Dear Ellie,

You did it.  Even though I distinctly told you not to.  You turned nine years old yesterday.  NINE!  These birthday letters are getting harder and harder for me to write.

Just ten minutes ago you were my vivacious four year old.  You loved tea parties and Little Bear and playing with your sister Addison.

And now, ten minutes later, you are nine.  You still love playing with your sister Addison, but Little Bear is “for babies” and you’ve traded in your tea sets for mom’s iPhone (which you sneak any chance you can get!).  You love listening to pop music and you wear a retainer at night and I find myself looking at you often and thinking to myself – oh my word.  It’s happening.  She’s growing up. 

Even though you are growing so quickly Ellie and I am starting to see small glimpses of “pre-teen,” you are still the sweetest little person imaginable.  You love life and it shows in everything you do.  I was reading your birthday letter from last year and the year before the other day and now I feel like I can just say ditto to everything I mentioned in them.  The things I love so much about you haven’t changed one bit.  You are still so happy and kind and creative and loving.

Here are a few things about you right now at age nine that I never want to forget:

You are obsessed with Pandas Ellie.  Panda toys, panda clothes, panda books.  You love it all.  You love to sneak my cell phone and watch clips of pandas on YouTube, dress your pandas up in clothes, and you are always telling us interesting little facts you’ve learned about them.  You even make up panda jokes and stories and songs.  You keep us pretty entertained with your panda obsession Ellie.  :)

 You especially love to draw pandas.  Actually you just love to draw period.  You are always drawing something and you have such a talent for art.  You have already far surpassed how well your daddy and I can draw (although you and I both know that’s not saying much!).

A couple of weeks ago you found a drawing that you liked of an animal on-line and within two hours you had drawn around 20 animals.  They were so adorable I had to take a picture.  You named them all of course.  And numbered them all in order.

And then everyone in the family had to pick their favorites.  Because you always love for all of us to pick our favorites.  :)

You have a passion for creating things Ellie.  Pictures, stories, songs…

or even just new inventive ways to play with your toys.  Your creativity is endless and I am always excited to see what you will come up with next.

You love writing notes and you express your feelings this way often.

I get fun little notes and pictures from you all the time El and they make my day.  I save every one.  :)

You also write and draw to express your feelings when you are upset or mad.  This note is a favorite of mine.  You were upset that your dad had to fly to San Francisco again for work.  It pretty much sums up how we all feel when your dad has to travel.

And that is final.  :)

You have such a special relationship with your little brother and sister Ellie.  I couldn’t have dreamed up a better big sister for them.

You love them.  You watch out for them.  You would do anything for them and you show it every day.  You show it when you stop playing with your toys because Kole is calling “help me!”  You show it when Addie is sad or upset and you instantly run to make her laugh and cheer her up.  You show it in the way you talk to them and play with them and take care of them.  And you especially show it in the way you make them feel.

You make all of us feel loved Ellie.  You are so full of love and happiness.  Some days if I’m feeling down I know I just need a good dose of my Ellie.  :)  You walk in the door and just like that,  I am happy again.  It’s impossible to not smile when you are around.  The two of us always talk about how you are so special to me because you made me a mom.  You are special because of that Ellie.  You are special to me for countless reasons and I can’t imagine my life without you in it.

Happy 9th birthday Ellie!  I love you to pieces.  

xoxo,

mommy

Dear Santa

This is one of several “drafts” of El’s Christmas letter to Santa.  Her top two wish list items keep changing (Santa has learned to hold off on toy making for this child!).  Her top two items change, but wish #3 stays the same.  For “everyone in the hole univers to have a wonderfull christmas and a happy new year.”

That is my wish this year too sweet Ellie.

And p.s.  Santa loves you too.

Fashion Friday (for the kiddos)

Each season I get a little bummed when my girls put on their summer clothes from the year before and they are too small.  That pair of capris that were SO big on Addie when I bought them are now too tight and too short.  Just like everything else I bought the girls last summer.  It bums me out because I want them to stay little forever.  It also bums me out because dang!  Those were cute clothes!  That they hardly wore!  It’s nice that I can pass El’s stuff on to Add, but still, the life of their wardrobe is pretty short lived.  So lately I’ve been buying a few things here and there so they have something to wear this summer.  Mostly stuff on sale!  Since each season I’m repeating the process.
Shopping for El is tricky because of the comfort factor.  I bought her the green dress at Gymboree and the grey skirt at Gap.  Both passed the test and aren’t “itchy.”  The blue tank is also from Gap but that’s for my 5 year old who will sacrifice all comfort for the love of fashion.  Or for a pretty butterfly. El would go crazy with those gathers at the top.  I know my children well.  And if you read this blog often, so do you.  :)

Matching days are getting few and far between, but I’m desperately trying to keep them alive!  I’m also trying to keep my girls little as long as possible which is evident with the popsicle “sweet” outfits I scored at Gymboree.  They might be wearing matching popsicle tanks in high school if I have anything to do with it.  Which I won’t.  Which is why I’m not all that excited about high school.

And aren’t these simple grey ruffle dresses cute!?  Target baby!  So cheap and they fit darling!  I love them on my girls.  They come in other colors and when my mom came to babysit the kids while we were in Virginia she brought them the yellow ones.  We laughed.  We do that all the time because we have such similar tastes.  These dresses are fun because you can add leggings, tights, a belt, headband, any accessory in a fun bright color looks so great with the grey stripes.  Makes me want to find a grey striped dress or top for me!

