Monday, August 31, 2009

Lola's In Town!

Today marks the close of my mother-in-law's nine day stay with us in the Pacific Northwest. She's Dee Dee to me, mom to Ron, and Lola (well, "Ya Ya" was as close as she could get) to Lia which is actually the word for grandma in the Tagalog language. She made this trip out here to rebond with Lia during the final days of summer as she has only seen our little one two times in her life! Being true to Dee Dee's form, she spoiled us rotten and cooked up a storm every day while she was here. My favorite thing about her visits is that she literally takes over in the kitchen and all I have to do is the dishes for the week. I absolutely love the break and love eating all of her food! Here is a quick run-down of some of the events during her time here.

I took Dee Dee and baby into Seattle to wander around the waterfront on one of the days that Ron had to work at school.

Since Dee Dee was unable to fly out for Lia's 1st birthday, she decided to throw an one-and-half-year-old birthday party instead (Lia turned 18-months on the day she flew in). Here are Lola and grand baby with the birthday cake. Lia was apparently more interested in the cake than Lola or posing for the picture.

Li Li using the "pincher approach" to eating cake. I'm going to have to try that one out.

We went on a walk one day around the pond (they have the nerve to call it a "lake") found in a park a few minutes from our house.

We joined Ron's Uncle Oscar (Dee Dee's brother), Aunt Patty, and Ron's cousin, Gina, and her kids for dinner one night at our favorite Filipino restaurant in Tacoma. Please notice Ron's model-worthy, gorgeous, small boned, exotic cousin on my left. He's got several of these on his mom's side of the's just a good thing I've got some self-esteem in my back pocket or I would have thrown myself off a cliff years ago! :-)

We hosted a Filipino-themed dinner party one night for 12 adults with food Dee Dee had cooked herself. It was absolutely divine! It seriously was as good, if not better, than what a restuarant could provide! Here is the master-cook taking care of some last minute details.

Some pics of the line-up that night. From left to right: calderetta (a meat dish), sinigang (a tangy soup), lumpia (Filipino egg rolls), and fried rice.

Some other delightsome members of the line-up: pancit (a noodle dish) and turon (banana egg rolls = yum!).

Some of our guests serving up.

Three generations of lumpia eaters.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

18-Month Recap

Well, it happened. My little girl turned one and a half years old today. Wow. That sounds so old. She truly has become such a little girl and has changed so much this month. Here is a quick run-down of some of the highlights of the past four weeks.

1. She figured out a new trick that she likes to do when showing off or expressing excitement. She will pull herself up onto the coffee table or onto a chair and then bring her legs up in the air while laying on her stomach. Often times, she will do several of these "pull ups" in a row. Fancy acrobatics, eh?
2. Thanks to her father (I burned out months ago), she learned how to sign "All done" in sign language and will do it after every meal or snack. The only problem is that she will often times sign it when she is only half way through her meal. We're still working on perfecting this one.
3. Lia is most definitely a girl. She has fallen in love with all things make-up. Whenever we are in Ron's and my bathroom, she insists that I put my little make-up bag on the floor for her. She will then spend several minutes going through it, one item at a time. But, here's the funny thing. Lia thinks that all make-up is meant for the hair instead of the face. So, she will take my lipstick, blush brush, eyelash curler, etc. and run it all over her hair. We're still working on this one, too, but I'm in no rush. I'd be happy if she didn't perfect this one for another fifteen years or so.
4. Lia is all about kissing. She will now blow you kisses and has started to kiss non-human things such as her reflection in a mirror (she did this for the first time totally unprompted by us), pictures of animals in books, and various stuffed animals. It's too, too cute.
5. A personal favorite: Lia has learned how to fold her arms for prayer and will even say "Amen" sometimes. The only glitch is that she often times will fold her arms mid-meal and start saying, "Amen," over and over again.
6. This one just cracks Ron and I up and she only could have learned it from her aged parents, but Lia has started to grunt like an old person whenever she sits down on the floor or has to bend over to pick something up or has to get up or walk over something big. Such a little drama queen.
7. After the glorious times of last month when Lia ate 99% of anything placed on her plate, it all came crashing down with the start of the heat wave the end of July. Round #2 of pickiness moved in a few weeks ago. Once again, Lia is refusing many different meats and vegetables. Thank heavens for bread, cheese, and fruit!
8. I know that I have been fortunate to have a child who has religiously taken two naps a day for so many months, so I can't complain, but Lia is in the process of outgrowing one of them. Looks like we will be heading into the land of the one-nap-a-day-after-lunch very soon.
9. Lia has really started to talk and with that has come her pseudo-conversation voice. Several times a day, she will look at you and just start blabbering in this Mandarin Chinese gibberish while nodding her head emphatically. The poor girl really is trying to have a conversation with us.
10. She taught herself how to walk downstairs alone using the railing or the wall for support!
11. Alright, are you ready for this one?! Words, words, and more words! Lia's vocabulary TOOK OFF this month! She started to pick up so many more words a week in comparison to the last few months. It's rather remarkable to us (yes, a proud parent moment). She has started to communicate some of her basic needs/wishes a lot easier and can identify several more pictures in her board books. So, here goes the mother list of words that she really has picked up this past month: bike (pronounced "bye"), book or bookie, bird, beep beep (for the bird noise), pooh pooh (she has even started telling us when she has it in her diaper), pee pee, bath (pronounced "uh bah"), ready (but she doesn't say the "d"), cookie (she says this one all the time), sucker (the word Ron taught her for pacifier and she says it like "suckuh"--his new favorite word), cracker (pronounced "crackuh"), towel, doggie (this has replaced "dog"), froggie, rain, duckie, moo, toes, house, turtle, star (pronounced "dar"), beach, water, all gone, berry, rockie (for rock, not Sylvester Stallone), keys, dollie, bunny (pronounced "munny"--my new favorite word), choo choo, fly (for butterfly), fish, apple, mouse, squeak (for the noise a mouse makes), and the "neigh" sound that a horse makes. So, there you go! No embellishing or exaggerating going on. I promise.

