Tuesday, December 30, 2008

THE playhouse.

Technically, this is not a Christmas gift, but it did arrive just days later. This is Ella's playhouse hand-made with love by her Papa. She has affectionately dubbed it "Papa". Here are some pics of the barn...er, playhouse raising that took place yesterday in our back yard:

Phooey!! I didn't get one pic of the beast in all its glory. Stay tuned for a pic of the whole thing. It is AMAZING! Ella is soooo fortunate to have this bad boy in her own yard at the ripe old age of 1.5. She is going to enjoy this for many, many, many years! Aunt Charley and I are looking forward to decorating: curtains, hanging plants, lights, a little garden, a little kitchen and all the fixins. There is even a spot just under the roof for the installation of a box fan during the summer...Papa thought of everything!!

Ella hurdled out the door today to rush inside it and peek out one of the three windows. She literally says "peek-a-boo". I think it is because she has been reading "Peek-a-boo Moon" with her Nana. She also enjoys hanging over the railing on the porch of her "property". She tells the cat "no, no" if it enters her domain (though I have a good idea it will be the cat's domain at night to slumber).

Christmas...is it too late to post this?

We.had.fun. Ella LOVES her family and I mean EVERYONE. Every Aunt, Uncle, Grandma and Grandpa (including the "greats"). She has everyone's name and title down and looks forward to any opportunity to belt them out. I know she is spoiled and you know she is spoiled so I will save you the details on all the bounty she received from her very generous friends and family. We are blessed!

Here are some pics of Christmas at Nana and Grandpa's (on the 24th, before the two parties we attended of which I have NO PICS!):

Riding her new box of blocks:

Playing with Nana:

Feeding baby chicken:

Christmas at Mimi and Papa's (Christmas morning). Ella did not actually open a gift at Mimi's, here is what she did instead:
Passing out gifts:

Sorting gifts:

Riding gifts (a theme?):

Eating gifts:

Playing with gifts:

She took an apple AND a banana break during the chaos:

Later she took a spin in her wagon with her new dogs (technically frogs) on:

Here is a couple of other fun pics from our time in Houston:
Lorelei! She was a boat load of fun and the girls ran around for hours together:

Around the smoldering "yule" log (this is a stump behind my inlaws that burned for 3-4 days throughout our time there...it was fun just hanging around the burning stump):

Zonked out on the car ride home...foot resting on my chair:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Trail O' Lights

Wowsers, this was fun! All the lights and kiddos and activities...it was a winter wonderland! Without the winter...er, it was nearly 80 degrees. We are such weenies we ran to the trail on Friday night when we heard there would be a cold front blowing in on Saturday. It is SO MUCH more fun to hang out without being hampered by a coat AND gloves AND a hat AND the whining (mine, not the kiddo). Anywho, here are some pics of the fun to be had. Love that the Trail is here every year : )

She made most of the trip on her dad's shoulders...there were just so many people that a tiny could easily run into the crowd and never come back to mom and dad:

Sorry, my camera doesn't do scenery pics, but it was really, really beautiful. There were dancing trees and music, etc, etc, but my very fave were the trees covered in lights:

Ella, literally dancing and clapping while sitting on dad's shoulders:

funny dancing pic:

Mom, wearing Ella's new glow necklace:

End of the line, back at the car with new glow necklace and bag of burning hot kettle corn that we split (fought over):

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There is something to be said for ROUTINE

So, I would LOVE to think of myself as a spontaneous, fun, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl...but then I would only be talking about someone else. That just isn't me! I thrive on routine and December has thrown me for a loop. Here are a few things out of the ordinary that could be the cause of my frazzled-ness:

-there is a giant, glowing tree in my living room (which I do heart)
-shopping for stuff other than food...wha? this NEVER happens.
-it is COLD (I liked that for all of 10 minutes and then I was ready for Spring..BLAH!) we are totally stuck inside. honestly, we took a field trip to visit zach's co-workers...tell me that we are not dying to get out of the house. everyone there is great, but we are such a giant distraction that i can't help feeling a little bad about it....until ella gets tons of hugs and brings joy to everyone she runs past (even though i'm chasing her...ugh.)
-daydreaming about ella enjoying christmas with our families : )--this can be very time consuming
-christmas cards....A LOT of them + our christmas CD for those who enjoy new music (so much work, but very rewarding cause I get to send my best wishes to those we love the most. i think cards are like hugs. we send out about 100, but i always think of a ton more people i'd like to "hug")
-sicky-ness from the constantly changing weather..first me, now ella

yadda, yadda, yadda...I'm hope it doesn't seem like I'm complaining because in reality I love all of these things that make December so special, but I just wish I could be a little more flexible and just go with the flow. I stink with change. My REAL problem is remembering to complete my normal daily functions amidst the new found chaos and so my house is a mess (totally out of the norm..tee-hee) and my to-do list is out of control and I ALWAYS choose the fun things over the mundane...oops. Maybe I should have saved this whole rant for a week and a half for my "New Year's Resolution" post (don't hold your breath for that one).

I'll post pics now. Sorry to force you to sit through that when you really just came here for the pics. Before I go I want to send hugs out to all those who check in here for a dose of Ella. She is pretty special to me. Here are some Christmas card rejects and other fun stuff:

Sock Monkey Manger Scene at 39th street Christmas Display:
For a better description of the scene, check out Heidi's blog

Tabith, Joshua, Ella and popcorn at The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Christmas luminary display:

LOVE this mug:

So pretty:

For the record, I am totally JEALOUS of the Harrell's new toy and Katie's less new toy!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We're still here!

