Saturday, February 28, 2015

11 Months Old Today!

It seems funny to be saying that Ella is turning 11 months old today because it is only the 28th day of the month...but since this is the last day of February, we are saying that Ella is 11 months old today.  One more month to go and our baby girl is one year old!  Ahhhhh!  Baby Ella is still the sweetest and cutest thing, but boy does she keep us on our toes.  She is still this incredibly active baby who crawls everywhere and is into everything.  She also stands like a champ and can be found many times a day just standing in place somewhere in the house.  Surprisingly enough, Ella is still not walking.  Although she started crawling and pulling herself up at a really young age, she really did plateau (which is fine with me).  She has taken one or two steps at a time on several occasions over the past month, but normally will plop back down on the ground whenever we try to encourage her to walk to one of us.  However, this past month she really discovered the stairs and with very little practice mastered all sixteen of them.  She even figured out how to go down them backwards with very little instruction!  The only problem is that we have gone looking for Ella several times and found her upstairs just hanging out in the loft area or playing with toys in Lia's or Logan's bedrooms.  Oh dear.  Needless to say, the baby gate got put up after that happened a few times.  On a different note, Ella discovered how to click her tongue this month and does it all the time.  She still is taking two naps a day and sleeping well at night.  Ella still is a great eater and really hasn't refused any food we have thrown her way.  Besides eating baby food with her rice cereal in the morning and a meat and veggie baby food at night with dinner, Ella is only eating table foods.  She loves to laugh and giggle and readily chases her siblings wherever they go.  She also gives the BEST bear hugs whenever she is in the mood.  It's the cutest thing as she will wrap her arm around our neck and just pull us in tight.  I love it.  Ella also went on her first plane trip this past month to California and added another state to her little list of places she has visited.  She survived 8 marathon days while on vacation with shortened naps each day and interrupted sleep at night (due to her brother waking her up), but hung in there like a champ.  However, I know that she was SO happy to be home as her entire demeanor changed the day after we got home.  We were both so glad to be back in our own home and sleeping in our own rooms and back on schedule.  She is a girl after my own heart!  

Lia's Frozen Party

Today was Lia's Frozen themed birthday party for all of her little friends.  As much work as it is to prepare for this annual event, I really do enjoy the actual hosting of the party.  It is always so much fun to watch Lia soak up every moment of her party and all of her little friends are so cute.  Since this party was just a few days after our arrival home from California, I tried to get as much done as possible before we left.  In addition, Lia helped me cut out the snowflakes for the windows and she even drew her own life-sized Olaf for the pin-the-carrot-nose-on-Olaf game.  It was fun to have her help and to work on this project together.  Luckily, we got it all done by Saturday morning and were ready to go when the first guest arrived.  Here is a run down of the party...

Here is the cake I made this year using one of Lia's Elsa Barbie dolls.  I chose to make this cake since it only required one color of frosting and one type of frosting tip.  So, as elaborate as it looks, this is one of the easiest cakes I have made.

A picture of the table all set and ready to go complete with blue Christmas lights, white tulle, and plenty of Frozen confetti.

Another shot of the table complete with the balloons, streamers, and snowflakes hanging from the ceilings and taped onto the windows.  I also strung little, cotton balls on thread and hung them from the windows.  It turned out pretty cute if I may say so myself.

Here is a picture of the Frozen wreath I made to hang on the front door.  After learning how to make a burlap wreath this year for Valentine's Day, I realized that I could put together a wreath for Lia's party using the similar fabric, deco mesh.

As the girls arrived, we had them head into the family room to color some Frozen pictures.

Mila, Mollie, and Lia working on their pictures.

After coloring, we headed out to the garage where the girls each painted a ceramic, snowflake ornament.

Lia, Lilah, and Kaylee painting away!  The finished products turned out quite cute

We then went back inside to play pin-the-carrot-nose-on-Olaf.

Mollie hard at work pinning the nose out in the "air" next to Olaf.

