Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ella's 11th Birthday

Ella decided she wanted to take a couple of friends to Classic Fun Center for her birthday. She invited Meagan Froisland and Ryo Lyon. She says these two are a lot of fun together at school, and I think they bring out Ella's silly side. We got a pizza and soda. They played hard! The morning of her birthday, she got breakfast in bed. Always a birthday fav!
What is Ella like these days?
*She loves her long hair, and wants to try out different hairstyles. Buns, braids, curls, etc. She's game for it all. And a hairbrush is her friend. Well, except if you take into account tangles. They are her nemesis!
*Phantom of the Opera is a favorite of hers. She loves to listen to it while doing dishes, in the car...we love to sing it together. She and Mira love the 2004 movie version.
*Reading is absolutely a hobby of hers! She's recently decided she loves historical fiction. "Fever 1793" was one she loved. A couple of other books she loved were "Out of My Mind" and "Because of Mr. Terupt."
*Ella is content to spend quiet time in her room reading or playing on her own. In fact, many times she'll "escape" after school to enjoy some quiet moments.
*She looks forward to Activity Days. Sister Christy Christensen has been a wonderful leader.
*Musical Theater is a relatively new discovery for her. And she has had a great time learning whatever song and routine they're working on. We've had some discussions about how awesome it would be to participate in a school musical when she's in middle school. I can see her thriving in that environment!
*Drawing is one hobby she gets a lot of relaxation and enjoyment from. Many times I'll find her in the office, at the desk, dreaming up different pieces of art. She is guarded about sharing her creations, but whatever she shares is always great! Whatever art is done in school, Ella gives it her best effort. Her coloring and decorating and drawing is always beautiful.
*Style is something Ella cares about. In fact, for her birthday present, we did some shopping for new shoes, socks, and clothes. She knows what she likes and is a good little shopper. We actually found some great things at Kid to Kid! She was pleasantly surprised. With money she got from grandparents, she bought a cute little stuffed animal skunk.
*She loves stuffed animals. I reassure her that 11 is certainly not too old to play with toys. She's at that age between childhood and grown up. Or at least it feels that way. Hang on to childhood!
*Ella is a sensitive soul. She takes to heart words said to her.


 Some after-Christmas fun discovering toys. Micah had fun with his helicopter (I'm thinking he took this photo.) And Ella was thrilled to get the Ever After High doll she'd been wishing for!
 I'm guessing we are watching "Good Mythical Morning" after my morning WOD. And, of course, Matthew is there snuggling with Jack.
 How adorable! Matt was on a Twister kick for a while. Sometimes he'd be content to let me spin the wheel while he got twisted up. But then I'd have to take my turn. His rules!
 We took an afternoon to head down to Provo to the Bean Museum. We'd never been there before, and it's been renovated recently. It was impressive, and the kids enjoyed all the stuffed animals.
 Obviously, Matthew did!
 Mira took the following pictures:

 Hanging out at home...
 When the younger three were off track, Chad had a day off and took them to the Curiosity Museum. It'd been a while since they'd been. They had a great time! I asked for pictures to be texted to me while I was at work, subbing. It was fun to see these come in.

 Even though there was snow, it looks as though they were still able to get outside and play!
 Waiting for the zipline:

 Playing with mirrors:

