Thursday, December 20, 2007

Birthday Celebrations






I thought I'd post a little bit about the things we've been doing the past week to celebrate Ella's birthday. I usually try to celebrate a little early so it's not quite so close to Christmas. Last Saturday Ella had her first friends party. She got to invite 5 friends and we went to Paper Cottage and scrapbooked little photo albums. They were so cute! I had no idea they hosted little b-day parties until my good friend Michelle told me. It was so much fun and all of the girls loved it! Ella doesn't like cake, so she chose Krispy Kreme donuts and chocolate milk. It really was a good time. One of the little girls met us there, but I drove the rest of them and discovered 5 little girls can be very LOUD and super giggly in the car.

On Sunday we had family over for cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate. That was great also. The cousins played a few little games like Pin the Tail on the Donkey and trashed the house. That's always the sign of a good time, a trashed house, right?! Here are a few of the pictures from our birthday activities.

Happy Birthday Ella My Ella





Mark often times calls Ella, Ella My Ella. Well, today is Ella our Ella's 6th birthday! We'd like to wish her a very happy day! She is a very special little girl to us. She was the mildest, sweetest baby in the world, my easiest by far. She was very content and had big gummy grins for everyone. She is my miracle baby, as she was conceived after Bob's chemotherapy when doctor's thought his body would not be able to help us have more children. We were blessed to have her join our family while he was in remission (he got sick again when she was just 7 months old). Her gentle nature was a blessing to me while her dad was sick and dying. Because she only nursed, she would stay with us in the ICU (where there is a policy of no children) and the nurses would comment they didn't even know there was a baby in the room. I never thought I'd have a daughter, I really felt I was going to have all sons, so she was a pleasant surprise. Even after two ultrasounds said she was a girl I didn't believe it and decorated in yellow and brought a yellow outfit to the hospital "just in case". Sure enough she's all girl as she loves dolls, dress-up, princesses, make-up and jewelry, barbies and singing and dancing to High School Musical. Away from home Ella is very quiet and shy, but at home she holds her own with her brothers and has gotten to be quite spunky since she's started kindergarten. We all love her so much! She brings a little bit of heaven to our family each and every day. Happy Birthday sweet Ella!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Ella's Winter Dance Recital

Gotta love the tummy
You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile
Ella and her good friend Abby Harmer
Ella with Grandpa and Grandma Gunnerson after her performance

What a fun and busy day we've had! Tonight was Ella's first dance recital. It was at Caldwell High School in their Auditorium. She danced really well and really knew her routine. She's been taking this Kinderdance ballet/tap class for the past three months or so and unfortunately, dance may not be her thing. She doesn't really love it, so she's opted to not take it anymore, we were just finishing out with the recital. It was a fun experience! With her being my only girl, I am obviously not up on the etiquette of dance recitals. Almost everyone there had bouquets of flowers for their little performers, we had nothing to give Ella afterwards. I felt bad, but I don't think she thought too much of it. She danced to a song from Annie called, You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile. Here are a few pictures of our little dancer (soon to be a non-dancer).

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Cooper's First Piano Recital

Calvin
Bailey
Cooper

Cooper has been taking piano lessons for a few months now and had his first recital this morning. It was at an Assisted Living home in Boise, where they played for the elderly that live there. It was a really nice place. He did well and played Silent Night. Here is a little picture of him and a video of him playing his piece. It was so fun to see so many old ward members and friends. Amy and Dwight were there, Bailey and Calvin each played and did well too! I've put up a couple pictures of them. Sorry the video is so poor in quality, it's just from our camera, but you can hear him play at least.
video

Thursday, December 6, 2007

John's Christmas Piano Recital

Tonight was John's piano recital. The Christmas recital is always my favorite to go to, I love listening to all of the holiday music. John played, Joy to the World, and did a great job! He is going to play the same piece as a musical number in Sacrament meeting this Sunday, he's just going to slow it down a little bit and play the ending different so it's a little more reverent. He really loves playing the piano and likes to perform as well. He doesn't even seem to get nervous, I'm not sure where that comes from, certainly not from me. Here is a little video of him playing tonight.
video