We then played a similar version of a game we played at Lia's party last year.  Instead of keeping the wisps in the air (it was a Merida themed party), we asked the girls to keep the snowflakes in the air while we played the song, "Let it Go!" I had ordered balloons from the Internet with snowflakes on them--so it was really was cute looking to see them bouncing around in the air.

The girls hard at work!

Next, we played our own version of "Hot Potato."  We called it "Hot Barbie" (only the adults in the room thought that name was funny).  We passed an Elsa and Anna Barbie doll around the circle of girls while playing various songs from Frozen.  When we stopped the music, the girls holding the dolls got to reach into a little, white bucket and choose a candy.

Kaylee passing Elsa to McKenzie.

Lia opened her gifts next.  As always, her friends were so kind and generous.  Here she is with her dear friend, Kaylee, who she has known since she was a baby.  Kaylee gave her a Frozen matching game and keepsake box.

Lia and Addy with the awesome, Serena (the pirate fairy) plush doll that she gave her.

Lia opening up Isabel's gift.

We finished up with cake and ice cream.  Here we are getting ready to sing to Lia.  I can't get over how large the Elsa cake looks next to Lia!

And blowing out the candles!

The group of girls enjoying the cake and ice cream.

After half the cake had been cut, Elsa fell out all on her own. We thought it was so funny as it looks like she just can't wait to get out of that sticky, cakey mess!  Don't worry--I quickly gave her a bath after the party and she is now back to her normal self!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lia's 7th Birthday!

Since we flew back to Seattle on the night of Lia's birthday, I told her in advance that her birthday would just be a "travel day" and that we would actually celebrate it the next day after we got home.  I was grateful that she happily agreed to this.  As a result, I had to turn around the next day and prepare for her birthday amidst unpacking and doing loads of laundry.  I was able to wrap all of her gifts and plan and shop for her birthday dinner before we left on our trip in order to make this day a bit easier on me.  I managed to get it all done and be ready to host my parents that evening for a "breakfast dinner" and cupcakes (all Lia's request) and the opening of gifts.  We had a pleasant evening and I think that Lia was pleased with it all.  I just can't believe that my first born is now seven years old.  That just sounds so much older than six!

My parents and our little family getting ready to eat an egg casserole, bacon, and delicious cinnamon rolls for dinner in the dining room.

Lia showing off her new Fancy Nancy books while flashing her Elsa snow powers at the camera.

Logan was able to open a belated birthday gift from Aunt Renee and Uncle Derek that had arrived in the mail while we were gone.  He got an awesome, large beach towel with his name monogrammed in it.  Here he is wearing his towel around the house after opening it.

Lia showing off her new Frozen t-shirt that she received from us.

Lia pretended to faint after opening up a joint gift from my parents and Ron and me--a promised trip to the American Girl Doll store to buy the new party dress for her Caroline Abbott doll.  Such a silly girl!

Lia screaming with glee while showing off the money she gets to use to buy her American Girl doll dress.

Ella hanging out around grandma's legs.

Lia getting ready to blow out her seven candles.  I can't get over how grown up she looks in this picture.

And blowing away.

My big girl giving the camera a silly face before diving in to her jumbo cupcake with turquoise frosting. 

Our California Trip: San Diego

We started off the morning of February 18th by leaving Lia and Ella behind with my mom in the hotel room while Ron and I went off to a timeshare sales presentation with Logan.  We intentionally brought him along in hopes that he would help shorten the entire thing, but he actually did okay and behaved himself.  After we finished up at noon, we headed back to the hotel to check out and begin our drive back down to San Diego.  The traffic was pretty decent, so we made it to our hotel right on the bay in downtown San Diego by afternoon.  After checking in, Ron took the kids to the pool while my mom and I stayed back in the hotel room with a sleeping Ella so that she could take her afternoon nap.  Then Ron and I decided that it was our parental duty to introduce our kids to In 'N Out burgers while we were in Southern California, so we all headed out to eat dinner at the nearest one our first night there.  Since Lia doesn't like eating foods that are mixed, she has never had a hamburger (shocking, I know), so it was a bit of a risk to bring her to a fast food joint that doesn't have any other food options.  But...

