Monday, March 26, 2012

Ella’s Birthday Party

After carefully weighing all of her options, Ella decided that she wanted to celebrate her birthday by having a horseback riding party with a few of her friends.  So, last Saturday, we brought Ella’s good friends, Julianna, Margot, and Taylor, with us to Providence Equestrian Center for a little party.  The kids rode horses around the riding arena and then around the beautiful paddock on a trail.  There was a little craft, too, of painting a horseshoe and then we had cake (cookie cake, per Ella’s specific request).  It was a fun party—and we were so thankful for the beautiful weather that afternoon, between a morning and evening of thunderstorms. 











{ella requested to ride piggy.  ella had been to a party at providence equestrian before and rode oreo then, the pony that jack rode this day.}

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Ella’s Birthday

Ella had a wonderful birthday today from beginning to end.  She woke up to “Happy Birthday” and heard it from every family member on the phone from dinner to bedtime.  She opened one present before leaving for the bus stop in the morning, enjoyed cupcakes and a round of Happy Birthday to You with her class at lunch, opened the rest of her presents after school, and then (after piano and swimming, our usual Wednesday afternoon line up) we had a family dinner of Panera Bread bagels (Ella’s dinner request that I had to buy earlier in the day because we wouldn’t have time to make it there after swimming) and cupcakes with candles.  Ella went to bed happy, smiling especially big thinking of all of the great presents she had gotten.  Thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes!

{we had to order the cupcakes from the cafeteria because the vanilla ones are “the best cupcakes ever”, apparently.  all of the kids were certainly happy.}

{first a braces check, and then “cheese!”}

And Then She Was 8

So time marches on.  Our girl Ella turned 8 years old today.  And while it feels like an eternity ago when she was a tiny, soft, little baby only giving me hints to her personality, it doesn’t make it any less jarring that my daughter is now 8.  8!  Every year, as I sob and make Ella’s birthday slideshow, I think about her amazing spirit and joie de vivre, two things I greatly admire about her.  I wonder how, in this next year, we can make sure she stays optimistic and confident and unencumbered, as the responsibilities at school and home mount and her world becomes larger and her understanding grows deeper.  Yet, Ella does change each year—I can’t stop that and I wouldn’t want to.  She gets stronger and smarter and more empathetic.  She amazes us, and amazes herself, with her new skills and accomplishments.  All the while, thankfully, staying her free-spirited self.  And that’s why I had to choose this song for this year’s slideshow—what I really want for Ella is for her to be free to be herself.  To have room to grow and bloom.  So, Ella, even though we are very ‘Glad You Came’, this favorite song of yours of the moment (by The Wanted) doesn’t really capture what is truly special about our girl (Ella was lobbying for ‘Glad You Came’ to be this year’s slideshow theme song)…well, maybe a few lines…my universe will never be the same, I’m glad you came, I’m glad you came…

Happy 8th Birthday, Ella!  You amaze us daily.

Ella's 8th Birthday from Tricia Williams on Vimeo.

a year in review

{this video is ella’s 8th year in review, but it kind of looks more like a documentary on the transformation of her smile…can hardly believe all of the changes to her teeth from age 7 to 8.}

Sunday, March 18, 2012

He Comes in Peace

Jack had a fun time at a birthday party this weekend—he especially loved his alien balloon hat from the party’s entertainment, Mister Twister.

{these were taken outside in the dark, right before bedtime.}

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All About Jack

Our sweet boy Jack has been busy lately—he’s had so many special milestones, cute personality quirks, and new activities lately that I should’ve blogged about these earlier…

To start off, after getting off the bus heartbroken each Friday because he wasn’t chosen for ‘Star of the Week’ for the following week (and actually declaring that he would never be chosen)—you guessed it—Jack was finally ‘Star of the Week’.  This particular honor involves wearing a special hat all week, sharing special details about yourself and an ‘All About Jack’ poster with the class, having a parent come in to read your favorite book to the class (I read Tacky the Penguin—more on that later), and receiving a book at the end of the week with letters from each classmate telling you at least three great things about yourself. 

