The Loveliness of Life Lately

Here's the latest:
 The days before Christmas included an ugly sweater party (which is a wonderful and necessary party of any holiday season).
I especially loved the golfing sweater that Adam was sporting and I can't get over how much I love Ella's car and truck cardigan.
You can't really see the ugliness of my fur-collared sweater and the dangling ornament buttons, but it was smashing, let me tell you.
Speaking of sweaters, I also love this one that we snagged from the Old Navy clearance section.
I have been dressing her in lots of boy-ish looking clothes lately.
A miracle happened at church yesterday: Ella fell asleep in Adam's arms.
This girl refuses to fall asleep anywhere outside of her bed.
But I guess church was especially tiring yesterday (after having us chase her down the aisles over and over and over again during Sacrament meeting) and she finally gave into sleep.
Chasing a super speedy crawling baby while in heels and a skirt is not an easy thing to do, fyi.

Ella's cousins are still here and like I said before, she thinks it's the best thing that has ever happened to her.
When I get Ella out of bed and we walk into the main part of the house each morning she positively squeals and screams in delight to see her cousins running around.
Having cousins also means having friends to chat with during meal times.
It also means sharing toys (or stealing them, same thing).
And it means lining up three car seats in a row in the backseat of the van to go places.
 But sometimes she still has to hang out with her parents.
When the parents aren't around this is the ideal time to pull out all the clothes from the drawers and to pull all the toilet paper off the roll and to wipe the walls and floors with it.
And life has been even more exciting now that she toddles around so much!
She half crawls, half walks, maybe a little more crawling than walking, but she's almost a full-fledge walker!
And seeing the fish in the aquarium was a highlight of this past weekend.
She kept saying "Oooh!" as they swam by.
I realized after a while that the people around us were paying more attention to Ella's awe than to the fish in the tank.
Ella decided that this would be an ideal moment to flash her charm smile and wave her little fingers at everyone around us with her little high pitched, "hi!" and little shy tilt of her head.
That did it, everyone was smitten.
We never fail to make friends wherever we go.
 And bath time never seems to get old.
(Doesn't she look so grown up in that picture on the left? Bah! Stop growing already, baby girl!)
 It's especially fun with cousins.

The End.

Colorful rings and a green balloon

This is a piece I did for this amazing girl I know who wanted an illustration of her adorable family to give to her husband for Christmas.
She has twin boys named Gray and Nash.
It was so fun to work with Kristin and to try and get the boys to look like themselves.

And this was another piece I did for Christmas that was fun to do.
When I look at a piece I've done it makes me think of whatever I watching or listening to in the background while I was working on the piece. 
That flower dress makes me think of the Christmas music concert that was playing on TV while I painted it.
And the bear reminds me of House Hunters International, which must have been playing while I painted him-- ha!

12 Days of Christmas for that Cute-Faced Boy

 In October I saw a pin about doing the 12 days of Christmas for your spouse.
I really liked the idea of giving him a new little surprise each day and having him anticipate the next gift.
Some of the gifts were handmade and others were small things I bought that I knew he would like.
I liked that I could make it as cheap or as expensive as I wanted.
So 12 days before Christmas I gave Adam a bag of jelly bellies in 12 different colors (I sneakily tucked them in his lunch box that morning).
On Day 11 I gave him 2 tickets to a musical and $9 (which equals 11 items total) to go on a date.
And it just continued that way, each day.
It was fun to try and think of things that came in pairs or sets (like 5 pairs of socks equalled 10 total socks for day 10).
On day 7 I got really creative by giving him 7 (x5) date ideas in a date night jar (so really it was 35 date sticks but I could make it work for day 7 by saying it was 7 items x5. 
I got the idea for the date night jar here and I'm really excited to start using it because there are both simple cheap dates and dates that take extra planning.
(Extra date ideas here and here).
And on day six I got him a set of dominoes with the instructions to 5 different domino games plus a puzzle to equal 6 games, so you can totally take liberties to make it fit the day you are trying to make the gift work for.

Ideas for good little gifts for men are here and here.