Well, we weren't here for about a week and a half and if you count the time it takes to prepare for that sort of event and the time it takes to recover....then you've got about 3 weeks that have just flown by and a very aching back. We had a lovely time with our Houston friends and families. Ella had a blast. I think she is going to be on overload at Christmas seeing all of her favorite people...AGAIN! We are looking forward to it.

Speaking of Christmas, I feel like I missed the jump start after Thanksgiving since we were away. Immediately upon our return home my list looked like this:

1. Unpack
2. Christmas Tree
3. Laundry or just buy new clothes
4. Christmas Lights
5. Must do laundry b/c new clothes are not in budget
7. Austin Trail of Lights
8. Make all the gifts I had PLANNED to make (and bought supplies for)..EEK!
10. Christmas cards

I have done well in our few days home and have only the Trail of Lights, final touches on Christmas cards and making gifts left to do. Trail of Lights starts Sunday and I just know that Ella will eat it up. I'll post pics after the event.

I wish I didn't have so many gifts to make, but they are things I WANT to make because they are better than anything I have seen to buy...if they turn out right. They aren't overly wonderful, but they are just right and personalized. Please motivation, find your way to my door!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Six Years and counting...

Yesterday, Zach and I celebrated number 6. The anniversary has become a time to reflect, especially since we have some years under our belts to reflect upon. Last year I made a little list of questions for us to pour over together, like 1. What are some tough times we've weathered together? 2. What are some terrific life experiences we've shared? 3. How many addresses have we lived at? etc, etc... It was fun, but I was surprised by the number of "tough" things we were able to recall. When I think about my marriage I am shocked by how easy and natural it seems and yet we had worked up such a large list of "tough times"...so many, in fact, that we had to chuckle and agree to move on to the next item on my little list! I believe the key to this phenomenon lay in the way we handle the difficult times...TOGETHER! Tough times happen, losing my dad being the very toughest, but I had my rock to lean on. I needed that rock and he was there for me. It means more to me than he'll ever know. Zach is there for me and now he is here for Ella. He is an AMAZING father. I loved him passionately when I said "I do" six years and 1 day ago and I love him even more today.

Ella playing "dada" with his headphones on:

The new cold weather called for a new coat:

The park at night (last night after our Anniversary dinner at Chuy's:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A First Haircut

I don't know if you have noticed from recent posts, but Ella's bangs got OUT OF CONTROL! Heather and her assistant, Josie, were nice enough to make a house-call for Ella's first clip. Here are some pics:

Items used: bumbo, a dum-dum sucker and the great outdoors.

Snip, snip...

Josie, the assistant:


Major kudos to Heather because it was altogether a totally painless experience. Plus, Ella can SEE NOW!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Back to Normal

Things are completely back to normal. It was a little erie Friday morning because there was litterally no evidence of the previous day's events. Our neighborhood was as quiet and boring as every other day : ) I was able to hash things over with a couple of neighbors and hear their stories and that was fun. Our immediate neighbor to the left said that the SWAT team actually knocked on their door around 6:45 AM and told them to stay inside...we did not receive the same courtesy knock, but were well aware by then of the events unfolding. The same neighbors had the trunks of their car and truck checked no less than two times by officers. We also did not get searched...weird how we were so close in proximity, with different experiences.

The other neighbor admitted he was scared to come out and stayed home from work until almost noon. I understood that position, too. It was very surreal and we are happy that it is over. He said he was OK with the situations because: 1. The actual scenario did not begin in our neighborhood, it started a few miles away in another part of town and just happened to *crash* into our neighborhood, randomly and 2. The police were all over it!

The final story is something straight out of The Wire, our favorite series: the gunmen were kids (17 to 24 years of age) weilding AK 47's and wearing bullet proof vests and initially robbed a poker game at a private residence. They tortured and shot a few victims at the poker game before stealing their loot and attempting a get-away. The police chase ensued after cops were alerted to the situation and then *BOOM* the crash and police shoot out around the corner from our house. Can you say CRAZY? Two of the five are in custody, one is dead (a result of the police shoot-out) and two are still outstanding. The police know the identity of one of the two and are on the look out.

So, that about wraps things up. Zach has saved the story from the paper for Ella's scrapbook. My response to that is, "What scrapbook?" I put him in charge of that. LOL! I do have a bag o' stuff that I am keeping for her...I guess that is what he means. I wish, wish, wish I was more productive. Someday...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

No worries...NOW.

Shortly after my previous post we saw our neighbors leave, presumably for work. We formulated a plan for our exit as well. Ella and I dropped Zach at work and headed for the Villa's for an ALL DAY play date! Lyndsay is always super accommodating (this is not the first time she has put us up for the day) and even served us up some yummy pizza for lunch : ) Joshua and Tabitha are growing more cute by the minute. The kids played until they were worn out and then had a good snooze while Lyndsay and I got caught up and then I made some phone calls.

I thought my mom might be worried after the AM call about our neighborhood SWAT situation, but I had no idea how worried. She had called Austin Police Department and advised them that I was not answering my home phone (no cell-y) and she was worried. They, in turn, took this as a tip and came over to secure the premises. We were not home and that was the conclusion they came to before phoning my mom back. YIKES!

The search carried on until dark and has just dissipated, without results. They had a very small area blocked off, which included our home and they had AMPLE police officers/SWAT team members so it was determined that the guys were not in the area. We are OK with this and intend on sleeping well tonight....after double checking our doors and windows, of course!

Thanks to everyone for their care and concern over our little family. We are all doing great and enjoying a peaceful (aka: without helicopter) evening at home.

I'll leave you with a couple pics from our visit to the Museum with Sammy:

Ella, behind the controls, at the Austin Kiddie Limits~

Sammy, climbing the steps in the train tower~

Ella, driving a city bus!