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Ellie, my baby, my youngest, my little girl turned six on Friday. She is a joy to have in my life (even if she wears me out some days). I love her sense of wonder, I admire her generosity towards others, I can’t start my day out right without snuggling with her.

My baby six years ago…

The first of many snuggles together (I’ve been telling her that she’ll never be too old for “mommy snuggles”).

Good morning and Happy Birthday…Ellie discovered a birthday balloon next to her bed (well it was my bed since she ended up there the previous night).

Right away she wanted her Daddy to help her put together the race track. This set belonged to her big brothers but has been in the toy closet for years. Ellie has been wanting to play with it for about two years, but her Daddy said that she had to be six. Well this day she woke up and she was six so racing was in order.

Ellie ordered muffins that taste like donuts for her birthday breakfast…YUM!

We looked at all of Ellie’s books. I’ve made a scrapbook for each year of her life.

Lunch at the Dairy Queen meant Ellie’s favorite Starkiss for dessert (you know the one that turns your lips first red then blue).

Dinner was another special request–lasagna with homemade bread.

The birthday princess with her toothless grin.

Trying to get her big brother, Austin, to smile.

Excited by what’s inside.

Showing her big sister.

Happy girl.

For her birthday treat Ellie requested a giant cookie. She saw a recipe that used gumdrops but she thought it would be much better with M&Ms.

Ellie with Dad and Mom.

Ellie with her big sister and brothers.

Ellie finally made her brother smile.

Ellie’s disappointed face when Anna told her that she would NOT have any boyfriends this year since she blew out all her candles. Do you think I should be worried?

This was Ellie turning six. She also had a big family party this past Sunday–more on that soon.

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Ellie had a blast at the splash pad that was at the same park where our annual MVC Alumni picnic was held. She was having so much fun that we ended up being the last ones of our group to leave.

A bowl works for splashing new friends.

You’ve got to expect getting splashed.

Cute face to make sure that Mom is still watching.

Discovered that the bowl works as an umbrella too.

Too much fun.

Last weekend was the annual MVC Alumni picnic. What was different this year was that Ellie (who was less than a week away from turning 6 at the time) was the oldest kid there. I couldn’t believe the number of babies. It was a nice time visiting with old friends and meeting a few new ladies. Ellie had a blast playing at the splash pad that was at the park (I’ll have to share those photos later). Here is our group shot using another one of Heather T’s amazing kits called “Healing” available at MScraps.

I like nice weather, but I don’t like hot and humid and that’s what it’s been again around here as the summer is winding down. It almost has me wishing for the cool crisp days of Autumn, especially when I put together this layout using Heather T’s new “Forest Dreams” kit from The DigiChick.

The photograph was taken last fall at the Mississippi River headwaters area when the colors were at their peak.

Ellie lost her first tooth a few weeks ago. Already that has been followed by the second one leaving her with a big space on the bottom.

Yep–that’s $10 she got for her first tooth. Her Daddy spoils her.

A few weeks ago the Arboretum offered a free day for residents of the county. It was the perfect opportunity for Ellie and I to take a photo walk.  We did this last year downtown with Anna and I was looking forward to repeating the adventure. Armed with our cameras and grateful for a beautiful day we arrived ready to work. Ellie remembered how to turn the pocket camera on and she was so excited to take photographs of everything (good thing for digital). After the first half an hour she did get more selective on her shots. Her favorite spots were the Koi ponds and also the rose garden.

I made a layout of Ellie at work (the frame is part of Heather T’s new Grunge Frame collection available at Mscraps ):

Photographs by Ellie:

Photographs by me:

You may recall from posts long ago an organization here in town called Funky Minds. Funky Minds is a non-profit committed to providing free quality programming for kids of all ages. The programs are supported by the gifts of time and resources from community members of the town and the surrounding area. It was started about the time we moved here 8 years ago and it continues to be a strong influence on our community and kids. A Funky Minds fixture is everyone’s Grandpa Bill. Bill loves to come and hang out with the kids, hold the babies so Moms get a break and always has treats in his pocket. Ellie started calling him her “‘nother Grandpa” since she decided that she wanted him for a grandpa even if he wasn’t really her grandpa. At the beginning of August Grandpa Bill celebrated his 80th birthday by providing homemade icecream. He want to share his special day with his extended Funky Minds family. Here is a slide show of the highlights:

Another celebration took place a week later to honor Katy, our local Americorps volunteer. Her official service period is over, but lucky for us she says she’ll still be around. I made this layout to thank Katy.

As I’m backing up my July photographs I noticed that I neglected to share the summer birthdays of three of my nephews. Two are brothers on my side of the family and they had a joint family party to celebrate Justin turning 12 in June and Reed turning 7 in July.

The highlight of this party was tubing down the Mississippi River. My brother and his wife bought this house last fall and it’s right on the river. A short drive upstream to the boat launch started our tubing adventure. Dan and Dana even supplied the many tubes we used. I went with the first bunch that included Dana, Justin, Reed, Anna, Austin, Brandon and myself. The kids quickly abandoned their tubes to swim with the current down to the house. The trip took about 20-25 minutes. Jeff and Ellie were in the next bunch and apparently she loved the swimming part too.

On Jeff’s side of the family, nephew Blake turned 15 in July. Can’t believe these kids are getting so old already! We had a wonderful time hanging out with family. Here’s the birthday boy and his family.

So Happy Birthday to Reed, Justin and Blake.

I got a little delayed in completing my reporting on the family vacation to the cabin. Back to Itasca State Park–besides hanging out in the headwaters of the Mississippi we hiked a few short trails to visit some big trees and climb a fire tower.

A big part of going to the cabin is just being able to spend time hanging out at the dock. Ellie was able to jump off the dock into the water for the first time and repeated this feat over and over and over. It was refreshing just to float on the tubes and get a little wet on a few of the warm days. Ellie also caught a few fish that were thrown back.

Our final day at the cabin also was the day of the “Taste of Dorset”, an annual feeding fest in the next town over. I’ve been to the Taste many times in the past 12 years that we’ve been going to the cabin. There is lots of good food at reasonable prices, free music, kid games and lots of people.

Hopefully you can read the journaling on this and find out just how Ellie won the minnow race.

Heather T.’s new kit “What Do We Do All Day?” inspired me to create an “All About Me” page using many of her awesome doodles.  These are the things I do…

HERE is Heather’s new kit available at Memory Scraps.