Tuesday, September 30, 2014

6 Months Old!

Our baby girl turned half a year old today!  Wow.  In some ways, the time has flown since she was born and in other ways it seems like our life pre-Ella was forever ago.  Ella is just the cutest baby.  She loves any attention and will give the biggest, cutest smiles and giggles to anyone who gives her the time of day.  She is also the most physically active baby that the Hartland household has ever seen.  As of a few days ago, she is crawling 100% the "normal" way (no more scooting along on her belly) and she can travel from one room to another in record speed.  I will turn my head for a few seconds after putting Ella down on the floor and when I look back, she's gone!  It's quite the funny thing.  Ella is also sitting like a champ.  She figured out how to sit hands free last week and has never looked back since then.  She now happily plays on the floor with whatever toy she finds.  And the biggest surprise of them all happened two nights ago when Lia shouted at me to come into the family room because Ella had just pulled herself up to her feet using the couch!  What?!  I couldn't believe it when I saw hers standing there with my own eyes.  It's just crazy.  If she keeps this up, Ella will for sure be walking full-time by her first birthday.  Heaven help us and our Christmas tree.  She also discovered her tongue recently and blows raspberries all the time.  It's so cute.  She also is interested in touching EVERYTHING and reaches for anything that is within arm's reach whether it's a toy or a package of wet wipes or my dinner plate.  Ella just started eating rice cereal and "drinking" water out of a sippy cup a few days ago.  She is still trying to get the hang of it, but we'll keep at it!  She is taking a morning and afternoon and sometimes evening nap each day and is now going down for bed around 8 p.m. (hooray) and sleeping 12-13 hours a night.  I do have to make many pacifier runs a night, but I will take this any day over nursing in the middle of the night!  So, life is starting to get a little bit easier in the baby department which I am so grateful for.  That's our little Ella Avalon in a nutshell... 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ella's First Solid Food

Well, we finally did it.  We broke open the rice cereal tonight and attempted to feed Ella her first solid food (if you can call it that).  Ron was the one holding the spoon since this was his first chance to feed her.  The kids swarmed around the baby like the doting, older siblings that they are and I filmed the whole affair with the video camera.  Ella did pretty well for the first two minutes taking multiple spoonfuls with a quizzical look on her face and then I think she cracked from all the pressure and broke out into tears!  The poor, little thing.  We quickly shut down the operation and will resume tomorrow.  Oh, the growing pains of a five and a half month old...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

First Week of Detox Down!

Yesterday marks one week of being in ya-ya detox.  Yep, that's right.  We pulled the pacifier from Logan's loving arms (or should I say lips) last Tuesday night after a 2.5 year relationship.  I will admit that as a mother, I dread this day.  I had no idea that I would grow to rely on a pacifier as much as my children do...but the sucker makes them run to bed for every nap time and bed time AND it helps them fall asleep in a relatively short amount of time.  It keeps us happy and on schedule which are two things I love having in my household.  But, just like Lia, Logan's teeth started to get really crooked and so I sadly agreed to pull the plug after months of Ron's insistence.  After several days of building up this moment for Logan, we presented him with a large box wrapped in construction-themed wrapping paper with a big, red bow on top at bedtime after he discovered that his ya ya was broken (we cut the tip off).  He quickly opened the box to find a stuffed scooper and two beautifully illustrated children's books about dump trucks, scoopers, bulldozers, etc. at nighttime.  He happily accepted his gifts and immediately asked papa to read his new books and requested that he be put to bed with his new, stuffed scooper.  In some ways the detox has been going well since that dreaded night due to the fact that Logan has NEVER cried nor thrown a tantrum for his broken ya ya which is amazing considering how much this boy cries every day.  The build up along with the presents and a non functioning pacifier have all helped him to take this event in stride...but the amount of time it has taken him to fall asleep for his naps and night time has been stretched out dearly.  On average, it takes Logan anywhere from one hour to one and a half hours to fall asleep whenever we put him down.  So, the schedule has gotten thrown way off, but we are powering through it with the hopes that our old schedule will return and that he doesn't suddenly outgrow his daily nap.  Until then, I will just be brave and hold onto the dream that we won't have to pay for braces one day...

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Sitting and Crawling!

Although Ella's crawling and semi-sitting started a few weeks ago, she has really taken off in the past several days.  She has officially figured out how to crawl in the traditional way AND she is now totally sitting on her own without having to lean back on one hand.  Although she still scoots along the floor using the commando style crawl most of the time, Ella will now pop up on all fours and crawl for a few feet before going back down on the floor.  As a result, we will find her 10 to 15 feet away from where we first put her just a few minutes earlier!  And it is now the cutest thing to see her get up from crawling to sit and play with a toy for a few minutes before laying back down on the floor.  This child is not even six months old yet, so it is such a surprise to see Ella being so mobile when her brother and sister were no where near as advanced at this age.  I guess there is something to be said about the third child getting left in the dust...it forces them to catch up with the older siblings making them mobile at such a younger age!

