Thanks Grandma!

For Christmas my mom gave Ella and her cousins a little make-up kit. Of course the girls all loved it and Ella wasted no time getting gorgeous! What makeup kit is complete without electric blue eyeshadow?



Christmas morning was spent at our house with just our little family. It was really nice!!! It was so much fun to watch the kids and we spent half the day in our pjs playing with the kids and their toys. Ella's highlight was getting her American Girl doll who looks just like her - down to the pierced ears! She named her Lucy Anna. Finn really enjoyed his first Christmas and quickly figured out how to tear paper off gifts in a hurry. What a wonderful day! It was also made extra special by getting a ton of beautiful, white fluffy snow. Talk about a White Christmas!


Christmas Eve

My favorite part of Christmas, is always Christmas Eve. My family has some great traditions that make Christmas Eve very special and memorable.

This year my parents and brother were in town, so we had Christmas Eve at my sister's house. We had our big Christmas turkey dinner, a cute program including the nativity (hilarious!), musical and dancing performances by the kids some songs by my dad on his guitar and a surprise visit by Santa.
Finn didn't have a part in the nativity, so
he nominated himself to be baby Jesus.

Finn's first time meeting Santa.

Definitely a Cooper-Leavitt
(the BIG mouth is a dead giveaway!)



Well, for Halloween this year I decided to do costumes that were going to be easy and cheap (free, actually!)

When Ella was Finn's age, she was a skunk. It was the most adorable costume, gender neutral and really warm, plus it really seemed to suit both my kids personality - you know, little stinkers! Finn's costume - done!

Now, for Ella. One of our friends has a daughter a year older than Ella and the last year she was a can-can dancer. She had offered to let Ella borrow the costume. That was great, but Ella can be very opinionated and picky when it comes to what she wears. So, I had to use a bit of cunningness . I knew she had ordered the costume from Costume Express, a catalog that we get every year. So this year, when we got the catalog I found the can-can dancer and "ooohd" and aahhd" and told Ella how beautiful it was and that it was my favorite. She totally fell for it and asked if she could please, please be a can-can dancer for Halloween. What else could I say but "of course!"


Fall Festival

This weekend Grandpa Gary & Grandma Sheila (Jeramy's parents) came for a visit. They got here just in time to catch the last half of Ella's soccer game. Unfortunately, they missed the best part of the game - Ella with an amazing breakaway and a great kick sending the ball right into the goal.....ummm - the WRONG goal! Poor thing, she was so excited to score a goal, I hardly had the heart to tell her it didn't really count.

After her game, we grabbed a quick bite of lunch then headed over to the Littleton Historical Museum for the fall festival. They had a lot of fun things to see and activities to do. Jeramy, Ella & Grandpa went on a wagon ride. They also had a clothes line and wash tubs with a whole bunch of clothes. Ella had a great time pretending to wash clothes on the washboard, then hang them to dry on the clothes line. One of our favorites was the stilts. I thought since I could do them as a kid, that I'd be able to jump up on them and take off. Not quite!!! Still, they were a ton of fun to try. They also had a little hay-bale maze for the kids. What a fun way to spend the afternoon with Grandpa & Grandma!

Jeramy and Ella on the wagon ride

Grandpa & Grandma enjoying
some warm apple cider.

Fun on the stilts!


Laser Treatment

As some of you know, Finn was born with a birthmark on his chin. Our pediatrician had told us that over time it would go away on its own. Then a few months after he was born a small spot that looked like a cluster of broken blood vessels developed on his cheek. Our pediatrician was concerned about the spot on his cheek and referred us to a pediatric dermatologist who specializes in birth marks, etc. So in July we took Finn to the specialist who told us that the spot on his cheek would, in fact, go away on its own. The birthmark on his chin though, actually a port wine stain, would not and would actually keep getting darker and darker and recommended that we consider laser treatment. He said that Finn would need at least twelve treatments, two months apart and that starting before he reached his first birthday would produce the best results.

So now finally, three months later after dealing with the frustration of our insurance company and the fact that the doctor moved to a new location, we were finally able to have his first treatment done.