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas ~ Our favorite time of the year





It certainly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. I thought I'd put up a picture of our tree this year. As pretty as those fancily decorated trees look with a theme and everything, I like our tree w/ lots of different decorations, each w/ a meaning and story behind them, decorated by the kids. The Gunnerson Family is really into ornaments and we have ornaments from Bob that were his from his childhood. Great Grandpa and Grandma MacKay would give their grandchildren ornaments for Christmas each year. My own kids have quite a collection started for themselves already also. We have so many fun ornaments that we can't put them all on the tree each year. It makes me sentimental each year when we get out the ornaments and I think about who gave them to us and remember those Christmas times and other events in our lives such as marriage and the birth of children, etc. Anyway, I love our tree this year and I love to sit in the room in the dark and quiet w/ only the tree lights on, there's something about it that is so peaceful to me.

We braved the mall last weekend and went to see Santa. Unfortunately, Cooper was at a friend's house so he wasn't w/ us. We took Ella's friend and our next door neighbor, Priscila. We had a good time and got dessert at the mall too. Amazingly, Seth wasn't afraid of Santa, and was very proud of himself for sitting on his lap. He was hugging his baby tightly, though. John still doesn't think he's too old to sit on Santa's lap. I guess he has the rest of his life to think that, right? Well, here are a few of the pics.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Just a hello

For the few people that check our blog from time to time, we're still alive and well. I hadn't realized that it's been almost two weeks since I've last made an entry. Our Thanksgiving was really nice! I hope it was for you guys as well! We've had family in town on the Bishop side, thus the lack of blogging. It's been great, just busy! First, Mark's brother and his wife, Brian and Kamber, were in town for a few days all the way from England. It was great to see them and their daughter, Samantha. We got home late every night they were in town, but it was sure nice to catch up with them. Then Mark's sister and her children came to town from Utah. It's always fun to see them. We had Thanksgiving dinner w/ the Bishops (actually Mark's mom's side, the Swensons) at a nearby church and played games, watched movies and hung out w/extended family on that side Thanksgiving evening. It was a great holiday filled w/ family, the best kind.

Friday morning Mark braved the Black Friday crowds and went out shopping. He was in line at a department store by 6 am and we were able to get a great deal on a camera for my mom for Christmas! Thanks Mark! Mark's parents kept the kids on Friday night (we can't thank them enough). Seth even stayed over for his first sleepover. We went to the mall and picked up some pictures of Ella's and went to dinner at the Macaronni Grill and then watched the BSU game. That game was pretty bad, but we still had a great time together. Saturday we went swimming at the YMCA w/ our family for one of the cousin's birthday parties and went out to eat at Costa Vida (I think it's called) afterwards. That place has great food! Last night we had tithing settlement and then had family from the Parker side that we haven't see for two months over for dinner. It was fun to see them again. On top of all of these things, we've managed to put up our Christmas tree and set out our Christmas decorations. We've even put some lights up outside for the first time at this house, it's looking pretty festive around here.

Mark had the day off work today so we got lots of stuff accomplished. He spent the day cleaning out the garage and it looks clean and organized. Thanks again, Mark! You're great! I got some odds and ends stuff done. Just little things that feel so nice to cross off your list and make you feel a little more organized. It's been a great two weeks. We toted the camera around every place we went and took no pictures! Shame on us! We'll have to do better in the month of December!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Our Cutie


This was Seth on Sunday before our Stake Conference wearing a new Sunday outfit. I think he looks so darn cute and grown up in this picture and wanted to share it!

He's cast!


