Happy Birthday Ella!

This week was Ella's birthday - 8 years old!!!  I can't believe how grown up she is.  Here's a look back at my little baby girl's past 8 years - starting with her first day of life and each birthday thereafter.  Where has the time gone?

This year's birthday started at 6:00 am and included ice cream cake (oops, no candles except a "1" from Chase's birthday!) and pumpkin muffins for breakfast, new Ugg boots, lunch at school with Mom, Dad & Chase, Mom spending extra time at school volunteering in Ella's class, swimming lessons and a date with mom and dad.  We went to the mall and ate at the food court then spent two hours at the mall while Ella shopped and picked out some birthday presents with her birthday money.  She ended up with some jewelry from Claire's, a charm bracelet from Nordstrom and a jewelry box from Pottery Barn kids.  A super fun (and exhausting!) day!!  

Ella at 8 years old:
  • An amazing big sister to her brothers.  They both absolutely adore her!!!
  • Loves school, church - anywhere that there are people!
  • A little bookworm - just like her mom and dad.
  • A great little gymnast and swimmer. 
  • So creative - artwork, stories, songs, loves to decorate, embellish, bedazzle anything and everything - such as necklaces hanging from the chandelier and lamps in her room!
  • Still can't keep her room clean....but I think she is making progress :)
  • A very cheerful family member.
  • Has a sweet testimony that she loves to share 
  • A great missionary - recently announced to her school class that Mormons are Christian
  • A wonderful daughter whom I love so, so much!


It has been a while since I shared some of my favorites and I always have lots of favorites!!

First up - a fave for the kiddos in the house.  My kids like applesauce pretty well but ever since I bought these cute little GoGo squeeZ tubes of applesauce, it is the FAVORITE thing to eat at our house.  They aren't cheap but they do sell the apple/apple at Costco and they work out to about $0.50 each.  They have been nice to take as a quick, portable snack for my boys but Chase still hasn't figured out how to eat them without squeezing it all out first.  I think next time I may try and freeze a few to see how that works.  They have no sugar in them and they also have different varieties such as apple/peach, apple/banana, apple/cinnamon and apple/strawberry.  You can find them at Whole Foods & Sprouts.  Love them! 

Now for a "grown-up" favorite.... I actually mentioned this in Week 4 of my Project 52 post.  One of my all-time favorites are the cloth-bound Penguin classics.  I started collecting these last year and after Christmas and my birthday my collection is up to 8 books!  How exciting to have so many of my favorite books with such beautiful cover illustrations (done by Coralie Bickford-Smith) I believe there are about 25, or so, available through Amazon for a very reasonable price - around $13 each.   I love my little collection and can't wait to keep adding to it. 

Did You Know.....

Tonight right around dinner time Finn was asking for some Goldfish to eat.  I told him no that it would be dinner soon and that Goldfish weren't a very healthy snack.  He informed me:  "Well, Jesus made Goldfish and Jesus only makes good things."  How do you argue with that?  He sure enjoyed his Goldfish!

Project 52: Week 4 {Soothing Repetition}

Oh man - this week's project was a toughie!  

The idea:  I love to read and both Christmas and my birthday bestowed new additions to my Penguin classics cloth-bound, book collection.  Said collection sits right next to my computer and I would say a collection is pretty repetitious.  Also, I think one of the most relaxing, soothing things to do is to climb into bed after all my chores are finished and the house is so still,  and read, read, read!  So this week I didn't have to think too long or hard for an idea. 

Soothing Repetition
The execution:  TOUGH!!!  I rarely take pictures of anything other than people, so something about photographing an "object" was kind of intimidating.  (You would think it would seem easier since it is 100 percent stationary!)  Anyway, the time that I could do my "assignment" today resulted in me having to shoot fairly close to the books (to get the best lighting) which resulted in perspective distortion - as you can obviously see below.  I even went to the trouble of putting the books on a sheet of glass to get the reflection and using a tri-fold presentation board behind them - none of which even mattered in the final shot :) Bummer, because I loved the shots with the reflection in the glass but the distortion in those was too bad.

However, I did learn a lot from this week's assignment - which is the point, right?


Project 52: Week 3 {Shades of Grey}

This week's assignment was shades of grey.  I did not use any creativity, whatsover!  I needed to get a picture of Ella for her baptism announcements, so I pretty much just used one of the pictures I got and converted it to BW.  I had some other ideas using some paint chips, using grey clothing against an overcast day, but just ran out of time.

