There's a high of 70 today.

So we hopped a train to the Dallas Zoo, which I like more every time I go.  Happy New Year!


Ella wrote a song.

I have to say, Paul and I were shocked at how accurately she reproduced notes.  I think I'll save teaching her about the staff later.


'Tis the Season.

I shouldn't have been, but was, surprised, as I was going through the last couple of months of pictures, at how many pictures we have of Charlotte naked.  In my defense, this particular one was taken when it was still quite warm outside.  You know, in October.  

But, let's be real, she was also naked when Richard and Jess showed up for dinner tonight.  And I didn't bother getting her dressed until bedtime either.  We were doing a paint craft, and her outfit was too cute to ruin.

We have been crazy busy this last week, and I don't know that it will let up until after Christmas.  Paul had last week off of work, which was so fun.  And we made the most of our family time.  And even fit a little 'stay-cation' into the week.  We headed to Great Wolf Lodge for a couple of days.  And then headed to my sister, Laurel's wedding.  The Lodge was very fun, and I think it will become a tradition.  And the wedding was lovely.  If I ever have to get married again (let's hope not), I'm going to elope, too.

I am the ward choir director, and music chair, so there are just a few last minute things to take care of for the Christmas program.  We had friends stay the night last night on their way to Amarillo.  And the night before we went Christmas Caroling with a big group from the ward.  Plus we're still recovering from the wedding.  It was a big weekend.  I don't think Ella's been asleep before 10pm in a week.  Tomorrow we have an evening rehearsal, Friday morning I have another rehearsal (different group), but the evening should calm down and Saturday will be nice and quiet.  Can't wait for Christmas.  It is such a wonderful season.

I read this amazing article about celebrating the material at Christmastime.  You can find it here.  It was beautifully written and thought provoking.

Hope your pre-Christmas week is going wonderfully!


Remember that day...

That we went out to a restaurant for dinner and they had computers on every table with computer games? 

You can also place your order and use them to pay. But that's obviously a secondary function. 


Play first, eat later.

Paul was home with the girls the other day for lunch and was busy in the kitchen, when he turned to find Ella spelling with her green beans. 

We think she's pretty cute.


Merry Christmas!

I've been doing a lot of soul searching on Christmas this year.  And last year actually.  And maybe the year before.  It all kind of blurs together.  It all began with a ward Christmas party where Santa made an appearance.  It was just after the Nativity performance, which was lovely, and left us feeling so peaceful and spiritual and wonderful.  Well, Santa came in, and the kids started going crazy.  And, there went the Spirit.

So, anyway, the girls (I think it was just Ella back then) were young enough that it didn't really matter if we talked about Santa or not.  So we just didn't.  This year I felt like I needed to decide one way or another if Santa was going to be part of our Christmas traditions.  And so we decided.

He's not.

Well, not really.  Obviously, they know who Santa is.  How can you not if you ever leave the house in December?  Or November.  Or October, incidentally. So I just recently informed Ella he was just a pretend part of Christmas.  Mostly just to clarify.  It didn't seem to really surprise her, probably because, all she knows about Santa consists in large dolls on display in stores.  And the Grinch book.  I really like that book.  We read it year round at our house.

On a related note, this year, while Paul was setting up the tree, she asked him, "Why are you taking our Christmas tree, why?"  Which is a direct quote from Cindy Lou Who in the Grinch.  We thought it was pretty funny.

Maybe I should have told her that some people pretend that Santa brings the presents.  Because the Grinch kind of gives the wrong idea on that vein. But I bet she'll figure it out eventually.

So, we just came home from this year's ward Christmas party, which had the same setup, and I have to say, they managed to keep the Santa line very calm.  So, I didn't feel like it was a huge detraction from the Nativity.  But I don't regret our decision.  Santa doesn't really add anything to Christmas for me.

The magic of Christmas is the birth of our Savior.  It just doesn't get more magical than that.  I don't need to make up stories for my kids to feel the awe-inspiring spirit surrounding Christmas.