 Ailie and Mira always have a blast together. It usually involves pop music, make up, hair, and dress up.
 Ella likes to snuggle.
 Since these three were off track for three full weeks, we needed to have some activities to keep us busy and happy. We came up with a list that had a variety of choices. I really wanted to incorporate service in some capacity. Marnie Bussell, our neighbor, suggested Tiny Tim's, a non-profit organization which makes toy cars for underprivileged children around the world. The great thing about this place is that anyone can come volunteer for any amount of time. We love going in for an hour and screwing on the little wheels. There are retired men working machines.
 It is a perfect service opportunity for young children.
 Micah was considering selling Triss for a while. He was tired of the incessant chirping. Mira offered to buy her. And that worked until Mira moved her stuff into Ella's room. Now Matthew is the lucky new owner.
 Mom and Dad went to Texas to care for Eva while Chris and Gabby went on a trip to Hawaii. I love these pictures Gabby took of them:
 What a beautiful little girl!
 Another fun off-track activity! Classic Fun Center. Each of the kids invited a friend. Matthew invited Monte Conforto the first time and Spencer Hind the second time, Mira had Mikell, and Ella had Cassidy. We packed a lunch and the kids played hard! They had tokens, roller skate rentals, and
 Cute friends!
 Having a good time.
 Loving the candy...
 One thing the girls wanted to do was invite a friend over while off-track. Mira had Maya come over one day. They had a lot of fun together!
 The girls and Colin had their piano recital at Day Murray Music. This was to be Ella's last piano recital for the forseeable future. She was going to be starting voice lessons. (Very excited about that!) Colin actually was not intending to participate in the recital. His piece was long and difficult and wasn't up to his snuff by this point. I was so grateful when, at the end of the recital, Denise asked Colin if he would play whatever he was able to. He went for it, and it was awesome. Ella, Mira, and Colin all performed really well. What a fun evening!
 Get ready world: teenager on the way!
 Ice skating was on our list of things to do, too. And Matthew was not going to let me forget about it. He'd been hounding me for months about the next time we'd go. The girls love to go, too. So we had 2 hours at the Oval skating around.

 Ella's feet were getting a little tired. Looks like Matthew was ready to go home and sleep!
 Another trip to Tiny Tim's! I enjoyed sitting across from John Peter (in the blue and black striped shirt). He had interested life stories to share. He's legally blind, but finds a lot of joy in doing what he can to serve.
 Retirees hard at work!

 Colin enjoys a game of chess. And Matthew had been asking to learn, so Colin took time to teach him the rules. We thought it was funny when Matthew named two of his pieces "Bishop Pearce" and "Bishop Sutton!"
 Here's our other fun day at Classic Fun Center. Matt and Spencer Hind:
 Matt surprised us all when he did a backflip off of the foam pit ledge!
 Got a phone call from Doug one Saturday morning. He wanted to bring the kids to come play. We took them to the Sierra Newbold playground and then out for Smith's FREE ice cream cones. Fun day!

Big Christmas Blog

I realize I have some big catch up to do with this blog. Today is March 30th and I have to make up for lost time! A lot has happened, of course. Let's see how well my memory bank can retrieve the info. (I may depend on my smart 9 year-old, who is currently sitting beside me in the office as I type. She giggles.) Micah loves style. Button up shirts, hair "just so," skinny-ish jeans, etc. I think he sneaked a pic with my phone here.

 Grandpa Miller loves to pick out unique gifts. He didn't falter this year. He surprised each family with a 3-D pen. It has sparked a lot of creativity in our house. Micah made a Dr. Who police box with it. Colin worked long and hard on a cube with a roof. It takes time!

 Amidst the business of Christmas preparations, President and Sister Jury and their son Michael, came for a visit from Tasmania. We were able to spend time with them and other missionaries during our reunion. Scott Daw, Hillary Clegg Christensen, another elder, and I were responsible for heading it up. (Self-appointed.) It turned out really great. Pot luck, slide show, chatting with former missionaries and the's been years since we've seen most of these people. Neat to see their families and how they've changed. I enjoyed the association I had with missionaries while preparing for this. So many good people!

 Because I was there several hours early, Chad came over later with the kids. I know they didn't know anyone (besides the Gunderson and Hincks kids), but I wish they would have stayed the whole time. This happened to fall on the night of our ward Christmas party and they were anxious to get over there. I would have liked for them to see the slideshow and mingle a little with me. Colin did enjoy listening to Michael (in his Tasmanian accent) tell what it was like being the son of a mission president, living in Ireland, attending school, and making new friends.

  Pretty Ella looking more grown up these days--especially with bling on!

  Annual Barnett Christmas party! And the beloved piƱata, naturally.
  Fox Hollow put on a sing-along for parents. I got to record each of them. Lots of fun. As I recall, Mira was actually sick this day. She stayed home from school and went up just long enough to sing with her class. Come to think of it, she is home sick again today. In fact, she missed two days of school last week because of a cough/sore throat. And she missed Monday and Tuesday this week because of the same thing. She seems to get this recurring sore throat. I wish she didn't. I know she does, too.

