Ella's Baptism

Once again I have fallen waaayyy behind on my blog.  Life gets crazy and I stop blogging!  Let's not even talk about my Project 52!!!

Back in February, February 6th to be exact, Ella got baptized.  It's hard to believe my baby girl is already 8 years old but at the same time she's always been trying to grow up too quickly.  We were all so fortunate to have all of her Grandpas Grandmas come for the big day- 5 in total.  All of them here just for her!  I told her that may not happen again for a very, very long time, if ever.

The whole morning was so wonderful!  There were great talks given by her Primary teacher and our home teacher.  As it was just Ella getting baptized it felt very personal to her and I think that made it even that much more special.  I got pictures of almost everybody that came and am working on a baptism book for her.  The timeline I've been following lately, I'll be thrilled if I get it finished before she goes into YW!!!
Baptism Invite - Front
Baptism Invite - Back

My friend, Shauna, gave me the great idea to do a slideshow for Ella's baptism.  I had so much fun going through all of her pictures to put together a slideshow of her first 8 years.  I had it playing on an iPad propped up on an easel.  I found some gorgeous renditions of some Primary songs to go with the pictures.

Ella and Jeramy just before the baptism

After the baptism my friend Neeley was so nice to do Ella's hair.  It turned out so cute!

The only picture of me the entire day! Bummer.  Next time I will ask a friend or family member to be the photog for the day!

I love her dress - the lace was beautiful and the big cotton voile sash!

My beautiful Ella!

With Grandpa Gary and Grandma Sheila.  Ella's trying to put on a brave face but it was really cold out - even though it was sunny - and her hair was still wet and she was miserable.  She was trying to force a few smiles!

With Grandpa and Grandma Nelson. 

With Grandpa Bryan


Project 52: Week 5 {Muse}

This week I had a chance to take some pictures of sweet little Zane, my friend Brecken's newest addition.  What a perfect little muse!!!  Could he be any more adorable? Oh my goodness, what a little angel!

It also gave me a chance to play around with the new Florabella Luxe II Photoshop actions.  They are absolutely delicious and I can't wait to play around some more!


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!)


My Sensitive Little Guy

Wow, another 4 months has come and gone and ne'er a blog post to be found.  It's the cute, funny, day-to-day stuff that I feel like I am not documenting well.  So, even though I am behind with a lot of the major things, I couldn't let the day pass without documenting a tender little moment that happened today.

This morning I took Chase to the doctor for his 1-year well visit.  On the drive to the doctor Finn asked if Chase was going to get shots and seemed a little concerned about it.  Once at the doctor's office, when the doctor came in to see us Finn seemed to get a little anxious again and started asking me about Chase's shots and asked "Why are you doing this, Mom?"  Things came to a head when, after leaving the room, the doctor returned with all of the shots - 4 of them :( -  on a little tray.  Finn started to get really upset saying he didn't want Chase to get shots and was nearly crying about it.  The doctor asked if Finn wanted to go out in the hall and wait so he didn't have to watch.  Finn nodded his head, picked up a toy truck to take with him, then left the room alone and shut the door.  Finn waited outside all by himself while Chase got all 4 shots in his legs. 

He must have been able to hear things to know when we were done because shortly after the shots were over, the door opened and Finn, a little wide-eyed, re-emerged.  He came right over to Chase and gave him a big hug and was offering lots of soothing "shhhhhhhh's" and "It's OK, Chasey baby." 

I absolutely love that about Finn.  Anytime someone in our family goes anywhere - even a quick 20 minute store to the trip - they are greated with enthusiastic hugs and a jubilant "I missed you!" from Finn.  Often, out of the blue, he'll say to one of us "I like you, Ella" or "Mom, I need to hold you."  He is so affectionate and sensitive but then one second later he's talking silly about poop or pee - he loves the "potty talkin"- or wrestling with one of us or destroying something around the house. 

Today reminded me about one of my absolute favorite things about being a mom.  Seeing the love and concern my children have for each other.  I feel like they really have each other's backs and look out for each other.  Seeing the adoration they have for one another warms my heart in a way that not much else can compare to.  Those are the moments I treasure.  Life is about the relationships we have with others and I am grateful that my children, in some small way, are realizing that at a young age. 


