We have quite a number of pets. Birds, fish, rats, a dog, and a cat... put together with our kids, and it's a down right zoo here some days. So when we finally let Nora get that second cat she's been dreaming about for years now, Alex had only one expression for me:
Introducing Oreo Cookie (hey, it's the name she came with), our newest member of our family.
There is something unique about this cat. We had read her heart-wrenching story in the newspaper almost a year before, so when we found out no one had yet adopted her, we decided to. As you can see in the photo that follows, she is missing something...
She doesn't let it phase her, though, and is a sweet and perfectly normal cat in every other way.
We helped fend off the winter blahs by heading to the Como Zoo. Anna loved watching the seals and penguins. Here she is by some fish.
A highlight was seeing the new pen the polar bears were in.
The two bears were playing with a tree. Watching them toss around a tree that is as tall as a person was awe inspiring.
The girls enjoyed climbing inside the pretend bear cave.
Anna was excited to see some zebras. "That's MY zebra!" she exclaimed.
Corbin aped it up with a zoo resident.
After viewing the animals we headed over to the Conservatory to enjoy some tropical paradise settings. The kids' favorite thing to do is watch the big Koi fish in the ponds.
Alex is quite the camera man, and shot some beautiful shots of different plants there. Here a just a few:
close up of a pitcher plant:
some water lilies:
an orchid over water:
Of course, our biggest winter event this year was the birth of Hanella. It was the coldest day of the winter by far, with the temperature in the teens below zero Fahrenheit. The story of her birth can be found here. Long story short, she was born Lee's van. Here's Ella under the warmer:
I was in such shock over what had happened. I couldn't believe we didn't make it to the hospital!
For months before the baby was born, Anna would tell everyone that the baby's name was going to be Blueberry, because she loves the color blue so much. Imagine our surprise when the nurses started calling Ella "Blueberry"! A nurse explained they call all babies with bruised faces blueberries. Her poor face was rather blue for the first day or so, but soon returned to a more normal color. Here's "Blueberry:"
Ella just loved her first bath. It relaxed her so much that she drifted off to sleep amid the bubbles. To this day she still loves baths.
Bright and early the next morning the siblings all got to come in and see their new sister. The girls were all real happy. "It's going to be a girl party forever now!" Rosa exclaimed. Here she is with her new sister.
Anna didn't want to hold the baby, so Nora gladly held her twice as long.
Big brother Corbin thought Ella was pretty neat.
Big, big brother Caleb was comforted holding Ella. He had tragically just lost a pet bird in death hours before she was born.
Big, big, big brother Alex loves holding babies. And babies love being held by Alex! He can calm even the most irritable tot.
Sleepy Dad even posed with baby Ella.
Mommy got to spend time with Ella wide awake. She had the deepest darkest eyes. It is not surprising that her eyes have turned dark brown.
Soon Ella and I can home to stay. She settled right in.
Here she is before her first meeting at the Kingdom Hall.
About a week after Ella arrived we went snowshoeing at Sibley State Park. Nora was especially excited this year because she was old enough to go along. Here she is.
Here's Caleb and Corbin.
The gang went over a frozen pond and along some trails. Here's Nora and Corbin.
They had a great time, and look forward to doing it again next year.
Once they can back to the lodge we enjoyed a picnic lunch and some roasted marshmallows. Caleb enjoyed holding sleepy Ella for a bit, too.
The kids all really enjoy Ella. When it's her bath time we have lots of eager little helpers! Here she is relaxing in her tub.
Right around 5 weeks of age Ella finally let out her first real smiles to big brother Alex. Here are some of them.
Thus ends our wondrous winter of 2010 to 2011.