John's been asking for a while if he could be in a play or some kind of drama class, but I didn't know how to go about signing him up for anything like that. Then one day earlier in the school year he came home w/ a paper that was advertising upcoming auditions for Music Theatre of Idaho's 2008 season. Since he hasn't done a sport or anything extra (besides piano) since last Winter, we surprised him by signing him up and he's been so excited ever since. Music Theatre of Idaho(MTI) is a local music theatre that performs at the Nampa Civic Center, so it's much closer for us than anywhere in Boise. We had John take some classes through MTI the past few weeks where he got a little bit of instruction on how to audition and received some voice coaching as well. Friday night were the auditions. They don't let the parents go in, but after a short audition, they called #148 for a call back audition the next morning, and that was John! He was so excited, and we were too! Never having done anything like this before, it was a new experience for all of us (Mark is the only one of us that's ever been in a play or musical). So we went back bright and early Saturday morning and John auditioned again. It was funny, because they were teaching them dance steps while singing this time. Once again, I couldn't see how John was doing, so I spent a lot of time just waiting. They called him back for final call backs later Saturday evening. Those auditions were almost two hours long and once again, I waited. When we left they told us to check their website for the cast lists on Monday evening. We checked on Monday evening and the website said to check back Tuesday evening. We were all anxiously waiting to see what, if anything, they were going to cast John as. Finally, at about 10 last night they posted the lists and John was cast to be in the production, Oliver, as a workhouse kid (I think there are 50-100 of them) and also to be in Fagin's gang. He was also cast to have a small part in, A Christmas Carol. I'm not sure what, it just said various speaking and solo ensemble roles. We're pretty excited. It'll be a great way to introduce him to theatre and to see if it's something he's going to enjoy as much as he hopes to. We're looking forward to watching him next year in these productions. They are going to be in April and December, which is great because we'll have some time off from rehearsals, etc. in the middle of the year. Just thought I'd share our good news. John's sure stoked!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Parent /Teacher Conferences

I always look forward to Parent/Teacher Conferences to see how the kids are doing in school. It's always interesting to hear about the way they are at school, it can be so different from how they act at home. I love getting to know their teachers a little bit better, too. I am quite appreciative of school teachers. As I have spent a little more time in the classroom this year than in years past, I am amazed at the patience and genuine love of children that teaching requires.

So, Wednesday I had the kids conferences. I started in Ella's classroom. I've received little notes from her teacher this year that say she still doesn't talk much, but smiles a lot. I guess this is still the case. She says very little in class, but is always happy and according to her teacher her shyness hasn't interfered with her abilities. She scored about as low as you could for the state assessment tests (under grade level). She didn't know the people in the classroom who were doing the testing, so she wouldn't say the letters they were asking her if she knew. When her teacher saw her test scores she was puzzled and went and tested Ella on all of her lower case and capital letters and indeed she knew all of them. She knew them last year in pre-school even. She just wouldn't talk for the testing people, oh well! She is loving school, making new friends, and learning lots, so that's what counts.

Cooper's doing well in third grade. Letter grades in our school don't begin until 4th grade, so he got straight m's (for meet's expectation). He received one M-, for being a little too"chatty" as his teacher put it. Ms. Lords said that he makes her and the class laugh on a daily basis. I was a little surprised by that, because even though he's not nearly as shy as Ella, he's beginning to be really self conscious and doesn't like to stand out in any way. He's making lots of friends this year and most of what he comes home talking about is the sports he plays at recess. A few weeks ago I got a call from the office saying I needed to come and pick up Cooper because he'd fallen playing soccer and his two top teeth went through his bottom lip and they thought he needed stitches. When I went to get him and on our way to Primary Health he said, "My friend said at least I made the goal!"

