Monday, August 30, 2010

The End of Summer...

Well, to say it simply, it's been a whirlwind summer. I realized the other day that I have missed church eight of the last ten sundays due to being out of town. Feeeyoooh! I have basically been packing for a trip, been on a trip, or unpacking from a trip for the last two months. As much as I have loved all of our travels and adventures, this travelling girl is ready for autumn and for life to settle down. But, it has been a glorious run. Lia is such an easy going toddler and deals with the changes of travel so well, I am just grateful that we took advantage of this time of year to have some fun!
This past weekend, we celebrated the end of the summer by going on a camping trip with my mom and my brother and his family to Blake Island in the Puget Sound. Since this island is only accessible by boat, it has a fabulous remote feel to it and never gets too crowded! We met up after lunch on Friday before driving down to the Manchester boat lunch where we loaded up all of our gear, PLUS nine people in Tip's boat. Weighed down to almost the water line, we carefully cruised out to the island where we spent the next 24 hours. We had so much fun walking and playing on the beach, watching the deer and raccoons everywhere, making and eating foil dinners, gazing at the Seattle skyline at night, and sleeping in tents so close to the water! What a beautiful place in the Northwest it is...and so close to civilization! Thanks, Tip and Nat, for sharing your boat and weekend with us! Let's do it again next year!

This is the sight that I found quickly after arriving at our campsite with all of our loot that we had to haul in from the marina. Everyone sought refuge in the only shade they could find while I set up our tent. (Please note Natalee heavily engrossed in the newly released MockingJay with all of the madness going on around obvious indication of how good it must be).

A close-up of Lia and elder cousin she adores, Brynn.

Our campsite right on the shores of the sound with Seattle off in the distance.

The four adults on some friendly driftwood.

The five kiddos on the beach before we started our walk.

Riley supervising Lia's beachcombing activities.

Inside the log fort that we stumbled across on our afternoon walk.

Callie and Lia standing guard at the fort.

Two cousins at play.

Two cousins hand in hand.

Queen Crab.

Lia and I with some of her blonde cousins!

A girl in her element.

Trying to rescue Lia out of the freeeeezing water after she innocently dashed into it! It was such a shock to her system that she just got "stuck" out there and started crying! Silly girl.

Group pic on a massive, fallen tree after saving Lia from the water.

The glowing couple that made this campout possible!

Some of the gang gathered around the firepit while making our delicious foil dinners!

Exploring the campground at twilight!

A quintessential Pacific Northwest Photo: The Puget Sound, a Washington state ferry, and Mount Rainier at sunset. Yes, this was one of the views from our campsite! What a way to end the summer....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Camping with Rainier

Our town of Puyallup literally sits in the shadow of Mount Rainier. On a sunny day, this massive mountain TOWERS over our town in such an impressive way that it's almost intimidating (remember that this mountain is really just a sleeping volcano that I hope never awakes). So, it's really quite pathetic and almost a shame that we have never driven down to explore her national park in the three years that we have lived here. As a result, we made it a goal to make some camping reservations this summer and do just that! So, we spent Friday and Saturday night of this past weekend "famping" in the Cougar Rock campground which is found in the southwest corner of the Mount Rainier National Park. We lucked out with the weather and had a wonderful time enjoying the fresh outdoors, views of the mountains, and endless meadows of wildflowers in bloom. Here are some pics of our weekend with Rainier...

A glimpse we caught of the mother mountain on the 1.5 hour drive south! Impressive, isn't it?

Since Lia is now a jumping maniac, she thoroughly enjoyed jumping off of the rocks located behind our tent all weekend long.

We spent Saturday morning cruising around on our cruisers. Here are papa and baby posing for a pic in the midst of our campground tour.

Being cheeky in our campsite before lunch!

After lunch and nap, we spent the afternoon at "Paradise" which is one of the more popular destinations in the park and starting point for the die-hard hikers who want to summit the mountain. We enjoyed exploring the famous Paradise Inn (really a lodge) built in 1916 when we first arrived on the scene.

The main lodge with its impressive maze of crisscrossing logs in the ceiling above.

After inspecting the lodge, we took one of the short trails found right off of the parking lot in order to enjoy some of the wildflowers in full bloom. Lia actually hiked a .6 round trip hike with us to see Myrtle Falls. Here she is picking a flower...shhhh, don't tell anyone!

Family photo on the trail.

Myrtle Falls in all her glory.

This was the best "smile" Lia would give us from a top the falls.

Lia and Ron hiking back down to Paradise with the inn and the Cascades in the background. It sure was beautiful up there!

The apple of my eye back at our campsite.