I was amazed to see that Lia loved her first hamburger and gobbled it up!  

Logan did a great job, too.  Here is my boy munching away on an In 'N Out fry.

Lia, Logan, and I started off Thursday, February 19th, with a walk to get us out of the hotel room for Ella's morning nap.  We took a stroll through the marina and then found a park in front of the city's children's museum.  

Logan and the boats.

There were some unusual play equipment at the children's museum playground.  Here are the kids spinning around on a cool piece of play equipment.

There was a giant sandbox that Logan loved playing in.

And Lia loved climbing around on the giant net.

After our walk and lunch back in the hotel room, we all headed out to spend the afternoon at the beach in La Jolla.  Although it was cloudy when we first arrived, the sun eventually came out and we had a great time.  Here is my boy drawing in the sand.

Two siblings hard at play.

My mom and I took turns keeping Ella off of the sand (so that she wouldn't put it in her mouth) for most of the morning.  

My kiddos and me.

Lia "letting it go" with little sissy and me.

Logan was fascinated by the giant hole that we found when we got there.  He spend quite a bit of time playing in it.

What a cute kid.  We eventually ended up down by the water's edge where Logan and I started playing in the surf (I didn't take any pictures of this).  Before I knew it, he was wet from head to toe and then got covered in sand.  After throwing a massive tantrum while I tried to clean and dress him, we through in the towel (literally) and headed back to the hotel.  After grandma took the older kids to the pool, I stayed back in the room with Ella for her afternoon nap before leaving to spend the evening with my cousin, Doug, and his family at their home in Poway.

We headed out on Friday, February 20th, to spend the day at Sea World.  Although my mom and I were pretty exhausted by this point, we pushed through another long day so that the children could have this Southern California experience.  Here are Lia and Logan playing in the tidal pools inside the entrance of the park.

Logan also enjoyed climbing around on the fake rocks while looking at the sea life inside the tidal pools.  

One of our first stops was to see the dolphins in the pool where they are kept.  Since the trainers happened to be feeding them, we were able to see them up close and personal!

Lia enjoying another tidal pool with sea life similar to what we find up in the Northwest.

We loved the giant aquariums found throughout the park.  Here are Lia and Logan standing in front of one filled with sharks (you can kind of see them through the glass).

This aquarium was filled with beautiful fish and coral found in warm, tropical water.  A giant see turtle swam while the children were standing there.  I just love this picture.

Another shot of the turtle.

We also enjoyed looking at the tanks with the octopuses in them.  Instead of hiding in a corner, this octopus was up and moving and fun to look at!

Lia and Logan looking at the octopus.

The older kids and me with the giant, sea turtles.

Two HUGE sea turtles lounging on the sand.  I have never seen ones this large before.

We also enjoyed watching the sea lions swim around in their area.

We got the biggest kick out of watches this huge flock of flamingos for several minutes.  I had no idea that they were such a funny bird that made such a ruckus!  Here are grandma and Lia posing with them in the background.

Although Logan refused to pose in the previous picture, he decided to join Grandma and Lia and hold up the Sea World map right in front of his face.  I thought that it was so funny that I took another picture.

We then headed over to the see the dolphin show and was amazed by all of their flips and tricks.  They also brought out a pair of huge, pilot whales which was very impressive.

A group of dolphins jumping into the air.

We then went and watched the infamous killer whale show.  Here are Ella, Lia, and me before the show started.  After six days of no naps, Logan was so tired at this point that he refused to pose for this picture and then fell asleep in my lap after I passed the baby over to my mom.  Poor, little guy.

An impressive killer whale jumping in the air.

Another amazing shot.  It's too bad that Logan slept through most of this show.

And one more.

We went straight from the killer whale show to the sea lion show that was surprisingly very funny. We had a good time laughing at these sea lions and their trainers.

The quintessential, sea lion pose.