John's loving this charter school much more than he thought he would. He has made two really good friends, Spencer and Adam. Last year it took him a while to make any good friends, so I'm glad they came quicker this year. He continues to do well academically and they are talking about having him do math with the 7th graders. Math has always been his strong point. When I was in the office signing in the other day to volunteer, the principal had me remind her who my children were. When I mentioned John's name she said, "Oh, the kid w/ the amazing ISAT score in Math." (mom's are allowed to brag a little, right?) Anyway, it made me feel good. It's fun to see your kids happy and developing their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses. We look forward to another good quarter of school.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Family in town

Seth and Mom
We celebrated Aunt Leslie's b-day, too!
The cousins having Pizza together.
Payton and Ella w/ Aunt Tammy! She's really a fun aunt!
Tammy w/ cutie Clarie

We've had a crazy busy week. It's been really good, just busy. Last Friday Tammy (our sister in law on the Gunnerson side) came into town from New York. We were sad Tom and the kids couldn't make it, but it was great to spend time with her. When ever someone comes into town it's fun because everyone hangs out and you get to see those who live close by too, but don't see very often because of busy schedules. Anyway, we mostly just talked and laughed. Some fun highlights were: the sisters went to lunch together at The Cheesecake Factory (thank you Grandma Dorothy for babysitting), a few of us went to The Big Bun Drive Inn for lunch a few days later for the infamous R&R (a great hamburger w/ mushrooms and sprouts), we went shopping and I found Ella the cutest pair of pink boots at the Children's Place for only $4.99, for FHE Monday night we all went to see The Bee Movie, and we had an early Thanksgiving dinner together while Tammy was here w/ turkey and all the fixings. Good times! I'm looking forward to more times with family as the the holidays are approaching.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sleeping Buddies

A couple of items to note about this picture: 1)When will Ella ever stop sucking her thumb while sleeping? She doesn't do it much during the day anymore because of school, at least that's good. 2) Seth has always slept with his arms up like this. In my 20 week ultrasound with him, the technician commented on how he was sleeping with his tiny arms up by his face and that was also her most comfortable way to sleep. I think it's great that he slept that way in the womb and still does it. 3) Don't sleeping babies/kids always look so sweet and peaceful. It can be a bit deceiving! Just kidding, of course.

On Sunday, John and Cooper were gone for a little while so after church Mark and I just had Seth and Ella. They were little buddies all afternoon. We all took a Sunday nap. Mark and I dozed while Ella and Seth watched a movie at the foot of our bed and when the movie was over, we woke up and they both fell asleep. We had to get a picture, they looked so precious.

Two Tin Men, Glenda the Good Witch, a cheerleader, a dalmatian and Tigger too!

I really love this picture!
The older kids show Seth how it's done!

The face paint itched Cooper's face too much, so opted to wash it off for Trick or Treating.
Have you ever seen a cuter Tigger?
Have you ever seen a cuter dalmatian?
Our two tin men and our good witch, before leaving for school.

Halloween's over, yay! Now we can move on to the holidays that are my favorites, Thanksgiving and Christmas. For some reason I am more excited than normal about the holidays this year. I am really looking forward to good times with family.

Anyway, we had a good Halloween day yesterday. At school, the kids have been learning about The Wizard of Oz all month. They read the book (older classes read to the younger ones) and most classes watched the movie, too. So for Halloween, they had to come dressed as characters from the book. John and Cooper were each the tin man. Neither of them wanted to be this, but it was the easiest and the cheapest. Ella was Glenda the good Witch, because Glenda basically looks like a fairy or princess, and we already had costumes for that. They all looked pretty good. Seth and I took treats to all three of their classes and got to see them and their classmates. It was fun. In Ella's class I helped with the center where the kids had to read a sight word and then they got to try and stick the wart (a small piece of clay) to the witches nose while closing their eyes. I love to be in the classroom.

Our ward didn't have a trunk or treat, so this was the first year in so long that we actually went trick or treating. We just walked around our neighborhood and the kids really scored with handfuls of candy, versus a piece or two, at most of the doors. It was fun to visit with neighbors and be out and about. The boys were the tin men in the evening still and Ella was a cheerleader. Earlier in the year we had bought her a cheerleader costume on clearance.