The photographs I ended up with are less than ideal - 10 minutes before church in FREEZING, windy weather.  Also the location had bad lighting, but we just did the best we could under the circumstances.  That's what I get for procrastinating!! :)  Lighting, exposure and composition aside, I am happy to have a picture of my sweet Ella!


Project 52: Week 2 {Illustrate a Song}

Initially, the subject of this assignment left me blank.  Then I took a few minutes and started scrolling through my iTunes library and got all kinds of ideas.  This is what I ended up with.  Can you guess the song?  No peeking!

I've Got the World on a String
I almost picked another picture that had Ella's face in it, looking at the globe, but something about this one kept me coming back to it.  I think the composition is a little more dynamic because of the diagonal lines - it has a little more energy and movement.  And I absolutely adore how her she turned her leg sideways.  Her pose just really seemed to sum the song title up to me.  Thanks for your hard work Ella!


A Turnaround

Tonight, the kids are all in bed, finally,  tucked in and I am in the next room on my computer.  I usually check email, etc. on the computer until I know they are asleep and then go downstairs to clean up.  So I am on the computer and I hear some crashing around the in the bathroom.  Finn is out of bed.

Me (annoyed - Day 4, rough day 4,  of Jeramy gone, patience pretty thin today, kids finally in bed and someone is daring to make me put on my mothering hat again) " Finn, what are you doing?  Why aren't you in bed?"

Finn:  "I'm looking for the other smiley face." (bath toy)

Me (annoyance escalating):  "Finn, get back in bed.  You don't need to find the other smiley face right now."

Finn (completely serious):  "But Mom, I need to find the other smiley face........ it's my destiny to find it."

Annoyance immediately dissolved, replaced with deep belly laughs and warm fuzzies for my adorable little guy.   I'll probably still be smiling when I go to bed tonight.  Thanks for turning my day around, Finn!

And just for the record I do have two other children - Ella & Chase - whom I equally love and adore.  I realize so many of my more recent posts are about Finn but he is just at that age when the craziest and most humorous things come out of his mouth.  His little brain is putting things together and having so many little light-bulb moments - usually with a few crossed wires - that it makes for a lot of fun.  I remember Ella being the same way!  

More to come on my other kids soon :)


Project 52: Week 1 {Around the House}

So, one of my goals for this year is to turn my attention back to photography again.  I got an email from MCP about their Project 52 and thought it sounded like a great opportunity.  Each week there is photo assignment to help give you some direction and stretch your creativity and move you out of your comfort zone.  I thought having a weekly assignment might help me make time to practice.

Week 1 - Around the House.  For this one, I didn't get creative - at all!  Although, "around the house" - ummm, yeah, my kids - they are EVERYWHERE!!  You can follow the path of destruction around my house, like a Family Circle cartoon.  Actually, the real reason I picked my kids was because I had wanted to play around with my 50mm lens and focus on getting those really sharp, crip eyes.  So one day when the kids were around I tortured them for about 15 minutes, practicing on the eyes.  Here is my favorite.  And I am going to try REALLY hard to not point out all the things wrong with my pictures, because there is a lot!


Is Gratitude a Thing of the Past?

I have read some commentaries in the past in which the authors have felt that etiquette and manners are practically a thing of the past and that gratitude has been all-but forgotten. 

I was reminded of this the other day when one of my kids teachers thanked me for sending them a thank you card for a Christmas gift they gave my child.  I was a little surprised and found it kind of funny to be thanked for a thank-you card but was completely taken aback when she told me that she had never received a thank-you card for a Christmas gift she had given.  I couldn't believe it!  She is a teacher and I imagine gives her students a gift every year at Christmas.  No thank-you card, ever???  Ever since that conversation I have not been able to get this off my mind - hence this blog post. 

Now, let me pause and clarify that I, by NO means, an exemplary person in etiquette and manners.  In fact I think back to several faux-pas and cringe.  Did I really do that????  And there will certainly be many more to come.  I do feel very strongly about thank-you cards but sometimes do let them fall through the cracks (umm, I still have a to-do list to write thank you cards from Chase's 1st birthday almost 6 months ago! Don't I get a year? :))  I know I have much to improve upon and I was actually very glad for the little reminder about how important it is. 