Isn’t the dress cute with this pink shrug I bought Addie!?  Also at Target!  Looks so cute over the grey.  I picked up these colorful socks for the girls too.  They have to wear good running shoes to school which means we always need ankle socks and I was going crazy with all of the white socks in the laundry!  I could never tell the difference between my socks and Ellie’s socks and Addie’s socks.  They were all identical other than a slight size difference.  I’m loving these new colorful socks!  So easy to match and the girls just share them all.  I don’t know why in the world I didn’t think of colorful socks sooner.

Since I’m on a stripe kick, here are a couple of other dresses I picked up at Children’s Place last week… 10 bucks each baby!  Love that.

And another summer dress from Children’s Place that was also on sale.  Nice and comfortable which is why you see a smile on this girl’s face.

My little man has been involved in some fashion pampering of his own.  A couple of weeks ago he got his first hair cut.  :)

We went on a Saturday and Kenny came.  I knew I’d need back-up support.  He held Kole on his lap and then turned on Tangled on the ipad.  The ONLY way we got this boy to hold still for the whole four minute ordeal.  

He is one stylish little dude.  :)
Some pics I took today while we were on one of our outings…
Here’s my boyfriend modeling his new Target shirt from grandma.  

What a pro.  I mean he’s only been in the modeling biz for a year now, but just look at that pose.  
Just before nap time.  This model needs his beauty sleep.  
:) 
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Ellie’s dream house

Such sweet comments from my last post!  I know I’m sounding like a broken record…thank you for your comments…you’re all the best… but seriously,  thank you for your comments…you’re all the best!  Your kind words really do mean so much to me and I am completely convinced that I have the best blog friends out there.  I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to respond to a lot of you today.  We spent the last four days in Palm Springs and drove home today.  I’m exhausted!  It wasn’t a vacation, it was a family trip.  And let me tell you – there is a big difference between the two!  A vacation includes some relaxing and with my two year old along for the ride, there wasn’t much of that going on.  But we did have a great time.  We somehow always do, despite the fact that a great amount of craziness accompanies traveling with three little ones!  
Sharing a quick picture of Ellie’s dream house today…

This is Ellie’s dream house.  It is a cookie.  Everyone in her 2nd grade class was supposed to draw a picture of their dream house.  Now you would think with all of the “new house” talk that has been going on around here that her dream house would have included Nantucket elements along with rock, peaked roofs, white moldings, and a porch.  But nope.  That would be her mom’s dream house.  Ellie’s dream house is a cookie.  Because she likes cookies and she thinks it would be cool to eat her house.

:) 
I love 2nd grade.  And I especially love my 2nd grader.  
What was I thinking spending a fortune on our architect when I could have just hired my daughter!?
Speaking of our “new house” we submitted our plans into the city this week!!  YEA!  I’m excited.  
It will most likely be three months before they are approved.  The fees you have to pay and the hoops you have to jump through to build in California are just plain crazy!  This state definitely plays by its own rules.  But I am SO excited about how my house is turning out!  It’s just so very… Erin.  :)  It has been so fun seeing all of the elements and styles I love come together to make my home.  We are meeting with our builder tomorrow to discuss next steps.  He has been getting bids and also wants to give us an estimate of what my “dream home” is going to cost us to build.  I’m thinking tomorrow will either be a very good day or a very bad day for my husband.  So cross your fingers for me that we get good news and Kenny doesn’t blow!  ;)  We are also getting ready to meet with our cabinet guy to start designing the kitchen!  BRING. IT. ON.  I have been dreaming about this kitchen for years now.  You know.  The one I’m going to organize and decorate and bask in its glory while I cook in it as little as possible.  Of course, with my Ellie around, we will be baking plenty of cookies.  
:)
Have a great weekend everyone!  

Photography – lesson learned

I’ve learned a lot about photography in the last few years.  Well.  Not a lot meaning I’m a great photographer (hardly!), but a lot meaning I’ve learned so much more than I knew before I started using my first SLR.  I love taking pictures and playing around with my camera and I enjoy trying out different settings, different lenses, and different lighting to achieve the look I want for certain pictures.  A lot of the time when I’m taking pictures of my house or projects for the blog I pay close attention to lighting, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, backgrounds, etc.  I take my time.  And I don’t use the flash because heaven forbid – I’ve read enough camera tips to know that if I did the walls would come caving in around me and life as I know it would never be the same!  ;)  

Taking pictures of my kids is a different story.  
Sometimes I see something ordinary that happens often in our day to day life that I want to capture and remember.  Like the other day when I glanced out the back door and saw Ellie flinging Kole around like a rag doll.  My usual response is “ELLIE PUT HIM DOWN I CANNOT DEAL WITH A TRIP TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM TONIGHT!”  But Kole was laughing hysterically – I mean really laughing – so I grabbed my camera instead.  

I didn’t worry about lighting.  I didn’t worry about aperture, I didn’t worry about backgrounds and shutter speeds and ISO.  And this one time, I didn’t worry about the possibility of an emergency room trip.

 I just snapped pictures not really worrying about anything at all.  
The lighting isn’t great and the pictures are blurry (I was really laughing too).  

And they are some of my favorite pictures to date.  
I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned about photography over the years is that while the technical camera stuff is cool to learn, it really doesn’t matter much.  Capturing a moment like this one that I will now have to cherish and remember forever outweighs a “perfectly planned” picture any day.  
Even if the moment captured was taken with the flash.  
(which these pictures weren’t because my walls are intact and I’m still here)  
:)