Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Recap

It's hard to believe that Christmas 2010 has already come and gone. We had a simple, yet very enjoyable, holiday with my family this year. We went up to Issy to celebrate Christmas Eve with my parents and my local brothers and their families. We dined on my mother's traditional turkey dinner with all of the fixings before moving into the living room for the program portion of the evening. I convinced my wonderful hubby to spend the night at my parents' house (yet again) so that we could spend Christmas morning with them to open gifts and eat breakfast. I'm always a little bit sad to see Christmas go, but am looking forward to 2011 and what she brings! Here's a quick recap of the time spent at my parents' house.

My father graciously agreed to man seven grandkiddies in the kitchen so that the rest of the adults could enjoy a peaceful dinner in the dining room. WHAT A GUY!

One of the items on the program's agenda was reenacting the nativity story while Eric read Luke 2. Natalee produced some of the cutest nativity costumes for the kids and Lia was lucky enough to be the angel. She dawned the princess-like angel dress and wings and immediately began requesting to wear her "glass slippers." So dang cute!

The gang all lined up before "show time."

Here are Lia and her cousins admiring baby Jesus after their performance was over. Please notice Riley's hair spilling out through the crown's prongs--just like what every wiseman's hair looked like 2000 years ago.

The final portion of the evening was the lighting of the candles on the Christmas tree and the singing of "Silent Night"--this is a German tradition that my father did with his family growing up that he passed on to us. I always loved doing this as it brings such a special Christmas spirit to the evening.

Lia's older cousin, Brynn, helping her snuff out one of the candles at the end of the evening.

Lia opening up one of her gifts on Christmas morning with the help of Grandma (while wearing her new Ariel dress...compliments of her wonderful North Carolina cousins).

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas out there!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Man vs. Nature

Man Won.
Oh, those poor fruit trees had no idea what they had comin'.
This is how Ron has been spending his Christmas break.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Annual Friend

The night before our wedding, we hosted an informal dinner at our Lake Samm cabin for family and friends who had come from out of town to attend our nuptials. Joy, one of Ron's cousins, brought us a beautiful, burgundy colored orchid plant as a pre-wedding gift. Since we were living in California at the time, I left the plant behind with my mother who took care of it until I moved back to my homeland two years later. Since the summer of 2007, this orchid plant has been my constant companion in the kitchen. And about every 13 months, a shoot springs forth bearing a cluster of tender, green buds. Within a matter of weeks, the most stunning orchids burst open and grace my kitchen with their presence for the next few months. Although this process had begun this year before I left for North Carolina, you will see what I found patiently awaiting my return last week. Welcome back, my annual friend. It's good to have you around again.

Santa's Helper...

This past weekend, Christmas finally arrived in the Hartland. We set out on Saturday to select our tree and then spent most of Sunday evening decorating it with all of the trimmings. This was the second year in a row that Lia was truly able to soak it all up and get in on the fun. Watching her enjoy the magic of Christmas makes it that much more magical for me. Here is my girl rolling around in some spare strings of musical Christmas lights that have never made it off our living room floor. It's just too much fun to turn them on and dance around!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Southern Thanksgiving

We just returned late last night after a glorious run in North Carolina where we celebrated Thanksgiving with all of Ron's immediate family. Considering the fact that it was snowing the morning we flew out, it felt fabulous to arrive in Jacksonville on Thanksgiving evening to 70 degree plus weather! We had a fun few days spending time with family, eating great food, shopping around town, taking a trip to the beach, and even driving down "memory lane" with Ron. It was great to stay at Lola's new second home and watch Lia bond yet again with her two adorable cousins, Regan and Addison. We're fortunate to be able to get together with Ron's family for the occasional holiday considering how far we live from the rest of them! Here's some random pics of our week there...

Ron and his bros in front of Lola's new home.

Lia, Addison, and Regan getting crazy in their play tent.

Regan in the tent tunnel.

The three girls just hangin' out on the floor.

The three girls climbing on their favorite jungle gym.

The gang sliding down a slide at the local park one evening.

