Saturday, December 25, 2010

Our Christmas Letter

December 25, 2010

Dear friends and family,

At this point in my life, I can barely remember what happened last week. So thinking about the whole year in review is a little daunting. We'll see how I do.

This has been a big year for Susannah (9, 4th grade). Nothing "big" per se, but a real understanding has come over Brandon and I, that childhood really does go fast! She is becoming a young lady, and has a reputation for common sense, helpfulness, respect and hard work that is wonderful to behold. At school she loves math particularly, is continuing to grow in her Spanish abilities, and is involved in an after school community service club. On the sports front, Susannah played basketball and softball and did summer swim team. She loves sleepovers with friends, playing Monopoly, is in demand as a "mother's helper," making potholders, and is involved in all kinds of things at church. The youngest child in me sometimes does not understand the first child in her, but we are working on it!

Abigael (7, 2nd grade) is the energy of the house! She is an extremely sensitive and passionate person, and goes after whatever it is with all of her being! She loves reading, art, God and cartwheeling everywhere. I really do not know how she sits still at school. Abbey has moved up to 2 hours a week of gymnastics, and is doing swim team even through the winter. She has the body of a greyhound, and is making a name for herself in both gymnastics and swimming, and at whatever sport she tries her hand at. She is challenging to contain, and all her activities are a futile attempt to use up her energy. The most recent development is that we will be adopting a puppy/dog that will surely become Abbey's best playmate. This follows years of begging...

Jesse (newly 5) started Kindergarten this year. I went back and forth with my nerves about sending a then 4 year old, but my nerves prevailed. Jesse has thrived, and LOVED every minute of it. He is apparently the model student, despite the dubious honor of being the first of our kids to lose recess one day! He is picking up Spanish quicker than you could believe, and is now reading. I love kids growing up! Jess did soccer this year, learned to ride his bike this summer, learned how to surface dive, keep up with his fish-sisters, and loves AWANA at church. He is popular, handsome and very capable of dealing with his sisters. Jess has a tendency to be shy, needs alone time and is slightly pouty. I regularly tap into my husbands vast experience in dealing with this personality trait.

And then there's Mag. Magdelena (2.5 years) has many of the stereotypical last born traits. But you can leave out the part about wanting to be the coddled baby! She is a force to be reckoned with, is deliberate, watchful, intense, loving, charming and funny. She spent most of the year not speaking much, though still communicating to be sure. Of course I worried about it, but now would give my right arm to relive those quiet moments. Maggie is weaned, potty trained, learned to swim, sleep in a big bed and started preschool (which she LOVES). She does succeed in keeping up with everyone, as well as wearing the most interesting ensembles and loving her Music Together classes. We are thankful she was not our first child, and are learning to really appreciate her self confidence! Look out world.

Brandon's world is pretty similar to last year. He still works at Sanger High, loves fantasy football, plays volleyball on Tuesdays. He works hard, relaxes hard and makes family time a priority. The kids love walking on his back, helping him with the yard chores, getting up on the roof with him to put up the Christmas lights, riding the city bus etc. etc.

My world is a ditto as well. Saying goodbye to the baby stage was not sad for me, but has still taken some adjustment. Doing kindergarten pick up in the middle of the day as well as at 2 o clock is pretty much for the birds. However, I do get a lot of life from doing the childbirth education/labor assisting I do with birthing families and sewing and fun creative projects around the house. I started working at AWANA at Church and have thoroughly enjoyed it. I have a couple hours without kids when Mag is at preschool and it gives me a taste of what might be to come. I have found a little group of fun ladies in my neighborhood that I walk with and am enjoying our meetings of the "Sunnyside Ladies Jigsaw Club." I also have a couple of new and exciting possibilities for the new year. I am eager to see what's in store.

As a family, we've enjoyed trips to Monterey, the Bay Area, Redding, Yosemite, and lots of surrounding areas. It feels good to get away and have some perspective. We camped quite a bit this summer, and it is getting slowly-but-surely easier! Our church has experienced some tragedy this year but we are enjoying being connected to a House Church at our home, and getting involved in different ways. We started playing tennis as a family this fall, and despite it looking like a circus, we are loving it. Life is definitely full and bursting. We struggle to keep up the house, find everyone's shoes and return phone calls promptly, but we feel incredibly blessed.

We hope you have had a peaceful and blessed year. Thanks so much for loving us. We value your friendship and support, and love hearing from you. Come see us if you are in town, and we will endeavor to do the same!

With love,

Sarah, for the Ellis family

Monday, November 1, 2010

Best of Both Worlds at Shutterfly

Every Christmas it comes time to think about sending Christmas cards out. I always like to think that I am just going to send an e-mail, and call it good. But then I am slightly eclectic, and sometimes even old fashioned. I still love going to get the mail even as an adult. So it never seems good enough to just shoot an e-mail off. The second part of my conundrum is whether to write a Christmas letter. I agonize over it, don’t want to sound too “our life is perfect,” or on the other hand “everything is terrible, please feel sorry for us!” I put it off, admire others lovely, artistic and perfect letters, and then at the end do a mad dash to put one together, and that is never quite right. Between finding the right picture, and the right amount of information divulged in my letter, I am never quite satisfied. This year, I am so excited. It’s the first day of November and I found that Shutterfly has the perfect solution. It’s a picture card that has the picture opening (obviously!), and a top 10 in 2010 list on the side. Enough room for the highlights of our year, and our wonderful family picture. I seriously couldn’t be happier. They’ve made it easier than ever.

