Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quarterly Report, Part #1

I know that I shut down production on Lia's monthly reports when she turned two years old, but recently decided that I wanted to start them up again on a limited basis (i.e. quarterly) as she is just doing so many things that I want to remember years from now. This is basically for my posterity and me, so please feel free to skip over it if you are not into the laborious details...

So, what has Lia been up to these past three months?

1. Lia can recite all of her ABCs like a pro, count to twenty (but, likes to skip 16), and is becoming a maniac at her letter identification (especially while playing the letter game on her Barbie laptop).

2. She is a talking machine! She talks in sentences all the time! Just this week, I picked her up from the sitters after work to learn that she had said an 11-word sentence that day. Wozah!

3. She still loves the following activities: dancing, coloring, reading, singing, going on bike rides, and playing outdoors.

4. She also still loves her stuffed bunny that we affectionately refer to as "nunny." However, a few other items in her crib have almost become as important: her stuffed doggie and soft blanket. I have started referring to them as the "holy trinity." Is that blasphemous?

5. Lia knows the words to many song, nursery rhymes, and lullabies and is a rock star when it comes to singing along with me. I especially love it when she holds the last word of a song with me for several seconds while making this very serious, opera-like face.

6. Lia has invented these two words (nugga nugga and dicka dicka) that she likes to say over and over again when she is happy. It's like she has reverted to baby talk in some ways.

7. Lia is her mother's daughter when it comes to summer. She loves this season and still remembers it from almost a year ago. As a result, she has started requesting on a regular basis to wear her swimsuit with shorts on top with her little swim shoes around the house. She also loves to carry her beach bucket and shovel everywhere.

8. She has started to become helpful with certain things that I ask her to do or that she thinks up on her own. She will voluntarily carry an item that she finds on the floor to the trash or is eager to always carry something downstairs when I ask her to.

9. Lia is really a little, social bug....she always wants to be around her mama or papa when we are home and loves to be around other children whenever we go to family gatherings or social events.

10. This one is just the cutest thing: she has started to stand on the backs of my legs while I'm kneeling against my bed and saying my morning prayers. She will just step up and hunker down for the long-haul while I do my thing. Silly girl.

11. She has really gotten into girly things, especially ones that she can use and apply herself. She loves going through my make-up and putting it on her face, combing her hair with a brush, and putting on her play jewelry.

12. She measured in at the 98th percentile for height at her 2-year check-up this year and, boy, does it show. She is quite tall compared to others her age! She is also starting to look "too big" for some pieces of furniture that have been a part of her life for quite some time like her crib and the changing table.

13. Like her parents, Lia absolutely LOVES her bedtime and being in her bed. Every time I put her down for nap time or bedtime, she will snuggle up to her pillow and stuffed animals and make the most content sounding "mmmmmm" noise. She's definitely found her happy place.

14. This is not one of my favorites, but whenever Lia doesn't want to eat a certain item of food, she will cover her EYES with her hands, thus blocking the entrance of her mouth with her arms. Bizarre approach, but it works! Dang it!

15. Whenever I now have an owie (usually from her doing a body slam on me or bonking my head), she will offer to kiss it and make it better. I think her little kisses are so cute that it usually works!

16. She's not anti-establishment, but she sure is anti-sock! She takes those little suckers off almost every day and never wants to put them back on.

17. Due to the fact that I go home to my parents' house and work four days a month in their town (and spend the nights in between), Lia has gotten to know her grandparents very well over the past two years. As a result, she is thick as thieves with these two. She loves, loves, loves her grandma and grandpa and usually doesn't even notice me when I am around. It sure does warm the ol' 'heart to see her with them....

18. On her own, Lia has developed an interest in sharing her food with mama. Whenever we are driving somewhere in the car while she is munching on a snack, she will offer that said snack from her back seat. Although I don't need the extra calories, I can usually be found taking it from her little hand and eating it!

