Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ellie's Birthday Party

A Strawberry Shortcake Themed Party that was fit for a Princess!

Chef Ellie helped bake her birthday cake -- a strawberry cake made from scratch that was YUMMY. Does she look happy about this process or what??

And let me say that I won't EVER be quitting my job to go into cake decorating. I waited too late to get Kenya to do Ellie's birthday cake (she had a wedding) and so I decided I could make a fondant icing Strawberry Shortcake cake all by myself. What WAS I THINKING???

My mother in law, Mary, came for the party and helped the night before. It took two of us and we still didn't do a great job of putting the fondant on. We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning trying to get the cake just right. You'll see the final result a little farther down the page.
Here is a sweet picture of Ellie with Aunt Jeanne.

The train table was a bit hit with all the kiddos.

This screams, "It's my party and I'll pout if I want to" doesn't it???

It was a riot watching these three boys all sitting in the floor glued to the Strawberry Shortcake movie.

This was one of the two tables of goodies we had to eat: cupcakes with strawberry filling, strawberry Crush soda, strawberry lemonade, chocolate covered pretzel sticks, sweet and sour meatballs, chili cheese dip, strawberry "whoopie pies", cake balls, spinach artichoke dip, BLT dip, peanut butter/jelly sandwiches (mini-shaped sized), and a veggie tray.

Ellie's BFF, Addie, was checking out one of Ellie's presents from Ava.

AND .... the previosly mentioned cake...

Crazy, that's all I can say. But, Ellie loved it, and that is all that mattered in the end. I mean, look at this face.

Blowing out three sweet candles.

Wonder if she wished for anything?

Ellie and Maverick are definitely cut from the same cloth -- go, go, go and play, play and play.

Katherine and Princess Ellie

"I'd like to phone a friend."

It was a lot of fun for Ellie!! She had great friends around to help her celebrate; she got so many wonderful presents AND she had cake. We had a great day celebrating this little one's life.

My facebook status the day before her birthday read:

Somewhere in Kyrgyzstan, it's already 3/29 and a mama is certainly thinking about a birth three years ago. I hope, in her heart, she can somehow know how VERY MUCH I love this child, what a wonderful life she has and what a blessed gift she was to our family. I wish I could tell her.

I'll leave you with a funny quote from Ellie from the day before her birthday:

"Pink is not my favorite color anymore." Ellie

"Really? What is your favorite color?" Me


Her new nickname? Sparkles Latham

Ahh... the life of a girl who likes sparkles.

Monday, March 28, 2011

March is coming to an end

Bi-monthly updates seems to be about all I can swing these days. My heart is willing -- my energy is weak. It is the eve of Ellie's third birthday and I'm feeling all emotional and nostalgic and sad and blessed -- all rolled up and smushed together like Ellie's Play-Doh at the end of the day. I wrote the following comment on Facebook tonight: Somewhere in Kyrgyzstan, it's already 3/29 and a mama is certainly thinking about a birth three years ago. I hope, in her heart, she can somehow know how VERY MUCH I love this child, what a wonderful life she has and what a blessed gift she was to our family. I wish I could tell her. I am so thankful that I am the woman who was blessed to get to mother Ellie. I am sad that her birthmother lost that opportunity. Today as we had a picnic on the floor -- nothing fancy, some sandwiches and veggies with a juice pouch -- Ellie came over, sat in my lap and said, "This is the best picnic ever mama." My heart melted. When I made a (less than stellar) birthday cake for her this weekend, she looked at it and said, "Good job, mama!" What a blessing! Don't get me wrong; it's not all smiles and candy hearts at our house. We are normal and some days I don't think I'll make it through until bedtime with her cranky little (now) three-year-old self. But I would trade the beautiful moments for all those cranky moments AT ALL. I just wish that the beautiful moments of adoption weren't tinged with the heartbreaking parts of it. Today I heard Ellie talking to herself in the backseat as we were on the way to her three-year-old check up at the doctor. She was saying, "I am from Kyrgyzstan and my friend is from China and my other friend is from America." In her world, it's just how it is. How beautiful. Oh, that we could all see things that way. Anyway ... We had her birthday party this weekend and it was a LOT of fun. A future post will be dedicated to just that as it will take an entire post. Josh continue to play Xbox (all the time it seems) and soccer. I feel like I somehow have lost him to his room and this new solitary/I want to play with my friends life. I spoke with the doctor about it today and he said that at this age withdrawal from family is normal and that we just have to continue to promote that family time while allowing him some independence. It stinks, honestly, because I MISS HIM. I miss watching TV with him, just having him in the room. I hope this phase doesn't last long. If it does, just don't tell me and let me be ignorant -- it's bliss, I hear. Kevin's last day of work is this week. We are prayerful that something comes along quickly. God was gracious the last time this happened and provided for us just in time. I have faith that He will again. It's been a hard year, though. I wouldn't be lying if I didn't say it hasn't. A part of me spends more time than I should wondering WHY things have happened to us this year. A part of my healing, I suppose, is learning to trust the verse that tells me that His ways are not mine. I can say it all day long but actually putting it my heart and wearing it like a cloak over me is another story. That is where I'm struggling and working. I'm glad that my daddy doesn't have these earthly struggles any more and that he has been made perfect, in the image of his Savior. Some days that is enough. No pictures today because I'm saving those for the birthday party post. I do have some really cool pictures of Ellie and her friends A. and K. that I'll post soon that I took it a buttercup field. They are stunning (not because I took them, just because they are!!). I'll post those in the next post as well. For now, I'm sleepy and headed off to bed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What's Going On ...

