This year has been grand and really full of great times. We've had so many awesome adventures as a family and things are working great. Even friends are noticing the way things are smoothing out and have commented how well the girls play with each other now compared to a year ago. The age difference is showing up a little bit and they bicker just like real people who are no longer just trying to keep each other happy. I love it.
In keeping with last year's birthday post, here is a smattering of my favorite memories from this past year with my Jellie-bellie. She's grown up so much, and is quite a little genius. We worked on reading and math this summer just so she could go to the first day of school and knock the other kids out of the park - but who's keeping score?
At Christmas we gave the girls matching pink UO shirts and headed to a basketball game. Somehow, after little-kid-flirting with Puddles, Ellie ended up with one of the varsity cheerleader's pom-poms. It seems Puddles didn't realize she was going to run off with them as he followed soon after to reclaim them.
In February when Ellie was smuggled in to surprise Jim for his birthday, we all went to a BYU vs. Portland basketball game. On the way there, we blasted Dynamite while doing all the Just Dance moves we could while sitting. It was awesome.
Over spring break we played outside with neighbor kids and Ellie would ride this bike around the common area. Every lap she would make a silly face for the camera and then when she made it back around I would show her the picture. She kept this up for quite a while and always upped the ante on the silliness.
Also over spring break, Aeryn caught this ladybug and Ellie was completely enraptured. After it flew away she enthusiastically yelled "Woah! I did NOT know that ladybugs can FLY!"
There are no words. I honestly laugh every single time I look at this awesome picture. This quickly passing moment was in the Yellowstone lodge while eating ice cream with Grandma & Grandpa. This is my very favorite Ellie-picture of the entire year.
After a day of hiking when the girls were fading, Jim started catching the kids as they would jump off these rocks. Ellie is fearless and it was so fun to watch them play.
At the end of summer we took Ellie to the Redwoods (at her request). While hiking and checking off things we saw for her Junior Ranger badge, we found this snail on the side of the trail. She loved looking at it until Jim tried to get her to touch it. This face perfectly captures how nervous she was while trying so hard to "smile for the camera" like I asked.
In keeping with the squeamish feelings about touching living things, she finally touched a sea star! In perfect Ellie style, once she touched it there was an immediate maturity that surfaced and said matter-of-factly that it was no big deal. Then she proceeded to bounce off the walls all day elated that she'd actually touched it.
Our weekend in Astoria was one of the best family trips ever. This hill was wet (it was raining after all) and my favorite Ellie memory here was as we were walking down the hill. The girls were running and Ellie slipped and fell on her bum, then looked back at Jim and I just laughing like it was the most hilarious thing ever. From then on she would run and "fall" all the way down the hill as though it was the world's biggest slip-n-slide.
As she was getting ready to go home at the end of summer, Ellie decorated a picture frame for her mom's birthday. We went outside and tried to get at least one silly one to include and she was a total ham. Posing, and smiling as though she was Giselle. The best part was when she looked at the pictures. Once she saw this one she bounced up and down on her toes literally squealing at how cute it was.