The doctor moved to the brand new children's hospital which has only been open a matter of days. What a gorgeous facility! As soon as we arrived we had to put some numbing cream on Finn's cheek and chin. The doctor recommended that after putting the cream on that we then put Glad Press'N Seal overtop to keep it from getting rubbed off. Well, keeping it on the puddle of drool on his chin was pretty much impossible, so we kept applying it to make sure it would help him out.

Before the laser treatment. Notice the piece of
Glad Press'N Seal stuck on his cheek!

Finn and Ella having a wagon ride while waiting to see the doctor.
Poor little guy looks so happy - he has no idea what's in store for him.

The actual procedure took less than a minute. Finn was so mad that everyone was trying to hold him down that he was already screaming before they lasered him, so I'm not sure how much it actually hurt. They just did about 7 or 8 quick zaps on his chin and one on his cheek and we were done! He calmed down very quickly and seemed just fine the rest of the day. Instantly the areas they lasered turned red and then a dark purple - almost black. I'll be curious to see how long they take to heal.
Immediately after the laser treatment. The areas they
lasered instantly turned red. Poor baby!

About one hour after the treatment. The areas
went from red, to dark purple. I think it looks
worse than it is because he seemed really happy
the rest of the day.


Family Bike Ride

An activity that our family has really started to enjoy is biking. Jeramy got a mountain bike this year for Father's Day/his birthday and this is my first summer really using mine since I bought mine last summer when I was pregnant. Some of our friends are really into it and we have kind of caught the biking bug, too.

One of my favorite things about where we live is all of the many trails outside our front door. In addition to all of the paved trails and parks, there are also two single-track bike trails that are about a 15 minute bike ride away. They aren't too difficult or technical (yet I've still managed several wipe-outs!) but they're fun and great practice for us newbies.

Anyway this weekend we borrowed our friends trail-a-bike for Ella to try. We do have a double Burley that attaches to my bike but Finn is still a little young so I like to keep him in his car seat buckled in the Burley, which essentially takes up the whole seat. Also, Ella is getting a little old (ie - heavy) to ride in it.
Finn just chilling in his carseat in the bike trailer

We tried out the trail-a-bike on Saturday afternoon but it was so incredibly windy (think Southern Alberta) that it wasn't a lot of fun. So then Sunday afternoon between conference sessions we thought it would be nice to get out of the house for a little while and get some fresh air. It ended up being really cold and a storm started blowing in, so once again we didn't get to go as far as we had wanted.

Despite the weather challenges we still had a great time! Finn absolutely loves the Burley and usually ends up falling asleep. Ella loved the trail-a-bike and begged to keep going, despite being freezing. We will definitely be buying a trail-a-bike for her. I'm so happy that we found another activity that our whole family enjoys and can do together. Hopefully we can get a few more rides in before the snow comes.
Ella had the best time on the trail-a-bike!


Pierced Ears!

I know. Before I even have to say anything, I can feel some criticism and judgment coming on. Ella is only 4, an age that apparently most people feel is way too young to have her ears pierced. I'm kind of surprised how strongly some people feel about it. I was 4 years old when I got my ears pierced and I vividly remember begging, and begging to get my ears pierced. I wanted it so badly! I think I finally probably just drove my mom crazy, so she broke down and let me get them pierced. So when Ella started asking and asking and asking I said "sure" because I remember being there. Also, I really don't think it's a big deal. There are so many other things that I do feel strongly about and that are a big deal and pierced ears isn't even in the same league.

I took her to Claire's at the mall. I called ahead and made sure that there were 2 girls there so they could do both ears at the same time. So we drove over, I filled out the paperwork, opened up my purse to get my ID and my wallet was not there. I remember earlier in the day getting it out for info I needed on the computer and I left it on the desk. Ella had been waiting so patiently and excitedly for today that I couldn't disappoint her. We turned around and drove home and I got my wallet. The only problem was when we got back to Claire's there was only 1 girl there, so that meant she had to have her ears done one at a time. She said she still wanted to do it. Based on her very dramatic, violent reaction to getting a flu shot last week, I was almost positive that we would be leaving with only one ear pierced, but I promised, so we proceeded.