Quote of the Day

Tonight as I was getting Finn ready for bed he was asking me what my eyes were for.  I asked him to tell me what eyes are for and he said "to look".  We started going through different body parts, ears, mouth, etc. and when we got to nose I asked him what his nose was for.  His answer "to pick boogers."  I love little boys!!!



The last few weeks, I've been working on a few little projects and have come across or revisited a few handy little items that I wanted to spread the good word about.  I realize this probably is going to sound like an infomercial, but here are 3 products that have recently made my life easier:

Home Decorating Tips1.  Monkey Hooks - This is the most simple, least damaging way to hang something!  I am all about this after recently patching a wall where I had 12 large holes to patch.  I saw these at Ace and needed to buy some hooks to hang a new mirror.  I asked one of the guys at Ace about them and he said they were great.  So easy!  You don't have to pre-drill, no anchors, you don't even need a hammer.   You twist the pointy end into the wall, rotate and voila!  I was just using it to support a mirror I have leaning above my fireplace, so I do wonder if they are more difficult to use when you need more precision.   But my experience with these is great!

 2.  Rubbermaid Paint Buddy Touch-up Tool - I bought this a few years ago and keep it filled with the paint color that runs throughout the majority of my house.  This is so easy and handy for quick touch-ups.  I used to keep a tupperware container filled with paint, but then there was still a brush to clean and put away.  This just rolls on your paint, then you pop out the little foam roller, clean it off and put it all away.   Love it!

Magic American GGHS12 Goo Gone Spray Gel3.  Goo Gone Spray Gel - I must have had a premonition when I bought this !  The afternoon after I bought this, I was doing some spray painting in the garage and I turn around to see Finn had found a little pot of red paint and painted my deep-freeze with it.  I didn't panic because of course Mr. Clean magic eraser was going to take care of it, right?  Wrong!  I panicked for a moment, looking at my red-streaked appliance, until I remembered that I had bought the Goo Gone.   I decided to try it - testing a little, inconspicuous part first -  and it worked amazing!  No more red paint and my deep freeze has never looked better.  It got out all the dirt that finds it way deep down into the crevices of the textured surface.   This is great to remove all kinds of sticky stuff, like those super annoying price tags that just won't come off.  It also works great on getting rid of grease, crayon, paint, etc.  I found mine at Hobby Lobby and it is kind of expensive ($8.99 at HL) but it works so well, I think it is worth every penny!!!


What an Olympics!

What mixed emotions I am feeling as the 2010 Winter Olympics have come to a close.  I am so thrilled by the competitions and performances of the past two weeks, impressed and proud of the athletes and countries I love, and sad that it is all over.   I LOVE, LOVE the Olympics!   If my life allowed, I would sit for hours and watch the Olympics.  I love it all - the heart-pounding competition, the personal interest stories and athlete spotlights, the team camaraderie, the patriotism and love of country that drive these athletes.  
I am so fascinated and inspired by the athletes and am amazed by the determination and dedication that these athletes put into their sport.  Four years of grueling effort and sacrifice, often for an event lasting under one minute.  Of course these athletes compete in several other competitions in between the Olympics - nationals, world champions,etc.  But I have to believe that an olympic medal - an olympic GOLD medal - is the ultimate quest and goal of every athlete.  The crowning jewel of their accolades and accomplishments.

So, back the 2010 Olympics.  I didn't get to watch as much as I would have liked, but here are some of the highlights and standouts to me.

A Golden Ending! 

What a heart-pounding, pulse-racing, covering-my-eyes-sneaking-peeks-through-my-fingers hockey game yesterday.  I wanted Canada to get that gold medal sooooo badly!  For a few reasons.  The first being that hockey is incredibly popular and important to Canadians, so I think that was the medal that mattered most to many people.  Second, what a great ending to a great Olympic games for Canada!  Third, I really wanted to see those Canadian players win gold on their home ice.  That's not something that many people ever get to experience, so what an amazing feeling for them!  And fourth, Canada winning gold at that game would allow them to set the record for the most gold medals - 14!!! - ever won at a single Winter Olympic games.  Do you know how amazing that is for Canada?  The two previous times they hosted the Olympics - they did not win ONE SINGLE gold medal!  So to walk away with the most golds ever!!! - Crazy and exhilarating!!!  Anyway, what an intense, exciting and perfect ending to an amazing Olympic games.  I am so, so thrilled for the success of the Canadian athletes!!!