19. Overall, Lia continues to be one of the most well behaved, happy, patient, intelligent, and enjoyable two year olds I have ever encountered. She is truly such a joy and such an easy toddler to parent. I am so grateful that she is my little girl and that Heavenly Father chose to send her to Ron and me. We are so blessed to have her as our daugther. We love you, Lia!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Reason #357

....why I love my daughter.

Today, while eating her lunch, Lia announced, "All finished."
I replied, "Do you want some cottage cheese?"
She looked at me with determination, "No."
I then asked one more time, "No cottage cheese?"
She then got very serious and said sternly, "No. Time to go to bed."

Scheduled toddlers ARE a beautiful thing.

A Wedding Weekend on Whidbey...

Well, Sunday night wrapped up a whirlwind, 3-day weekend out on Whidbey Island to celebrate the wedding of my dear friend, Kristina, to her beloved Nicholas. It was a jam packed three days, but good times were had by all! Although it has been raining ever since the day after the wedding, the sun came out in full splendor for the actual affair, driving the temperature up into the 70s for the first time in over 200 days in Western Washington. Talk about impeccable timing! Although the newly weds are off honeymooning in Peru as I type, here is a quick and dirty blow-by-blow of their wedding weekend.

After dropping off Lia at the sitters, I cruised up north to the Mukilteo ferry terminal in record time. I joined Kristina out on the island at her parents' house a little before 10 am. The bride and I and several others in town for the weekend headed out to her favorite local beach, Double Bluff, for a stroll along the water before lunch. Here are the two of us before climbing down the rocks and onto the sand.

Part of the group walking and talking.

Since the sun was out in its full glory, the surface of the water was sparkling like diamonds! I tried to capture it with this picture. I was really missing my little sidekick here as it felt almost criminal to be here without my little Lia and her faithful beach companions, Mr. Bucket and Shovel.

After the beach, we headed back to Kristina's parents home for some quick lunch before heading off to the wedding site for some work time. Here is the mother of the bride, calm and cool as a cucumber, from atop her perch as we drove off!

Once at Fireseed Gardens, the bridesmaids, bride, and brothers of the bride quickly got to work on the finishing touches of the reception hall. Here is the dairy maid of honor (the maid of honor owns a dairy we had fun with that title all weekend long...much to her chagrin), Anna, and brother Bjorn stringing up the lights.

Jess and I had the pleasure of arranging all of the name tags for the tables in alphabetical order on the entry table. Lucky us. :-)

After finishing the reception hall, we ventured out into the gardens for the actual rehearsal with the rest of the bridal party and Pastor Tom.

After the rehearsal, back to Kristina's parents' home we went for a delicious and catered rehearsal dinner. It was an enjoyable evening. Here are the bride and groom serving up before the rest of us!

Stini and her bridesmaids after dinner.

We ventured out into the backyard for various toasts and tales of the honored couple. Here they are taking it all in. What to do with all that attention?

We met back at Fireseed Gardens on the big day two hours early for a long line-up of poses and pictures. Here is the bridal party warming up for several shots to come. What a good looking group, if I may say so myself. ;-)

The bride and her bros. I had to include this shot as I had the exact same pose taken with my three bros on my wedding day!

Stini and her women in black.

Ron arrived on the island in time to join up with my parents and me at Fireseed. Here we are before the ceremony begins.

Kristina and the F.O.B. walking down the "meadow aisle" as the ceremony begins...

Exchanging vows. What a beautiful setting!

It's a done deal! My groomsmen, Matt, and I following the couple back down the aisle at the end of the ceremony.

We ventured into the barn after the ceremony for a scrumptious salmon and chicken dinner. Here are Ron and I doing what we do best.

The happy couple politely feeding each other cake.

The happy couple performing their practiced and polished first dance for the crowd. We then danced the night away til my feet could take it no more. Ron and I retired a little after 9 pm. Is our age showing or what?!

We wrapped up the weekend by getting together on Sunday back at the bride's parents' home to snack on left overs and watch the bride and groom open up their gifts. Here they are diving into their loot!

What a fun and busy weekend! Two days later, I'm still recovering...

Kristina and Nick, I wish you all the best!

