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This Little Piggy

Updated: 2014-12-17T13:33:29.041-06:00


Ella's 6th Bday!


Ella turned 6 on February 15 and we had a fabulous day!!!  Every year, I take a picture of Ella the last night she is a year younger.  So this is her last night as a 5 year old!I told Ella when she was going to bed, that on her last night as a 4 year she wanted to sleep on the floor. Well, of course, she wanted to spend her last night as a 5 year old on the floor too! :-)  So this is what I discovered when I came in her room after she had fallen asleep. Our dog sure must be thinking "finally!"Birthday morning!!We asked Ella the day before if she wanted to go out to eat for breakfast or if she wanted her Daddy to make her breakfast.  She choose her Daddy.And, of course, her choice was pancakes!Our birthday girl!So Ella decided TWO YEARS ago that for her 6th birthday she wanted a Spongebob Party!  We had Spongebob everything.  Once this girl makes up her mind, it's hard to change it. We brought brownies and McDonalds to her school for lunch and for all her classmates. My most favorite tradition on Ella's birthday is the picture I take of Ella at exactly 3:32p.m. every year, the exact time she was born and changed our lives forever! (for the good of course)[...]

Trunk or Treat


This was our first year to go to a Trunk or Treat. My sister-in-law had a "trunk" at her church's and invited us to come. Sounded like fun, plus it gave Ella another reason to wear her costume and wig that she loves!Ella & her Aunt Ashley!The toilet paper throw! Apparently my girl has impeccable aim! I honestly would not have thought this. Ella is the sweetest child ever, but not the toughest. She'd kill you with kindness but not so much with her muscles. Well, after this day, that thought changed! Almost every "trunk" at the Trunk or Treat had some type of tossing game. I am not kidding when I tell you that Ella never missed. Not once. She would walk up to the game, aim, and it went in every time. It was pretty incredible! I think she might be a softball player like her Mama after all!!! :-) Bam!Bam!We were at this one game that had 5 buckets placed at different distances and the goal was to get the bean bag in each bucket one right after another. Ella got all 5 bean bags in all 5 buckets on the first try! The boy (probably about 12 yrs old) working that "trunk" was so impressed that he ran over to his friends and said so excitedly, "She got all 5 of them!" Ha! Love it. This has nothing to do with the Trunk or Treat, I just thought it was cute. :-)[...]

Pumpkin Patch Tradition


Our fall tradition is to go to this cute little pumpkin patch by our house. The past 2 years, we've been able to go with our good friends the Lewis's. It's a lot more fun with our besties! Like father, like daughter. My two crazy heads. This is how Laney & Ella greeted each other. They love each other. And then they were off. Some good friend's of the Lewis's were also there. They have a precious boy named Max from China they adopted a couple of years ago. Him and Ella hit it off. They ran and ran and ran! This year, we didn't even have to ask the girls to pose. They did it freely on their own! :-)[...]

Pumpkin Patch Field Trip


Ella's school went to the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch for a field trip. I'd heard lots of great things about this patch but had never been. It definitely lived up to it's expectation. There was tons of stuff for the kids. We had a great time. We got to take a hayride to a small patch of pumpkins to pick one out to take home!I'm not sure why...but this might have been Ella's favorite part. She thought it was so cool! :-)They had this very elaborate hay maze. It was a little daunting for the smaller children. I definitely pulled a few crying toddlers out and over the side who could not find their way out, bless their hearts. The reward to making to the end was this slide. [...]

Happy Halloween!