Jack’s interview (from his book):  You are a shining star and we all know it.  This is what your classmates know about you.

1.  My favorite kind of penguin is a Rockhopper because they can jump high.

2.  I love to play soccer.  I play on a team.

3.  My favorite month is August because it is my birthday month.

4.  You are a great friend and student.


Some nice things his classmates wrote about him:  “You are a cool kid.  You are a good friend. I like when you are at school.”  “I love you.” x 8  “You are a fast runner.”  “You are a good student.  You’re cool.  You are a good AR reader.”  “You are nice.” x 5  “You do good at drawing.”  “You are good at math.  And you are good at basketball.  You are good at running.  You are good at reading.  You are good at tag.”  And from Megan, who has become important lately: “You are very cool!!!  I really like you in my class!!!  I like gray too!! You are nice and kind.  Love, Megan         p.s. XOXOXOXOXOXO”.  And then she drew a picture of a basketball saying “Jack Rocks”, a penguin saying “Jack is awesome!” and a panda saying “I like Jack”.  I guess I can see why Jack was so excited about being ‘Star of the Week’—it was a Jack lovefest, and rightfully so.  It’s so nice to hear how highly his classmates think of him.

{this is jack’s ‘all about jack’ poster.  his favorite color is gray, his favorite animal is a penguin (it has kind of been an obsession lately), and his favorite food is pizza.  disney world is his favorite place.  when he grows up he wants to be a soccer player.  his favorite thing to do is watch a movie (notice the movie in his drawing is mr. popper’s penguins).  and, if jack had one wish he would wish to have his very own penguin (seriously, it’s an obsession, a very adorable one, though).}

Jack, as was mentioned above in his ‘Star of the Week’ book, is a terrific student.  He is excelling at kindergarten.  Over the past several months he has blown us away with his reading skills.  He started taking A.R. (Accelerated Reader) tests this quarter, one of only five kids in his class—he reads books within a certain reading level (1.4 to 2.4 right now) and then takes comprehension tests on a computer.  Starting in 1st grade he’ll have an A.R. goal to earn an achievement ribbon each quarter.  We’re just so proud and amazed at how naturally he has taken to reading.

{this letter from jack to ella through the school mail system just came home with ella a few days ago.  dear ella, how are you liking second grade?  i am liking kindergarten.  have a great year.  from, jack  so cute!  and, on the right, is just one of many, many penguin pictures that we’ve had around the house lately.  the penguin thing started with jack’s class learning about artic animals in class and has then kind of snowballed from there…}

{the outside of my valentine’s day card from jack, a pink penguin.  and another school mail system letter from jack to ella—dear ella, happy valentine’s day!! you are the best sister ever!! love, jack}

{one of jack’s writing examples.  jack’s teacher just told me last week that jack’s at the stage where we can start helping him with his spelling for words that were in his sight word list or if he’s misspelling the word because of a mispronunciation (up to this point he has been taught to spell phonetically).}

Jack is such a sweet, quirky boy. Ella and Jonathan went to a father-daughter dance a few Saturday nights ago. Jack planned for weeks and weeks our little “mother-son” night for that night while they were at the dance. His big plans involved going out together for Thai food (here’s a cell phone pic of his menu where he colored a mama fish and a little boy fish for me—he ordered himself shrimp rolls with brown rice and ate every last bite) and then home for some snuggling while we watched a “Jack Sparrow” movie together. Below that’s him on the couch ready for some snuggling (I unfortunately had some failed attempts at some remote shots in the dark of the two of us).

Jack has a busy spring in store for him.  He’s thrilled that the soccer season has finally started (he’s on Noah’s team again this season).  He’s been practicing in the back yard for months and his ball handling skills have improved a ton.  Jack has also started private swimming lessons to gear up for swim team that will start in May.  He’s practicing all of his strokes and has impressed his coach with how much he has improved since last year.  Jack’s quite the little athlete…and, quite the cutie. 

love this face.