She did great! She looked a little surprised and panicked after each ear was done and her little lip started quivering (isn't that the sweetest sad picture) but she held it together and a few seconds later was all smiles. She was so cute after we were done she walked around holding her hair up in a ponytail so everyone could see her pierced ears! Seeing how excited and happy she was just melted my heart and made me so glad I let her do it.


First Tooth

This morning while feeding Finn his breakfast, I noticed that the corner of his first little tooth just popped through! Such a fun milestone (especially now that this explains the fevers and diarrhea!)

Superstar Parents!

I was talking to my sister-in-law the other day and she was saying that she feels like blogs usually end up feeling like a big showcase for parents to brag about how wonderful they are by showing all the great things they do with and for their kids.

Just to contradict that theory, I wanted to tell you about mine and Jeramy's parenting week, last week. Let's start with me. In the course of five days, while under my care, Finn had three little mishaps. Number one - he rolled off the bed. Well, he actually launched himself forward and slid down, landing on his feet then pouncing forward ending up on his hands and knees. I do have a good defense to that one, which I won't bore you with. Number two - he fell down three stairs before I caught him. No defense at all! Number three - he somehow pulled the baby monitor out of the plug and put the cord in his mouth giving him a little zap. No defense - I was three feet away from him the entire time. (I made Jeramy stick it in his mouth and he said the current wasn't very strong)

Now, Jeramy's bad parenting moment. He only has one, which almost shouldn't count since he stuck a cord with a live current in his mouth to make sure his baby didn't fry his little brain!. We were at Nordstrom Rack last week getting Jeramy a few new clothes. We had gone out to dinner with the kids and Ella had behaved horrible. Then we had a few other errands we had run, so by the time we were at the Rack she had really worn Jeramy down. She went with him into the dressing room and was crawling under all the stalls and was completely ignoring anything he said. They came out of the dressing room to show me some clothes and Ella started tormenting Finn, who was already having a meltdown. It was too much for Jeramy and he let a naughty word slip (very quietly, I didn't even hear). No sooner was it out of Jeramy's mouth, Ella let out a big gasp and as loud as she could says "Mom, daddy said @#&$!" So completely mortifying!

So there you have it! No superstar parents here. As you can see we have moments when we are the worst parents. Such as yesterday when we had a crazy-busy day (school, soccer, ballet, pictures, young womens, playdate - husband in London) and Ella had two fast food meals and for a bed time snack - an hour past her bedtime - a pink iced cookie and a mini chocolate donut. Not my finest or proudest parenting moments, but you know, they happen so why pretend otherwise! Being a parent to little kids, I'm learning you just can't take things too seriously. There's actually a lot of humor and fun to be found amidst the chaos!

Now, partially to make me feel better, partially for pure entertainment and humor - I want some bad parenting stories! Post a comment with your best ones and we can all bond via our bad parent confessions.


Remembering 9/11

For the past few days I have had a small cloud overhead as I thought about today - the six year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks - an event that has truly changed all of our lives. Since I am so terrible at keeping a journal, I'm certain that I have never recorded my life that day. Each year as September 11th approaches, I think to myself that I really need to write down my thoughts and feelings about that day, and each year September 11th comes and goes with no written record. So, this is the year. This was such a significant day in our lives. Our children and grandchildren will learn about it and ask us to tell them about it and I'm not putting a lot of faith in my memory!

In September 2001, I was working for a small start-up company, CopiersNow, that sold and serviced office equipment. A friend from BYU, and Ernst & Young, left E&Y to work there and ended up recruiting me there. Not a hard sell, considering I was just finishing up my 3rd busy season at E&Y and had been pulling 100+hour weeks! (BTW - 120 was my record and yes, there are that many hours in a week!)

