I was going to wait for pictures...

but it's taking too long for Laurel to send them. We spent several days in Texas last week. The original purpose of the visit was to attend my grandma's surprise birthday party. (And can my family party!) But the timing was almost miraculous because about two days before we flew out there we decided to attend Texas A&M in the Fall. It was down to that or Notre Dame. And I'll tell you, we really couldn't decide for a while. Texas offered us this wonderful scholarship package. But, we kept saying to ourselves, "but... it's Notre Dame!!" (ND also offered us a scholarship, but because tuition is $40,000 a year, it takes a lot more scholarship to make it affordable.) Because we got our acceptance letter from ND before we even applied at A&M we were pretty much set on going. So it took us a while to mourn the loss of becoming Fighting Irish, and living amongst Catholics. (Bring on the Baptists, baby.) We kept going back and forth, until finally we did a spreadsheet. (It was my idea, not Paul's, ironically enough. But he did insist on color-coding it. Oh, Paul.) And I know that many of you will be surprised to hear this, but it was me who was concerned about the budget, not my legendarily thrifty husband. (It's hard not to be enamored with Notre Dame.)

So, A&M's MBA program begins earlier than I ever would have imagined, and we are now moving in four weeks. AHH! And I will be at Girl's Camp for one of those weeks. And Paul will be in New Hampshire one of those weeks. (He decided he needed a turn to traipse around the country while being a stay-at-home dad. I did go to Texas, like, four times in the ten months I was home with Ella. It's only fair.) So, off we go.

In other news, Ella is now a full year old. (Pictures of the happy event when Laurel emails them to me.) We have green raspberries on our bushes, so we will definitely have raspberries before we move. And we have a buyer who is seriously interested in the house, and two back-ups. So, even though many people thought we were crazy, it turns out Heavenly Father had this worked out all along.

It is just mind-boggling to reflect on the last three months of our life. It has just been a whirlwind of highs (the Spirit, quietly guiding our lives) and lows (anxiety, stress, insecurity, depression, uncertainty). It's easy to say now that it's all working out, but I truly feel blessed to have experienced this. Heavenly Father's hand has rarely been more apparent in my life. I have watched Him take care of my family and maneuver us so so far from where we expected to be. This whole experience has been a miracle.


Slow and steady wins the race.

Well, we've taken down the safety gates. This was originally Paul's doing, because I still cannot help but follow Ella up and down the stairs just in case. I have to admit however, that she just maneuvers those stairs without any trouble. So Paul takes the gate down during the day and lets her have free reign of the house. I'm trying to go with it, because he gets to do things his way since he is now the primary parent. Baby steps.

In any case, I walked upstairs to find my sweet darling like this the other evening. Oh how I long for the days when she would just play with a measuring cup. I was okay with the progression to needing the whole plastic cooking stuff drawer. But climbing all the way in? Oh well, she is now tall enough to reach the third drawer up, where we keep the plastic bags. This is way better than collecting zip-locks strewn about the house.

When I plugged in my camera to upload the drawer photo and looked at all of the other pictures on there, this was my exact thought: "Oh! We went to California!" It was only a week and a half ago. Life really is moving that fast.

I took off Ella's shoes and socks at the cold, northern coast because of my firm belief that everyone needs to know the feeling of sand in your toes. She loved it.

And who can visit Northern California without hitting up the Jelly Belly Factory!!

The redwood forest was incredibly peaceful... until we arrived and my daughter's screeches resonated throughout the wood. One cannot doubt her enthusiasm.


Feeling a little sluggish?

We had the missionaries over for dinner the other night. It was Paul who really summed up the evening: "Well. That was not our finest moment."

It all began with homemade pizza. Naturally when they arrived we had not yet put it in the oven. "Don't worry, Elders, we'll get you out on time!" Well, I used a new dough recipe that was just not holding together very well. So it took a while to get the first pizza in the oven, but finally we did and then we all sat down to start on the salad. "Elders, this lettuce was grown just a couple of miles out of town." I love buying local foods, and I am just so proud to buy local, so I was bragging for quite a while about the salad, and the Co-op, and the Farmer's Market. Well, I'm starting to feel pretty good about myself. I served up a great salad, the pizza should be done any minute now, and I'm calming down from the "pre-dinner panic". (Does anyone else get that feeling when they have guests?)

All of a sudden, Paul shows me his plate. I'm staring at his half eaten salad, wondering what I am supposed to be looking at. It takes about seven seconds for me to see it. A slug. Slugging across the dinner plate. Clearly glad to be free of our locally grown lettuce. And that's when I started screaming like a small child. I do not usually freak out. I'm okay with bugs of many varieties. But it's because I expect them to crawl into my house when it's cold, or fly in when it's dark, or whatever. But who expects a slug to crawl out of your salad?! Not me. So I flipped.

Well, the Elders were amazingly relaxed about the whole slug experience. After I had calmed down, one even said, "You know, it's pretty funny when you think about it." I wasn't in that place quite yet. I'm getting closer.

Well, we were done with our salads. (Obviously.) The pizza should have been done several minutes ago, but it was just taking forever! We wait and wait and wait, until Paul realizes that we turned the oven off after heating the pizza stone. Oh. That would be why it's taking twice as long as usual. Luckily, the rest of the evening goes pretty smoothly.

Paul assures the Elders that all pizza toppings (tomatoes, peppers, olives, onions, etc.) were grown at corporately owned farms, and are therefore slug-free. Thanks, Paul.

Finally, at about ten after the hour (we didn't get the Elders out on time) we sit down for the spiritual message. It was very nice. Until they asked for a ride to their next appointment because they are already fifteen minutes late! AH! Sorry, Elders! We rush them out the door into our car, which is littered with toys and books and purses and blankets from the last road trip. Ah well. Chalk another one up for experience.