Halloween was different for us this year. For the past 5 years we've done the same thing. It was definitely a tradition. But things changed up a bit this year so we had to say so long to that tradition and do something new. The day started off already so fun! At the school I teach at and Ella goes to, we had a fall festival. Everyone wore their costumes to school and we played games and made crafts! Here is my sweet girl dressed up as Ariel!! Let me tell you that she wore that wig for 3 solid days! She wants her hair to be long so badly that she'll take towels, shirts, or a jump rope...whatever she can use to imagine her hair is long. So this wig was just the best thing ever. This is one of Ella's really good friends, Annie.Part of my job as the music teacher is that every Monday morning I lead the entire school in some silly songs. This morning I had to get a picture of all the kids (or some of the kids) in their costumes before we did our songs. They were just so cute!This is one of Ella's teachers! She's so sweet!Ella & Joshua...Melissa (Josh's mom) and I were SHOCKED because we can never get a picture of the two of them together. It's one for the record book. This is Ella's Kindergarten class!After school was over, Ella & I headed home and rested for a couple of hours. We still had a whole evening planned. After resting, I took Ella trick or treating for a just a bit around to our neighbors houses that we know. We live in a neighborhood with a lot of retired people. We love them. They are so sweet and love Ella and are always looking out for us. I can't tell you how many times one of them have come over to let me know that I left the doom light on in my car. ha!Our normal Halloween tradition is to go to our church's huge Fall-A-Palooza! It's always so much fun and Heath, Ella & I always go way out on our costumes (which is always a bit stressful for me). This year, our church switched it up a bit. Instead of having one big event, we had church families volunteer and throw kind of like mini Fall-A-Paloozas at their houses. That way we're taking our church into the neighborhoods. It was a way for families to build relationships with their neighbors and be able to share with them in a smaller setting the Gospel. It was a HUGE success. Every host home had amazing stories to share. I'm so glad it turned out so great. Ella and I went over to our good friend's house, the Murrells. They were a host home and we wanted to support them. It was lots of fun. This is Ella & her precious friend Klaire. This year, Heath and I did not dress up as tradition, which took a load off of me! The Murrells had a bounce house, which I think Ella would live in if given the option. :-) Another picture of Josh & Ella! 2 pics of them in one day is definitely a record!When Daddy got off work, he was just in time to enjoy some bounce house time with his little girl! [...]

Pumpkin Carving


Tuesday night, Heath, Ella & I went over to my mother-in-laws house to carve pumpkins. Ella is all things Ariel from The Little Mermaid right now. So she was very excited about carving Ariel into her pumpkin. So we got a pattern and gave it our best go at it. :-)



Here she is!


I have a really funny video of Ella sticking her hand in the pumpkin to clean out the seeds. My sweet little girly girl only did it ONCE because she thought it was soooooo disgusting! Ha!

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New Job/New Chapter


This summer my family has had a couple of really neat stories unfold. As all of you know, I've been gearing up for the past several months for my little baby girl to start kindergarten. As my only child, I was not ready for this transition at all. Emotionally I was fighting with the fact that it was going happen. We have a perfectly fine school right down the street from us. But I just knew Ella wasn't supposed to go there. I started exploring other options, but there weren't any doors opening in any direction. But I still knew without a doubt that Ella was not going to go to that big, bad (not really bad, I'm being dramatic)school that she was zoned to. I work on staff at our church and in May our pastor sent us an email letting the staff know that we are going to be opening up our doors to a Montessori school that has planted it's roots at a nearby church for the past 35 yrs. This school was needing to change locations and after much prayer, our pastor opened up our church to become that new location! I was with all of the ladies on staff at the moment and thanks to smart phones, we all got this amazing news at the same time. We all have kids that were in preschool or going into kindergarten, so we were just giddy thinking about this possibility!! Another part of this news was that our pastor was giving staff half off tuition. Awesome, right? Everything is falling into place so perfectly!! So I thought...I went home and told Heath with much jubilation, but he was not so excited. He thought this would be an incredible opportunity, however, his exact words were, "Why do we need to pay this much a month when there is a perfectly good school right down the street that is free?" Spoken like a true provider. :-) My bubble was burst, but I still knew that this was somehow going to work out.A couple days later, I was talking to our pastor's wife about it. She advised me, with much wisdom, to call the principal of the Montessori school and just ask her if she has any job openings. Our pastor's wife was speaking from experience because she taught just a couple of days a week at this exact school when it was at the other location and both of her children got to go there for free!I immediately called and got to speak directly to the principal (who is the sweetest person in the world). She was very honest and said as of right then it looked like there were no job openings, but that she would be in touch as thing settled down a little from all the craziness of having to pack up a school with a history of 35 yrs at that location. So I waited about 3 weeks, hoping with everything in me that there would be an opening. When I finally heard back from her this is what she said, "I'm not sure if you are interested, but we do have ONLY ONE position available, and that's the music teacher position." I could not believe my ears. I have no idea how I responded but I know it was with much excitement. If I could have chosen any position, it most definitely would have been the music position. It was just so perfect! Come to find out, she had already spoken with our pastor to make sure I actually knew something about music and he told her I would be a great fit. So here we are in September and Ella is currently going to the Montessori school. I was able to keep my part time job at the church because I only teach 1 day a week! And Ella is literally 30 yards away from me at all times! She gets to ride with me to work each day and ride home from work with me. It's really a dream! I never could have thought this up how perfectly it worked out! And I'm so thankful! "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."[...]

