Thursday, May 31, 2012

Morning time with Ella.

Music playing in the background, busy at work - singing and humming an important part of her waking hours.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Coming soon!

Our shutterbug Nikki of Nicolelee Photography was busy with a certain little girl and her panda over the weekend. We were delighted to include 'the wedding flower' in some of the shots.

What an amazing job she does at capturing the essence of Ella.

More to come, Ella-Land!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

"I am free"

Dear Ella,

Last week we celebrated your third birthday. I can't believe it! When asked how old you are, you hold up three slender, long fingers and says, "I am free". One day, you'll master your 'th' sound. Until then, I will cherish and smirk at how stinkin' sweet it sounds.

You had a wonderful weekend of celebrations, well, I guess we both did. This year you actually understood that Mama and you have the same birthday. You were very sweet and bought me awesome jewelry with your Daddy's help.

You are full of life. You sing nearly non-stop - while you play, eat, ride in the back seat of Mama's car, in your crib (yes, you are still in a crib at 3 years old and will be as long as we can contain you or you get too long...whichever comes first!). You make up words. Your favorite now is the KatieRoz song - repeating their names over and over and again to the Frere Jacques melody.

You love your Daddy. He is very good about taking the extra steps to teach you things that are hugely important. You've become quite the gardener because of him, for example. And although we both know in our hearts that music was in you from the beginning, he has fostered that aspect of you wonderfully. It makes you an incredibly cool three year old, Ella.

I marvel and pull my hair out (simultaneously most times) at how much you and I are alike. It makes for interesting day-to-day operations. It also renders me exhausted most nights. You have such an unbelievable headstrong, stubborn streak.  Most of my waking hours, I'm trying to figure out how to keep it between the ditches without stripping you of your spirit. And baby girl, you've got a spirit!

Just like when you were a smaller tot, some of your happiest times still are sitting on the kitchen counter while I prepare meals or clean up dishes. We solve a lot of the world's problems as you sit high on your perch. I hope you still do that when your lanky legs are sprawled everywhere at 14.

And lanky you are! You are tall and thin and your legs go for a mile, I swear. Often people mistake you for being much older because of it and because your hair seems to still be growing at record speed.

We think you enjoyed your birthday weekend, as it turned out. It certainly looks like it in all the pictures...

The Cat In The Hat scene is set.
Roz and Ella breaking in the new sand table.
Bouncy House! Bouncy House!
Thomas taking the sand table for a spin.
Bashful and out-of-her-mind happy. All at once!

Big wish.

We hope this year goes by slowly, Ella. We want to savor your being 'free' from morning til night.

Love, Mama and Daddy-O

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my open ears.*

(The Wedding Pictures Post!!) The title above are lyrics from "Across the Universe" by The Beatles. I don't know that any one song could be more perfect for what I'm feeling tonight. Our pretty bride, Kim, made her entrance to this song - perfectly harmonized by their musicians.

I'll confess that I downloaded all of the Kim and Trent wedding pictures to Facebook today. Yes, before I updated the blog. (Bad Mama) My page blew up with "likes" and comments from friends (theirs, mine) far and wide. I had to sign off. I could not keep up. To say that I enjoyed working on these photo edits would be something of an understatement. Our joy for these two far surpasses any words. The fact that Ella was included in their wedding day only made it that much better.

So when I signed on tonight after getting Sassy Pants to bed, I was greeted with this photo (by ShutterHead Studios...their wedding photographer and amazingly talented) and a message from Trent: "With all the amazing photos you've posted of us today I just couldn't wait to share this one with you. Enjoy :)"

And my mouth dropped. I had no words. Well, actually I had a million words, a million emotions but none that I could formulate into anything for your reading enjoyment. So gaze at this for a moment and know that she was every bit this cute. The day was ever bit this colorful. The love and joy was every bit this big.

And then scroll down and enjoy some of the shots I was able to pull off. Trent and Kim made it very, very easy for me.

It may be about a month later but I think this post was worth every little bit of that wait.

Finding a little guidance in the Good Book.

Post rehearsal dance.
Ella and her boys at the rehearsal bash, enjoying the boatload of gifts from Kim and Trent.
Back at the hotel after a big night of flower girl rehearsing.

On the morning of the wedding, Ella and I spent time with Kim and the bridesmaids as they got ready. They all were very sweet to Ella and she fit in perfectly. So much so that when she announced she had to go potty, she marched into the master bathroom, dropped her pants and did her business as three girls were having their hair done.

Kim's dress anxiously awaiting the big event.