We had Mom and Dad Bishop over for dinner and for the evening. We really enjoyed being with them. It was a last minute invitation, and I'm glad they were free and able to make it. I made White Chili for dinner and Mark made some great cornbread muffins. It was all very good. Dad Bishop stayed and handed out candy here while the rest of us went Trick or Treating. Afterwards, we came home and warmed up with some hot chocolate, John's favorite!

Seth loved Halloween this year and it was so much fun to watch him. The first part of the day he was a dalmatian, but by the time we went to the school he had taken that off and wanted to be Tigger. So we just changed costumes and added some whiskers and he looked adorable. He was Tigger the rest of the day. He walked on his own the whole time we were out trick or treating and held his little pumpkin full of candy the whole time too. What a big boy he's becoming! He really got the hang of it and would even say thank you some of the time. He looked so cute running up to the doors. If there were scary decorations in the yard or by the front door, he went straight to Grandma Bishop for comfort. Forget Mom and Dad when Grandma and Grandpa are around. I love it that he loves them. Anyway, it was a good day and here are a few of the pictures.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Champs!







Cooper's football team has been undefeated all season and Saturday was their championship game. It was big time for them, they played at Nampa High School in Bulldog Stadium. They had a real running time clock and score board and an announcer. They even announced the players at the start of the game and everything! They won 20-6, making them the champions for Pee Wee football in the Nampa Pal league! Way to go Gladiators! Cooper had a great time playing his first year of tackle football. He'll probably do it again next season. I'm sure glad it's over for now though, practice four nights a week and Saturday games are a big commitment. Cooper played the position of corner back all year. Since he played defense he never got the ball too much, but ran it a little a time or two. Most of his accomplishments have been by way of some good tackles for his team and one fumble recovery. He's also pretty speedy! He made us proud and we're so glad that he had so much fun. For the championship game on Saturday, Cooper had 24 family members there to support him. It was quite a cheering section. Thank you to everyone who came and showed their love for Cooper. Mark got some GREAT action shots of Cooper and some pictures of all of the family too. Thanks so much, dear!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Babies here, Babies there, BABIES EVERYWHERE

Brooklyn Clarise.
This shot was too cute not to put in. Seth LOVED the baby! He wasn't jealous at all wanting me to hold HIM, he just wanted to hold HER.
Mark's wonderful artsy shot of Baby Brooklyn's feet in my palm.

We've had a lot of baby news in our family lately, and we can't get enough! We are the proud new aunt, uncle and cousins to a new baby boy and a new baby girl. We had sister in laws expecting on all three sides of our family and two have made their arrivals safe and sound. On the Parker side, Sara and Adam had their 3rd. A little boy who they named Spencer Allen on October 17th. They live in California so we've only seen pictures, but he's so cute and looks a lot like his siblings, Noah and Gracie. He was quite big, weighing in at a little over 9 lbs. They live about 10 miles from those California fires, hopefully the air quality is okay for him. On the Gunnerson side, Becky and Jamie had their 3rd also, and they named her Brooklyn Clarise. She was 7lbs. 1oz. and is such a doll. She was born October 25th, yesterday. They actually live in Nampa, so we all got to go to the hospital and meet her last night. We each took a turn cuddling her. She has such delicate little features. Her big siblings, Payton and McKade were sure proud. We have included some pictures of her. I couldn't figure out how to post the ones sent to us of Spencer, darn. You'll have to take our word for it that he's a cutie too. Finally, on the Bishop side Brian and Kamber are expecting their second in March and announced yesterday that they're having a boy! We're very excited for them! They put the cutest little ultrasound picture of his profile on their blog and it looked so sweet. We're anxiously awaiting March to be able to see him. We won't get to meet him until summer though, they live in England. There sure is a special spirit that comes w/ newborns. We are excited to have these new little ones in our family. We wish them lots of health and happiness in their lives.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

A game of tag!

So, the game of 'tag' exists in the blogging world too, apparently, because I have been tagged and am now 'it'. I knew I never liked playing the game tag! But here I go, because I do like to read the interesting facts about themselves that others have put on their blogs. However, I will not be able to tag ANYBODY, because all of the other bloggers I know (which aren't a lot) have all been tagged already. Sorry, I can't keep it going. That is one of the reasons I never entered a PIF, if I were to have won and had to do a PIF myself, I don't have many that read my blog or would comment. Anyhow....