In any case, I know all of you think that I am probably crazy.  But I'm sort of fine with that.  I also don't care if you do Santa at your house.  And you probably do.  We were the only family who left without seeing Santa tonight.  Which is also fine.  Santa is really fun.  And it's a fun tradition.  And I totally understand why you are doing Santa.  It took me at least two years to make this decision, remember?  So, no judging here.  I will also be sitting down with Ella next year and having a serious talk about not spilling the beans on Santa.  She's too little this year to be a risk, I think. :)

Anyhow, if you want to know the real reason I shared this new family tradition, it is in the hopes that it will eclipse the article I am about to post.  Which is about not buying gifts at Christmas.  I wouldn't usually post it on this blog, mostly because I have lots of strong opinions, and they don't need to be out in cyberspace offending people. But I want to keep track of the link, and this is the best place to do it.  So, if you want to know if I'm really crazy, just click here.  It is a link to a blog called  It is titled The Case Against Buying Christmas Presents.  (All that information is for me in case the link ever goes bad.)

But, if you're wondering.  It's too late this year.  The gifts have been purchased.  Although, we really tried to simplify.  I guess Paul doesn't have his gift yet, but he will.  And I imagine he will get me something, too.  But the extended family is covered.  The girls are covered.  So, there is no need to feel sorry for us on Christmas morning this year. :)


Boring Stuff

We went to the Dallas Arboretum with friends the other day, and took quite a few pictures, many of which, over all, were better than this one.  But I just can't get over Charlotte's expression in this photo.  She is really a hoot.  With more personality than is really practical in that little body of hers.

We have always known that Ella was an easier child.  She is laid back and nearly always obedient.  But we didn't quite know how easy we had it until the last few months.  There have been multiple times when Paul and I have looked at each other in response to Charlotte and honestly not known what to do.  She is so young to be so very willful.  She outright refuses to eat unless it is on her terms.  (Whatever those terms are in the moment, this afternoon 'her terms' consisted of eating nuts right out of the bag, which there was no way I was going to let her do, and so she stayed hungry, I guess.  This morning 'her terms' consisted of massive amounts of sour cream on her eggs (breakfast burritoes).  We wouldn't comply with this request either, so eggs went uneaten, and she stayed hungry.  But twenty months is awfully young to have to stay hungry....)  I could go on.  But I won't.  Because she really is, by and large, a delightful child, and we have so much fun, SO much fun with her.  I imagine it is the two sides of the same coin. 

Ella and Charlotte adore one another, notwithstanding normal childhood spats, and play together beautifully.  We're so blessed to have both of them.  But they sure are different.  :)

Our Fall has been surprisingly busy.  It's hard to quite put my finger on one thing that is making it so, but really, it is just a combination of factors.  But it's been several weeks since we haven't had something scheduled on any given day.  On every given day, actually.  I am hoping the next few weeks will slow down and we will be able to spend more time reading and playing together.  I just love my girls.

We bought a new car (a minivan) and the old Mazda is still going, sort of.  But it is in desperate need of new tires and so forth, so we're going to retire it until February, when we get transferred.  We were using both for a while because Paul has been working these crazy hours.  But we've just decided that we will begin trading off and utilizing the train again.  In any case, it will be nice to have a good excuse to stay home on the days Paul has the car.  The weather is still good and I have everything I need in walking distance.  (The library, the grocery store, and friends.)

Happy Thankgiving Weekend.  I hope none of you got pepper sprayed :)


Remember when I used to be better at blogging?

I do.

But at least I have a three year old who LOVES to take pictures, so when I consult my archive of photos I have hundreds (literally) to choose from.  Just from last week.

I would say that a solid twenty percent of the pictures that Ella takes are self-portraits.  Another twenty percent are of strangers and/or random cars.  Another ten percent are too blurry to identify.  Forty-nine percent of Ella's pictures consist in what I like to call "still-lifes".  You know, the carpet, houseplants, door handles; and often when she finds a shot she really loves, there will be five or seven in a row.  Hence the reason I have a total of eight photos of an orange reusable shopping bag.  The remaining one percent are actually kind of good.

And so photo credit for the above photo goes to Ella. There were also some lovely shots of my legs, but I opted not to use those.  Maybe next time.


We got a new cousin!

And by "we", I mean Ella and Charlotte have a new cousin.  His name is Soren.  And he is beautiful.  And we live only twenty minutes away from him, so everyone is going to be best friends.  Finally!  A cousin!  Let's keep them coming!  (You know who you are.  I have spoken to you personally, and I still think you should be  having babies to keep my children company.)

