Picture Day

Today was picture day at school.

Today was also Natalie’s 7th birthday, and in its own way it was picture day at our house…b/c, well, I took A LOT of pictures to chronicle her birthday. And you will see the majority of them in this post. (Because the post is picture heavy, I will try to keep my words brief.)

After school (and all the homework was done) I told Natalie I wanted to take some pictures of her and her birthday present. She received it almost a month and a half early, and I’ve been meaning to do so, and since I haven’t I figured today was a great day to do it.

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Natalie began taking piano lessons just over a year ago. (On the first day of Kindergarten to be exact.) She took right too it. I think the best way to describe it is – she fell in love with it.

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Many parents talk about the struggle to get their child to practice. We don’t know this struggle (knock on wood). She often reminds us that she needs to practice, and many times she plays just so she can play. She had been learning on a small keyboard. We didn’t want to buy a full piano until we knew that she really liked it and wanted to continue. She did and she does. It was time for a full piano, probably even past time.

She was SO excited when we found the piano and brought it home. I think for her it was like Christmas….maybe even better.

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And because she has fallen in love with it and loves to practice she has done very well with it. We are constantly impressed with what she has been able to accomplish and how quickly she has progressed. She is determined to learn, and hard pieces only fuel that determination.

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I love to listen to her play, even when she struggles because she never gives up – not until its right. It is a great quality about her.

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(See her tongue sticking out? She’s concentrating hard.)

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I really hope she keeps her love and passion for the piano, and I hope to hear her music in our home for many years to come. Right now she says she wants to be a photographer and a piano teacher when she grows up. I think she could do just about anything she wanted to – and she would do it well.

After the piano shots we took a few more for fun.

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Remember I said that she wants to be a photographer? Well, she asked to take my picture, so I let her. She does a pretty good job. She told me how to sit and not to smile and where to look.

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One of Natalie’s birthday requests was to decorate her own cake. That’s easy enough.

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She was nice and let her sister and brother help too.

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We took a few more pictures before heading to dinner at her place of choice, California Pizza Kitchen.

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Then it was home for phone calls, presents and cake.

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Side note about this picture. Bella wanted to get Natalie something. She kept telling me things of hers she was going to give Natalie but for one reason or another I wouldn’t let her give that specific item. Finally she counted out 100 pennies (she was out of cash at the moment) and asked me to take her to the dollar spot at Target. It was a simple gift, some little art project for Natalie to do, but something Natalie would like. I love that Bella just wanted to give something to her sister because she loves her.

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I think it was a good birthday for Natalie, or at least I hope it was. She sure is a special kid, and that is putting it mildly.

We spent a little bit of time today telling her our memories of her as a baby and toddler. It is fun to remember the silly things she used to do and what a sweet baby she was. She has brought nothing but happiness to our family everyday for the past 7 years.

We love you Natalie!


Making Them Feel Special

My mom came to visit this past week. In fact, she is still here for another hour and right now is watching Ethan play Mario Cart. Cheering him on, and laughing when he’s silly.

This entire visit I have been reminded of how much she loves us and my love for her has grown because I have watched her take the time to make each of my children feel special individually and collectively. I will admit the idea to designate an afternoon to each one of the kids individually was my idea. However, she really went with it and allowed each of the kids to decide what they wanted to do with her and really went out of her way to make them feel special.

Kids need to feel special and loved, and the more adults who take the time to do so in their life the better. She has always done this but I think my girls especially are getting old enough to really understand and remember the way that their Grandma made them feel, and I think they made some memories with her this week that they will always remember.

The first afternoon went to Natalie. Her birthday is a week from tomorrow so since Grandma wouldn’t be here to celebrate with her then we pretended it was on her afternoon. We had lunch at Crispers and then headed over to a paint your own pottery place where Natalie got to pick out whatever she wanted and then her and Grandma designed and painted it. (I think I will do a whole other post about this process later.)

This was my favorite picture from that afternoon:

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The next day belonged to Ethan. His included a lunch at McDonalds and then since he had wanted to paint so badly the day before I remembered I had a model car kit at home so he and Grandma painted it and then put it together.

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Last was Bella. She had a hard time figuring out exactly what she wanted to do. We ended up at lunch at Chipotle and then off to window shop – which included her trying on and modeling for us for about 45 minutes. After the shopping we ended her afternoon at her favorite cupcake shop, Sweet. And, or course, she had her favorite – red velvet. But the day before her afternoon with Grandma she and Grandma had worked together to make a campaign poster for her run for class representative for Student Counsel. Then the next day she and Grandma spent an hour wrapping gum sticks with new labels to pass out to her class after her speech. I think the fact that Grandma took the time to be interested in and help her with that really made her feel extra special.

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So while we are sad that she is leaving this afternoon (Natalie had a break down last night and made her promise that next time she brings Grandpa too) we are happy to have the memories and to have shared the time together. Thank you mom, I love you. Come again soon!