  • I am an only child and growing up I wanted a sibling in the worst way. I did get a puppy for my 9th b-day and named her Savanna. I would dress her in my Cabbage Patch clothes and would even have b-day parties for her and invite my neighbor friends over. My mom even humored me and made her a cake one year. Savanna ate some of it and then threw it up. When she got sick of me, she'd hide under my mom's bed and growl at me when I'd try to climb under and pull her out. Poor dog. She didn't die until after I was married. She was a good friend for me, but I still wish I'd had a brother or sister. Now I have lots of brother and sister in laws, and the Parker family are like siblings to me, so that's great and I'm blessed to have them in my life!
  • I have no musical talent and would give anything to be able to sing well or to play the piano or violin! I have Katherine McPhee's version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", that she sang on American Idol, and I lip sinc to it and pretend that it's my voice and that I am performing for people and they are blown away at my beautiful voice. Ha!
  • My nickname is "LuLu". My family gave me this nickname as a toddler. I think it stemmed from one of my favorite dolls who came from the store with a name and it was "LuLu". My mom and uncles still occasionally call me this. I don't really mind it. They also call me just "Lu".
  • Even after we moved from California to Idaho when I was eight years old, I'd go back to California every summer and spend a couple of months with my uncles. They would take me to the Speedway and I loved it! I had the hugest crush on one of the racers, Bobby Schwartz, and was so excited when I got his autograph. Currently, I have zero interest in racing or the speedway (or Bobby Schwartz).
  • I have a thing for organization. Some refer to it as OCD. My house isn't always the cleanest as far as when I've last mopped etc., but it's always pretty tidy. I don't like it and can't relax unless things are put away and in order. Everything has a place! I can't stand it when I don't know where something is and can't find it. When my 3 older kids put away their own laundry and make their beds, I have to secretly go back and straighten the beds up and look in the drawers to make sure the clothes are put away the way I like them. I know, it's wacky!
  • I'm fascinated by the ocean. Not really swimming in it, but watching the waves. I could sit and do this for hours. I also love pictures w / the ocean and crashing waves in them. I like lighthouses, too. Mark and I went to the Oregon Coast for our honeymoon and stayed right on the beach in Seaside and Depot Bay and I loved to watch the water. I love the sound of the waves. The ocean is amazing!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jack 'o' Lanterns











Cooper has football practice Monday evenings which makes FHE hard, so occasionally we've tried to have it on Sunday evenings. However with the season changing it has started to get dark earlier, so his practices end at a better time for us to still have a family night. So last night we decided to carve our pumpkins for FHE. I had hoped to go as a family to the Berry Ranch nearby and go on a hayride and pick out our pumpkins, but it just wasn't happening. One of Mark's deacons grew pumpkins this year and was selling them to make money for his Eagle Scout project, so we decided to buy our pumpkins from him. The kids had fun picking one out and have been looking forward to carving them. We had a fun time together. Cooper only cut himself once and it was tiny and hardly bled (we let the boys try and carve their own). I helped Ella and Mark helped Seth. Seth thought this was the greatest thing we'd ever done and loves HIS little pumpkin. After we were done we took them outside and lit them all. The kids loved it! Dad's/Seth's pumpkin got voted as the scariest. John's pumpkin has two sides, so he can be scary or happy. With the marker we were using to draw the faces Ella wrote all over the back of hers. She's learning how to write her middle and last name and will take any opportunity she can get to write Ella Kayt Gunnerson on something. When we came back inside from lighting our pumpkins out front, Seth was walking around w/ the black permanent marker in one hand and the box of matches in the other! That's our boy, destructo, as we sometimes call him! Well, we did manage to have some fun, get everything cleaned up and the kids in bed all at a decent hour. Success!