After doing dishes from dinner, I returned to our site to find Ron and Lia reading around the campfire. I thought it was so cute that I had to join in!

Although Rainier hid from us all day Saturday, we did find her poking out of the clouds on Sunday as we checked out of the campground. This is the view that startled us on our drive out! She is something. Can't wait to return this fall with my mother to explore the autumn colors...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Second Year Quarterly Report, Part 2

It's hard for me to believe, but the time has come again for another quarterly report on Lia's life. Amazingly enough, she turned 2 1/2 years old today. I simply cannot believe that she is this big already and that the time has gone so fast! She is such a delightful, little toddler and a joy to be around. She truly is my little pal who follows me wherever I go. What will I do when she heads off to college? I see a major identity crisis looming in sixteen years. :-) Well, in no particular order, here are the things she has been up to the past three months....
1. She began attaching specific names to her sentences and it is just the sweetest thing. For example, she will say, "I can't find it, mama," or "Thank you, papa," or, "Look at me, grandma!" Her other favorite word that she began saying in the last three months is a breathy, "Yeah," in response to questions. In the past, when she used to agree with us, she would just repeat the word. For example, I would ask, "Do you want to go to bed?" and she would respond with the word, "Bed." But, now it is ALL about the word, "Yeah." It's the funniest thing to me.
2. Lia's germaphobic tendencies have just continued to increase. She now sometimes insist on her hands being washed during transitions in a meal (like after eating a peanut butter sandwich, but before eating her apples during lunch). So silly. She was also introduced to a cute, children's book called Messy Jess that my mother owns. As a result, she likes to point out "messy jesses" (instead of messes) wherever she goes.
3. While we were away on our cruise, Lia found another little, stuffed nunny with a rattle inside of it while staying at my mother's house. She was inseparable with this nunny the entire week she was there and insisted on taking it home with her upon our return. As a result, we now have a "baby nunny" and a "mama nunny" that are her TWO best friends and permanent fixtures in her crib.
4. Lia now gives big, wrap-around hugs (arms and legs included) when you carry her from point A to point B. I just love the monkey hold she has on me when she does this!
5. She is a talking and singing maniac! We just have conversations all the time. And, she loves to sing songs alone or with others. She is also very proud of the fact that she can spell her name out loud and easily recognizes it on paper. I can't believe how much her vocabulary has developed in a year.
6. She has discovered Dora in the last three months and it has revolutionized her life. She loves, loves, loves all things Dora.
7. Lia is a jumping maniac and can be found jumping off of our king size bed or off of FOUR stairs at a time or large rocks at the park. Basically anything that has a little height to it is fair game. And, when there's nothing to jump off of, she can be found just jumping around on the floor.
8. Lia still loves the outdoors...especially all things associated with water like beaches and boats. However, she was NOT interested in swimming this year and could never be coaxed to jump off of the dock into my arms in the deeper water (except maybe once or twice this entire summer).
9. She is absolutely fascinated with other children and loves playing with any willing participants. She loves her cousins and stares at any kids we pass in the store or in the neighborhood. It's just a shame that we can't seem to get another sibling down here for her to play with it. :-( It makes me so sad.
10. Lia still loves sleeping and anything that goes with it (her nunnies, pillow, pink blanket, and sucker). She often times will ask for her nap BEFORE lunch or the second she finishes lunch! What a girl!
11. We are seeing some of the stubborn two-ness appear in her personality as she will often times say 'no' to something we ask of her, but then think about it for a second or two before agreeing. It's as though she has to think that it is HER idea before agreeing to whatever it is. Such fun for us.
12. This is probably my favorite quarterly update. Lia loves to repeat rules to me or Ron or grandma. She can be found saying, "Do not take out the hair band," or "Do not touch the poo poo," or "Do not kick grandma" (when changing the diaper), or "Do not make a mess." It's so funny, especially when she does it with her index finger pointed in a teacher-like manner which brings me to the next point....
13. Lia has begun using her pointed, index finger for added emphasis while talking. It just cracks me up because she looks like a little adult while using it.
14. She likes to ask us on a regular basis if we hear things. Do you hear the dog? Do you hear the airplane? Do you hear the little girl? I like to always answer with, "Yes I hear it, do you?" I'm just messing with her, but she obviously doesn't realize it and always responds with her breathy, "Yeah." She also likes to play a little game with us which involves her closing her eyes and saying, "I can't see you, papa." She will bust out this game at very random moments which, of course, gets laughs from us at random moments.
15. Lia still loves to kiss things that she thinks are cute from little pictures of animals in books to a Dora plate or bowl. However, her definition of "cute" is becoming quite liberal these days as she can be found kissing toe nails that I just cut off of her feet or a bug we find outside (she obviously kisses the air between her and these objects). So funny.
So, there's our little Lia in a nutshell these days! Bundles of fun and energy! We sure do love her!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Second Annual Priest Lake Escape