  Cute little Matthew!
 Christmas morning! Chad and I started out thinking this would be a smaller Christmas. Somehow it grew. The kids got a lot of nice things.
  The Miller grandparents were thinking along the same lines I was because we both got them Spirographs.
 I like our tradition of taking turns to open gifts. I tell this kids that when I was growing up, we just tore into them and didn't bother to notice what siblings got. It seemed to be over in a matter of minutes. I laugh to myself because it really does remind me of the movie A Christmas Story where they're tearing into their gifts and not much is thought of the necessities as gifts: socks, clothes.

 Mom came for a visit close to Christmas. It was great to have her. She is so easy to have!

  The kids' wish (especially Matthew's--he'd been begging) was to go sledding. We chose a little hill over by Smiths. It was dang cold so we didn't last too long.

  Micah had his Christmas band concert. They are sounding good. Mr. Neves is his favorite teacher. He makes class fun by visiting with the kids, telling stories, and helping them out.

  While Grandma was here she planned some fun treat-making with the kids. They made Rolo-pretzel treats (which were awesome) and made and decorated sugar cookies.

  This is one of my favorite hairstyles for Ella's long hair. She didn't request it but a couple of times, though. We enjoyed trying out different styles. Thank goodness for great online tutorials.

  Ooh, sugary goodness. Even Colin got in on the action. I think we must have told him in order to eat one, he had to decorate it.

 Grandma bought a bunch of crafts to play around with, too.

 Chad coached Matthew's basketball team. Nothing more entertaining than a bunch of kindergarteners running around on the court! We saw some nice improvement from each player over the season. Dribbling especially.
  I was fortunate enough to get 2 tickets for a special Christmas performance at the Conference Center. Perfect for Mom and me! We went to the first part of the Barnett Christmas party, which was fun. There was a craft to work on (a wooden snowman for the front porch), and delicious food. Then we bugged out of there.
  Just as the concert began, I got a phone call from Chad letting me know that I'd taken the only set of keys for the van with me in Mom's car. Grr! But that hassle could be sorted out later--they got a ride to the Barnett's house with Amber and grandparents. Mom and I so enjoyed the beautiful concert featuring Laura Osnes as soloist. Handel's Messaiah was played here and there, which was wonderful.
 Mom took some family photos of us in our Santa hats, made by Grandpa.

 Handsome boys! I love that they get all dressed up and Micah makes sure Matthew is fixed up just right. Micah looks so handsome in his bow tie and suspenders.
  The kids each went shopping for each other using their own money. They loved carefully choosing items for each person. And the wrapping is fun. Mira just loves to help me do so many things. She asked to help wrap other gifts. I swore her to secrecy, and she did such a great job. I really appreciated having her help!
  Ella, pretty in pink, at her Christmas song performance.
  Our sweet neighbor, Linda Blankenship, passed away from cancer. She is a lovely, kind, sweet person who is missed terribly by her adorable husband, Jerry. We were privileged to have been able to visit with her several times over that last couple of months. And her funeral was a great celebration of her life.
 At Doug and Rachel's house we had dinner and then decorated gingerbread houses.
 Grandma always buys lots of extra treats for the houses. And mouths.

 We enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Barnett's.
 We played games and visited. We three enjoyed Quirkle.
 Some tickling happened.
 And handstands by our handstand queen.
 Grandma and Grandpa got creative with their gifts. Each grandchild got money in varied ways. Colin got his in a pizza box, Matthew got a gumball machine full of coins (which he thought was really cool), etc.
 We returned home on Christmas Eve with plenty of time left for necessary preparations. The kids got into bed with excitement running through them. I set a beautiful table for Christmas breakfast.
 Then Santa went to work!
 One big highlight of this month was the opportunity our ward's youth had to visit the Provo City Center Temple for a private open house. Because our bishop, Richie Sutton, works for the church's temple committee, he was able to secure an evening for us to go through. It's a beautiful building. I'd never been inside it before it had been burned. They did a wonderful job of keeping the old pioneer feel. There were many touches that made it unique--from customized door hinges to the rug that wound up the staircase. We just participated in the dedication two weeks ago. Perhaps sometime we could go inside to do baptisms with the boys.