Saturday, August 27, 2016

Summer's End

We finished cruising the 12th and 13th of August, arriving back to Houston the morning of the 14th. We spent those last days on ship really trying to soak in the fact that we had nothing to do because we knew as soon as we got home we would be off and running like crazy until Thanksgiving. We hit the pool and water slides in the morning after breakfast, lounged in our rooms and watched Olympics most the afternoon, explored the ship, forced the kids to go to the kids' club for a bit, watched the ice skating show (which was pretty impressive!), and had enjoyed long multi-course dinners at night (as well as celebrating Ella's birthday). It was heavenly and I'm ready to go back already.
Once we got home we had one week until school started and I was waaay more unprepared than I ever had been before. We needed to get tennis shoes for the girls, catch up on laundry, squeeze in the last playdates of summer and get Ella to and from a little half day volleyball camp she did to give her at least some preparation to try out for the junior high volleyball team. We also had meet the teacher night for the littles and Coyote Countdown for Ella to get her schedule and locker. We had been planning to spend a day at Typhoon Texas this week as well but it rained EVERY day so we ended up going to the Alamo to see Pete's Dragon with Kayley and her kiddos instead. It ended up being a way better movie than anticipated and Ella was relieved to get in one more Alamo trip ;-).
On Saturday, the 20th, we got to enjoy an appetizer fiesta at Uncle Julio's. It was a reward we earned through their loyalty program and Ella had been the most excited about it, so we saved it and used it for our family celebration. Sunday Ella had her first week in Young Women's (exciting!!!) and it was the eve of the new school year! It completely snuck up on us with all our traveling being at the end of summer waiting for Ella's swim season to be over. We had our special dinner, set our new goals and Mike gave the kids' their Father's blessings.
Initially I had been pretty worried about Preston's teacher situation. The English teacher Ella had for 5th grade was my least favorite teacher ever. Ella didn't have any real issues with her because she is Ella ;) but other parents had horrible experiences and the things Ella told me were not good. I had actually been planning to pull Addie out of TWI for 5th grade just so she wouldn't have her. So when we could log in and see which teachers the kids had for homeroom and Preston had that teacher I freaked out!!! I frantically started texting parents and other teachers that I have become friends with. I called the school to see who the Spanish teacher would be and thankfully she had stayed the same...we love her and she is an amazing teacher. The girls' Spanish both improved leaps and bounds when they had her. This also made the decision harder though because I was ready to pull him from the program but didn't want him to miss his year with the Spanish teacher. Mike and I weren't sure what to do...pull him now to avoid a switch and complete change of schedule and friends mid-year but miss out on the Spanish or try it out. We decided to try it out and I'm hoping for the best. After meet the teacher night I felt much better about the decision and so far things have been good.
This was an amazing summer and although the break from the kids has definitely been nice, I'm still sad summer is over!
Birthday Girl :-)

3 desserts and the new Harry Potter book (from Grammy and Greatfrog) meant all her birthday dreams came true ;)
Waiting to get off the ship, we were happy to be the last group off!
We arrived home Sunday afternoon and Mike went out the front to pick up a newspaper and found this little guy. When I heard him say there was a baby raccoon on our porch I hurried down because I thought he would be running off, but we quickly realized the little guy wasn't doing too well. I started looking up wildlife rescue numbers but almost all of them were closed on Sundays. Eventually I found a list of independent rehabbers online and started to call them. After getting many referrals and telling the story to many sweet ladies over the phone, I finally found one who lives literally 3 minutes from our house that could take him in. She was able to give him an IV until he started drinking from a bottle and is doing really well the last we heard.
Ella was ecstatic about her present from Hope and Kyler!
We were going to have a big party for Ella this year but she decided she wanted the best phone available instead so we just did a low key get-together with her 5 besties from school, 1 from church and 2 from swimming. The rain meant we couldn't head to the pool like originally planned but the girls had fun hanging out, watching Full House Episodes (seriously!) and eating pizza and snacks. It's a great group of girls!
Preston watching from afar :-)
Wednesday meant playdates for Addie and Preston and to the school for Ella to get her locker and schedule
Meet the Teacher
Ella ice skated for the first time for her swimming bestie Megan's birthday
already missing our vacation when I came across this picture :-)
Ollie worked SO hard on this teeny little card for Ella. So cute!
It is so fun that I am in Young Women as Ella comes into the program!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ella is TWELVE

I don't know how it happened so quickly, but our Ella Bella turned 12 this month! Her actual birthday was the last day of our cruise so we celebrated there, then with her friends and then one more time with family when we were back in Katy.
In some ways I feel like she has been 12 forever and in other ways I feel like surely this can't be true!!! One thing is certain though, Ella was ready to officially be 12! Starting 7th grade and going into the Young Women program at church has her feeling like she is all grown up...and she pretty much could run the show around here so it won't be long before she really is, which is bittersweet.
Here are some things I want to remember about Ella at this age...
(photo by Courtney Leigh Photography)
She rocked a major year in her life while she was 11! Starting middle school with all pre-AP classes and moving up to an even more intense training group with her swim team that meant 2 hour practices 6 days/week was a lot, but Ella managed her time well and loved every minute of it.
She definitely cherished her 1 hour at home before I would get back with the other two crazies though and used her time wisely to relax and watch TV :-). Then it was time for practising piano, homework and swim practice.
Ella is extremely responsible and organized.
(photo by Courtney Leigh Photography)
The best time to talk to Ella is over a good meal. She is definitely a foodie and the way to her heart is through her stomach ;-). She loves to go on special dates to restaurants we don't typically take the whole family to and one of her very favorite places (much like me and Mike) is the Alamo where she loves fried pickles and hot wings. Her very favorite food is shrimp and probably the runner up would be a really good burger. She also loves all Mexican food, brussel sprouts, artichokes, french fries with ranch, kolaches and potato chips.
Ella is SUPER scared of bugs and hates swimming with fish and heights. We were really proud of her this year as she attempted some once in a life time experiences that she was terrified to try...swimming with sting rays (which meant fish!), snorkeling (more fish!) and cliff jumping.
She also got to swim with dolphins, which was a dream of hers, so not all the experiences were scary ones ;-).
Although most people know Ella's shy and quiet side, she can be a total goofball as well.
Her siblings and her best friends definitely bring out her crazy side and I love to hear her cute giggle.
Her favorite subjects are Social Studies and Reading and her least favorites are Math and Science. Ella did NOT miss having half her classes in Spanish last year after doing it for K-5th grade :-).
She is obsessed with Harry Potter, old Full House Episodes and Jurassic World.
If she could go anywhere in the world it would be Australia (with a close runner up Harry Potter's world in Florida).
She loves swimming more than anything else and last winter when I asked her if we should take a little break from club swimming (because I was feeling burned out myself), she was appalled that I would even ask such a thing!
She also loves reading, listening to music and going to concerts for her favorites (Kelly Clarkson and Taylor Swift).
Aside from swimming and her friends, the things Ella loves most are her cat Beauty (who is OBSESSED with Ella so the love is mutual), her cousin Eloise (she loves all her little cousins, but Lulu and Ella have a special bond) and her Aunt Hope.
Ella is sweet, smart and shy; crazy, cute and cool; athletic, adventurous and an amazing part of our family. We love her so much and are so proud of the girl she is becoming! Watching her work hard and succeed in all areas of her life is one of our greatest joys! Happy Birthday Ella Bella!
Ella collage