Saturday, December 28, 2013

Merry Christmas, Baby!

This past week has been simply awesome. We kicked off Christmas Eve with our first visit from Abbott, Trent and Kim. Josie and Jasper came as well. Thomas and Mavis recovered gracefully once those two killer dogs were out of the house.

Oooohhh. Eggs!

Brightest eyes ever Abbott!


My big girl.

Abbott is growing leaps and bounds. It was a wonderful afternoon with them.

My mom simply outdid herself this year on Ella's Christmas dress. She looked so stunning.

Christmas Eve church pew cousins!

A very big milestone: Ella hugs our pastor, always the bashful one with him.

Ella worked long and hard on her note for the jolly old man. She left cookies and milk for him; carrots and salad for the reindeer.

Thomas was beside himself with the presents under the tree...SO many things to destroy!
Christmas morning wonder.

Santa listened. He brought the much coveted glow pet turtles. My word, was she happy.

Panda was never far, taking it all in.

Ella made sure she had her camera at the ready to capture Grandma and Papa opening up the Christmas ornament she made last month.


Even though nearly half of our family was home sick with the flu (awesome timing), we had a great time at my parents' house Christmas night.
Haley, Christian and Allison

Ornery little imp.


Ella and her Uncle Greg

Ella went to bed on the 25th asking, "So, does Santa come again in the morning?" There has been some dinnertime discussion since on whether Santa is still watching and whether she still has to be on good behavior.

The house is still a disaster of new cars, trains, books, castle building blocks, play kitchen equipment and puzzles. Order will be restored soon enough. Until then, we trip over it all trying to keep the kittens from stealing the small pieces.

We hope your Christmas was merry and bright like ours.

This year she really got it. It was that magical time when all the folklore and traditions seemed to click for her. Above all the commercialism, we somehow managed to instill the first Christmas Story into that sweet little head. I am pretty sure playing the part of The Donkey helped.

Happy New Year to all!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

"I am the donkey soft and gray. I carried His mother from far away."

Hit rewind, we've got a little catch up to do! Ella's class performed the sweetest program for us the week before Christmas. It took us over a month to convince Ella how important her role as Donkey was to the Christmas story. She was worried everyone would laugh at her in her costume, that she would be too nervous to say her speaking part into the microphone. There were tears and gnashing of teeth. But her teachers had multiple rehearsals. It helped. And then I told her if she did her part, we could go to 'the bouncy house place' afterwards as a reward. That helped. A lot.

Not only did she say it loud and proud, she finished it off with her hands on her hips - like any dignified donkey would do.

Her buddy Nikko (another tough sell on this program business) did an amazing job as well. His mom and I were in cahoots. Nikko and Ella BOTH enjoyed their playtime at the bouncy house place! It was perfect.

Ella sang every last word to every single song. It helped that a handful of them were Laurie Berkner Christmas songs.

There's no question that I wept the entire duration. Ella even asked, "Mom did you cry the whole time?" Why yes, child I did. If nothing else, Ella has figured out happy tears from this family.

Post-performance snuggles with Daddy-o

She is on break from school until January 6. I'm delighted to report she has told me (more times than I can count) that she misses school, her teachers and her friends. A side note to this is our trip to the elementary school last week. It is a public school academy where each application is drawn in a lottery system. We hand-delivered Ella's application. She was impressed and happy with the big, shiny building. It wasn't until the principal greeted us (with a hug!!!!) in the office that Ella stomped her foot, furrowed her brow and declared, "I am NOT going to THIS school!" Yes, she is a spirited child...

Winter break = work schedule juggling. Thankfully, I'm not too busy at this time of year and I had socked away a bit of vacation time just for this three-week period. But when I do let Ella tag along with me to the office, she is a wonderful addition. She takes care of the important matters.

We filled most of our pre-Christmas days with shopping, baking and wrapping presents which are all better than ever because of her age. She is soaking it ALL in this season.

We try out a lot of things when we shop.

Baking with us isn't much different. I have really great memories of being able to help my mom and grandma in the kitchen. Messy or not, I knew it would always be something I'd encourage Ella to do.

Drinking her cocktail from the special blue glass I used at my grandma's house.
Because she tends to listen her best in this capacity, I often can simply give her instructions and let her have at it. Since we are both left-handed, it gets messy. (My grandma always said left-handed cooks were terribly messy.)

Cookie dough thief extraordinaire.

See what I mean? But we ended this particularly evening the best possible way: I Love Lucy's Christmas Special. IN COLOR.

Both of us hunkered down in the cozy bed and laughed the biggest belly laughs either of us have squealed out in a very long time. This isn't her first Lucy experience in this household but it was by far the best. You are my kid, Ella Man Li. You definitely are...

Oh, and Thomas is still up to his antics. He was an awesome helper with wrapping presents and still finds the most neck-breaking ways to sleep on me. He's a big cat and yet he thinks he can still curl around my neck like he did when he was a little guy.

We hope everyone in Ella-land had an amazing Christmas with friends and family. More on that coming up soon!