I have certainly been a blog slacker for quite a while now. I'm not making any promises that it will get better because it probably won't. But, I did want to capture some updates on our lives.

I continue to struggle with the loss of my dad. Some days are really good and others make up for my having a good one. Last night I was looking back through the pictures we took at Christmas and I literally felt so sick to my stomach with longing that I thought I was going to become ill. He was so alive and here that the loss just seems so much worse. I know my mom continues to struggle much worse than I do because she has lost her best friend and partner of 48 years of marriage. I can't imagine what she goes through each day. I just try to be there as much as I can.

The kids are keeping me busy, though, and that helps a lot. Josh has started soccer for the middle school and they have had a couple of games so far. Most games have been rained out with all the lovely rain storms we have had this spring.

I, personally, have been blessed that there is a mom who takes pictures at the soccer games and I don't have to!! Yay -- this is certainly a treat for me to actually get to watch the game instead of photographing it. I did take my camera to the first game and got a few nice ones of Josh. Since this is his first year, he doesn't play a lot, but he did get to play keeper during one game and I know he has always enjoyed that position from when he played when he was young.

I have spent a large part of March getting ready for and working at consignment sales. I am on my last couple of days to work and then I can (thankfully!) put that project to bed until fall! It's a lot of work, a lot of fun, and a great way to save money buying Ellie's spring clothes. I've gotten some really, really cute things for spring. If you are interested in seeing some of the things I've picked up at consignment, click the link here to see pictures.

I am amazed at how much I save at consignment and how nicely Ellie can be dressed. I can buy Gymboree outfits for $5-$8. If I were to go to Walmart and buy Garanimals, they would be $3.50 per piece and would fade/shrink after the first wash. With Gymboree, I can let Ellie wear it a season and STILL sell it in consignment for almost what I paid for it. It's amazing. I can't imagine why anyone would pay retail for kids' clothes!

I had a great find at the Once Around the Block Kids' consignment sale: a mom with a daughter named Ellie who was one year ahead of us!! She had monogrammed "Ellie" on a TON of cute stuff that we picked up for such a steal. Monogramming it would have cost anywhere from $5-$8 per item: pretty much what I paid for the item already monogramed. Amazing -- and such a blessing! Here are two of the items:

Ellie SLEPT in her bathing suit for two nights because she loved it so much. She has been very excited over all her new things from consignment this year.

One of my favorite finds this year at consignment was a toddler bounce house for $15 -- yes, $15. I don't have a clue what they might cost in retail world, but Ellie got $15 worth of fun out of it on day one! Her hair was WILD and crazy and cracked me up standing straight out!

I think you can actually SEE the sparks on the ends of her hair on this one - haha!

While I was snapping Ellie in her bounce house, Josh and Bear were having some "boy and his dog" time. They SO love each other!

A couple of other good finds were Ellie's birthday presents this year: A Disney Princess Deluxe Talking kitchen, NEW in the box (retails for $70), for $35. And, a Disney Princess Tea Time With Me Little Belle for $10. It's also new in the box. Apparently, you cannot FIND this toy anymore. The one I found via Google retails for $89.95 -- not that I would have EVER paid that for it!

Kevin got word last week that his branch office is closing at the end of the month and that he will be out of a job. Since we JUST went through this 16 months ago, we are sort of reeling that we are here again. I know everyone keeps talking about how the economy is on the upswing, but at the Latham house, it certainly isn't. So, Kevin has begun the process of looking for a job again. He has sent resumes out by the dozens and has begun the testing process for a job locally. We continue to pray that God is using this as a way to bless our family with a new, closer to home, job for Kevin. With gas prices on the rise, driving to a job that is 95 miles one way is a costly proposition. 2011 certainly has not been the year I had hoped it would be.

Ellie's birthday is coming up in a few weeks. She has been saying, "I'll be three in March FOREVER!!" She is looking forward to her party so much. We have decided to have it at the house this year (in the face of the impending layoffs, we are going for low cost, high fun!) and have decided on a Strawberry Shortcake theme. Stay tuned for more details about this fun day!!
I am excited that I have a wedding to photograph next weekend. I'm looking forward to spring and getting back into photography. Next week is spring break and I have a couple of photo ideas I want to try out on Ellie (and Josh if he is feeling cooperative that day).

Ellie continues to become more girly-girl every day. Her hair is getting longer and she likes to sit on the bathroom sink and let me blow it out and then put curls in it with the curling iron. She also tells me to "Do my eyes, mama." She honestly thinks that when I brush her eyes with the makeup brush that I'm putting on eye shadow. So funny!! She is developing right on target and we haven't noticed any delays. We are so blessed to have her in our lives and anytime I am feeling like, "Woe is me" with all the funk that's going on, I am reminded of the miracle of Ellie's entering our family and I know that God can work out anything -- even when we don't think it is possible.

Josh will start baseball soon -- in addition to soccer -- and I imagine we will be a busy, busy family once again. In some ways it's preferable -- it keeps my mind busy. It other ways, I relish the ability to just stay home and rest. Catch 22, I suppose.

Spring break is this week and we have absolutely NO plans -- wow, that's a blessing, I think. Josh is going to help MeeMee in her yard quite a bit so we are hopeful for pretty weather. I'm going to visit the site for my wedding this weekend to scout out locations/ideas for pictures. I want to go visit my grandmother and also to take some three year old pix of Ellie. I'd like to take the two of them to their FAVORITE place to play (even though it's not necessarily MY favorite), Chuck E Cheese. I'm sure the week will pass too quickly and it will be back to school and routine again.

That's pretty much it for our lives right now! Hope to find the time to write again soon!