O, O, O Canada!  

Although I have now lived in the US longer than I have lived in Canada, I am, and always will be, a Canadian.  I love the US and am so thrilled by their success and love this country dearly and will always route for the U.S......unless they are in competition with Canada.

I am also very happy by the success of the US Olympians and was excited for them to set a record of winning the most total medals in a single winter Olympic games.

Congratulations to both of "my" countries!!!

Watching the NBC coverage, I think everyone was pretty familiar with the stories and efforts of Shaun White, Lindsey Vonn, Apollo Ohno, Shani Davis, Bode Miller, Steven Holcomb, etc.  But, obviously, there wasn't much, if any, coverage of the Canadian athletes.  So, I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite and standout Canadian athletes:

Favorite Olympian (from any country!!!)  -  Clara Hughes of Canada.  Hands down!!!!

Clara Hughes, Canadian speedskater,  wins bronze at 2010 OlympicsClara Hughes is donating her bronze-medal bonus to help children in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. After winning gold in 2006, she donated $10,000 to Right to Play.So, most of you may not know much about her since the coverage here is, obviously, done with a US focus.  So, let me tell you why I think she is amazing!!!  Clara Hughes is 37 1/2 years old - pretty darn old for an athlete :)    This is her 5th Olympic games and she is THE ONLY Olympian in history EVER to win multiple medals in both the summer (cycling) and winter (speed-skating) games.  (There have been 4 other Olympians to win a medal at both summer and winter - but she is the only to win multiple in both)  The last race of her career, earlier this week, gave her a bronze medal - at the age of 37, ending a 20-year career.  I was beyond thrilled to see her skate one of the best races of her life, setting a new track record in front of a home crowd. (The record was shortly broken by the eventual gold & silver medalists of the race)  What a phenomenal way to end a phenomenal career!  She also got to be the flag-bearer for Canada in the opening ceremonies.   I am so inspired  her and the more I find out about her I am amazed at what an incredible human being she is.  After winning a gold in Torino, she donated $10,000 of her own money (she did not receive a winner's bonus) to a humanitarian organization that uses sports to encourage development of under-privileged youth.  She also just donated her $10,000 winner's bonus from her 2010 bronze medal, to another charity that helps youth with addiction problems by introducing them to challenging outdoor activities.  What an inspiring athlete and human being!

Olympic Bravery - Joannie Rochette 

A Canadian figure skater, whose mother died 2 days before she skated her way to a bronze medal.  Joannie's 55-year old mother died of a heart-attack shortly after arriving in Vancouver to watch her daughter skate.  Many people thought Joannie would pull-out of the competition, but instead she put on a brave face and skated her way to a bronze medal.  I didn't watch, but read that her performance in the Sat. night Exhibition Gala was also phenomenal and moving and that she skated with passion and emotion, clearly showing her love of the sport.  Her performance ended with the crowd on their feet.  The courage and hope she displayed in the face of her hardship during these Olympics, captured many people's hearts.  Also, because of her heart, and bravery she was asked to carry the Canadian flag in the closing ceremonies.

Thriving on Adversity Pays Off - Jasey-Jay Anderson

Canada's Jasey Jay Anderson celebrates with his two daughters after winning goldCanadian gold clubA 34-year old blueberry farmer and dad to 2 little girls, doesn't fit the typical profile of an Olympian.  But in his 4th Olympics Jasey-Jay finally got a seemingly elusive olympic medal - a gold, nontheless!!!  He has won several World Championship and World Cup titles - but has never finished higher than 5th place in his 3 prior Olympics.   He is Canada's most decorated snowboarder and won gold in the parallel giant slalom on Saturday. He said he was so excited to share his medal with his daughters (above!)I love what he said about trying to pursue gold in his last race of his 20-year career.   "I just thought a true athlete thrives on adversity," he said. "So, I tried to be a true athlete."There's no better feeling."  