Here’s a link to my favorite:

You can look for your own perfect card that meets your needs and specifications you can find it here:

or some holiday cards here:

One of the main parts of my Christmas shipping usually includes photo calendars for the grandparents. You can some proud grandparents gifts checked off your list quickly and happily here:

Happy Christmas Card Shopping to you all!

Friday, July 16, 2010


We have had a great summer so far. It seems like we have had a lot of relaxing around the house, but also a lot of adventures. These have included: ridiculously long swim meets, a trip to see my parents, the circus, Hume Lake, sleepovers with Grammy, art camp, potty training, lots and lots and lots of swimming at home, church activities and so much more. Here are a few pictures.

Abbey, where she loves to be most. A rare sighting above water.
Love this.
10.5 years later!
Jess is spinning!
Look at those eyes!

I really do love being home now. When I first became a mom, and when my older kids were toddlers, i was desperate to be out of the house. Now, my perfect day would be staying in. I have a number of things around the house on my list-to-be-done-before-school-starts. We'll see where I get with those.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Learning to swim

Having my children learn to swim early is important to me because it teaches self belief, self confidence, the ability of one's body, physical work and co-ordination. Every other year in our family, someone learns to swim. It's a rite of passage around here. It's so exciting for the others, that now the newest swimmer can also be privy to the world of summer fun. This year it was Maggie's turn. Newly 2 with the confidence of a 6 year old, she jumped right into it. Here are some pictures of her lessons.

Women to learn from

The end of the school year is always an emotional time for me. I know, I don't even go to school anymore. But good byes are hard for me. I've said so many permanent ones: to the land I grew up in, to my grandparents every other summer before I travelled back across the Atlantic; to the my childhood friends. This year was particularly hard for me. Not really sure why. I do love my kids getting older and more independent, but there is a part of their childhood that I say good bye to with each school year ending. They had wonderful teachers this year. I would count each of those women as wonderful teachers, and also friends. Not only have their teachers poured into the lives of Susannah, Abbey and Jess. I feel they have poured into mine with their wisdom, style, and their presence.

Jesse with his preschool teachers

Abbey and her first grade teacher

Susannah and her 3rd grade teacher

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Long overdue.

Well, I keep saying this, but here I am trying to updae this more often. I often say I want to, but I have this perfectionist part of me that says if I can't write about everything, I am not going to write about anything. I am working on it.
My baby girl turned 2 this last week. Crazy. It is weird to have a 2 year old with no one else on the way. Her birthday brings up a lot for me as far as remembering her birth, and specifically the time leading up to her birth...being overdue.
Other than that there are a lot of ordinary days around here. Most of them involve large amounts of driving here and there, lots of food being made and consumed, large amounts of time pondering what's important, to me and for my kids. Books are pretty important for me and the kids. I spend large portions of time with my therapist friend, the sewing machine. Also, spending time talking, texting or "fac*booking" with friends is a highlight on this privileged journey.
Jesse is registered for Kindergarten. He is playing soccer and had a star game as Goalie today.
Abbey is transitioning into the thought of being 7. She loves her gymnastics and does more monkey bars than you could imagine. Her hands tell their story.
Susannah is growing into a young lady, and I am trying to be ok with that. I am ok with that, but I am learning not to squelch the delicate wings that are eager to unfurl. I am learning.

Learning is probably the common thread around here...tonight I am going to learn to go to bed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Our Christmas Update!

Seasons are changing. This time of year I feel like Thanksgiving is hardly over and Christmas is in full swing. The weather turns from semi-warm to California cold in the space of a couple of days. Sometimes the seasons change gradually, and other times all at once. I’m holding on to thanksgiving as we anticipate Christmas this year. We have much to be thankful for.

Some of the the seasons that have / are changing for us this year include:

A new home, with lots of space inside and out. Perfect for our famiy to grow up in.

No more babies on the way. We are loving concentrating on watching the children grow up before our very eyes. Brandon pointed out that I have said that about every one of them this week. And it’s true!

Next week Brandon and I will finish our first decade of being married, and embark on a new one. We have grown together in so many ways in these first 10 years together and are excited to see what is in store in the years to come.

As for the rest of the updates:

Brandon is still at Sanger High School teaching the same class. He still enjoys volleyball, fantasy football, working on the house. This year he has become more involved in teaching at church on Sunday and mid-week.

I am seeking direction as to what I will be doing in the coming years, as I will have the majority of my kids in school. The kids and house is where I spend much of my energy, but still enjoy my work with pregnant mamas, sewing, decorating and reading.

At Thanksgiving each of the kids each wrote a list of what they are thankful for. I will share them here...they tell themselves well:

Susannah (8 in 3rd grade): God, family, friends, birthday, Christmas, vacations, clothes, autumn and seasons, bed, legs, being alive, grandparents, aunts, cousins, fun things, painting, school, teachers, money, food. I’m glad to be 8.

Abigael (6.5 in 1st grade): I’m thankful for my family, God and Jesus, brother, sisters, class, mama and daddy.

Jesse (newly 4): Jesus, this castle, my mama and daddy, my toes, babies, everything, food and eating, playing games, my sisters, playing soccer, my preschool, turning 4, outer space.

Maggie (20 months - mama and Susannah’s opinion of what Maggie is thankful for): Jesus, family, Susannah, words, baby, nursing, balloons, the learning tower, showers, balloons, markers and music class.

We are very thankful for you, our family and friends. We look forward to connecting with you more in the coming year. May you experience the peace and hope that Christmas brings in the coming year.