After a few months of doing really boring stuff in Accounting, they had a need for an IT Project manager and asked if I would want to make the change. I happily changed roles and was really enjoying the challenge of something entirely new.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I drove the ten minute drive to work in silence. For some reason the radio was turned off, which was extremely rare - I ALWAYS had music on, and I was so preoccupied with thoughts of work, I didn't even notice that I was driving in silence. I remember arriving at work, shortly before 8:00am, completely oblivious to the unfathomable events that had already occurred that morning. As soon as I opened the door to the office, I knew something was going on. The few people that were already there were huddled around a small tv. I remember watching and listening with unbelief, but it was nothing compared to watching the first tower collapse just a few moments later. Then seeing the second one crumble a short time later and just watching it be replayed over and over again on the news. It was all so surreal - I kind of felt numb. Most of us stayed around the tv for the majority of the work day. A few times I left to try and get some work done but couldn't think of anything else but the attacks. They should have just sent us all home because no one got any work done. I remember feeling so small and vulnerable and afraid . It was the first time in my life I have ever even thought about feeling safe within the borders of my country - Canada or US.

When I got home, Jeramy was already home because his company shut down early and sent every one home to be with their families. We just sat in front of the tv the rest of the afternoon and evening trying to take it all in - the sadness and grief for those whose lives, or loved ones, were taken; the fear of feeling, for the first time, the effects of terrorism; the anger and disbelief that people could plan and execute such atrocities; the joy and pride for the many, many heroes who emerged in the midst of the worst of circumstances and the patriotism felt by a country uniting to stand strong.

As time has passed, it has also dulled many of the emotions and has hopefully helped to heal so many of the wounds inflicted that day. For me, remembering 9/11 is not just about what was lost but what has been gained. To me, 9/11 represents faith, freedom, patriotism, perseverance, service and love. I have gained a greater appreciation of what a blessing it is to live in this country (and Canada), for the freedoms we are afforded and the people we are united with.



Ella started soccer this week. A few months ago she told me she really wanted to play. I'm not sure if she even knew what it was, or why she was interested, but she kept asking so I signed her up. She had her first practice last Wednesday, which was so hilarious. There were nine little four year-old girls running all over the place, bumping into each other, kicking their balls, and when that wasn't working so well, they would just pick them up to get them where they wanted. Pure chaos!
Down the field, at practice

A goal!

Then yesterday was her first game. Her team is called the "Unicorns" - very appropriate sounding team name for 4-year old girls. Coincidentally, the team they played were also the "Unicorns." So for the game they play four girls from each team, obviously not playing positions, and no goalie. Pretty much the whole game there were eight girls crowded around the ball trying to get it going the right direction. Ella was cracking us up! Seeing how she doesn't have older siblings and really hasn't been that exposed to soccer, I'm not sure she completely understood her role on the field. She was just trotting around the field with a big goofy smile on her face. She got some good kicks in and almost scored a goal but mostly kind of stood back a little and waited for the ball to roll her way.

Warming up before the game. Nice kick, Ella!

Game on! (Although if I'm not mistaken, I think
you're supposed to kick the ball, not carry it!)

Ready to start the game! What fierce looking Unicorns!

This is pretty much how every picture from the
game looked - the ball, surrounded by eight little girls

After the game we went to lunch and Jeramy and I were telling her how great she did and were telling her that when you play soccer you're supposed to run really hard after the ball and try and steal the ball away from the other team. Her response "Am I allowed to do that?" Clearly, we had a bit of a communication breakdown somewhere. :)

Regardless if soccer will be her thing, or not, she said she had a great time (besides "getting too hot") and is excited to be playing soccer. She has a great coach and I think it's really good for her to play on a team. Let's hope we all feel the same way at the end of the season!


Labor Day

This morning when I went to get Finn out of his crib, I opened the door to find him holding on to the front rail, standing up! It's the first time he's pulled himself up. He looked so big but little at the same time. It was so cute I had to grab my camera. Wow, just the past week he hardly seems like a little baby anymore! I wish he would stop trying to grow up so quickly!

The majority of the day was spent "laboring" in the yard. We've been gone so much this summer that our yard has been a little neglected. We mowed, trimmed shrubs, weeded and shoveled rock. Not very fun, but the yard looks so much better.

We then decided that the poor kids needed a little fun so I loaded up Finn in the Burley (in his car seat) and attached it to my bike and Jeramy walked with Ella while she rode her bike and we went over to the park for a while. Finn had a great time in the swings, laughing and giggling. Do you love Finn's crazy faux-hawk? Just like his daddy's, but his hair's a little long.