Don't you want a picture like this of your future child and Ella?  She is really sweet with babies.  It *almost* makes me want to have another one.

Speaking of cute babies.  Try this one on for size.

Although, baby isn't quite the right word to describe this little girl.  But we still call her "the baby" (or just, "baby") more often than not.  But she's getting to be less and less of one every day.  At night, though...  That is a different story.  Still not my star sleeper.  I will not go in to details here, because that inevitably results in advice, which I am really not interested in getting.  But for posterity's sake.  And because I like to whine.  And to make other people feel better about their stellar parenting.  Just know that I long for a full night's rest. And I have only had three full nights of sleep in the last nineteen months.   :)  I know.  Now you think I'm the crazy parent.  Ah, it was inevitable.


A shout out to the equinox.

Well, It's fall here.  I use the term fall loosely, because it isn't anything like the autumns across the rest of the country.  Our arboretum has to buy hundreds of thousands of pounds of ornamental (and edible) gourds in order to display the fall colors here.  But I'm not complaining.  If this were Idaho, people would feel that this weather is suitable for swimming.  But it is not.  I personally don't believe in swimming unless it is at least 95F.  So we haven't been swimming in weeks.  Sometimes we even put on our cardigans... in the mornings... early mornings.  Basically it warms up as soon as the sun is out.  Still not complaining.  We have many more days of outside play waiting for us this year.  And that will make up for all the days we didn't go outside in the oppressive heat during the summer.  And so life is good.

I'm just glad it's winter squash season.  I'm not glad that our winter squash is crazy expensive here.  (A dollar a pound, and those bad boys are heavy.)  So you will find me in the ornamental gourd section, with my phone out, trying to identify all the squash that is labeled "mixed variety pumpkins" to figure out which ones are edible.  Because those guys are only 40 cents a pound.  And I love love love squash.

One day, I will have a root cellar, and I will store enough squash to eat one a day every day until late spring (when winter squash starts tasting mealy).  Because when you buy squash in that quantity, they are as sure as heck not going to charge you a dollar a pound.  And then my life will be complete.


Ella just informed me...

that she is saving up enough money to buy this car.  Yes, a little white Fiat.  She is her father's daughter.


Introducing the newest member of our family...


I know.  It's kind of a crazy name for a male fish.  But we asked Ella what she wanted to name him, and Xena was her choice.  I don't know where she got it.  Unless she is remembering that that was her womb name when she was a fetus.  But, I find that highly unlikely.

So, he sits on our dining room table, and we feed him at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I have to say, I really like the fish.  And I'm pretty sure he likes me, too.  Because every time I come by the bowl, he swims around like crazy doing his little beta dance for me.

Long term, I think he's going to get rocks and a plant.  But we decided on a $10 limit for a new pet, and since the fish cost $4, and the food cost $3, he was lucky that he even got a bowl.  Otherwise we would have had to keep him in the bathroom sink.  And that would have been awkward for house guests.


How did this happen?

Ella has been interested in writing for a while now, and she's been learning to write letters here and there.   And asking how to write basically everyone's name, including her own.  But she blew me away Sunday when she just busted out with her own name without any help.  It was pretty exciting.  We've started working on reading, because she has shown so much interest in letters and she has all of her letter recognition down, so we're learning phonetic recognition now.  I bought a program called Rocket Phonics.  I think the name is a little misleading.  Our progress has not, shall we say, been faster than a speeding bullet.  But Ella asks to 'play' Rocket Phonics nearly everyday, and so we are just now starting to see real progress.  We've only had the program for two weeks, so I guess that's not bad.  But, in my parental visions of teaching my precocious child how to read, I thought we would at least be ready for Hop On Pop by now.  :)  Like a Rocket!  You know?  Maybe next week. :)


Riding Her Noble Mount

We are playing at a friend's house today, who just happens to live in Dress-Up-Heaven.  Ella is loving it.  And I am really digging the pink wig.  She has just informed me that she is on her way to the Castle to go to the King's Birthday Party.  Let them eat cake!


I have good news and bad news.

The good news is Ella has conquered her fear of haircuts.

The bad news is, she enjoyed the haircut I gave her so much, that she decided to take another whack at it while I wasn't looking.

I thought I caught her before she did any damage.  All I found on the floor was a little strand of hair, and her pigtails looked intact.  So, disaster averted.