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Day and Mother's Day

This past weekend, I celebrated both my birthday and Mother's Day all in one. If only every weekend was like this! I actually was up working in Issy on Thursday and Friday which always involves staying with my parents. As a result, my always wonderful and ever-serving mother made me a fabulous birthday dinner of my choice on Thursday night for just the four of us (mi padres, Lia, and myself). Twenty years later, I am still requesting the same meal of leg of lamb, new potatoes, asparagus, and her homemade strawberry shortcake. They also presented me with my present: a new digital camera! 3.5 years later, I will no longer have to use a camera covered in duct tape due to an "accident" in Lisbon, Portugal. Thanks, mom and dad! You truly are some of my favorite people on this planet!
I then returned home Friday evening, to find that the "birthday elf" had visited in my absence. I was actually surprised as I honestly thought that this holiday elf was on sabbatical until June...but, he managed to find some time to attend to some nonprofessional responsibilities. Lucky me!

This was the note I found stuck on our guest bedroom door. Silly elf.

I woke up on my actual birthday morning to find this spread that the birthday elves (aka: Lia and Ron) had prepared for me in the dining room. A piping hot cinnamon roll, my absolute favorite peanut butter m&m's sprinkled around like confetti, lit candles, a bouquet of flowers, and my gift: a NEW set of luggage! My old set is over ten years old and has most definitely seen its better days. The large suitcase is also covered in duct tape (notice a pattern?) and the carry-on suitcase has a handle that only goes down when it's in the mood (which is a slight problem when it has to fit into an overhead bin a minute later). So, I am now ready to hit my next big adventure with a new camera and luggage in hand! Can anyone say Eastern Caribbean next month??? I SURE CAN!

Lia was already hard at work devouring her cinnamon roll before I walked into the dining room. Just like her mother, eating is definitely the priority over manners.

Just like ANY OTHER Saturday this school year, Ron had to sequester himself in the office to work on UW homework all afternoon after attending his morning class. We are getting sooooooooo tired of this! Anyways, as a result, Lia and I ventured out on a bike ride after her nap. The weather was in the upper 60s and absolutely perfect for hitting up our new, favorite park that we discovered a few weeks ago. Here is my little monkey climbing up the ladder.

Weeeeeh! Down she goes!

For my birthday evening, the fat lady sang and we actually got a babysitter. Ron and I headed out to this great, old seafood restaurant called "Harbor Lights" right on the Puget Sound in Tacoma. Ron and Lia got to go here for dinner last August when Lola was visiting (I had to miss it due to a church over-nighter with the Young Womens). As as result, I have been itching to try out this place ever since I heard about the to-die-for, four-pound buckets of butter clams they serve. We enjoyed the halibut and salmon and the most decadent, creamy crab, shrimp, and artichoke dip with fresh, sour dough rolls. The most entertaining part of the evening was the fact that half of the south sound area's high schools seemed to be holding their prom that night. As a result, there were teenagers everywhere on Ruston Avenue where we ate (F.Y.I...this is NOT a good thing if your name is Lisa and Ron. When one works with this species as much as we do, being in close proximity to them in your free time is as pleasurable as lemon juice in a paper cut).
Here we are after our dinner dodging teeangers and enjoying the sunset.

Okay, this is a random, don't laugh. Ever since that so-not-funny, teen dramedy, Ten Things I Hate About You, came out over ten years ago, I have always wondered where that amazing Hogwarts like school with the incredible views of the sound was filmed (the movie takes place in Seattle in case you're wondering). A few weeks ago, I was at a church activity for the youth in my ward and was talking to some of the other leaders. Somehow the location of this high school came up in our conversation and I learned that it was filmed at Stadium High School in Tacoma. Since this high school is only a few minutes away from where we ate dinner, I dragged Ron up the hill to check it out. And, wouldn't you know, only five or so minutes after we got there, two rocking, party limos showed up with over 50 teens coming to take pictures before heading off to their prom. Ahhhh! Ron and I literally took off running......just as we heard one of them ask if we could take their massive, group picture. NO thanks, it's MY birthday! Anyways, besides having to dodge a horde of hormonally-charged and probably already drunk teenagers, we had a pleasant time wandering around this unbelievable castle of a high school, gawking at the architecture and views of the sound. It was amazing! Pictured above is the main courtyard and entrance to the school.