This picture of Finn reminded me so much of one of Ella's first times in the swing. I went through some old pictures and found one of Ella at exactly 7 months old. It's kind of fun to compare the pictures of the kids - on the exact same swing and the same age, almost to the day. Such cutie pies!
While Finn was swinging away, Ella had a great time riding her bike around the park and then kicking the soccer ball around on the soccer field. She starts soccer this week and was excited for a little practice session.

Not our most fun, memorable Labor Day, but it was a productive day and fun to be together as a family.


Before I Was Your Mother.....

The other night I was talking to my sister-in-law, Lisa, about doing some photo books. She was telling me about a really cute template through Heritage Makers called "Before I Was Your Mother". It reminded me of when I used to scrapbook, I had always wanted to do a scrapbook about me. I have a ton of programs and tickets, notes, etc. saved from high school and college that need an organized home, but I mostly wanted to document that part of my life so my kids would someday know that I'm more than just a mom - I'm a person who has hobbies and interests and have done and enjoyed a lot in my life

Then today, on the drive home from church Ella somehow started talking about what she wanted to be when she grew up. She was talking away, rattling off a big list of potential careers - a cowgirl, dentist, vet, dancer, roofer (we're in the middle of getting a new roof). I guess she wasn't sure what she wanted to be the most because she asked me and Jeramy - "Can I be anything I want?" We told her "Anything!" Suddenly she was quiet then goes "Mom, you aren't ANYTHING!"

Even thought it was really funny (and kind of sad) and I explained that I used to be "something" but now I get to be "nothing" so I can be her mom all the time, it did get me to thinking. What would I tell me kids about myself before I was their mother? Off the top of my head here a few specifics (besides sister, daughter, etc.)

So Ella, before I was your mother....

1) I was a student. I went to school at Ricks and BYU and graduated with a Bachelor's and Master's in Accountancy.

2) I was a cheerleader. In junior high I was a cheerleader for football but by high school I decided cheering outside in below zero temperatures was nothing to cheer about! In high school I cheered for the basketball team and our cheer squad won provincials all three of my high school years.

3) I went to lots of concerts! I have always loved music and when daddy and I moved to Denver there were a lot of opportunities to see some great bands! Some fun concerts I've been to: Barenaked Ladies, Depeche Mode, U2, No Doubt, Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Coldplay, Sarah McLachlan, The Killers, The Fray, Gwen Stefani.

4) I had a "career". A week after graduating from BYU I sat for the CPA exam and somehow managed to pass all four parts! (must have been a low curve that time) A few months later I started working for Ernst & Young, one of the "Big Four" accounting firms, as an external auditor. I also worked at a little startup (that went belly-up after a year) called CopiersNow as an accountant and IT project manager and then at First Data Corp in Coporate accounting.

5) I was a piano student and teacher. I started taking piano lessons when I was 8 until I was 16. During that time I did the Royal Conservatory of Music program complete with theory (yuck!) and exams. For a few years in high school I also taught lessons to a few students.

As you can see, Ella, before I was your mother I was "something"! I did have a job, even a career, I guess. But I knew it wasn't the "something" I wanted to do forever. When I became your mother I happily gave up "something" for "nothing" and have never looked back! Today, I told you when you grown up, you can be anything you want! I hope you find that "something" you are passionate about and want to be, but more than that I hope someday you get to experience how wonderful being "nothing" is.



Aloha! Jeramy and I just got back from a FABULOUS trip to Maui! My wonderful parents drove down from Canada - yup, 15 hours each way - to come and take care of the kids while Jeramy and I took advantage of all the airmiles, Marriott points and American Express points that he has racked up with his crazy travel schedule. One whole week in paradise!

We arrived to the hotel, the Wailea Marriott, late at night so we couldn't really see anything. In the morning - after a precious full night's sleep with no crying babies or nightmares to deal with (sorry mom and dad!) - we looked out our window and were blown away by the view - isn't it amazing?