And then, later, I was stroking her sweet curly hair, and it just started coming out in my hand.  I cannot even describe how traumatizing this was for me.  I nearly wept.  And that is hard to admit, because I consider myself pretty hardcore.

Ah well, the damage is done.  And hair grows.  That has been my mantra.  Hair grows.

But I haven't had the heart to throw out the hair.  So, there it sits in a jar on my counter.


And we're back.

And I'm just shocked at how few pictures we got on our trip.  But, you'll just have to trust me when I say that we had a great time with friends and family.  We miss everyone already.  You should all move to Texas.

Also, Richard and Jess are moving to Texas.  So, we will soon have a cousin here in our very city.  As soon as he is born.  (Which should be in September or October.  So, we don't have long to wait.)  We are so excited about this new development that we periodically have conversations like this:

Jess:  Can you believe Richard and Jess are moving here!
Paul: No!  It is unreal.

And by periodically, I mean, about four times a day.

(Richard is Paul's brother.)

We are now on the job hunt.  Because Paul's Dad needs a job here.  So does Amanda, but I don't think she'll move.  But we want her to anyway.  Because Carolyn is already here.  And who ever thought that would happen?  Texas was not on her "list of places that she would willingly move".

I think we might have a disease called Texan-itis and everyone is catching it.  Watch out.  You may be next.


Did I hear a 'niner' in there?

Well.  As you may have guessed.  Our family recently flew across the country in a Cessna 221.  The cabin was pressurized, so we could fly at a pretty high altitude.  But it was still pretty loud in there, and we had to wear these awesome headsets to hear each other talk.

Paul's cousin has a plane and flew us out to Utah for Paul's other cousin's wedding.  It was pretty sweet.  Six hours of flight time.  No baggage claim necessary.  We officially have a new cousin-in-law.  And had a fabulous time at all the wedding festivities.  It was so good to see family out it Utah.  Paul flew home Wednesday, and I drove up to Idaho Falls (in the car that we bought in Utah).  And so begins leg two of my very long vacation.  Everyone in Idaho is missing Paul sorely and wishes he could be here to visit.  And I am glad I have someone to fund my cross country travels, but I miss him too.  Single parenting on vacation isn't all the fun you think it will be.

The word "vacation" conjures up images of relaxing days with loved ones in far distant lands while my children play merrily in the background.  But they miss their dad, and their bed, and their quiet times, and their dad....  And bedtime isn't nearly as fun when it's two to one :)  We're surviving though, and loving being here with Clark and Lindsay and the Desmonds.  It's been a great trip.


Warning: Brag Board Ahead.

I just want to jot down a few milestones for posterity's sake.  So if that kind of thing bores you, move right along.  I won't be offended.  (Sometimes I make quick work of your kid's milestone posts too.)

This girl.  She has started doing this thing where she hugs me around the neck and pats my back and lays her little head on my shoulder and it just melts my heart.

She also has all of her teeth, I think.  I am not brave enough to do a thorough examination.  (Or, truthfully, motivated.  If I were a better mother I would count each tooth lovingly.  But for me, a quick peek is sufficient.  Yep, they're in there.)  She is working so hard to learn how to jump.  And she's getting pretty good.  No air time yet, but I bet she'll get there any day now.

Charlotte has recently developed this quirk of absolutely requiring something in her hands while she breastfeeds.  (LONG SIDE NOTE: (JUST SKIP THIS PART, ARCHIE.  Yes.  She is fifteen months, and 80% of her diet is breast milk.  Maybe 90%.  She has very little interest in solids.  Unless junk food is present, which it is usually not, so I don't factor that into my estimates.  When Ella was fifteen months (and still nursing) I remember being mildly embarrassed.  And being grateful when I found others who were also doing "extended breastfeeding".  Ahhh, how time changes things.)  So, anyway, she asks to nurse, then climbs off my lap, grabs a toy, or whatever mildly interesting object is close at hand (this afternoon it was a throw pillow) and keeps her little hands occupied during mealtime.  She never stops moving.  Ever.