Ella's 1st Day of Kindergarten!


Ella (and mommy) had a great 1st day of school! The anticipation was definitely worst than the actual day. I really like to build things up in my mind, so I was anticipating a melt down (from me, not Ella), but it never came and here we are on week 3 and still doing well. We talked Kindergarten up a lot so that she would be really excited about it. For weeks leading up to the first day, she kept saying that she was really nervous to meet her teachers and new friends. So on the Saturday before school started, Ella and I volunteered in her classroom helping her teachers set up. After that, she was golden. Ella's school didn't start until Wednesday of that week, so Monday night was Meet the Teacher. Since Ella had already met her teachers, she got to meet some new friends. While we were still there, she came up to me with a huge smile and said, "Mama, I made some new friends!" And that was all it took. Not a single other butterfly in her tummy. The next day on Tuesday, we went to Target to get a couple last minute stuff and let Ella pick out a new toy to celebrate starting Kindergarten. Shocking that this is what she picked! :-) Wednesday morning, I went and woke Ella up early with a bit of a lump in my throat, but overall ok. She was so excited it didn't phase her that it was SO early. However, it only took about 3 wake ups for her to be done with waking up so early.Sweet girl all dolled up and ready to go. Our dogs kept getting in the pictures. I was trying to shoo them away, but Ella wanted to play. She loves her dogs. One reason for my emotional stability that morning, was because it was a bit chaotic. When I went to start my car, the battery was dead. We were already running a little late, so after transferring everything over to Heath's car it was full speed ahead to get there on time! We also were going to take Ella on a donut date that morning, but we ended up having to skip that part and she had to eat her donuts in the car on the way. All this to say, I'm kind of thankful it happened that way because it didn't give me much time to sulk. And it was still a great morning. Walking into school.See no tears! You would've been proud of me. :-) The teacher, so kindly, let me snap a few pictures of her in the classroom even after she had started teaching. Ella is going to a private Montessori school this year, so the classroom isn't set up like a traditional classroom would be. We couldn't be more thrilled that she has this awesome opportunity. It is a really COOL God story of how it came about for her to get to go to this particular school. I can't wait to share it with you. [...]

Lake Day!!! - Picture Overload


A couple of weeks ago, Kristin called to see if we wanted to go to the lake with them! Um...let me think about that for a second...YES!!!! Going on out on a boat is my favorite thing to do. It's a piece of heaven for me. We had a quick picnic before heading out to the boat! Laney & Ella! Ella was so pumped! She's only been on a boat a few times and it had been a really long time, so I'm not sure if she even remembered. Ella & Kristin! Me & my sweet girl! Ella had some blue gatorade right before we got on the boat, so in every single picture I took this day she has blue teeth. Ha! Ella & her daddy! I'm not a big fan of tubing these days. I guess I'm getting to old because the last time I tubed a couple of summers ago, I fell off and hit the water so hard it knocked the breath out of me. So I've decided it's not for me. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous at this moment watching my little girl go out for her first tubing experience EVER! And as you can see from this picture...she LOVED it! She was such a rock star. Heath said she cracked up laughing the entire time and she even learned the signal on how to tell the driver to go faster and used it often. My little daredevil. Ella waving to her friend Laney! Next it was my turn. I told Ella before we took off that I was a little nervous (because of the whole air being knocked out of me thing). She told me, "Mama stop worrying. It's FUN!" Ha! Love her! We had a blast!! While we were on the tube, I was wondering why we kept speeding up. I found out when we got off that Ella was giving the driver the thumbs up to go faster and I never saw her do it once! This was the 1st time for all three of us to ever ride on a jet ski. It was love at first sight. Heath and I took turns driving. And at one point, we may or may not have flipped it over. Not because we were going too fast, but because we were going too slow! That would only happen to us! We took occasional breaks to jump in the lake to cool off. Melissa was in the water catching all our babies. My treasured friends, Melissa & Kristin! [...]

4th of July Party!