Ella showing off her new sitting position.  "Look, mom!  No hands!" :-)

Down on all fours and getting ready to go.

And she's off!  Crawling across the living room floor.

I just had to include this picture of Ella's original style of sitting that she still using on occasion.  I just love how she leans back on one hand like she is posing for me!  So cute!

Monday, September 22, 2014

20th High School Reunion

Well the long awaited weekend of my 20th high school reunion finally arrived!  It is so hard to believe that twenty years has past since I wrapped up my high school career.  So much water has gone under the bridge since then, yet I still look back at my high school experience with such fondness.  I had a fabulous group of friends, was taught by some wonderful teachers, and enjoyed many extracurricular activities.  Although I had some serious reservations about going to this reunion, I am grateful for my dear friend, Kristina, who twisted my arm and informed me many months ago that I didn't have a choice and that I was going.  And I want to thank my wonderful and devoted parents who watched my baby for me that night and personally drove Ella out to Seattle and met me in a parking lot across the street from the reunion so that I could nurse her before she went to bed for the night.  Now that is devotion!

We started the reunion festivities a day early by meeting at The Boarding House restaurant in Gilman Village for lunch on Friday.  Both Sarah and Kristina had flown in for the event and it was so much fun visiting with everyone--especially Sarah who I haven't seen in 14 years!

After lunch, the four of us made the five minute drive to visit our alma mater--Issaquah High School.  Although the school we attended was torn down a few years ago and replaced by this fancy, modern building it was just fun to be back on those hallowed grounds.  Since they have a closed campus policy, we weren't allowed to  wander around the school, but we spent some hilarious minutes in the main office pouring over their staff picture board.  We giggled like high school girls again while we were in there!

After saying goodbye to Ron, Lia, and Logan, I drove up to my parents' house in Issaquah with Ella on Saturday afternoon.  Kristina met me there and we actually got ready together like it was prom night all over again.  To make the experience complete, we even had my mom take a few pictures of us in front of their house before leaving.  Classic.

We arrived at the Palace Ballroom on 5th Avenue in downtown Seattle right before the reunion started at 7 p.m. and stayed until they shut the place down at midnight!  It was one of the funnest nights I have had in loooong time.  It was so good to see so many friends from the past and reminisce about the good ol' days and get caught up on life.  Here I am with three of my long, lost buddies--Jeff, Ross, and Bridget.  I have known Jeff since I was three years old, I went to three high school dances with Ross, and Bridget and I were in three high school musicals together.  Talk about a theme of three!

This is my favorite picture of the night--posing with most of the ladies from my group of girlfriends that came together during my sophomore year of high school.  We had soooo much fun together during those three years of high school in class, on the weekends, and in musicals, choir, and student government.  Such wonderful memories!  From left to right:  Sarah, Nicole, Bridget, Kristina, Kellie, me, and Jessica.  

Joking around with Nicole and Heather.  Nicole was my lab partner in chemistry during our junior year of high school.  She was both smart and hilarious and made for some good times in Radmer's 6th period class!

Another group shot with some of the ladies.

Jess, Kristina, and me with Heather photo bombing behind us!

When Kellie was saying goodbye to me, she put her name tag on my dress.  As the evening wore on, more and more people copied her.  By the end of the night, I was covered in name tags.  It was kind of funny...especially when we ended up at the bar/restaurant across the street after the reunion ended. 

Our good friend, Tyson, who we all lost touched with a few years after high school was bartending at the restaurant across the street from the reunion.  Since he didn't take the night off to join us, we all ended up over there to see him at the end of the night.  He was one of my closest friends my senior year of high school and it was so good to see him again after all these years and get caught up on his life.  Here is Tyson with Jeff and me.  Oh, what a night!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Twenty Years Ago...

this picture was taken.

And last night this picture was taken.  Oh how the time has flown!

  Everyone from my group of close girlfriends in high school was at my 20th high school reunion in Seattle last night minus Lizzy and Lindsay who sadly didn't fly in for the event.  It was so much fun to see everyone...I actually felt 18 years old all over again.  I laughed and laughed and laughed all evening long until we were kicked out at midnight.  It was the funnest I have had in a long time.  It made me remember why I loved high school so much--I just had the greatest friends!  
My real reunion post to come tomorrow...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Aunt Austin's Visit

Since Ron's family lives so far away from us, it is a rare treat to have a visit from one of them.  So we were so pleased to find out a few months ago that Austin would be coming out to Portland for a work conference and wanted to swing up to Seattle for the weekend before flying back home to South Carolina!  We welcomed her with open arms this past Friday morning and had a great weekend with her in the beautiful sunshine.  We were so sad to see her go this morning.  Thank you, Aunt Austin, for making the effort to come and see us.  We miss you already!