Recently we have noticed her singing the tune of Twinkle Twinkle in moments of solitary play.  I have been telling Paul about it for a while, but he never believes it when I tell him that our children are doing precocious things.  So, when we were in the car together Monday and she was singing it, I said, "Paul, do you hear her?! She's singing Twinkle Twinkle!  I told you she could!"  And he said, "Yeah, I know, I heard her singing it yesterday.  During Sunday School.  Really Loudly."  Char sings some portion or at least does hand motions to most every song we sing now.  My favorite is when she is the echo on the "Hello" song.

Another fun thing that she does is run away from me yelling "No! No! No!" when she doesn't want to do something.  The reason it is cute and not aggravating is because she is not saying it with defiance as much as with desperation.  As in "No, please don't make me!" vs. "No, I won't do it, buster and you can't make me."  I don't mind a little desperation in my life.  It makes my job more exciting.

Ella is just learning by leaps and bounds.  She has recently started asking me to teach her how to write her letters, which is really fun, because I have opinions on pushing your children into that sort of thing, but it has been completely child-led.  So far she has learned E, A, F, O, and the J shape, with no guarantees that the J is facing in the correct direction.  I know.  Totally random letters.  But this is at her request, so I just go with it.  I started trying to teach her to write her name, but she didn't care about that.  She just wants to write the letters.  So she does.  She writes them all over the page, and then she tells me stories about the letters, and how they are all going to the park together, or other such adventures.  She is starting to come up with really fun stories to tell.  Sometimes at night she will tell me a bedtime story.  Or sing me a bedtime song, complete with her own lyrics and tune.

She loves to draw, and has recently been "writing books".  Which means she draws several pictures and then folds up the paper several times.  Then she 'reads' the book while unfolding the paper.  Her pictures are varied and sometimes even recognizable.  She draws a great stick figure.  And once she tells me what animal she drew I can see the resemblance.  She's also a fan of drawing trees, clocks, and grass.  And really anything that she can think of.

Ella loves self-directed play time and spends it in her room streaming a constant flow of dialogue for her toys.  She says her prayers independently now.  They are a bit rote, but we've been working with her on it, and the other day while we were on a date and our friends were watching her, she said a prayer and blessed the people in their family by name.  So, my parenting is paying off.  Her typical prayer includes our immediate family and asks that we sleep well.  But she has been known to pray for grandparents and aunts and uncles.  She also is frequently grateful for Jesus and Nursery.  So that's good. :)  

Have I even addressed potty training on the blog?  We started potty training her when she turned two and it has been a long road.  She has been happily going to the bathroom since then, but always needed reminding.  Not long after we moved her I started forgetting to remind her, and she started remembering herself.  So, she is potty trained.  I know nobody really cares, but this is for posterity's sake, anyway.

Whew.  Well, that's all I can think of for now!



Ella got a Zoku for her birthday, so we have been eating Popsicles basically all the time.  Peaches are fifty cents a pound here, so I juiced a a couple and added some yogurt to make peach creamsicles.  Yum.


An interesting take on the whys of home schooling.

I think this woman really nailed a lot of components of why I want to home school long term.  (As in, I am already home schooling right now.  I try to keep that in mind each day, because at no point in human development do we learn more quickly than we do as infants and toddlers.)  The older I get, the more painfully aware I become of the time limitations we have here in mortality.  So, the idea of sending my children off five days a week for nine hours a day, with only some unknown percentage of their day is spent on things that I consider of worth, is a bit distasteful to me.

Anyhow.  Don't worry about the social development of my children just yet.  Paul's still not on board.


Another Independence day come and gone.

Ours was delightful.

It consisted of breakfast with the ward, and swimming, and naptime for three of the four members of our family.  I’m not going to tell you who didn’t take a nap.  But I will tell you that that person opted to watch Blue’s Clues instead.

After naps we decided to go to see African Cats at the Dollar Theatre; which was made all the more enjoyable with a running commentary by Ella Joy herself.  Then we headed home for dinner, and yes, another round of swimming.   And so I’m not sure if Ella has really grasped the full import of this holiday, but she did enjoy it.

Actually, so did Charlotte.  She definitely knows what swimming is and when we say the word she responds by clapping her hands and saying "Yea!"

She is a fearless non-swimmer, and jumper.  And although we didn't catch any airborne pictures, you get the general idea.  She consistently tries to wriggle out of our arms in the water and we try to let her flounder underwater for a few seconds to see if we can instill a little fear.  No luck so far.