Our 4th of July tradition is to go to Kristin and Laney's house for their annual 4th of July party!!There's always a food contest every year. I think I've won only once in the several years we've gone. I guess I need to pick up my game. This year I choose festive strawberries. They always have this very fun water slide for the kids. It's definitely a big hit. I think Ella went down it no less than 120 times. They took a short break to stuff down a hot dog. Then we're back to the slide! Kristin and I just can't handle how big they are. This was them on this same slide at the 4th party 3 years ago. Ughh! Sweet girls![...]

Laney's 5th Birthday Party!


I'm so behind on blogging, but I couldn't resist posting these pictures, even though they're from April. They are from Ella's bestie Laney's 5th bday party. It was Fresh Beat Band theme, which was perfect for Ella too. This picture takes my breath away. Kristin and I continually talk about how incredibly blessed we feel because of Ella and Laney's friendship. They were born just 2 1/2 mths apart. Their lifelong friendship began when Kristin and Todd returned to DFW airport when Laney was 9 mths old after just picking her up from Taiwan. Kristin and I often dream about their lives years from now...being in each other's weddings, starting families together, their kids being friends. It's fun to imagine. :-) Keeping with the theme, all the kids decorated their own paper guitars. We LOVE you Laney bug!!! [...]

The Zoo!!


Heath and I celebrated 9 years of marriage at the end of May! For our anniversary celebration we took our sweet girl to the zoo and then him and I went out for dinner just the two of us. It was a perfect day! This gorilla was so sweet and so cute. I felt kind of badly for him. He just looked so sad. Is that weird to say? Ella was really afraid to go up to the window. This was as close as she would get. That is because earlier in the day, there was a huge school group at this exact window and this gorilla, who I just said looked sweet, started banging on the window really hard and that entire group of school kids SCREAMED at the top of their lungs. It was actually very entertaining because I'm pretty sure he did it to get that exact reaction from them. This gorilla seemed really sad too! He was wearing this potato sack over him the entire time we were watching him and then at one point he walked over to a corner of his cage, got into the fetal position and put the potato sack over his head so nobody could see him. Every few minutes he would peek out with one eye and then hide his face again. This guy needed some serious alone time. Riding the trainElla and the giraffes. We love the giraffes. They're mine and Ella's favorite. We love Bonnie the elephant statue. It's become our little zoo tradition that Ella takes a picture with Bonnie whenever we come. Not sure why this came about, except that I'm really good with coming up with all kinds of random traditions. :-)This was 20092007Silly Daddy & EllaWe was such a fun and perfect day![...]

My Sweet Graduate!


The end of May, Ella graduated from Preschool. Like I said in my last post (which was a LONG time ago), we have LOVED this preschool. They have taught her letters, words, math and the Word! It's been awesome and we're sad that we won't be walking those halls next year like the past 2 years. Her graduation was PRECIOUS. It was the cutest thing to see 100 tiny people walking around in caps and gowns. This is Ella's graduating class on the wall outside her classroom.This is their year book they give to the kids at the end of every year. It's called the Me Book. I am SO thankful to have this with pictures of all the fun things her class did throughout the year. Before the actual graduation, they put on a musical. This is at the beginning when Ella spotted her entourage. Pointing and smiling and blowing kisses.There were groups of about 7 kids that put on little plays in between the big group songs. Ella's group put on the play the Boy Who Cried Wolf. This is Ella running to the boy who was crying wolf. She gets there and asks him "What happened?"Then she marches back to her spot mad. She is very mad at that boy! Ha! We practiced this face before her performance. She's too cute to look mad. :-) This is her "I'm trying not to laugh mad face"! Once again the boy tricked her and once again she is walking away angry.I was so proud of her that she didn't freeze up. I think she loves the stage, unlike her mama. But very much like her Daddy.Time for graduation! They are so precious I can hardly handle it. Notice how tiny Ella is compared to her classmates. My sweet LITTLE girl. Getting her diploma and sweet hugs from her teachers. Ella and her sweet friend Nathan. Love this story...I won't go into the whole thing right now, but Nathan's mom, Karin, and I worked together 11 years ago at DBU. She was a very good friend. We didn't keep up after I graduated. Then randomly our kids end up being in the same preschool class. I don't think for a second it was random, but that it was very much ordained for many reasons. It has been amazing getting to reconnect with her. Big hugs from Grandma and Granddad!Our sweet girl!The familyAlong with Ella's Me Book, they also gave each graduate a diploma and the Read With Me Bible! Have I mentioned how much I have loved this school? [...]

