Monday, June 23, 2014

Panda Party!

Friday was Ella's fifth birthday! She had a very fun day that included a trip to the Children's Theater with Gramma Liisa. After I got off work, I met Aaron and Ella at the Mall of America. She got to ride on rides...

And got her face painted, too!

We had Ella's birthday party on Sunday at Lake Hiawatha Park. It was really fun! The weather cooperated, with maybe 10 minutes of light sprinkles... a far cry from the thunderstorms we were expecting. We celebrated with Ella's friends from high 5 (including the teachers!), her best friend from Suomi-koulu Lillian, Auntie Laura and Dylan, and Gramma Liisa and Jim. It was a great group of people! The kids played on the playground and had lots of fun while the grownups chatted.

The party was, naturally, panda themed.

I didn't make the cute sign... I bought it from this shop on Etsy. I think it'd be easy enough to make, though, if you had the time and the inclination.

Dylan and Auntie Laura made this AWESOME panda pinata!

And yes, he does have a mustache!

Everyone thought it was awesome... the adults loved the design and the kids loved the candy! Ella's best friend from High 5, Charlotte, cracked it open. That kid has quite the arm on her!

We even had panda cupcakes!

Again, I didn't make these, although I think they'd be easy enough to do... we got them from the Richfield Target. Thanks Target!

Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes for Ella. She loved all the gifts and the celebrations. She's fortunate to have so many people who care for her.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Ella is 5!

Today is Ella's 5th birthday!

Ice skating lessons at the Augsburg ice arena

5 year old Ella is an amazing, wonderful person. She's physically confident, and loves to swim, skate, run, jump, swing, bike... anything! She's a girl on the move. Right now she's saying she wants to learn to play soccer! She's got a good kick - I'm sure she'll do well.

She's incredibly silly at times, even though she'll insist that Aaron is the silly one in our family. She tells silly jokes and stories, and likes to make people laugh. She makes the funniest faces!

She's also very affectionate, and likes to give people hugs. Her preschool teacher said that everyone has a bucket inside of them that you can help fill up with kind words and good feelings. That image really resonated with Ella, and she talks a lot about helping fill up our buckets. It's so sweet.

Ella also enjoys making art! She's really pretty good at drawing, and loves painting too. Our house is full of her artwork!

Playing at the Big Bugs! exhibit at the MN Zoo

Right now Ella is SUPER interested in insects, and has been for a while! Maisie does not share this interest, and actually refuses to go into the butterfly houses at the Zoo or the state fair. But Ella loves bugs! She was really the driving force behind the whole millipede thing. She loved the Big Bugs! exhibit at the Zoo, especially when she got to see and hold real insects! She told me once that when she grows up, she's going to be a scientist who finds new kinds of spiders. I believe her!

Snuggling with Auntie Laura at the Highland Park pool

Ella still loves to cuddle, especially when she's feeling sleepy. (She fell asleep on Laura's lap about 10 minutes after we took this picture!) She asks to cuddle Aaron at bedtime every night. She also has a whole collection of stuffed animals (pandas, mostly) and blankets that she snuggles up with. As grown up as she seems sometime, she's still a real cuddle bug, which is just the sweetest thing ever.

Modeling her flower crown at the American Swedish Institute's Midsommar celebration

Ella's a wonderful person. We're so fortunate to have her in our lives. Happy birthday Ella!!

Friday, June 06, 2014

Last day of school!

It's a beautiful sunny summertime Friday and it's the last day of school!

Ella will be off to kindergarten!

I think Aaron and I were a little nervous about the whole High 5 thing. We weren't entirely sure what to expect, since the public pre-K was going to be very different than what Maisie did at her Montessori preschool. Happily, it's been a great year. Ella's learned SO much! She made a lot of friends and is really well prepared for kindergarten. High 5 was a great way to begin her school years.

And of course, Maisie's on her last day of first grade!

It's been a challenging year in some ways, but mostly a really good one. We had homework struggles, pen pal letters and packages, lost teeth, and best friend sleepovers without much sleeping at all.

We've got some big plans for the summer - swimming lessons, art camp, CONvergence, Chris and Kim's wedding, and even a week at Salolampi for Maisie. Can't wait to get started!

Happy summer everyone!!