Can't wait to see what next month brings....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Paradise Found, Again.

I just returned today from another ten-day stint in my little slice of paradise: Priest Lake. Like last month, I headed up with my parents and Lia for the entire time. Ron was able to join us for the first five days (Hooray! He finally got a vacation this summer) and my brother, Brent, and his family came out from Montana for the second half. We truly had such an enjoyable time. We did all the things we love to do while up there: skiing, swimming, playing on the beach, eating, napping, game-playing, reading, and just enjoying each other's company. It was pretty hard to pull myself away from that place today. Now it's back to reality and piles of laundary...

Here are several pics capturing our comings and goings in no particular order.

Papa and baby in the boat after our morning ski.

Ron joined my dad for a second time in his annual swimming-across-the-lake. Pretty impressive for a 70-year old, wouldn't you say? My father normally likes to complete this activity on a calm, glassy morning, but ended up choosing a day when the lake behaved in an opposite manner. By the time they were done, Ron and my dad were battling white caps! They made it across regardless.
I had the good fortune of tagging along their side in the boat.

A close-up of the two.

Lia discovered the log railings in the cabin for the first time during this vacation. She enjoyed peaking down and sticking her leg through the gaps at various times. Such a silly girl.

The Hartland fam.

Ever since Lia discovered sand while waiting to boat over to Blake Island in June, she has been best friends with it. She absolutely LOVES playing in it and can entertain herself for hours. It makes going to the beach a piece of cake for me! Thank you, Lia.

In addition to loving the sand, Lia loves the water. She really is a gutsy one-year old! Last month, we discovered that she loves to just jump off the dock into any pair of waiting arms. We were totally surprised by this. Here is a quick blow-by-blow of how we do it.
Step #1: She does a little, happy dance in anticipation on the dock.

Step #2: She leaps into my arms.

Step #3: She comes crashing into the water.

Step #4: I throw her into the air for good measure.

Step #5: We finish it off with a kiss.

Like mother, like daughter. Two girls who can't get enough of the water!

Lia really re-bonded with her Montana cousins who she hadn't seen since March. She loved being with Spencer, Kelsey, and Mae Mae and having some playmates. My dear niece, Kelsey, really took over as the surrogate mom the five days we were there together. She was such a huge help. I love you, Kelsey!

Crazy Spence flying through the air.

Crazy brother flying through the air.

We are truly a family of water skiiers. My brothers, my mom, and I love, love, love to ski and Priest Lake is the perfect place. One can often time find endless miles of glass at various times throughout the day. In keeping with this tradition, my nephew, Spencer, decided this was the year to learn. Here he is with the ultimate instructor, my mom, who taught all four of us how to ski. How's that for grandmotherly love?

My mom and Spence with Spencer's family looking on in the boat.

Alright, those of you who have seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding will appreciate this picture. This is my brother, Brent, battling the yellow jackets on our deck with Windex and broom in hand. For some reason, the yellow jackets were out of control this month! They were everywhere and very aggressive. My mom, my sis-in-law, and I all got stung this past week. Since I can only remember being stung by a honey bee, I had NO idea how much worse a yellow jacket's sting and aftermath is in comparison. Yowza! My toe is still a swollen, pink, itchy sausage three days later. Ugh.