Last Day of School


This past week was Ella's very last day of Preschool. In 3 SHORT months my sweet baby girl will be going to a big kid school. A big kid little girl. I would be lying if I said I didn't feel like I'm being punched in the stomach every single time I think about that. Ella has attended the same preschool for the past 2 years and it has been AMAZING! We have loved this school. It was the perfect balance of fun and learning. And they are so sweet with the kids. The school planned a field day for the last day. Heath and volunteered for the last half of the day, which was SO fun to get to spend her last few hours as a pre-k with her. Pictures as we walked out the door that morning. Next time I take a pic like this it will be before she heads out for her first day of kindergarten and I will be the one bawling trying to steady the camera. Hair painting! This just made her day.Making a sand cross.The bubble stationElla and Abby. Her best girl friend from her class.Face painting stationPizza party!! YUM! Another pic of Ella and Abby.Daddy helping pass out more pizzaElla's 2 wonderful teachers from this year!Ella getting stuff out of her drawer in her classroom for the last time. A picture that her friend Abby drew her. Isn't that so sweet?Ella getting her backpack out of her cubby for the last time. Tear! Can you tell I'm struggling with this change? My husband was seriously annoyed the whole day with my dramatic response to this being her last day. Ha! One last pose. So deep breath for next year. Any encouragement would be appreciated, moms? Ha![...]

Easter Part 3 | Easter Day!


We had a great Easter day celebrating our risen Savior at church and with our families! After church, we headed to my parent's house for Easter lunch and an Easter egg hunt. Ella scored 2 Easter baskets this year. The one thing she wanted most of all was a jump rope. Aunt Cathy & Meme swinging the jump rope for Ella. I had never seen Ella jump rope before and she surprised me with how well she did!Ella loves to throw the ball for Meme's dog to fetch.Easter Egg hunt time!Ella getting some help from her GrandmaElla and her Grandparents![...]

Easter Part 2 | Dyeing Easter Eggs!



Easter Part 1 | Church Egg Hunt!


We had so much going on this Easter that this is going to have to be a 3 part series of pictures! :-) I know you're on the edge of your seat. The Saturday before Easter was the annual Easter egg hunt at church! This is always a chaotic blast. This year Ella's little drama class started the morning off with their Easter performance. They are called Drama Todds. As you can see, she is very shy. They sang us parents a precious song. And the bow...Ella and her sweet friend Klaire.Next, we were off for the egg hunt. Standing on the starting line getting some coaching from Mr. Jared. And their off!Trying to get some pictures of her with these pretty flowers, her daddy was making her laugh as usual. Sweet friends...Jonas, Samuel & Lily KirkMore sweet friends. They were all comparing which eggs they found.This next series of pictures make me so happy. I just can't tell you how much I love them. It's tradition for us to take pictures with these kiddos at the easter egg hunt every year. I think this is the 3rd year we've done this. We were having some issues getting them to all sit still and look at the camera and smile. I just can't imagine why. So Jared decided to sweep in behind them running and yelling. Well this was the magic remedy. They were laughing so hard and we captured the sweetest moments. This last one is my favorite. Of course it was not taken by me. Talented Amber took this one so I stole it from her facebook page. Thanks Amber! Such fun![...]

My Little Maestro!


A few months ago at Ella's school they had a day where the kids got to dress up like what they want to be when they grow up. Leading up to this day, I explained this to Ella and asked how she would like to dress up.

She very confidently responded, "Like a director". An orchestra director. I laughed so hard because it is just not one of the more common things a 4 year would choose to be when that 4 year old grows up. She said just like her Granddad and Mr. Will (who is the choir director at our church.)

So we started working on her costume!

She was so happy! Her eyes lit up when we handed her the baton that Daddy went out and got her.



I thought this was so special because music runs deep in Ella's genealogy. I grew up with a Dad who was a music minister my whole life. He also was a trombone major in college!! Have you ever met a trombone major? Ha! And he comes from a family of very talented singers. He has passed some of that along to my sister and I and now to Ella! I love that this passion for music is something we will be able share together, hopefully for a long time.