Well folks, I feel like this is a repeat post from last month; however, for journaling sake, I feel the need to post a few pictures and type a few words to document this trip. Since Ron is now working full-time the rest of the summer with his new job, Lia and I joined my parents and went up to Priest Lake without him for another ten days. As much as we missed him, we had a great time and were fortunate enough to be joined by my Missoula brother and his family for the first weekend that we were there. As always, they brought in bundles of cousin fun for Lia and some good times and laughs for me. We were sad to see them go, but grateful that they spontaneously left behind my beloved nephew for the rest of the week! Here is a quick run down of the week....

On our first day there, we enjoyed taking our boat to one of the many public beaches on the lake where you can just park and play. We found this great beach last summer and enjoyed finding two, tiny frogs that entertained the little ones for many minutes to follow. Here they are gathered around their discovery!

One of the reasons why we love this beach is the incredible sugar white and sugar fine sandy beach that one can find after swimming across a straight-from-the-top-of-the-mountains, freezing creek that empties into the lake. Picture above is Spencer making the daring swim away from "our little slice of Hawaii" beach on the other side.

Yours truly joining him for the chilly swim.

One can also walk around the very shallow and long sand bar to the beautiful beach on the other side if sub-zero water isn't your thing. I snapped this pic of grandma with Kelsey and Spencer making the voyage around the creek. Look at that view! Can you begin to understand why I love the remote and pristine beauty that surrounds this lake?!

On Sunday, we headed up one of the dirt roads into the mountains to huckleberry pick in the prime spot that Brent discovered a few years back. However, the picking was not so prime this year as, between the seven of us, we got a measly 3/4 cup of this gem of the north. Needless to say, we won't be having any huckleberry cobbler anytime soon. :-(

Of course, no trip to Priest Lake is complete without a visit to Fairy House Beach. Lia loves the beach here and the Missoulians had to check in on their fairy houses that they constructed last month. Here are Mae Mae and Lia gearing up for some water fun.

The two girls running and splashing into the water. Both Mae Mae and Kelsey were great play companions for Lia while they were there. Lia loves the company and I love the break!

After our stop at Fairy House Beach, we decided to just drive up the thoroughfare a bit in hopes of spotting a moose (this is a common hunting grouds for them). And, as luck would have it, we ran into one munching away on some grass in the water. I haven't seen one in years, so it was a treat for me!

After awhile, the moose got bored with us or the food or both, and moved on into the bush.

Grandma with her girls cuddling up in the boat after some moose watching.

I failed to mention that the grand patriarch was tied down the entire trip due to the fact that he had just had a full knee replacement surgery a week before we left! He was found either laying down on a bed or hobbling around on his crutches the entire time we were there. As sad as it was for him, we were just grateful he was willing to recuperate up at the cabin with us!

We found a beach where we could drive the car right up to the shore so that my dad could get out and hobble right into the water (as opposed to attempting the 88 steps that lead down to our beach). He actually went swimming a few times at the beach pictured above where Spencer, Lia, and I are standing.

After the girls and the excitement left, Lia invented this little activity all on her own one day. She grabbed a floaty and a noodle and headed down into the water at our beach to go "fishing." She did this many times the rest of the week while we were there.

I had the privilege of joining her for many fishing sessions. Please notice our color coordinated floaties and fishing poles. This was all Lia's doing.

Lia and I on one of our many boat rides. She sure loves the boat and watching any willing water skier do his or her thing.

Lia getting more independent on the boat and sitting on her own. Such a big girl.

A splash fest that evolved one day after a "fishing session" gone bad.

Although Lia was a maniac last year and LOVED jumping off the dock into my arms in the water, she would have nothing to do it this year. She was much more skittish and would only be found wading around in the shallow end. However, at the very end of our stay, my mom somehow convinced Lia to start leaping off some rocks into the water.

After being caught by my mom, Lia would then sit down on "the chair rock" before...

splashing down into the water. With the exception of her face, she would completely submerge herself in the water and LOVED it!

Look how happy that girl is in that crystal clear water!

We enjoyed many a twilight dinners on the deck after a hard day at play. Here is the view at sunset on our last night there.

Lia and I on our last night with the folks who made this little getaway possible. Thanks, mom and dad for a great August escape to Priest Lake! We sure love it up there!