A post about Christmas, of course

Christmas with a baby is pretty wonderful.
Ella didn't even know what was going on but she thinks that having her three cousins around is just about the best thing that has ever happened to her and she was entertained by her new toys, talking on her cell phone and dancing to her mini keyboard. 
The moment she saw her giant bear her eyes lit up and she waved and said "hi" to him before cuddling with him.
She was in her Christmas PJs pretty much all day. 
The plan was to see Les Mis of wonderfulness, but they were sold out by last night (of course) so we just watched all sorts of movies at home and played games and ate about five times as much food as we should have.
This is the first time in SIX YEARS that Adam's family has been together for Christmas so it was fun to just be around everyone.
When I put Ella to bed tonight I blew her a kiss and I heard her blow one back to me in the dark and my heart melted.
It was a perfect day!

I love how Ella holds her phone up to her shoulder blade to talk and how she says "hi" over and over and then just chats in her cute little gibberish.

Some pictures from my sister-in-law, Lindsay

Santa Clause says "Ho Ho Ho"

Yesterday I told Ella, "We're going to go see Santa Clause!"
And completely unprompted by me she said, "Ho Ho Ho."
I almost died with happiness!
She has no idea who Santa Clause is or if he is even a person or place but she knows that the words "ho ho ho" go along with the word Santa Clause.
As you can see, she was quite enchanted with Santa.

The Tub

I feel like this video captures a lot of what Ella is like right now,
the chattering,
the funny noises,
the few words she knows how to say,
her constant energy,
her love of balls,
her silly little tantrums
and funny sense of humor.

Another Cute Little Family

This is the Stowers, a very cute family that we know.
When Tayli requested a picture of her family in this style I was so excited because her family is absolutely adorable.
I snagged some pictures from one of her blogs to use as reference as I did the piece and just look at the cuteness of this family:

'Tis the Season for Snowflake Leg Warmers

'Tis the season for running around town (with your belly-button showing) and getting lots of shopping done
With only one shoe on (why does she always end up with only one shoe on? People are going to start thinking that we don't even have the matching shoe, we just put the one on to pretend she has a pair of shoes)
And running lots of errands means constantly slipping Ella all sorts of snacks to keep her happy at store after store.
And it's the season for running to the post office multiple times a week
And the season for leg warmers.
I have never really understood the point of leg warmers, if your child's legs are cold why not put on a pair of pants?
But now that I have a baby who rarely gets to wear pants because she ruins them with all her crawling I've realized that leg warmers are the best thing ever because you can quickly pull them on when you're running outside or doing errands but as soon as you're at home and she needs to crawl you can just pull them right off with zero hassle.
I made those leg warmers out of a pair of socks from Target that I owned but never wore and now they are used all the time.
Tutorial here.

Saltines, Sprite and Some Chicken Noodle Goodness

This is how we spent Sunday and Monday:

Not pictured: 

Ella with a piece of crusty potato barf stuck to her hair (she woke up that way, with throw up in her hair, two mornings in a row, how awful).

All three of us (Adam, Ethan and me) basically sleeping next to the toilets.

And us all laying on the floor and couches, moaning and Ella happily crawling all over us and playing with her toys acting as if she wasn't sick even though she threw up more than any of us.

Me doing multiple loads of laundry covered in puke and Adam cleaning it up off the floor.

Finally Ella got to the point where she couldn't go another day stuck in the house so our grand outing of the day was getting in the car (still in our sweats and sprite cans in hand) and driving around town, looking at the Christmas lights and listening to Christmas music.
As soon as we got home we went rushing for the bathrooms again.

I am never making that soup that gave us food poisoning again, just thinking about it makes me feel nauseous.

13 Months

There's too many thing that I haven't written down that I want to remember about Ella at this age for forever. 

Here she is at 13 months.
Look at those long legs!

 Oh this girl's a talker! 
She talks and talks and tells me things and talks and then chuckles at her own jokes and gives a little courtesy laugh when she hears anyone else in the room laughing.

Life is all about balls! 
We cannot go anywhere without her pointing out each and every ball to me. 
Light fixtures at stores are balls and balloons are balls. 

And she notices even the faintest dog barks out in the distance.

When I give her a kiss she imitates the noise back at me, "Mahh!"

And she loves snugging with stuffed animals. 
Maybe I mentioned this before but I just really love how much she loves her stuffed animals and how she rubs her nose in their fur and talks to them. 
I hope that this is a sign of a good imagination.

I finally got a picture of this girl sleeping.
She is such a light sleeper she wakes up the second the door opens, but for once she didn't and I made sure to capture it.
Sucking her left thumb and Gerard in the other hand.
They are friends.