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Zach & Ella's Bday Party


Can you tell I'm playing bloggy catch up? It's been a while since I've posted anything. I did a bday post from Ella's friends bday party, but I didn't post pictures from Ella's family party. Ella and her cousin, Zach, have birthdays only a few days apart. So we always have a combined party for them every year which is SO much fun! Here are some pics!Ella with her Team Umizoomi Milli band on. Ella and Cousin EthanElla got a Rapunzel blanket and pillow from her cousins. Pretty ultimate for her!Ella's Great Granddad and Grandma Angel made this lamp for her! We cherish it. Ella giving her Great Granddad a great big thank you hug. Her reaction when she turned it on. Thankful for family!![...]

Ella's Choir


Ella's choir sang a couple of months ago at church for a special night of worship called Night of Psalms. I couldn't resist posting some pictures! This is Ella and her bestie at church, Karoline!Silly girls!My girl is not shy at all when it comes to being on a stage in front of people. We did have one slight moment of her pulling her dress up above her head, but thankfully it only lasted about .5 seconds unlike last Christmas when she did that and swayed back and forth. And we had no booger picking and eating this time either, unlike last time. Ha!Here's the video of them singing "This is the Day"! src="" width="400" height="225" frameborder="0">Ella's Choir Performs 2-27-11 from Janelle on Vimeo.Love, love, love her and her sweet self![...]



In March, Ella and I got the amazing opportunity to participate in our very first mission trip together! I must admit, I was a little anxious going into it. It was actually a local mission trip, focusing primarily on a mile radius around the church we attend. So myself, Ella and 30 other people slept in our church for 6 nights. Thus why I was a little anxious. However, it ended up being hands down one of the best weeks of my life! Ella could have not have been more perfect. She loved getting to sleep in our church so much, she wishes it was our permanent home. She never cried, never complained, never threw one fit. Even though we were incredible busy during the days and were all pretty exhausted. I know her mama was for sure! It was amazing. I don't know if we had extra heapings of grace upon us, but it was wonderful! It could not have been better. MSI (Mission South Irving) was designed to where we would do service projects in the community in the mornings and then in the afternoons and evenings we would split up and go to parks, walk the streets, go to the library, go to starbucks, all within a mile of our church and literally just share the gospel. Our leader wanted that to be our focus. So we didn't pack our schedules with a lot because we wanted plenty of time to be able to just go out and meet with people. At the end of each day, we would come together and share who we were able to talk with. We filled up a huge white board with names of people w/in a mile of our church that we encountered that are lost and/or have LOTS of hurts. We had about 100 names on the board. And that was just 30 people going out into the community for 6 days right around our church. It was unbelievably eye opening. By the way, moms, having young kids and going to the park is the BEST bridge to be able to meet people you don't know and talk with them about life and Jesus. This was the first service project we did. We picked up trash at this huge local park. This is one of my bestest friends, Michelle! And this is what we had to wear to clean the park! Ha!Ella served in MANY ways that week, and one of the ways was by helping our church sharpen the pencils to go in the seats in our worship center. Such the helper!Another service project we did one of the mornings was go to our local Salvation Army and clean. I can not tell you how much I love this precious girl. Her name is Maison and she is the daughter of Michelle (the lady in the pic above). Her two girls, Maison and Logan are the sweetest daughters and they LOVE Ella. They are just so sweet to her. So this is Maison and Ella getting ready to do some cleaning. One afternoon, we all went to a park and threw a big bbq for the community! A short break at Sonic! Ella was the perfect balance of needing and wanting to hang out with me, but also thinking she is such a big girl and hang out with the college students! It was precious to watch her hang out with them and they were so precious to let her. She's pretty fun! This is where we slept for SIX nights. It actually wasn't too bad. I told Heath, I think this air mattress is more comfortable than our mattress at home. This is Logan, Michelle's other daughter.Getting some cute braids!We did a lot of drawing on the board in our room during down time. The night of our picnic we had a sunburn contest to see who got the most sun. I am the bad mom that let my daughter get a slight sunburn. It was not near as bad as some of the others who were in the contest, but any excuse to get [...]