After a relaxing afternoon and dinner out on the deck on Friday, we headed out to the waterfront in Tacoma to walk along Ruston Way as the sun set.  It was a beautiful, warm evening and we had a great time...especially Lia on her bike with no training wheels!

My big girl and Commencement Bay.

Since there were no clouds in the sky all weekend long, we had nonstop, breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier.  Here is the view we could see from the water.

After Lia's swim lessons on Saturday morning, we headed downtown to wander through our farmer's market.  We ate some delicious food, marveled at the beautiful flowers and handmade wares, and finished up at our favorite Greek restaurant for some gyros for lunch!

We came back Saturday afternoon for nap time for the two babies.  While Ron and I got some things done, Austin treated Lia to over two hours of her undivided attention for some Barbie play.  Austin is an expert at hair styling, accessorizing, and dressing dolls...so Lia was in absolute heaven!!  Here is a picture of these two ladies hard at work in Lia's room.

We finished off Saturday by driving up to Lake Sammamish for an evening of swimming and a picnic dinner.  Although the water temperature has dipped to 69 degrees, it still felt great since it was in the mid 80s yesterday!  We were surprised to run into Eric and his family there and had a great time swimming and playing with everyone.

Logan and his newly discovered water toy of choice--the inner tube!

Aunt Austin held baby Ella for quite sometime which was wonderful as it allowed me to swim with the kiddos.

Aunt Austin even put on her suit and waded out with Lia for a bit.  This is a big deal for this Southern gal who is used to much warmer swimming temperatures.

We finished up Austin's visit this morning with a Filipino breakfast.  Here she is with Lia and Logan before heading to the airport.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Dressed in Her Sunday Best

Since I don't really bring my babies to church their first two months and we were out of town a huge part of the summer, Ella really has not been to church much in her first five months of life.  As a result, I am sadly not used to seeing her in adorable dresses.  When I got her ready for church today, I couldn't get over how cute she looked trying to crawl around in her dress.  So we went into the living room for a little photo shoot and these were the best pictures I got of my VERY mobile, five-month old, baby girl!

Ella pausing from her "crawling" to give me a smile.

Such a cutie.

A close-up of my cutie.

Yes, this is really a picture of Ella sitting.  She figured out how to do this just a few days ago by leaning back on one of her hands.  It totally looks like a model pose and it cracks us all up!  Oh, this girl is growing up too fast!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Puyallup Fair 2014

It's that time of year for the Puyallup Fair.  We realized that we needed to go the first weekend of the three due to conflicts on the calendar the next two Saturdays.  So we braved the heat and the crowds and headed down today for all the things we love about the fair--long lines, sticky fingers, greasy foods, cheesy rides, and barns full of livestock.  Lia and Logan had a great time, Ella tolerated hours in the stroller, and Ron and I survived.  It's a good thing that I have a year to recover...:-)

A picturesque shot of the fairgrounds I couldn't resist taking.

Par Lia's request, we headed straight to Sillyville upon our arrival for some fun on the rides.  First stop was the giant, yellow slide that Logan was finally tall enough to ride.  He laughed the entire way down the slide.  Here are the three of us getting ready to go down!

Lia beating Logan and me.

We made it!  Getting up after we finished our ride.

Lia rode her favorite ride, the motorcycles, for the fifth year in a row.  I think it's safe to say that she is starting to look too big for this ride.

Logan enjoyed Lia's favorite ride, too, although he looks very serious in this picture.

I joined the  kids for the little train ride around Sillyville.

Lia and Logan waiting for the carousal to start.

We found the funnest tractor ride that is new to the fair grounds.  It is the cutest thing and totally free!  Here are my kiddos posing before beginning their ride around the track.

Lia pedaling away.

Farmer Logan following his sister around the track.

No visit to the fair is complete without stopping by the Pig Palace to see the adorable, baby pigs.  Here are Logan and Papa petting one of the piglets.

Logan and Lia loved walking through the barns full of massive horses all decked out for their shows.

The kids, the cows, and me.

Ella was a trooper and withstood many hours in the stroller,  Such a good baby.

After hours of begging, Lia finally got her obnoxious blue, cotton candy that she shared with Logan.  It's not surprise that half of it got thrown away due to upset bellies!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of First Grade!

With some first day jitters and a little, six-year-old drama, we managed to get Lia out the door and down the hill for her first day of school this morning.  She looked so cute all tan from the summer in her Frozen outfit with matching backpack and lunch bag.  I can't believe that she is already starting first grade as it just seems like yesterday we were starting her first day of preschool.  Good grief.  The time is already flying too fast!

Lia all ready to go!

Logan and his bedhead hair joining Lia for another back-to-school picture.

Big, brave Lia standing in front of her school getting ready to march off to find her class' line all by herself.

Lia standing in line next to her good buddy, Addyson, who has been in the same class with Lia for three year's straight (PreK, Kindergarten, and now 1st grade).