Sunday, June 30, 2013

Our Last Hurrah!


All great blessings require faith. We signed up for a 16 year-old foreign exchange student and crossed our fingers. That one decision allowed a beautiful, smart, caring, charismatic, confident, driven, joy-to-be-around young woman for the past 10 months.  When we decided to take an exchange student we trusted we had some fears and concerns. Faith and goodness conquered all of our doubts and Paula truly became part of our family.  She acted like the big sister the boys have never had. Dan and I loved having her. She made our lives better and her enthusiasm for life brightened the lives of many in Las Vegas. She was a leader among her peers and  the daughter we never had (yet).

For her 17th birthday we did it American style with a cake and candles.  She made me promise no parties, but we couldn't deny our good friends Josh and Ana Hall and their kids the fun of coming to celebrate with us because they loved Paula too! And Ana offered to make dinner if I made the cake, who can say no to that right.  Ana made BBQ chicken and the best corn on the cob with mayo and hot sauce, seriously the yummiest! I made Paula a chocolate cake with delicious butter cream frosting for our special Princess Pau Pau.  After we sang and she blew out the candles Ana asked Paula how her cake smelled. Paula, with her trusting innocence, leaned in to smell her cake (who smells a cake, really?) and WHAMMO! Ana smashed it in her face!!  It was so funny. Paula was shocked at first but then with her usual smile and charming laugh she led us all in a good hearty laugh.  We got her a locket for a present that we put pictures of all of us in so she would remember her American family.  It was a good night and one to remember!
Ana and Paula

Hank and I are ready to Par-tay

Princess Pau Pau

Blowing out the candles

How does your cake smell?

The locket


For Paula's last full weekend with us we were in Salt Lake for National Guard Family Day at Camp Williams and drum roll please.......TAYLOR SWIFT! We started our day off at Camp Williams with the awesome decorations, ate some yummy BBQ, and got to swim. and all that was done before 2 in the afternoon. The day was just beginning.

When Family Day ended we headed to one of our favorite places, IKEA.  Paula felt right at home with all the products and she was even impressed that all the books on the book shelves were in Swedish.  
After gorging ourselves on the Swedish life style we, meaning Paula and I, headed downtown for some last minute shopping. Dan had one more gift to give Paula for her birthday.  She needed to pick out a CTR ring to go with her locket.  She found her favorite one and we went to get Kneaders for dinner one last time.  We finished our dinner, jumped on TRAX and we arrived at our ultimate destination THE TAYLOR SWIFT concert!!  We took some pictures and headed in to get in our seats for the opening acts.While we were waiting we saw some fun light weight glow stick souvenirs.

It was so AWESOME to be there with Paula and feel of her excitement. She helped me feel young again.  If Paula's life goals don't happen, perhaps she can be a backup singer for Taylor Swift. She knew every word and sang along wonderfully.  I'm gonna miss our girls night outs.... 

Paula loved the decorations!

The boys loved the decorations

Logan was loving the levers and knobs

We made it!!

Awe, Taylor...

Diet Coke anyone?

In line to get inside

Showing off our merchandise

When does she come on again?

Taylor is in the house!

Doesn't she look like she just had the time of her  life!

This little man is supporting his dads favorite team of all time!  


So a couple of years ago I got me a nice camera for Christmas, right before Hank was born I took a class on how to use my camera, for Christmas this year I got photoshop, and for my birthday I got photoshop for dummies.  Needless to say I am still learning how to use photoshop and what I have learned has been fun to use.

Anyway I wanted to get my boys pictures done for their birthdays.  Logan is 3 1/2 yr(just a little late), Drake for 5 yr, and Hank 1 yr plus Paula was leaving so we needed pictures of her and the boys.  The boys as usual were super cooperative but once they got to blow raspberries on Paula's cheek they were happy campers!  For my photo shoot I laid out my fake floor, my fake base board, and had a white wall.  I learned to change the color of the back ground and I love how the pictures turned out!  Now if only I had a nice picture printer....

We love Paula!

I can't believe he's 5 yrs old

My baby is growing up too fast, 1 yr old

The best cheeser there ever was, 3 yrs old


The last Friday night Paula was here we took her to the Las Vegas strip. Drake and Logan were with Grandpa and Grandma Neville at Mary Poppins so it was Dan, Hank, Paula and myself.  Before she left Paula wanted to see the M&M factory and for the Coke drinker the Coca-Cola factory.  She really wanted to see Elvis but unfortunately we didn't run into him.  It was a nice night for us to get away and have one more memory for us to keep.

What Coke?

We tasted the flavors of the world, there was only one that was the most disgusting thing I had ever tasted, too bad I can't remember which one it was.

Hard Candy shell



Sunday June 9th dawned a bright sunny day, but not inside the Neville house.  Paula was leaving us.  We got up early to make sure we got her to the airport in time, but don't think Dan and I weren't trying to figure out how to keep her here the whole way.  We got her bags checked and walked her to the security line.  Drake and Logan were the first to give hugs, and while I was getting Hank unbuckled Logan tried to climb on Paula's carry on bag and fell over and cracked his head on the floor.  I hurried over to pick him and left Hank only half buckled and when he tried to see what was going on he fell out on his head.  Two boys screaming, the whole airport looking at us, and sad hearts saying goodbye to our 'daughter'. We gave our hugs, said our goodbyes and ran away so Paula wouldn't see our tears. The tears came and they just confirmed how absolutely blessed we were to have Paula with us for the last school year.

We still miss her. And while the boys always ran from Paula when she would give them hugs, they finally admitted that they liked when Paula kissed them and they miss her too. We miss listening to the boys yell PAUL-LA when she was being the big sister. And we miss watching them  blow her kisses.  We wish her the very best in life and we are so grateful for modern technology that will help us keep in touch!

Checking in the bags

I think we were sadder

Getting her to security

Giving her the final hugs

Bye Paula

I'm gonna miss her

So sad

Paula wanted to see Hank walk before she left.  She would come home from school and practice walking with him until he got too tired.  He did get to the point of walking half way across the room before she was gone.  She missed the full on walking by about a week.  This is his one man and Elmo dance party.