Ella on the other hand has officially, as of today, transitioned into the swimmer category.  Yes, we took off her floatie, and she just went for it, and made it a good ten or twelve feet swimming on her own with her face in the water.  What a rock star.  We start swimming lessons next week, so hopefully we'll be able to improve her technique a little bit.

Here's hoping everyone else's Fourth was as enjoyable!


Little pig, little pig, let me come in!

Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.

 Well, okay.  If you insist.

All the way in.  There we go.

Much better.


Three years ago right now.

I was still waiting for Ella to come.  I don't remember the day very well.  Because, well, I was in labor.  I am thinking that it was right about now that I was asking for an emergency cesarean.

They said no.

But she did show up eventually.

So today we have been celebrating.

I have often asserted that birthdays should be celebrations of the mothers who did all the work on that natal day.

But, if you want the truth, even after all the work I did, I just want to spend the day celebrating that Ella is a part of our family.  We are so blessed.

So I let Ella choose the food for the day.  She requested cupcakes for breakfast.  We are both lucky that muffins and cupcakes are very similar.  And that she doesn't yet know what "whole wheat" means yet.  I did make cream cheese icing for the top, though.

Happy Birthday, Ella.


High Fashion

I did choose Ella's shirt. But that's it. Those are actually the baby's shorts. I think they're too short, but Paul says they're okay. So I'm just going with it. Sometimes you're just glad to leave the house. 

I didn't check. But I'm pretty sure she just forwent the underwear.

I don't really blame her.


My sweet life.

I don't know if you know this, but I am madly in love with my children.  My sister once told me that you feel the same way about your baby as you do your middle school crush, times a million.  And she's pretty much right.  I can't get enough of these two.  And if the situation required it, I would spend every possible moment lurking by their locker and learning their school schedule and drawing their names in hearts all over my homework.  But, I don't have time for those luxuries.  And luckily, I think the feeling is mutual.

Charlotte has really come into her own in the past month or so.  She is a hoot to be around.  She has recently learned the art of tickling, and when given the chance will tickle anything that moves and a fair number of things that don't move.  Including the couch and characters in books.  You know she is tickling you when she wiggles her little fingers and says "tickle, tickle, tickle!"

Ella is equally delightful.  She keeps up a running commentary on everything that happens, and it is always fun to hear things from her point of view.  The other day when we were driving, we had this conversation:

Ella:  Mom, why are we stopping?

Jess:  We have to yield to traffic here.

Ella (yelling):  TRAFFIC!!

Ella:  Mom, I yelled to traffic.

We have had a couple of conversations about yield and yell, but I don't think it is sinking in, because the other day when we were stuck in traffic, she asked if she should yell.  Thanks for the offer, Ella.  She's always thinking of others.  She is quite sweet to the baby.  (Although when I tell people this, Paul always jumps in to tell them that she isn't always sweet.  And she's not.  But she is usually sweet.  Sweet is her default setting.

They are starting to play together more consistently, which I love.  And I have started taking showers during the day and letting them play, which is a major step forward for me.  I have such control issues, that I feel like I need to be able to hear everything that happens, just in case.  Before now, I never showered alone (meaning, sometimes I would let the girls jump in the shower with me) when Paul wasn't home to watch the kids.  No, not even during nap time.  Because I was paranoid I wouldn't be able to hear the baby monitor over the shower.  I'm kind of a freak.  But at least I'm moving forward.



Paul and I have decided that Laurel needs to have a baby. We fully agree that she should get married first. But as soon as January rolls around, she and Hunter should just go ahead and get cracking.

We have some very viable logic for this opinion.


She wants to throw her dog a birthday party, and has actually researched venues that are dog-party-oriented for said party. This is an indication that she needs somebody to love and nurture and FAST. My kids don't even get a venue for their parties. Actually, I've never thrown either of my girls parties. That is because I am too busy nurturing them. They have more needs than dogs. We can safely say that they are filling my nurturing needs. Above and beyond, in fact.


She looks really beautiful holding Char. Just think what it would be like if it were her own child.


Just think about it.
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Saturday is the day after Friday.

Kickin' it at the Dallas Arboretum today. Just me and the girls. I won't name any names, but a certain other member of our family is spending the day at a PGA something or an other. I eased my sense of abandonment by treating us girls to lunch out on the town.