Papa and Uncle Robbie with the girls.

Our group Christmas gift to Lola this year was a BBQ for her new house. The three boys picked it out and purchased it together and then spend an evening putting it together. Here they are hard at work in the garage!

Just the three of us were able to slip away one day to spend a glorious afternoon out on the Atlantic coast. We went to a quaint, beach town named Emerald Ilse and camped out on the shore for a few hours so that Lia could do what she does best: play in the sand and the surf. Here she is skipping for joy!

Mama and baby and the Atlantic.

Playing in one of the many holes papa dug.

The Hartland fam.

Digging another hole with papa.

Dancing in the sand with mama!

More frolicking.

Watering Lola's shell cake with her new Dora watering can.

Some PJ time with the cousins.

The girls modeling their new Christmas dresses from Lola after church.

The girls coloring at their little table at Lola's.

Lia and Addison cruisin' for a bruisin'.

Thanks for the Southern Thanksgiving everyone! Can't wait to see you all again!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's a Beautiful Thing...

When this is the scene outside
and we are warm and cozy on the inside.
Welcome winter!

Monday, November 22, 2010

2nd Year Quarterly Report, Part III

Today our little Lia is 3/4 through her second year. My, how time has flown. I can't believe that she will be turning the big three in three months! She just seems to be cruising through these toddler years. I might sound like a bragging mom, but I must confess that I refer to Lia on a regular basis as "perfection in a toddler." She is just one of the most pleasant, obedient, patient, happy, intelligent, and easy-to-reason-with toddlers I have ever encountered. I truly feel that it is such a privilege to raise this little girl. She is such a blessing in my life and I am so fortunate to have her as my daughter.
For starters, I have included a few photos that papa took yesterday of Lia exploring the first snow of the season that fell overnight. He threw her snow gear on over her jammies and they headed out into the yard for a few minutes to see what this "white stuff" was all about.

Lou on the deck.

Lou in the back of the "sister wife"

And without further ado, here is a quick list of what Lia has been up to these past three months...
1. Lia has discovered the Disney princesses and Tinkerbell. As you can imagine, it was love at first sight. Although I love the fact that she is becoming familiar with this classic tales, I do not love the underlying message she is being taught that as long as you are skinny, pretty, and willing to dance with strange men in the forest, your life will be perfect. What a bunch of bologna.
2. This is one of my favorites from this past quarter...Lia has started patting our backs when she hugs us. She sometimes evens asks to hug us just so that she can do this.
3. Lia has begun washing my hands and arms while I am washing her in the bathtub. Such a thoughtful girl.
4. Lia has learned our names in the past three months and has no reservation using them when her requests are not being granted quick enough. This one still brings a smile to my face every time I hear it.
5. This one is definitely my least favorite of the past three months. Lia has discovered a high-pitched scream that she will use over and over again if she is not happy with us or something else in her life.
6. Lia continues to be very careful with most things she handles. She has many little toys that are for children older than her that she carefully plays with. I also will let her play with my glass pumpkins (from my Halloween decorations) without reservation if I am in the mood. How many two year olds can be trusted with stuff like that?!
7. Sometimes Lia will confuse 'mama' with 'papa' or vice versa. This happens all the time. However, the funniest one occurred one night when she accidentally combined the two and called me "mapa" while we were eating dinner.
8. Lia has started to grasp the concept of time and frequently uses words like "yesterday" or "tomorrow" in her sentences. She still doesn't understand the timeline behind these words and can be found saying something like "We bought the toy yesterday at the store" when we actually just bought it ten minutes earlier.
9. Unfortunately in the past few months, Lia has grown a bit of a shy bone. She can be the total life of the party if she feels comfortable, but will completely clam up and hide behind us if a stranger pays any attention to her. Hopefully this is a just a passing phase.
10. It's official--the high chair is gone! While wearing panties during our unsuccessful second round of potty training this fall, Lia accidentally peed in her high chair while eating lunch one day. Since I didn't have time to scrub it down right away, the high chair sat outside for two days. It was during this time that Lia moved right into one of our "big chairs" at the table with us and we have never looked back. She's actually doing a really good job and I am loving the extra space in my kitchen.
11. She now understands the difference between boys and girls and loves pointing out peoples' and animals' genders all the time. I'm just waiting for an embarrassing mix-up to occur one day.
12. Lia is all about manners these days and readily uses words like please, sorry, bless you, and thank you all the time. I absolutely love it! The other day, we were in a store and Lia accidentally bumped into another women and said "sorry" right away. The lady looked so shocked! Around that same time, we were in another store and I sneezed. Lia immediately said, "Bless you," and a woman in another aisle (who could only hear us) started laughing right away. That's right, my girl's polite!
13. Lia continues to love to dance to any music around; however, her new favorite is the song played at the beginning of the television show, "The Office." She will totally rock out whenever she hears that song (and maybe her mom can be found from time to time joining her). :-)
14. She is starting to become more and more independent. Lia has now started walking upstairs unannounced, shutting her door, and playing in her bedroom alone. The only problem to this perfect plan is that she is yet to figure out how to turn a doorknob and open a door. So after much banging and knocking, Ron and I always have to rescue her.
15. Lia continues to be a talking machine. Although she speaks in lengthy sentences all of the time, there are some words that she says incorrectly that I think are the cutest thing! Examples? Lia likes to say that we "pinked her toes" after we paint them pink. She also likes to play the "gingerman bread" game on the computer or enjoys "pedaling" other peoples' cats. Lia also likes to say that she "binked" us after poking us with her index finger while saying "bink." She has also discovered the phrase, "Um, I don't know," and freely uses that whenever appropriate. What a fun girl.