Adam and Ella play this game in the car when he is driving and she is in her seat in the back she says, "Da!" and he says "Da!" back and then she does and then he does back and forth, louder and louder and followed by peals of laughter and giggles.

We went and saw some dancers at a Christmas event and Ella was enthralled for full 3 minutes (which is a lot of time in Ella's world).
It's fun to see the little dancing girls and imagine going to Ella's dance recitals one day.

Say the words, "dancing dancing"and she immediately starts bouncing that cute bum of hers.

For the past 6 months or so I have given Ella oatmeal (not baby oatmeal, just regular 1-minute oatmeal) for breakfast with a whole bunch of frozen blueberries, raspberries and blackberries stirred in and some pureed baby food too. 
She always picks out the berries first and eats them and then she eats the oatmeal that is all purple from the berries. 
I always served that to her because she loves it. 
But we have started being more adventurous and trying out hard boiled eggs and toast. 
She loves it all! 
She is a great eater. 
Vegetables just aren't her favorite. 
I think mostly because they are hard to swallow without chewing really well. 
But I throw thawed frozen spinach into all sorts of things (pasta, scrambled eggs) and that usually tricks her into eating veggies.

I love that when she takes a bite of something for the first time, she thinks about it for a sec and then either flings the next piece over the side of the high chair or she looks me in the eye with a smile and says, "Mmmm!" 
I love that she wants me to know that she likes what I've fed her.
When she is finished drinking her water she flings her sippy cup as far as she can.

The activity she spends the most time doing is looking at books!
I never thought this day would come!
Adam finished his classes for this semester, I am so happy! 
That means that Ella and I get to see him more! 
There were too many days when Ella didn't see her dad all day because he would have to go straight from work to school. 
I've noticed that Ella has become more distanced from her dad the less that she sees him and has become more clingy to me, and although I love that she wants to be with me I want her to remember how much she loves to be with her dad. 
Adam is so amazing to spend all day working and going to school, he is incredible! 
But I know he's happy to get to spend more time with us too and get to play with Ella again rather than just say goodnight to her as I put her to bed.

Ella crawls into the kitchen where I am cooking and pulls herself to her feet by the back of my pants and just stands there, begging to be picked up. 
She loves watching me cook dinner from my arms but it's tricky to cook with her in hand.

I took Ella to play at the McDonald's Playplace recently and as soon as I walked in and she saw all the kids playing she started squealing and bouncing for joy. 
She loves other kids. 
I put her down to crawl around she found a little girl sitting in the corner looking very sad and Ella crawled up to her and smiled and said "hi" and then sat by the little girl and then crawled around her and said "hi" to her again and sat by her again. 
A few minutes later the little girl came out of the corner with a smile on her face. 
Maybe it's silly, but I really think that Ella knew that little girl was sad and she wanted to make her happy and she did! She has this cool talent to be able to make people happy. 
She can make anyone smile around us. 
She easily engages with people with a huge smile and a happy "hi!" and some bouncing and dancing.

This is always fun when we are at church and Ella is happily chatting with the people seated in the pew behind us and laughing at the jokes she is telling them and they are laughing at her because she seriously is just good at making people happy! 
It will be fun to see this skill develop as she gets older.
We had her babysat at a church Christmas party and she had no problem saying goodbye to us and playing with the toys and other kids. 
I would go and check on her every once in a while and she was always enthralled with some toy and not sad at all. 
When we walked in to pick her up she was so happy to see us but she had been totally fine to be away from us for a while-- woohoo!

People at church know us by our baby.
They don't know our names or who we are but they know who Ella is, which I think is just so funny!
They know that hyperactive happy girl who waves "hi" to everyone.
She makes herself known.

She knows when she's doing something naughty.
She gets all happily anxious and fidgety when she finds my phone or the remote control and starts looking around for me and when she sees me coming towards her she drops whatever she's not supposed to have and goes scrambling in the opposite direction.

The other day she did something she wasn't supposed to and I told her "no" and she immediately responded, "No no no!" 
I had to laugh.

I love when she hums!
She heard Adam singing the other day and she listened to him so closely and when he stopped singing she started humming, trying to imitate him,

She can go from a squatting position to standing without holding onto anything but will she walk? 
She downright refuses to even try and she knows when we are trying to trick her into walking.