws used to visit New York City from India and help care for her over summer vacations, but now that she's older there are more options.  Now she gets to venture a bit farther afield, all the way to the Midwest.

Giggling in the backseat the whole way on a nine hour drive
She and her cousins spent time in Detroit, then had a week to play at the cottage, and finally some time here in Milwaukee.  They were happy together for all of it.  I worried a little that as an only child, Ellora might get overwhelmed by the constant company of other kids, but she never did.  My kids just folded her into the puppy heap of activity and all was well.

But time watching Ellora comes with great responsibility.  Someone must remember to take The Daily Photo.

My brother, Arno, has been working on the Ellora Daily Photo Project since the day she was born over nine years ago.  One photo, every day, all aligned at her eyes to flash by in an epic time lapse:

Pretty amazing.  And when my niece is in our care the Daily Photo responsibility becomes ours, and I do NOT want to be the one who breaks the link in the chain.

Poor Ellora simply had to put up with my snapping her picture whenever I happened to remember it, regardless of whether she felt presentable or not, just to make sure I didn't miss one.  She's an incredibly good sport about it.  Arno has told her she gets to decide how long it continues, and the day she's had enough, then that's that.  But the Daily Photo is simply part of her routine and doesn't seem in danger of ending anytime soon.

Between me and my husband we managed not to miss any days.  So that's a relief.

My favorite of the bunnies
Aside from the stress of the Daily Photo, we had nothing but fun with Ellora, and I think she enjoyed her time with all of us.  When we were in Detroit while my dad was just home from the hospital and the kids had to find quiet activities, they worked together on little clay bunnies for a stop motion film that never quite happened.

We taught Ellora how to make banana pancakes.
Quinn and Ellora serving their entirely kid-made pancakes

She can also now make French toast on her own.  In honor of her new breakfast making acumen we bought her her own spatula for flipping when she goes home.

We read Dr Doolittle, watched Back to the Future and Ghostbusters, hunted for Mold-A-Ramas, and at the cottage the kids spent every day in the lake.  Ellora got to feed a goat, touch a duck, weave on a loom, pick up crab apples, wash the car (and her cousins) with the hose, and put a dress on the dog.  She got to experience the wonder of "Shopping in the closet" as we went through the ritual of figuring out who had outgrown what over the summer and moving things down from one kid's drawer to the next.  (She picked out a few things from the Goodwill pile that no longer fit Mona that Quinn wasn't interested in.  And actually took back a shirt that her mother had originally handed down to Aden a few years ago, so if her mother sees it and likes it again it will have come full circle.)

Mona and Ellora weaving at Greenfield Village
It's weird the things the dog is patient about
Daily Photo at the Henry Ford Museum
Kids doing crab apple cleanup
As much as I know she missed her parents and loves her home, I think it was good for her to have a chance to live a different sort of life for a while.  A life where kids can take themselves to the park for a bit, every night is a sleepover, there are no rules about the TV (not that they bothered with that much), and the fruit is fair game.  (In our house you don't have to ask to eat fruits or vegetables, you can just have them whenever, even right before dinner.  Ellora thought this was amazing and helped herself to many peaches.  Oh yeah, we also introduced the kids to the Peaches song by The Presidents of The United States which they then sang at odd moments.)

We were all genuinely sad to have to return Ellora over Labor Day weekend.  She's back to her normal life of books and subways and friends and school.  If we're lucky, maybe in the spring we'll get to hang out with them in New York for a bit and enjoy that life along with her for a while.  I hope so.  And we're already looking forward to next summer.


  1. Random thoughts in no particular order:

    *The daily photo (and video) are really cool--glad you didn't miss one!
    *"Peaches"--love that song.
    *I'm reminded of the Country Mouse and the City Mouse.
    *There is nothing better than time spent with cousins.
    *Shopping in the closet is among my least favorite chores. However, I'm a huge fan of hand-me-downs so I can't complain.

    1. There are times shopping in the closet gets annoying, but for the most part we have a good time. The kids all stand nearby while I pelt them with things to try on and there is a lot of laughing and squealing involved. And the younger kids have usually been waiting with great anticipation for certain things to head their way. My mom does hand-painted shirts for everyone each Christmas, and Quinn now has a huge collection of them since eventually they all end up in his drawer.

  2. Oh yes, the Daily Photo stress!
    Looks like a wonderful time was had by all. I'm now going to check out that Peaches song.

    1. Yes! You know the pressure. And Ellora told us how much fun she had with you guys before she got to us, and how big the chicks had grown.

  3. it was great being with you guys!
    thanks for everything!

    1. The pleasure was all ours, Sweetie. Keeping fingers crossed to see you at Halloween!

  4. We love cousins in these parts. Whenever our guys spend time together with their cousins, it's like getting a glimpse of the future and seeing all of them hanging out and being there for each other.

    1. I've always felt that cousins were like having extra siblings out in the world. I hope they do all remain as close when they're older.

  5. Korinthia, your slice of life with your children and niece is a lovely reminder of all that is relaxed and good about summer vacation. What fantastic memories all of the cousins will have about their summer together!

    1. It's wonderful to watch them together and feel like a witness to what will someday be among their favorite memories.