Well, that's it for another three months! Until my baby girl turns three....(wah!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Disney on Ice

Every once in awhile I get a wild hair and do something spontaneous. This was the case this past week when I hopped online and bought tickets to see "Disney on Ice" for a show two days later after weeks and weeks of seeing the advertisements on T.V. In the past few months, Lia has discovered the Disney princesses and fallen in love. In addition, she has been fascinated with figure skating since first seeing it on our television during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. So, how could we go wrong by combining the two??? We had a grand time yesterday watching Lia watch the show. It was just one of those precious moments...especially during the princess performances when she was absolutely mesmerized by those famous characters flitting around on the ice. She kept on asking me "What else?" (a.k.a. "Who else?") after each princess/prince couple would first skate out onto the rink. What a grand way to spend the afternoon.

The Hartland fam before heading into the arena...

Lia ogling at one of the many over-stuffed kiosks full of over-priced Disney paraphernalia. This was the closest she got to any of this stuff as NONE of it went home with us!

Some of Lia's friends on ice....Snow White sliding along.

Belle and her beau.

Ariel in the air.

And finally Lia's current fav: Tink waving goodbye in the finale!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Falloween Fairy

When I was first pulled out our Halloween decorations over a month ago, Lia became quite fascinated with the entire holiday and has been talking about "Falloween" ever since. She has been excited for weeks to dawn her fairy costume and go trick-or-treating to cash in on that free candy. Now that all of her loot is safely home, we are regulating it with a one-candy-a-day rule while Ron and I help ourselves to it whenever her back is turned. We'll see how long it lasts....

Lia and I set out Friday afternoon before our church Halloween party to snap a few pics. I must say that she looked quite adorable in her costume. Here she is with our family of pumpkins on the front porch.

Lia admiring her personal pumpkin.

A happy fairy on our driveway.

The fairy fleeing from the camera.

We hit our ward party Friday night for some chili dinner and then an abundance of Halloween carnival games. Lia was a little freaked out at first, but eventually warmed up to the orange and black stimulation overload. First stop was the cupcake walk.

Next stop: The fishing wall.

Then onto the ring toss.

And finally the costume parade!

We finished up the evening with some trick-or-treating throughout the church.

On Halloween evening, we left our post for a few minutes to take Lia on a quick tour around our cul-de-sac.

Papa and Lia on their way from one house to another.

The cutest backsides I've ever seen...

Happy Falloween everyone!