Thursday, December 29, 2011

What do you want to tell Santa?

Ella dictated this note to me to leave for Santa, along with his homemade cookies and milk.  I have to smile that Baby Jesus came in first! And I don't think anyone is surprised Panda made it in there either.

The actual cookie baking and decorating was not for the faint of heart. Trying to roll out cookie dough with clouds of flour all around, and Ella running around with the cookie cutters should have probably been a Mama AND Daddy project. Which is why I got this look when it was all over...

A costume change and a nap and the cookie decorating commenced!

And taste-testing.

She wanted total creative control and had no problem telling me about it.

Our nephew Trent and his fabulous bride-to-be, Kim, stopped in town during their travels on Christmas Eve morning for a great visit. So great that before they left, they asked Ella to do them the honor as being the flower girl for their spring wedding. I cried (of course I did). We are touched beyond words, really. It is going to be such a colorful, funky celebration with these two at the reigns. We can hardly wait, although I'm already trying to figure out how we can hide Panda in her bouquet or flower basket.

Ella wore a fantastic creation on Christmas Eve night. Getting her ready for church that evening was a big challenge. Translation: no time for the camera or smiles.  So there will be a separate post dedicated to Ella in the dress her Grandma made her. Promise!

After a beautiful church service with a well-behaved Ella, we headed to our friends' home for their annual Christmas Eve bash. It was a perfect Christmas Eve. She was the star of the show and mingled with all the guests turning on her charm (and that contagious giggle) at the perfect time.

Christmas morning was big fun as well. She ripped through every present with a smile. Her Grandma and Papa came over to witness the chaos. More than once she said, "Thank you Mama for all the presents!" Either she is smarter than we think or she still hasn't grasped the concept of Santa.

Hands down - favorite toys were her train and cars!

She did take a break from them to do a little cooking in the kitchen peacock-style.

And Christmas night would not be complete if we didn't have a group photo, now would it?!

Ella and her people!

May your New Year be a happy, healthy one full of love!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On the editing floor.

The third time was the charm. Hard to believe, I know, but Ella was only mildly cooperative about mama photographing her for this year's Christmas card. What was NOT her fault was the Christmas light malfunction we experienced in Round #1. This is what you will not be seeing this year...

Kudos to her on the interesting pose, but the face gives it away. Done.
 A new day. A slightly better attitude. A change in venue and a whole lot of popcorn for bribing.
Bribe break.
After more hours than I'll ever admit, I created THIS with the big graphic help from no other than NicoleLee Photography.

But it wasn't an easy choice, folks! The two runners up were...

...and the one that melts my heart...

But we were worried you all would be a tad freaked by her face. WE knew she was laughing a big belly laugh when I snapped this. When we asked Ella for her input on the three finalists she told us, "I don't yike that one, mama. Ella's crying." Good point, Ella.

We're gearing up for a busy next couple of days. We spent the morning and afternoon with KatieRoz before they travel to be with family. Tomorrow we will run a few last minute errands and then anxiously await Jesus' birthday. No question, she wraps her little head around that concept better than Santa coming to visit her house on Saturday night. I can't really blame her!

May your celebrations be full of family, friends and laughter.

H, L & EML

Friday, December 16, 2011

Please don't ever let her outgrow the sink.

She seems to grow up twenty different ways at the end of each day. But on nights like this, when I just don't have it in me to lean over our old beast of a bath tub to bathe her, the sink is where we wash the stink.

Out of all the images I capture of her, 'bathtime in the sink' are some of the most beautiful, I think.

She even gives the impression of cooperation, although because she has nowhere to run might also factor into this. Panda watching over us never hurts!

Painting her foot with bubbles.

So until she is spilling out the sides, I plan on holding on as long as I can.


Monday, December 12, 2011

A good dress and a great birthday!

Many moons ago, my Aunt Kay and Uncle Pete lived in England for a time. My grandparents hopped the pond for a visit and came back with a wonderful little frock for their Dolly. My mom was thoughtful enough to carefully store it away. And on Sunday, Ella rocked it at Ah-men...