After attending the three shows, we stumbled across a petting pool with a bunch of rays in it.  The kids got really brave and spent quite a bit of time touching them as they swam by.

Lia showing off her mad, petting skills!

We waited until the end of the day to stop by the Sesame Street Bay of Play--a huge play area near the entrance of the park.  Lia and Logan could have seriously spent an entire day playing here, but we only had 45 minutes until the park closed.  So, they had a great time while it lasted.  Here are Logan and Lia climbing through one of the tunnels in the giant fort.

Logan and Lia had the time of their lives laughing while jumping on this gigantic, bouncy floor.

Logan helping Lia up.  How cute.

Lia pushing back and forth in this contraption.  

Ernie and Elmo were actually posing for pictures, so we had to get in line and have one taken.  It's not quite the same as having your picture taken with a Disney princess, but it's a close second!

After our long day at Sea World, my mom and I returned back to the hotel pretty tired.  Since Ron had basically had two children-free days attending his conferences, we informed him that we were going out to dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter alone for a well deserved break!  Luckily, he agreed and stayed back in the hotel room and ordered room service for the kids and him.  My mom and I hurried across the street to the Gaslamp Quarter to eat at the Spaghetti Factory.  We enjoyed a quiet, peaceful dinner for a little over an hour before heading back to the room to help put the kids to bed. 

My mom caught a very early flight on the morning of February 21st.  As a result, I was on my own with the kids all day long until Ron finished up his conference right before dinner time.  I tried to keep the kids busy and happy that day.  We started out with another long walk back to the children's museum park for the entire morning while Ella took a nap.  Here is my adorable boy playing along the edge of the big sandbox.

Lia enjoyed climbing and hanging around the giant net again.

We then headed down to the hotel pool after lunch.  Since I had to hold Ella, I was unable to get in the pool and actually swim with the kids.  However, I enjoyed just watching them from the pool's edge.  Logan and Lia spent most of the time playing together in the children's pool.

My crazy boy climbing out of the pool.

The kids at play.

They ran into this little pool holding hands over and over again.  Just precious.

They can be so cute when they get along. :-)

Lia left Logan a couple of times to swim in the big pool.  She has become such a more confident swimmer this school year thanks to her Saturday morning swim class.

After Ron returned from his conference, we decided to head out to Coronado Island for the evening.  Our hotel room had a great view of this massive bridge heading out over the bay.  It wasn't until the third day there that I realized it was the bridge that goes to Coronado Island.  Ron and I had stayed at the infamous Del Coronado Hotel for my 31st birthday on this island the month before we moved away from California.  It was such a cute and quaint island that I insisted we go back out there once I realized that we were so close.  So, we piled into our rental van and drove out there for a wonderful and pleasant evening.  Even though it was at the tail end of our trip, the kids did great and we had an enjoyable time walking through the darling neighborhoods and eating at a local pizzeria.  Here are my girls and me stopping in the middle of a roundabout on our way to the restaurant. 

Ron and the kids examining a cannon in the roundabout.  

Poor, tired Logan waiting for his pizza to come.  Eating out seven nights in a row with little kids is hard work!

Logan giving mama a smile.

A family photo after our pizza arrived.

Ella had a grand time chewing on some pizza crust and it helped to keep her happy until the end of dinner.  We finished off the evening by walking down the street to a candy store where we bought some ice cream and ate outside on a bench.  It was the perfect way to end our trip in San Diego.  

We flew home on Sunday, February 22nd, which was Lia's 7th birthday.  Although I had told her that we would celebrate her birthday the next evening with grandma and grandpa, I surprised her with a large bag of candy and a card from us.  I secretly gave it to our airline stewardess and asked her to make an announcement over the PA system before bringing the candy to Lia.  It was so fun to watch Lia's reaction as the stewardess announced her birthday to everyone on the plane and sang to her.  Here is Lia and me after she got her candy.

Lia showing off her bag of candy and the gift she got from the airlines stewardess.  It's not every day that you get to spend your birthday 30,000 feet up in the air!