So, now it is all done for 2 more years, until the Summer Olympics!  What a great two weeks of excitement in Vancouver and I'm looking forward to 2012 in London!  



For Finn's 3rd birthday party, he chose to have a "super-hero" with the featured super-hero being Spiderman, of course.  So, for his invitation I thought it would be fun to make it like a comic book.  I dragged Jeramy, Ella & Finn out into the backyard to snap a few "action" shots.  Here's how it turned out.



The funny part about doing this invite was that shortly before I dragged everyone into the backyard to take pictures, unbeknownst to me, my next door neighbor looked out her kitchen window and there was a man in her backyard and on her deck.  I know - yikes!!!  She called the police who happened to come during our little photo shoot.  My neighbor said the policeman couldn't figure out what we were doing and was a little curious as to why there was a little girl tied up to a chair in the backyard.  You know, just a typical day at our house...



A few weeks ago Ella turned 7! Seven!!! I can't believe how quickly the time has flown.  Seven just seems so much older than 6 to me.  Even looking back at her pictures last year, she has grown up so much. 

This year I really wanted to try and focus on making my kids birthdays special.  They have brought so much joy into my life that I wanted to try and give some of that back to them and help them experience a tiny glimpse of the exponential joy that instanteously filled my heart the day they were born.  That sounded totally cheesy, but it's true!

So I didn't do anything fancy, elaborate or expensive but I just tried to make their day all about them as much as possible.  One new tradition for this year was a birthday box.  I bought a cute, painted little wooden box for her to keep all of her special birthday wishes in each year and with the intention of writing her a birthday love letter each year for her to keep and collect in her box.  For fun, I also bought a crown that I "made" her wear all day (for those of you who know Ella, I'm sure it's no surprise that she loved that!) that we will keep in the birthday box.

Besides that it was a matter of letting her chose whatever she wanted to eat for all 3 meals, making any kind of cake she wanted (kind of regretting that one :)), meeting her at school for lunch and taking her to Target to spend some birthday money from the grandparents.

Here is the cake Ella wanted.  She wanted a cake pop cake that she could take to school for her birthday treat!  What a ton of work and in the end I ran out of time to display it as cute as I wanted.  Thankfully my friend Brecken stopped by and helped me or I never would have finished in time to get it to school.  How about Krispy Kremes next year, Ella? :)

Presents in the morning, lunch at school and dinner at Red Robin -
all with her birthday crown and loving every minute of it!!!

Here are some things about Ella at 7:
  • She loves, loves, loves gymnastics.  It brings out so many good qualities in her and I'm amazed by her determination and persistence.  Oh, and her upper-body strength.  She can whiz up and down that 30-foot rope 3 times in a row like it were nothing! 
  • She is an amazing big sister.  She loves to play with and read to her little brothers and if Chase is crying and I can't get to him, she will often stop what she is doing, without even being asked, and go pick him up to take care of him. 
  • In the mornings, she moves slower than molasses in the winter!  She is often the very last kid to make it onto the bus.
  • She is so much fun, loves to have fun and has a spectacular, infectious laugh.
  • She is very creative and artistic and loves to draw, color, paint and create all kinds of wonderful things
  • Is very social and enjoys anything with lots of people
  • She can't stay on her chair through a whole meal.  A few years ago I told her I'd pay her $1 for any meal she could stay on her chair the entire time.  I haven't had to pay her a dime! 
  • She is incredibly committed to reading her scriptures.  She reads her own (the scripture readers with pictures) every night before bed and I don't think she has missed more than a few times over the past few years.  She blows my stats out of the water!
  • Her room is usually a huge disaster and it doesn't seem to bother her. 
  • Like all kids, says some of the craziest things and has hilarious insights.  I'm in awe of how her mind works.
  • She is a more amazing, incredible, head-strong, emotional, fun, talented and loving daughter than I could ever have imagined. 
I love you Ella and hope your birthday was wonderful!