Ella was kind enough to dress herself today.

I think we might need to work on the order in which she puts on her clothes. Yes. That is her underwear over her pants.

Although, for the record. I personally think that she rocks this look. 

(For some reason the text didn't show up the first time I published this post.  And it only took me two days to sit down at the computer to fix it.)

UPDATE: The worst part about that day was that I completely intended to take pictures and then change her clothes, placing her underwear in the customary position.  But life got busy, and I kept forgetting, until we got to the library and realized that yes, I let my daughter walk around all day with her underwear outside her pants.  

I didn't brush her hair either.

There's nothing like a good story to make others feel better about their own parenting.


Baby Daddy.

I like these two.

A lot.

It's been a nice week here.  I got curtains up finally and banished our mini-blinds to the storage closet.  I hate mini-blinds.

I made a nightgown for Ella out of Paul's old work shirt.  I was originally going to be a skirt for me, but I cut the waist too small.  I was in a hurry, and assumed I could eyeball it.  Eyeballing it often works out well for me.  But not this time.  I sew like I do everything else.  Is there a word to describe how I do everything else?  Ummm, by the seat of my pants?  That might work.  Recipes are for suckers.

So is hygiene, incidentally.

I also came up with a new goal tracking system, so we'll see how that goes.  As it turns out, I am a lot more productive when I structure my time.  Which is kind of difficult for my loosey-goosey self.  But I'm working on it.  

It's been a good week.


Sudie and Grandpa Jeff.

Luckily the parents of the bride had time to spend with their sweet grandbabies.  A good time was had by all at the little "destination" wedding.


Weekending in Houston.

We are in town for my sister's birthday party. Although this is the first time since Carolyn's (Paul's sister) wedding that I've made time to sit down and upload pictures on to the computer. I'll get those pictures posted someday. But for now, we're just living the quiet life, Ella, Mom, and Charlotte going on rides, eating lots of yummy food, checking out wedding venues for Laurel (my sister), and basically just sitting around visiting. It's a good life.
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Two words.

So, Paul came home from work yesterday, and Charlotte starts toddling over to him and says, "Hi, Dad!"  (Well, she actually said "Da", but we knew what she meant.)  And he looks at me with these big wide eyes, and then looks back at Charlotte and says, "Hi, Char!"  And then she does it again.  "Hi, Dad!"  It was crazy.

She said "Hi, Ma!" to me this morning.  So we're even.  Not that I'm keeping score :)

Pictured above is Charlotte's favorite place in the whole world.  It is the stool Ella stands on to help me cook.  And if I even leave it out for one minute after it's been in use, she hurries over to it and stands there, surveying the world at such a great height.  Until we hurry over and take her down and put the stool away.


Writer's Block.

I think I am just out of practice.  But it is rare that I sit in front of this computer screen and can think of nothing to write.

I am still waiting for inspiration.  It's hard to see the time lapse when you're just reading the post.  But trust me, it is bad.

Part of the problem is that we have been taking life a little slow this week.  So there's not much news.  It is a nice change, and it's good to get back to the basics, and establish my balance again.  I'm not there yet.  Is balance this hard for everyone?  Or am I just untalented?

One day.

I am considering scrapping this entire post.  This is kind of ridiculous.

Or maybe I'll just keep the post and call it a night.  Maybe everyone will be distracted by the very sweet  baby at the top, and fail to notice my miserable attempt at prose.


Questionable Parenting Alert.

Well, Monday brought with it some random ailment.  I still don't know what it was, but I was not feeling good.  So I did what any good mother would do, I put on Blue's Clues and tried to take a nap.  For those of you who have had the opportunity to waste away your child's life on this delightful show, you are already familiar with the host (and only human character) of the show, Steve.  For those of you who are not, just imagine the nicest, most sincere and slightly nerdy guy you will ever meet, and that is Steve.  Kind of the Fred Child of children's television.  And Ella loves him.  Well, a little while after laying down I heard a hauntingly familiar song drifting in from the other room.  The tune was "Follow the Prophet"... but Ella changed the words to "Follow the Steve, follow the Steve..."


Or Scary?


We are enjoying a glorious afternoon at the park today....  There's something about water and wind and sunshine that makes life feel so complete.


If there were an audio track...