As Ella (and Larry) tried to get some beauty sleep before the ceremony, I took off to hook up with the boys as they got ready. Did I mention colorful? Never before have I seen such a wonderful use of color on a wedding day! And a yellow bowtie for the groom!

I have a handful of personal favorites from this big weekend. This watch picture is one of them. The watch was Willie's, Larry's Dad (Trent's Grandpa). He passed away 10 years ago but he was shining down and keeping us on time.

These next two are wonderful because both Trent and Kim are seeing Ella for the first time in her flower girl get-up. (She is standing at my side as I snapped these.) Their smiles are SO big!

Ahhh, another favorite! Ella appears awestruck and Kim's face could light up a city.

Sweet girl. A bit pensive about this flower girl thing and holding tight to her two favorite men.
Waiting and watching...

And then I turned the camera off and soaked it all in. Leaving it to the professional was an excellent choice as you can tell from the first picture!

Trent and Kim popcorn!!

And a self-portrait attempt at a family photo before the day was done - all comfy on our hotel bed.

Way to go, Ella Man Li. You did us proud!


PS Next up - Birthday #3 :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Her public awaits.

Two girls had a birthday on Saturday and the celebrations continued all weekend long. I have not fallen off the face of the blogging earth. It just seems I can't keep up with my shutterbug finger! This mama has spent most of her evening finishing up Trent and Kim's wedding picture edits. So Ella's public? Keep your eyes open for our sweet little flower girl in the next 24 hours. The birthday pictures will find their way into the mix this week, too.

It is hard job keeping up with her. You have no idea how hard!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Four Little Girls.

What a joy to reunite again! Diane and her family (pictured on left) and Anna and her family (pictured on right) joined us at our zoo last weekend. Although these sweet peas don't fully grasp the special bond they all share, the parents certainly do. Each one of the parents has such a different life experience and yet these four powerful little women have bonded us - hopefully for life.

I don't have enough room here for all of my favorites from the day. Really. But I will say, that this one of Diane is just stunning. There she was, perched up on the ledge watching the apes. My camera couldn't believe its good fortune!

Ella was not at her photoshoot best that day and it appears Roz and Anna were planning their escape plan.

I love this series and how it shows such glimpses into each of their personalities...

Until we meet again, Diane and Anna. You are so very special to us!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Pretty Ladies.

What a wonderful weekend!! Happy Mother's Day, Ella-Land. I scored some excellent homemade presents, tickets to a performance at our historic theater and A TWO HOUR NAP!!!! Praise the Lord, did that make this mama happy.

On the agenda this week?

Finish photo edits.
Try not to lose my cool when Ella's out-of-control whining kicks in.
Prepare stuff for a little one's third birthday.
Put myself in time-out if Ella going in time-out is unsuccessful.
Work on  more photo edits....

Enjoy the rest of your beautiful day.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Third Time a Charm?

As hard as it was for me to believe, and really...I was not pleased, this mama had the flu for the THIRD time in the last six months. How many times has Ella had the flu? ZERO. I am convinced that she is a big sponge of germs and because of her built in "living in China for nine months" resistance is so air-tight, it glides right off her. I hope I don't eat these words, but her stomach is made of steel.

So while I was wallowing in self-pity and aches and pains and all the other wonderful things that accompany the flu, THIS little girl was wonderful. She made sure I was covered up. She'd pat me. She'd give me a kiss (as much as I tried to keep her away, didn't work). She played around and on me for hours - not one whiny fit. And when I felt so incredibly achy and feverish, Larry came to the rescue, packed up work and came home to take over.

I have no idea what he let her get away with while I was enjoying fever dreams. They both assured me they 'did stuff!' I can say this: she fell asleep at 9:30 last night and slept the entire night through until 7 this morning!

I never thought the flu would give me a reason to reflect on motherhood and Mother's Day, but it has. I am grateful for her, for him, for us.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

All Aboard!

National Train Day blew into town yesterday. And since I'm still trying to catch up on laundry, sleep and all the other day-to-day operations since my parents were out of town (translation: Ella and I were on Bentley duty) and coming down off the wedding, I thought I'd share a little glimpse into our weekend. Today, we are meeting up with some Kunming and Chongqing cuties at our zoo. You may recall our first surprise meeting here. We can't wait!

Until I get on the ball with the wedding photos, enjoy!!

Did I mention Papa and Grandma are back from 'bacation'?? Normality and full-on spoiling are restored!

Larry's band played at the big event. It took Ella mere seconds to get in the groove, literally. She was a dancing fool.

Roz and her parents joined in on the fun. And ornery expressions were plentiful.