Of course it was more of a mini-dress on her (the girl has looooong legs).

This morning, we started out the day with birthday cupcakes for Daddy! Happy Birthday to Daddy-O!! More celebrating tonight, too.

H, L & EML

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A train ride like no other.

On Saturday morning, we met up with our friends for Ella's very first train ride. This wasn't just any train ride but the Santa Train - Ella's first experience with Santa in the flesh! Cookies and milk helped with the anticipation of Santa's arrival. And so did Ella's fascination with looking out the big windows.

Ella with her buddy, Ike.

RJ and Uncle Robbie.
Isabella reading her list to Santa.
A very happy Ava!
And although Ella was about as wide-eyed as they come as she watched the big girls hop up on Santa's lap, she didn't follow suit. Santa did manage to eek out a little smile out of her, however.

Since yesterday, she has informed me that "Ella go on a bus one day just like Ella goes on the train". Guess I better get that transit authority bus schedule downloaded...

Tomorrow we celebrate Daddy-O's birthday. Cupcakes for breakfast!!

H, L & EML

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We fit.

Our very bossy event coordinator.
Did Ella enter our lives with an innate understanding of music and its power? Did she have a sense of rhythm enabling her to follow along with just about any type of music? Or, did her immediate exposure to music, live performances (and drums, of course) in her life with us foster all this?

Yes. And ... yes. The complex mysteries of nature vs. nurture enter the picture again.

For the last few months, Larry has been working quietly behind the scenes in organizing the 3rd annual Raise Some Cash* fundraiser for our church's food pantry. Seven bands with enormously big hearts donated their time. Friends helped with running the sound equipment, donating band equipment and working the door. You see, this wasn't your typical church fundraiser. This was an all-day/night event at a bar. And Ella was right there, in the thick of things.

Ella and Uncle Drew 'working the door'.
Although not far from my hip or that of Larry's (as seen in picture above), she was in her element. Her toe was tapping or body bopping to whatever song was being played.
An uncooperative pose but you can see she's having no problem hanging with the big boys.
With the help of everyone involved, we raised $2,071. All of this money will be used in stocking the shelves to feed those in need surrounding our church. We are most pleased. We are humbled.

Ella's involvement was intentional. This is who we are, we tell her. We think she understand that now. We think she agrees. We fit - the three of us - quite nicely.

Daddy-O on the drums!
Oh, and no she didn't stay at the bar for eight hours, folks. Thanks to Roz and her grown ups for this and big love to my parents for the slumber party with Ella that night. That Hillary was on to something when she said it takes a village.
H, L & The Event Coordinator
* a hat-tip to the late Johnny Cash.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Seven hundred and thirty...

...days later. It was two years ago today that we got THE call. We saw her face for the very first time. We gasped at her beauty. We marveled in the outpouring of love from our family and friends as they celebrated with us. (Reflect back if you must, oh please do reflect !)

And yet today, it feels as though she has always been here and I'm not just saying that. It does.

We will carry on with normal Friday activities - school, work and perhaps even a little Christmas tree decorating in the evening. But we'll make sure to tell her of the day we first laid eyes on that clever girl with a sparkle in her eyes.

H, L & EML

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Popcorn in bed!

After bath time tonight, Ella and I snuggled up in my bed with a bowl of popcorn, Panda, Simba Kittie and watched the old classic, Frosty. If I allowed her, she'd devour the entire bag of microwave popcorn.

It is a rare moment in this household when all three women are quiet and content at the exact same time! Don't believe me? Ask the only guy living here.

Good night, Ella-land!

H, L & EML

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Working from home, fort-building and cupcakes.

I debated on whether we should build an ark instead of a fort. Recent weather in Ella-land has been super soggy. While I worked away at my computer, Ella and Roz kept busy. What a girl can't do with an old blanket and blue painter's tape.

Pretty stunning get-up, isn't it?
Nothing beats the rainy-day blues quite like a cupcake either.

I am pleased to report that we are all, at this point, healthy and back at it in full swing. We plan on making up for the missed feasting at Christmas.

Stay dry, Ella-land!

H, L & EML