Sunday was, of course, Mother's Day and the ladies on my side of the family were treated right. We all met at Tip's house in Port Orchard for a meal and gifts. Since Chris had just been out boating the day before with a neighbor, we were treated to FRESH shrimp and oysters that he had just caught! In addition, we also were served barbecued chicken, fresh fruit, a couscous salad, rolls, and peach pie and red velvet cake (both compliments of the Costco bakery) for dessert. It was divine. Here are the four men working ALONE in the kitchen. Miracles do happen.

My two brothers doing what men do best on Mother's Day.

We were blessed with more gorgeous, spring weather on Mother's Day. Here is the view from my rich brother's deck. It pays to be a dentist, doesn't it? ;-)

Lia is blessed with two older cousins who take care of her like little mothers whenever we get together. Brynn entertained Lia most of the evening. One of the activities was OF COURSE coloring as Brynn is an aspiring artist. Lia loved this and would appear upstairs every few minutes with a new drawing. Here are the two girls hard at work in Brynn's room.

Brynny, Lia, and Vivi playing in the backyard while dinner was still being prepared. Lia absolutely loved sliding down in "train formation" with her older cousins!
Thanks, everyone, for a fabulous weekend!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Perfection Payment

This little piece of perfection is what one receives if he or she shows up unannounced in our yard with a lawnmower to attend to our out-of-control grass on a rainy day. Or, at least, that is what my next door neighbor, Nolan, got for his charitable act of service. Come to think of it, maybe charity really wasn't on his mind...could he possibly have been so sick of our pathetic lawn touching his pristine grass that he couldn't take it anymore?! Hmmm. Good question.

Regardless, are there any other takers out there?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

From Condemned to Cadillac...

Well, last week was an interesting one in the Hartland for a variety of reasons, but I'll only bore you with one of them. Last Monday, I awoke and went downstairs only to be greeted by the lovely smell of gas in my house. After a temporary moment of confusion due to the fact that all of my in-house appliances are electric, I realized that the darn fireplace we never use is gas! (Please don't judge me. After watching TWO neighbors' apartments burn down in the middle of the night in Huntington Beach back in 2001 due to a faulty gas fireplace, I vowed I would never use one again. I'm sure you'd think the same way if this had happened to you,too). After peaking inside the fireplace and discovering that the ever-burning, blue, pilot light had gone out, I found the cause of my stinky family room and the source of many problems to come. Long story short, I had to have my energy/gas company come out and turn off the gas, pay a professional to come and cap the gas valve on our fireplace (thus making my arch nemesis defunct for eternity), and then have the energy/gas company return that same day to turn the gas back on. Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

Upon examining our twenty-one year old furnace after turning on the gas, the Puget Sound Energy technician determined that it was unsafe to use, past the point of no return, and CONDEMNED it! Say what? Yes, condemned. Prior to this moment in my life, I only thought that abandoned buildings in NYC where homeless people live were condemned. Apparently not. Anywho, after getting over the initial shock, I flippantly declared, "You have the power to do THAT?!" He turned to me with a vindictive, oh-I've-already-won look and said very dryly, "I have the power to keep you safe." That was it. Game over. My king was killed and I lost. So, with that said, he unhooked and capped our furnace and left my family and me to freeze the night away. And, the next, and the next, and the next....and so on.

Since my husband is still unavailable for anything nonprofessional for two more months (he's almost done!), the responsibility to fix this blasted problem fell 100% on my shoulders. So, nine days, five bids, AND several thousand dollars later, a shiny, brand new, Trane furnace was installed today. Our chilly 57 degree house finally got warmed up again, along with its inhabitants. I couldn't be happier...

The ancient and grumpy beast in its post-condemned state.

The new and shiny one all ready for take-off!