We spent a lot of our time there just enjoying the beach, snorkeling, lounging by the pool and reading. Our second day there was Jeramy's birthday. After spending the morning at the beach, I booked him a massage at the hotel spa. For dinner we went to the most incredible restaurant - Mama's Fish House in Pa'ia. Even though it came highly recommended, the name of the restaurant conjured images of an old shack with beaten up wood plank floors and dingy walls that smelled of grease from all the fried food. I could not have been more wrong! The location and ambiance were enough to wow me. It was a converted beach house nestled in a coconut grove on a gorgeous white sand beach. We somehow scored the best table in the restaurant. And the food - AMAZING! Every morsel I tasted - and there were a lot! (don't tell Cliff, my trainer) - was sooo delicious. We had appetizers, main course and dessert - all of it scrumptious!!!

Jeramy & I enjoying his birthday dinner at Mama's.
We turned around for the picture but were facing that
amazing view our entire meal.

One of the days there we drove the Road to Hana. It is an incredibly windy road with tons of one lane bridges. I think our average speed was about 15-20 miles/hour. So why, you ask, do people spend an entire day in their car to travel a 70-mile stretch of highway? That's what I want to know!

Before we went I had heard mixed reviews - absolutely do it! or definitely skip it (one of my friends said it should be renamed the "Road to Hell") We've always heard about it and it sounded like there were so many beautiful things to see along the way - which there are - so we decided to do it. There were tons of beautiful waterfalls, beaches, caves, sea arches but I was so car sick I couldn't really enjoy anything. In retrospect, I'm glad we did it - it was really beautiful and the memories and pictures outlive the carsickness. Just don't ever try and get me on that road again.

Me and Jeramy in Nahiku - a little town
right on the coast off the Hana Highway.

Another stop on the Hana Highway.
Jeramy in front of a small sea cave at
Pa'iloa - a black sand beach

The 7 Sacred Pools - our last stop (halleluiah!)
on the Road to Hana. Then we just had to
turn around and drive the whole thing back!

Another fun thing we did was take a boat from Ma'alea to Molokini, a crater about 8 miles from Maui, to do some snorkeling. It was a lot of fun. The captain of the boat, the Four Winds II, was hilarious and kept us entertained during the boat ride. Unfortunately, the morning we went ended up being really windy, so the snorkeling wasn't as fun as it could have been. We still saw some great fish, an eel and Jeramy saw an octupus. We rented an underwater camera to take pictures but I haven't developed them yet so if there's any good ones I'll post them later.

The one thing I really wanted to do was to take a surf lesson. Unfortunately, it didn't happen this time. Between Jeramy's irrational fear of sharks, the wind, and conflicts with other things we had planned, it didn't work out. For sure next time!

Really, some of our favorite days were the ones we spent at the beach and the pool at the hotel. It was so nice to just do whatever we wanted with no one to take care of and no time constraints. Although we were in paradise, really the best part of the trip was just being together. I know that sounds really cheesy and very cliche, but it's true! Jeramy's travel schedule has been crazy this summer! And when he hasn't been gone for work we've been gone on family trip or we've been at home playing catch-up and getting ready for the next trip. It was so nice to have so much time together, away from everything, especially his Blackberry - yes, can you believe he actually left it! We had such a great time together! I absolutely loved the whole trip and am going to be dreaming about it until we can go again!

One day - after we fried ourselves and wanted to stay
out of the sun a little - we rented a cabana right on a cliff
overlooking the ocean. We just sat and read, had a nap
and would go jump in the pool to cool off. Heaven!

Jeramy reading in the cabana. Can you tell what
he's reading? Oh yes, none other than "Eclipse"!

Woowee! Hot stuff! Jeramy goofing
around on his way out to snorkel.


Yoga Baby

Our sweet little Finn is already trying to crawl. He suddenly seems so grown up! Didn't I have him just yesterday?

Anyway, I snapped a few pictures of him scooting around. He is so funny trying to move. I don't think he has quite figured out he's supposed to move on his hands and knees. He spends most of his time on his hands in feet with his little backside in the air - kind of like downward facing dog. Then from that position he will stick one of his legs out and balance on his hand and one foot. It's so cute and so much fun to see him learn and grow.