G'ma and Lia enjoying a glorious summer afternoon.

I heart family.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Cutecumbers....

I've got so many cutecumbers in my garden right now, they're coming out of my ears! They're up for grabs if anyone is interested (Lia is not included in that offer although she is the cutest one of them all).

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Ever since Ron became the EQP in our ward a year and a half ago, he has had the goal of helping to improve the unity amongst the members of the quorum. As a result, we have planned and hosted a few social activities over the past many months with the help of the other presidency members and their wives. Tonight, we threw a BBQ social on our burnt, yellow grass in our backyard for the EQ and their family members (I absolutely refuse to cough up hundreds of dollars to water our lawn during a heat wave....sorry!). We were so pleased to see so many people turn out for the event. It really was a success and a lot of fun.

Now, if someone would only come and do my dishes...

The line-up before digging in!

Serving up!

An overview shot of our backyard, our yellow grass, and the feeding frenzy.

The grill-meisters, Ron and Lance. Thanks to these two guys and their grills, we stayed happy and fed throughout the evening.

Poor, little Lia. She just wasn't sure what to make of all of these "intruders" in her backyard. She basically walked around in a kind of daze the entire evening due to a combination of fascination and fear of all that was going on. The above picture perfectly captures what she looked like all evening long.

Pure mayhem and chaos on our swing set! Boy, was I ever happy that it chose the swing set as its victim and not my house!

Evidence that I was really there. :-) The Hartland Family.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Famping at Ocean City

Although Ron and I both love camping, we have not gone the past two summers due to moving one summer and having a newborn the next. As a result, I made it a priority to schedule in a camping trip this summer since Lia has reached such an easy and fun stage! I had really wanted to camp on the ocean, so I found a state park online in Ocean City that looked decent and made a reservation several weeks ago. So, it was complete luck and coincidence that this trip fell in the middle of one of the worst heat waves I can ever recall in WA as the coast is always 20-30 degrees cooler. What a relief it was to see 65 degrees on a sign as we pulled into town. With the exception of some usual drama that always happens when camping in a large campground (drunken brawl in the middle of the night, loud neighbors dropping the F-bomb every other word, and idiots across the way burning their broken stereo in the fire), we truly enjoyed our 2-night/3-day stay in Ocean City and just loved being together again as Ron has been so unavailable this summer. He was able to join us this weekend due to a lull in his studies and coined a new word in the process: Famping. Short for family camping! Can't wait to go famping again!

Ron had the brilliant, last-minute idea to bring our beach cruisers along. I'm so glad we did as we had so much fun going on several bike rides and cruising all over the place. Lia couldn't get enough and kept on saying, "Bie," (short for "bike") every other minute throughout our time there.

The Master-Dutch-Oven-Chef and his assistant working on our dinner the first night there. There is one thing that Ron and I do well while camping and that is eating! We take pride in making delicious and elaborate meals while "roughing" it. We have learned that we prefer to do all of our cooking in dutch ovens (I gave one oven to Ron for our 1st Anniversary and another for our 2nd Anniversary) and love finding recipes online to try out!

Dinner: Chicken and Potato Delight. The finished dish in the dutch oven on the left (with peas, green beans, and broccoli from our garden) and plated (with grated cheese) on the right--complete with fresh zucchini bread I baked that morning with zucchini from our garden.

Dessert: Scrumptious peach cobbler. Warm and ready to go in the oven on the left and the plated dessert complete with cool whip on top (yes, I packed that in the cooler. Garnishes are serious business for me). It tasted so divine.

We made a few trips to the beach which was about a 5-minute bike ride/walk from our campsite. Here Lia and I are walking down the path through the dunes to get to the ocean.

Ron'a turn! Lia happily sitting on her "papa perch" on the way to the beach.

Lia and her new found summer past time. She just can't get enough of that sand!

The fam bundled for winter in the middle of the summer! Being a So. California native, Ron never believed me when I told him that WA ocean beaches are not swimming beaches...even in the middle of the summer! I think he finally gets it now.

One of the many "horse trains" we saw on the beach.

Daddy daughter play-time. I just love this picture.

I wasn't sure how she would do, but Lia actually did a fabulous job taking her naps and sleeping through the night in her pack-and-play in our tent. I can't say enough about how grateful I am for this good, little sleeper! Here is my cute bug after waking up from her afternoon nap.

We left our campground one time during our weekend to venture into Ocean Shores for a seafood lunch on Saturday. At the restaurant, Lia discovered the art of biting her spoon while swinging her head back and forth and making funny noises. She has never done this before. We found it quite entertaining!