Sunday, June 20, 2010

Like A Fish!

Ella has just finished her first season of swim team, and she has LOVED it! By her first swim meet she'd only had a few practices, so she only competed in one event: the backstroke. Can I just tell you how crazy swim meets are? I didn't grow up doing swim team, so this has been all new for me, too. Let me tell you, these meets are LONG and so hot, and there are screaming parents all over the place. I was intimidated by this first meet, and was just praying that Ella would be able to get in the pool without crying and make it to the finish line. Well! She jumped in to the pool like a pro, took her mark, and swam to finish first in her heat! The look on her face when they handed her a blue ribbon was worth all the time and heat and crazy parents. It gave her the confidence to keep progressing and yesterday, at her third and last meet, she swam freestyle, backstroke, and breaststroke in five different events, including two relays. We are so extremely proud of her.

Swimmers take your mark, get set, GO!

Go, Ella, GO!

Ella with our pals Tressa and Brian Reading

Swimmer of the Week--WOO-HOO!
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Now We're Cookin'!

Both my girls LOVE to help me cook, and if you have been around Natalie lately, you can imagine how very helpful she is in the kitchen. Any time I get the mixer out, she comes running from wherever she is, yelling, "Chair! See! Hep!" She has to stand on a chair at the end of the counter and I have to make sure the mixer is beyond what Greg calls "The Drool Zone". She has a way of tipping ingredients before I'm ready for them, causing me to dump flour on the floor and add a bit more vanilla than was called for. When she senses that a concoction is ready to taste (and she has a real knack for this) she scampers over to the silverware drawer, grabs a spoon, and demands a scoop of whatever is in the bowl.

This is the look I get from her when I ask her to say "cheese". Not QUITE a smile...

One day when she wanted to "help" cook, I gave her a bowl of ice and a few random cups and spoons. It kept her occupied longer than anything save Elmo, and that's saying something! Now she often requests "hice" and a "poos", which is to say ice and a spoon.

We made our own pizza (which Natalie calls "pee-pees"--charming, I know) one night for dinner. Nat's was pretty much a pile of mushy goo by the time she was done with it, but she was ever so proud of it. Here she is again, saying, "Cheese!"
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Ella Turns 7!

Seven years old! Can you believe it? Ella is ever so grown up these days. For her birthday party she decided to have an American Girl tea party, although the guest list was not restricted to American Girls--various other dolls and stuffed animals also made an appearance.

I really had fun preparing this one. I went to Goodwill and bought a dozen random punch cups, the ones that look like little clear teacups, and for Mother's Day I chose a set of stackable cake plates. The food that you see at each place was a doll-sized potion on doll-sized plates. I've always had a thing for miniatures.

The Menu:
frozen lemonade
fruit kebabs
cheese cubes
mini bagels with strawberry cream cheese
pigs in a blanket
peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with frilly toothpicks

Greg was in charge of the piñata. My mom thought it was HILARIOUS that Ella wanted to have a piñata at her tea party, but hey, this is San Antonio--ALL birthdays include piñatas. This one WAS an ice cream cone.

The girls were invited to dress fancy for the occasion: Kira, Rachel, Ella, Avery, Emilee, and Kaitlin.

Ella's big surprise gift was and American Girl "Just Like You" doll--see the resemblance? Grandma Kathie made several gowns for her, including a knock-out bridal gown. Ella named her Bella, and she sleeps with her every night.
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Oh, The Yumminess

So, one day a few months ago my neighbor, Geri, dropped by to pick her daughter up from a play date and found me right in the middle of some cooking project or other. Geri, who works full-time outside the home, said, "Huh. So is THIS what stay-at-home moms do all day long?" Not every day, certainly (somebody's got to clean the toilets and make sure no one runs out of clean underwear), but on a good day, yes! What I failed to mention to her is that most of the time when I bake, it's for some event or other--for a Young Women event, a ward party, gifts for teachers or friends... I'm always volunteering for the cooking jobs, and especially the baking jobs. I'm not as good as I would like to be, and everything I do is copied from somewhere or other, but I enjoy it. Here are a few things I've done lately that were fun:

Valentine's Day Cupcakes: In February I did something I'd never done before: I bought a Martha Stewart Living magazine at the check-stand, which led to ordering a subscription shortly thereafter. She may be a convicted felon, but that woman has some great ideas! I saw these filigree hearts in the magazine and thought, "I can totally do that." And I did! There were many flops that didn't make the cupcakes, but these turned out okay.

Faux Popcorn: I got this idea from the book Hello Cupcake! Ella thought they were HILARIOUS. We made them for April Fool's Day and gave them to her teacher, our bishop's family, and other friends.

Brynn-cess Cookies: A good friend recently adopted a baby girl and named her Brynn, and some friends and I threw a gala baby shower for her with a princess theme--"Brynn-cess", get it? We made these cookies as party favors. The style of the "B" combined with the pink and green color scheme make me think of Barbie. I'm still learning the "flooding" technique using royal icing--my first efforts were... very strange indeed. Kind of fluffy. I'm getting better, though.

Becoming Butterflies: Our theme for a Young Women leadership training meeting was "On Becoming", so I jumped at the chance to try out these butterfly cupcakes I'd seen, again, in Hello Cupcake! They scored big points for the WOW factor, but they were deceptively easy. I'm looking for an excuse to make them again, so let me know if you need some!
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