And now for my soapbox speech....and again - my disclaimer - this is how I feel but definitely do not always take action with this.  This is my ideal and how I would LOVE to be operating - not how I actually do operate!   I feel like a hand-written thank-you note is always not only appropriate, but the best way of expressing gratitude for something someone has done for you.  Doesn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside when someone has taken the time to actually sit down and write out a note?  I am always so touched when I receive a note expressing thanks - it truly makes my day, often my week.  How exciting is it to get the mail and sort through the piles of fliers, catalogs and bills and to find a hand-written note in the pile.  It's like finding a buried treasure. Maybe it's my current station in life - there's isn't an abundance of gratitude in my current "job", so maybe I am thirsty for a little verbal love once in a while :).   Also, I have noticed that a hand-written note seems so much more meaningful than an email or text.  Don't misunderstand - words are words and have the same weight regardless of their method of delivery.   Maybe because a hand-written note is so much more work - finding a card, writing, addressing an envelope, finding a stamp and dropping it in the mail - knowing that someone went to all that effort adds a little exclamation mark to the enclosed words.  Also, I do save some thank-you cards and I have I don't ever print out emails to include in my file. 

I also feel thank-you cards should not be limited to physical gifts.  Aren't the best gifts you receive people's time, talents and efforts?  I once read someone's opinion that if someone spend more than 15 minutes doing something for you, a hand-written thank-you card is proper etiquette.  I think I must be really lucky but I could truly write at least a few thank-you cards every week.  If I think about all of the wonderful talks and lessons I am privy to each week on Sunday, the kind, thoughtful encounters I have with friends and family, the wonderful examples I see of others extending love and service to those around them.  The opportunities are limitless.  I have started keeping a stack of thank-you cards and a book of stamps in my top desk drawer to remind me to use them.  I wish I used them more.  I can't count the times I have thought to send one but don't.  I feel very disappointed about the many opportunities I have missed to let someone know that they have touched my life in some way.  I don't think we realize the long lasting impact a few kind words can have.  I have a stack of cards I save and every once in a while if I am looking in my files for something and come across them it is such a joy to re-read them. 

I want some feedback from you.    Has it been your experience that etiquette - in particular thank-you cards - is on the decline?  Is it old-fashioned?  Necessary?  How about an email or text vs. a hand-written note? I would love you to weigh in on this. 


Christmas and the Toothbrushes

Christmas 2010 will go down in our history as the Christmas of the toothbrushes!  I think the favorite gift, for all 3 kids, were the toothbrushes they got in their stockings.  Chase is obsessed with toothbrushes and always has at least one in hand, so he was thrilled to get a 4-pack in his stocking.  Finn and Ella always beg for the spin toothbrushes at Target so were crazy excited when they both got one in their stocking. 

Other Christmas morning highlights:
What could it be?

A new camera! 

Maybe slightly more excited about the camera than the toothbrush.

Lego for Finn
1600 pieces!  Ay-yi-yi - what was Santa thinking?
Toothbrush is still the favorite!

Loving on his new "warm buddy" from Grandma.  The kids all got these - they are stuffed animals with a removable wheat bag you can heat up and also put essential oils on to add a little aromatherapy.  Definitely a hit with the kids!       

Just give the poor baby his toothbrush!                      


My definition of sincerity is listening to my little Finn pray.  I can't say that it is always a reverent experience, but he absolutely speaks from his heart.  Always.

Tonight's prayer:
  • please bless Ella to not be sick anymore (she's home from school today)
  • help me to be able to go swimming
  • please help Ella to like roller-coasters (two days ago during a conversation she was saying she was scared of them
  • please bless that I can go on a roller-coaster today
  • please help me to learn my letters at Miss Kelly's (his preschool)
  • please let me go to SkyView when I'm big (Ella's school)
  • Someday, please let me that I can be 4!  (Only a month to go, Finn!)
Other recent prayers:
  • Please bless that the bad guys won't poke out President Monson's eyeballs (...?..?  no idea!)
  • Please help me to not break mom's lamp (Amen!  While you're at it, can we add a few more things to that list?)
  • After finishing his prayers the other night, he stopped and said - "Wait, I forgot to say one thing.  I need to say one more prayer."  So he said them all over again and added "Please help grow, grow, grow big...(pause) - 3 inches - so I can go on the waterslide." (We recently told him he needed to be 3 inches taller to go on the outdoor waterslide at the gym.  It has been working like a charm in compelling him to eat all his veggies!)