Today was Ellie's day - her 9th birthday.
Ellie's middle name is Joy. When she was a toddler, I used to say, "Ellie Joy, you're my joy".
Because she was.
And she is.
Ellie lives life large.
She is loud, animated and dramatic. Did I say loud?
In our family she is most likely to be the life of the party.
She brings life wherever she goes.
Ellie also has the most beautiful brown skin.
When she was born, her Uncle Terry laughed his head off and said she looked like a little Iranian baby.
Since then, she's been mistaken for Egyptian, Brazilian, Mexican, First Nations, and most recently, Italian.
I look at her sometimes and wonder how she could have come from me.
And her cheeks. They are soft and full.
And there is nothing that can break your heart more easily than seeing her big juicy tears running down those luscious brown wonders.
Ellie's heart is enormous.
Just as her capacity for fun is huge, so is her capacity to love.
These past several years have enlarged her heart to make room for others in the most generous ways.
Her favourite person in the world is her most special friend, Nikki, a little girl in her classroom for the second year who lives with Kabuki Syndrome.
Nikki loves Ellie as much as Ellie lover her.
There is no better sound than hearing Nikki bounding up to Ellie in the morning saying, "Ieeeeeeeeeee! Hi Ieeeeeeeeeee!"
Their friendship is real and to me it is sacred.
So to our middle child - the delicious filling in our family sandwich - we say Happy Birthday.
Ellie Joy, you're our joy.
Here's how her day went down.......
We started the day off with some morning skiing in the clouds up at Mount Seymour.
After a few hours of skiing, while everyone else is still happily going down the slopes, Ellie usually says she needs a break. She sits in the same spot at the clearing to the bunny hill and plays in the snow all by herself.
Luckily for her, soon everyone else's skiing turned into a full-out snowball fight. Mike thought he was very smart in suggesting that everyone leave their helmets and goggles on to prevent injuries. It worked, for the most part.
We all came home tired and soaking wet. Ellie and Sasha promptly changed into their housecoats and we sat down for French Toast. We told Ellie that she could open some gifts from far-away family after lunch.
She was thrilled to get this book from Auntie Corina. It's a graphic novel about Robots. Ellie LOVES robots. In fact her favourite song is called "Robots Need Love Too". Auntie Corina knows Ellie well.
Next up was a new outfit for her Maplelea Doll from Nunavut, Saila.
This special gift came from Nana and Papa.
NeeNee and Poppy Seed (as he's now called) sent some money to pick something out. Ellie fell in love with this soft stuffy last weekend at Deep Cove. She quickly spent her money to bring him home. His name is "Horny". That's right - Horny.
After spending the afternoon dancing at her friend's birthday party, Ellie came home to the meal she especially requested for her birthday - Pad Thai. There is no other food that even comes close to making Ellie's tummy and taste buds happy.
We saved our gifts for Ellie for the evening.
Notice Ellie's amazingly animated reactions to all of her gifts in these next few pictures. Only a small reason why we think she's pretty great.
Here's Ellie opening up a Maplelea package she never thought she'd get.
It's a traditional Inuk jacket hand-made in Nunavut called an Amauti.
These feather earrings from Hannah generated a big ooh and ahh too.
Sasha made her buddy Ellie a very special card. She used Ellie's favorite monster stickers and created a comic strip with them. Much to Sasha's delight, Ellie thought it was hilarious.
And this year, what's a Penner birthday without a handmade hoola hoop?
Ellie chose Lemon Meringue Pie for her birthday dessert.
"Pad Thai and Lemon Pie". See, it kind of rhymes.