February 22, 2015

Rochester Nativity

For the past three years my mother-in-law Janet has been in charge of a creche that their church puts on. It is a two day activity with hundreds of nativities on display, over a dozens of musical groups, food, and a transformation of a Stake Center. I've wanted to see it, and since this is the last year Janet is in charge I thought I'd try and make it happen. I had a companion fare ticket that was about to expire, so I brought Ella (and Sara) with me. It was a really quick trip. We left on Friday evening and came home Monday afternoon. But I loved seeing the nativities and the entire event. It did not disappoint.

By far, my favorite nativity was this small, hand-carved wooden one. The memory of childbirth was still fresh in my mind, and the image of Mary lying down cradling her baby with Joseph kneeling at her side rang true.

We also got to spend some time with Janet's sister Sandra. She was so sweet with Ella and so helpful with Sara. An added bonus for us! On our way out we stopped at the Mall of America and checked out the American Girl store. Ella was taken with Isabelle, the Girl of the Year. Because she has a pink streak in hair, of course. Keeping it classy.

 It was a quick trip, but I was so glad to see Janet work her magic one last time before handing it off. Love you!

Halloween, 2015

Halloween fell on a Friday this year, which meant I was celebrating it at work. I had no good ideas, and then I was walking through Wal-Mart and saw a Doc McStuffins shirt. Yes! I found the pieces to the outfit in the junior's department. Apropos, I suppose! 

Ella was excited to make her own costume. She found some kitten jammies, taped some black paper triangles to a headband for ears, and we hot-glued some fun fur to the hands, neck and made a tail. Anna was a teddy bear last year (thanks Grandpa Paul for the costume) and she informed us she was going to be a teddy bear this year. Sure thing. And Sara, well, we had a leopard print shirt and a tiger hat, so jungle animal it is.   

February 9, 2015

Family pictures, 2014

For the past 2 years our Christmas card has been put together on a whim, with Jamie taking the picture over Christmas break--last year it was on Christmas Eve! So this year I got organized and scheduled with Lisa in the fall.  We took them in our neighbor's apple orchard. Sara didn't cooperate with wide awake smiles, but we still got some great shots.  I got my cards out before Christmas, which was a first!

January 15, 2015

Carlsbad, CA

A couple years ago my dad threw out an idea about doing a family vacation with everyone. We all thought it sounded fun to be together, but weren't sure what we could do that would be good for everyone. Just like he does, my dad figured it out. Carlsbad, California. Golf and biking for the boys, swim and shopping for the girls and LEGOLAND for the kids. Add an amazing house right on the beach and we were sold. Finding a time that worked for everyone was a near miracle, but we did it. And it worked out perfectly because Jamie and Taylor had a fire in their New York apartment and were definitely looking for a break from the chaos of clean-up and apartment hunting.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous with all of us in the close quarters for a week that we all might cramp each other's style. But the house was so great and we all had plenty of room--we could have stayed for another week! 

It had been 5 years since our last family photo. So we threw one together. When the tripod didn't work out my dad made friends with the construction worker in the house next door and asked him to shoot the shot. He did great, with a little help from Jamie's mad photoshop skills.

One of the best things we did was to buy a 5 day pass to Legoland. We found a deal so it was only $89--less than one day at Disneyland! The beach house was literally 5 minutes away, so it was easy to go for a few hours at a time. Ella went on the big roller coaster. It was a little scarier than I thought it would be, and as we were walking out I was happy when she told me she LOVED it. When I saw this picture I about died laughing. 

So the next time we went she was determined to get a smile. It took a few times (once she had a smile, but eyes were closed). Grandpa was happy to shell out the $15 for this keepsake.

We had a great time at the beach. The house was right on the beach, but a few days the tide was too high so we went down the street.

While the girls beached, the boys golfed. Taylor and Ryan vs Chris and Paul. While Taylor and Ryan have historically killed it, it was not their day and Paul and Chris took home the trophy (which, ironically, Taylor saw in the pro shop and suggested they buy--before he lost, of course.)

The girls and I walked around the San Diego Temple grounds. Ella told Anna, "It's like church, only happier." Then later in the afternoon she told Anna that it was like Elsa's ice castle...

View from the house. Pictures never do it justice.

About halfway through the trip Taylor went to Wal-Mart. He came home with a plan. We were going to have a boat making contest with popsicle sticks. There was a little scoffing at first, but by the end we were all in. While it's a little unclear who actually won, Jamie and Kimmy's was the winner for most sea-worthy, even if it did look like a sandwich from a vending machine. 

(I just had a baby...remember that when you look at those hips!)

We had one great day of low tide, and we made the most of it!

corn field in the making

making a farm with grandpa--back to his roots

As a Thank You to the owners of the beach house we made this movie (Ryan brought his helicopter).

Thank You from Ryan Packer on Vimeo.

January 14, 2015

San Anna-tonio

My parents really are the best. Every year my dad has meetings in San Antonio in September. They stay at a hotel with a really really great pool and lazy river. They've taken Ella twice, I've gone once,and this year they took Anna. She had been acting out a bit after Sara was born, and this was just what the middle child (between a diabetic and a newborn) needed. She had so much fun. So much. And as soon as she came home, her attitude totally changed and she went back to being the sweet little thing that we love.

January 4, 2015

Sara's newborn pictures

I hadn't ever done real newborn photos for my girls, but the ones the hospital took weren't my favorite. So when Sara was 2 weeks I called my friend and favorite photographer Lisa Harbertson to see if she could get us in. Since I already paid for pictures at the hospital, I just did a one hour mini-shoot with Lisa. But Sara did not want to fall asleep. I was fine just going with what we had, but not Lisa! She was determined to get some good shots. She was amazingly patient and her skills as a former NICU nurse shone through. I was so happy that we held out because the sleeping shots are my favorite. 

November 3, 2014

Happy Birthday, Ella Jane!

With Ella's birthday 2 weeks after Sara's, I knew that I wouldn't be up for a mom-intensive party. Ella wanted a Frozen party (surprise, surprise) so we called in the big guns. Elsa and Anna. These princesses saved the day. They sang songs, read stories, made snow (real snow, mom. It almost melts.), gave out stickers and did glitter tattoos. They were the best.  We also played "Don't eat Olaf" which the kids loved. The game didn't make a ton of sense to me, but the kids loved it. It's all about knowing your audience, I suppose.

I had great plans to take each girl's picture with Elsa and Anna, print it out, and take it home in a foam picture frame that they had decorated. But of course, our printer decided to wig out and not print properly, so all the photos looked like they had a crazy 70s filter on them. 

It was short and sweet and a fun party. Anna is already planning her Frozen birthday party!