1st Foster Care Experience


Heath and I just completed our first experience with the foster care system. Let me back up a smidge.Last Friday, March 18, I received a call from the director of our agency that Heath and I are officially licensed foster parents. As you read in my last post about our journey, we were wavering in our decision on if this was the path we were/are supposed to go down. We came to the conclusion that we will keep moving forward until the Lord shuts the door. So with some reluctance, I turned in our final paper and literally got a phone call 20 MINUTES later telling us we are licensed. Yes, it happened that fast!As it would be, 72 hours later we received our first phone call from our caseworker asking us if we would be interested in doing Respite Care for a 2 month old for 4 days. In my head I was laughing, thinking that's nice of them to ask but we will probably need to pass. I'm not sure why I was thinking that was so ridiculous of a thought to bring an itty bitty baby into our home for a few days. After all, isn't that what we signed up to do by spending the past 9 months of turning in paperwork? Isn't that why we have spent hours in trainings?I told the caseworker I would call my husband and we would give her a call back in a few hrs with an answer. I didn't even call Heath because I knew he was going to say no. I just texted him this "Just got a call for respite care of a 2 mth old for 4 days. Ha!" His text back to me was "If you think we can".Wait what? So after a few hours of pondering this, I called the case worker back and told her yes and then got very, very excited! Sweet baby D was with us from Saturday thru last night (Tuesday). Here are some things I learned from these past 4 days:1. Baby D is the most precious, sweetest baby ever.2. It is possible to fall in love with a little one in just a few days. 3. The foster system is not near as scary as I thought it would be. 4. Foster babies are normal babies. 5. I actually remembered how to take care of a newborn! 6. It was VERY difficult to say goodbye to her. I think the Lord knew I needed these 4 days to clear up a lot of fears and misconceptions I had about the foster system and foster children. I'm still not 100% at peace or confident about us going down this path. There are still a lot of fears and questions I have, but this experience could not have been any better. "Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before." Joshua 3:4 God knows this path is scary for us because it is uncharted territory for us. We've never walked this way before, but He will show us which way to go! Please pray for Baby D! She is actually transitioning back to some blood relatives in a couple of weeks. Her AMAZING foster parents, who ministered to me so much these last few days, were hoping to adopt her. I am desperately praying that Baby D will be abundantly protected and comforted and have a peaceful transition. Love her so![...]

Ella's 5th Bday Party!


This year Ella requested for her birthday party theme she wanted a Team Umizoomi party. For those of you that are not all knowing when it comes to nick jr. cartoons :-) this is a cartoon where the characters solve problems using mighty math powers and pattern powers. As you can imagine, finding Team Umizoomi decorations was not nearly impossible, it was impossible. So I ended up having to make all the decorations. But it was okay. I do have a smidge of arts and craftiness in me, not much, but a little. So it was kind of fun to make everything. Plus I had lots of help from my mom!My sweet girl dressed up like Milli from Team Umizoomi. And we got Ella's hair cut the day before her party! It makes her look so different, but I love it!This cake my mother-in-law made. She's amazing and has made all of Ella's cakes since her 1st bday. I keep telling her she needs to start her own business. I'd call it "Kay's Cakes" or "Cakes by Kay"! Ella made most of this paper chain herself. She loved helping make her decorations. I prayed so hard that this day's weather would be perfect. I knew we were looking at almost 50 people and that if we had to have them in our house it would have been the most chaotic situation. I can not tell you how thankful I am that it was the most perfect weather day!! We were able to keep our back door open and the kids ran in and out playing so hard. It could not have been better. Which was funny because that exact day 5 years prior was the day we brought Ella home from the hospital and it was literally freezing and icing to the point where the hospital staff almost didn't let us leave. Gotta love Texas weather. My man grilling Umidogs and Umiburgers for lunch.This swing set was literally finished being built about 15 hours before her party. My Granddad, Dad and husband spent ALL day Friday building it. If they weren't madly in love with Ella it could have been a miserable situation. But to see her face when it was done was worth the HOURS they spent on it. That will be my next post. Ella and her little guy friends. Ella and sweet Kayla.Brothers, Josh & GabeKristin helping a table full of kids with their lunch.Ella's swing set has this adorable little picnic table under it. It's absolutely tiny. But they managed at times to fit 4 of them around it to eat. The Lewis clan! Love them.Precious, adorable Klaire Bear! Daddy giving a little thank you speech before Ella blew out her birthday candles.Me and my 5 year old.I wasn't going to have Ella open her gifts with all the kids there because I know sometimes it can be a bit of a beating for the kids and parents. But Ella's friends were all so sweetly excited to have her open the gift they brought it just kind of happened. It was precious to watch her friends show such delight in giving. This is Ella's best friend from her school. Everyday when Ella is dropped off, usually Bradford is being dropped off at the same time. They seriously run and give each other huge hugs every time, like they haven't seen each other in months. It's one of my favorite moments of her school days. This was my favorite birthday party of Ella's so far. I felt so blessed by all the family and friends that were there. And there was something neat about getting to host them all at our house and just let the kids run free and have fun. It was a great day! [...]