You would hear me screaming in the background.  "TOO FAST!  Paul!!  That's too fast!  Paul!  Paul!!"

At the Zoo today.

Sweet Char actually took a nap in public.  When does that ever happen?  It was a nice day, bringing up many fond memories of our Zoo trip with Clark and Linds last year.  There is just something about Spring that makes me want to go to the Zoo.  I've had my fix now, and I think I'll be okay until next Spring.


At the market today...

If you ever need culinary bark, I know where to find it.


Last year...

I was looking through old pictures, and found this from last Spring. So sweet. Life is just wonderful here. The weather is warming up, we even attempted swimming when Richard and Jess visited last week. (Ella was the only one with the nerve to stay in very long.) We are all just happy and healthy. Busy, too. We have made friends and enjoy socializing, but honestly, I really enjoy just being at home with the girls and doing our own thing. We work together and read and cook and nap (well, Charlotte naps, Ella and I have 'quiet time') and enjoy our little park. It is a nice life.

I was talking to Susan (Paul's mom) the other day and she was asking what Charlotte's new 'tricks' are. And off the top of my head, I had a hard time coming up with them. It's different with your second, since you've 'seen it all', it doesn't consume you quite as much when they learn something new. So, here's a list. For me, and for Susan, and the rest of you that are enamored with that sweet baby. She says "hi" all the time, and sometimes, for effect, "hello!" (exclamation point always included). She unloads the silverware, handing me utensils one at a time. This used to be Ella's job, but I have graduated her to plates and cups. She woofs at most anything that moves, with the exception of birds (tweet) and ducks (quack) which she usually imitates effectively enough. She walks pretty much everywhere, except when she trips, and then she continues her journey on hands and knees. She knows where I keep the little tomatoes on the counter and will climb up the stool to eat them if I accidentally leave the stool out in the kitchen. (Ella knew where we kept the crackers and helped herself there at this age. My girls take matters into their own hands when it comes to food.) She calls me "Ma" more and more. And continues to call Ella all the time. She gives kisses on the lips when we ask, and sometimes when we don't ask, she'll grab my face and say "mmmmmwah". She throws the ball to Ella several times in a row. And she and Ella have lots of other little games that they play together. They spend a fair amount of time laughing together which I find delightful. She will play independently, if Ella and I are not in sight. But, if one of us is around, she wants to be part of the action. She sings along to a couple of songs (songs with repeating syllables "lalala" etc.) and does hand motions to a couple of songs (Wheels on the bus, roll your hands, if you're happy and you know it (the last one she's been doing for months)). Today I read a book to the girls that has songs in it, and after I was finished, she grabbed the book and started 'singing' with the book open in her lap. It was pretty cute. Ella recognizes sheet music and 'sings' while pretending to read the music when she finds music around. And also, Charlotted does sing along to her lullabies when we put her to sleep. She's basically the cutest girl ever.

My children are going to have a warped concept of what 'cutest' and favorite mean, because we use them so liberally. I don't know how both of my girls can be 'cutest', but they are. And every day Ella brings me a different book and says, "Mom, this is my favorite book! Let's read it!" And if it's one that I have expressed a disinterest in (because I straight up tell Ella when I don't like a book and don't want to read it), she'll say something like, "I think you might like it. Let's see." She can be awfully persuasive. Enough for now. Enjoy conference!



Ella:  Dad, dance with me!

Paul: Okay!

Ella: Here, put this on.  [Handing him a tutu.]

Paul:  Ummmm...

Ella won out in the end.  The only acceptable dance is one in which the dancer is wearing a tutu.  I don't know where she got that from, as I have never exposed her to ballet, or any form of tutu etiquette (I think of them more as costumes than dance attire), but thanks to Sudie, she has two tutus, so there can always be a pas de deux.


There are just not enough hours in the day.

I have such high hopes for my life. I want to give my children hours each day to explore nature, eat nutritionally rich meals, start a business, learn Chinese, read the twelve books that I currently have checked out from the library, allow the girls to play alone, let the girls learn to play with others, teach the girls to work hard along side their mother, and spend meaningful one on one time with each of my children, sew any of the seven projects that are currently percolating in my head, study the gospel, share the gospel, repot four of my houseplants, plant a vegetable garden (location TBD), blog... and sleep.

Is anyone else feeling a bit opressed by the constraints of mortality?