My 5 Year Old!


Last Tuesday, my precious girl turned 5! I won't bore you by saying this a million times, so I'm just going to say it once very passionately...I CAN NOT BELIEVE SHE IS ALREADY 5!! Okay, I think I've got it out of my system enough to get through this blog post. :-) We had a great birthday week planned for Ella and it was all so much fun!We woke up Tuesday morning and her daddy and I took her for a birthday donut breakfast date before school. I love traditions, so one tradition I started at Ella's 1st bday was taking a picture of her at 3:32p.m., the exact time she was born. I love it. So here is her picture this year. VERY sadly, this was the first year I was not by her side at that exact minute to wish her happy birthday, but thankfully my mom she got to take her 3:32 pic this year. After school/work, we planned a very fun birthday dinner at Chuck E Cheese with a few of Ella's besties! This is tradition #2. Every year we try to get together with the Murrells and Lewises on Ella's exact birthday. And then of course they come to her birthday party too. Laney, Joshua and Ella were all born within 2 1/2 mths of each other, so we started this tradition for their 1st birthdays. Here they are that 1st year with their itty bitty selves! I wish I could go back to that day and squeeze those little cheeks!While Ella and I waited for Daddy to get home from work before heading to Chuck E Cheese, Ella bounced some in the bounce house we borrowed from the Billups for her bday party. Thanks Billups!! We love you!We had the best time at Chuck E Cheese! Ella and Laney never left each others' side. They played every game together and rode every little ride together. We were able to wrangle them in for a quick picture. Joshua, Ella, Laney & Gabe! Apparently this was a wild ride! This was the funniest thing. They were on a roller coaster simulator. Every time the roller coaster on the screen went down a hill, they would giggle so hard and squish their little faces together as if they were actually on the ride. It was adorable. Ella, Laney, Miles & Sam playing skee ball. Daddy and Ella!Birthday brownies!Joshua & Gabe gave Ella this very fun My Little Pony. Of course, Ella loved it and slept with it that night. Kristin MADE this dress! I'm amazed. Not only did she make this for Ella, she made a miniature one exactly like it that fits her Build A Bear Bunny. It's adorable!We are so blessed by these friends!! So thankful they are in our lives and that we can share big days with them. I keep thinking I am going to write a letter to Ella every year on her birthday like my friend Amanda does. But I just haven't done it yet. I am determined to though. I just really struggle with finding the words to describe the immense amount of love I have for Ella. I could sum it up with saying sometimes I feel like my heart is going to explode, but I'd rather go into maybe a little more details than just that. :-) Happy birthday baby girl![...]

Snow Days!!!!


5 snow days to be exact. We had 5 fun days of snow, off of work & school, in Texas. It was a blast. I love my job, but to have that many days off with my hubby and sweet girl was priceless.When Ella looked out the window to see all the snow that first morning, she gave the biggest gasp and left behind her itty bitty hand prints. We ate breakfast and got dressed as quickly as possible to go play!!!Catching snow flakes on our tongues. Front yardBack yardI need to watch out, this girls got a good arm. We did a lot of throwing the snow up in the air!Even the dogs loved the snow. By the way, we got a new puppy (the blonde one) that I haven't introduced yet. I'll leave that for another post because it's kind of funny why we acquired her. But she is precious and so sweet. Ella and her are great buds.Just some cuteness for you!Ella and her daddy got into a great snow ball fight! Ella about to lob a good one at her daddy. Isn't watching snow fall at night just the most beautiful thing. Heath and I stayed up really late one night watching a movie. Right at midnight, the snow just started pouring down. It was breathtaking. I'm so glad we were up to see it. If I was a gifted photographer I would have been able to capture the beauty of it, but instead I am left with this. It's been an awesome week to live in North Texas! Now I'm ready for the snow to go away and it to warm up for Ella's birthday party next week!! :-)[...]