Monday, August 31, 2015

17 Months Old!

It's hard to believe that our baby girl is 17-months old today!  She is growing up so quickly these days.  Ella is just nonstop busy.  Some days, I can barely keep up with her, but we just love her to pieces.  We just think she is the cutest thing around.  Ella loves to be in the middle of the excitement now and loves to be doing whatever her brother or sister are doing.  She still has a HUGE appetite and regularly eats more than her brother at every meal.  She still takes two naps a day, but I am planning on dropping her morning nap shortly as it often times takes her a long time to fall asleep for her afternoon nap.  Ella is also doing a great job sleeping at night as I rarely ever have to make a pacifier run anymore.  She sleeps most nights for 10 to 11 hours.  Ella continues to add a few words to her vocabulary every month.  She currently says the follow words:  mama, papa, hello (sounds more like "lo"), bye bye, more, wow, weeeee, and thank you.  She picks up hair brushes to comb her hair, she holds a phone up to her ear and says, "lo," and tries to put on her diaper, pants, or shorts all the time.  Ella still loves to try on other peoples' shoes and can be found walking around our house wearing Lia's flip flops or Ron's work shoes.  It's the cutest thing.  Ella is still a nonstop wiggle worm and constantly climbs out of her stroller (when she is strapped in) whenever we are out and about.  It makes shopping even more difficult as I am constantly trying to buckle her back into the stroller or forced to carry her while pushing an empty stroller while still in the store.  Ella loves her fuzzy, pink blanket and a soft, teddy bear she got last month at carpet showroom.  She cuddles them all the time in her bed and when we give them to her to hold.  Ella loves her pacifier and is happy as a clam being in her bed.  She has a bit of a temper and has no problem letting you know when she is not happy that a toy has been taken away from her.  She loves being in the backyard and playing at the beach although she never really became a fan of sitting on the sand all summer long.  Such a silly girl.  We love you, Ellie Bellie!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Girl Scout Encamporee

A few months ago, Lia's Girl Scout leader informed us that their troop was invited to attend an overnight Encamporee at a camp a little over an hour away.  As excited as I was for Lia, I was a little surprised that her leaders were okay with taking a group of 7-year old girls away from home for two nights.  Although her leaders didn't seem bothered by this, I decided that Lia would only go up for the day on Saturday unless I could go with her as I just didn't feel right about sending her away with people who weren't family for that much time.  Luckily, we learned in July that moms could come up for one of the two nights.  This was actually fine with me as the thought of sleeping in the same room with ten, little girls didn't sound that fun to me. :-)   So, instead of going up for Friday evening, Lia and I got up early Saturday morning and joined her troop at 9 a.m. right after breakfast and right as the first craft activity of the day began.  We stayed with her troop until they checked out on Sunday morning.  Although we had the first rain in literally weeks, we managed to have a really good time.  The encamporee was held at a Girl Scout Camp called St. Albans located on Lake Devereaux near Hood Canal in the town of Allyn.  It is a typical summer camp like the ones you see in the movies with the large lodge right on the lake surrounded by quaint and rustic cabins.  I really got a kick out of staying at this type of camp as every campground I stayed at as a child and a teenager was much more basic and rustic.  Besides the cold and wet weather, Lia and I really had a good time together.  I helped her troop craft most of Saturday and go on a hike around the large camp.  We also enjoyed eating our meals in the large lodge and participating in the evening's festivities.  I really enjoyed some quality mommy-daughter bonding time and am grateful that Lia is part of such a wonderful troop of girls.

Lia working on one of the crafts Saturday morning--beading a bracelet that went around one of her fingers and her wrist.

Lia and Caroline working hard with their troop leader, Nancy, helping out.

Lunch on Saturday was not provided by the camp in the large lodge--so we went back to our cabin instead to eat lunch provided by the troop.  Here is Lia eating her lunch with Ruby and Sienna at her side.

Due to the bad weather, both of the troop's water activities were cancelled on Saturday afternoon.  As a result, the girls worked on earning a hiking badge instead.  They had a brief meeting after lunch in our cabin before heading out in the rain for some good old Northwest hiking!

The girls leaving the cabin to start their hike with their fearless leader at the helm!

Part of the hike took us down to the water by the boathouse where they store the Viking Boats (that they would have gone out on had it not been so rainy and windy).  Here is the troop posing with Lake Devereaux in the background.

Troop 44340 posing in one of the Viking Boats.  It really would have been fun to swim and boat in this lake on a hot, gorgeous, sunny day, but we made the most of it anyways.

Lia and her good friend, Sienna, who she has now known for three years.  

Lia and her windy hair finishing up the hike.

The girls returned to the lodge after the hike for more crafting in the afternoon.  They first made visors out of decorative duct tape.  Here is Lia posing with her cute friend, Bella, after finishing their visors.

They then went to another table where they made "frushi" (sushi made out of fruit).  Here they are mashing up their bananas before mixing it with the rice.

Lia and her troop mixing away.

Lia layering the fruit on the rice before rolling it up.

The last, crafty activity of the day was making an "explosion" outside the lodge with hydrogen peroxide.  Here is Lia stirring the yeast.

Lia adding the yeast to the dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, and food coloring.

And away it goes!

The girls playing in the explosion foam after it was all done.

We took the girls out to a field to burn off some energy before dinner.  Nancy put her older daughter, Bella, in charge of the games.  

Lia and the girls getting ready to play tag.

And, they're off!

Lia running away from Ruby!

Lia and I posing in front of our cabin before heading off to dinner at the lodge.


After dinner, Lia participated in her favorite activity of the weekend--trading "swaps" with other Girl Scouts.  We made 20 of our own so that she could trade with 20 other girls at the encamporee.  She ended up with quite a fun collection to hang on her necklace when she was done.  Here she is trading with Ruby.

Sienna, Bella, and Lia showing off their awesome swap necklaces after the trading was done.

Before skits and Bingo, the girls had fun posing in the cut-out boards that were scattered around the lodge.  Here are Lia and Sienna in the yellow submarine.  

And, of course, Lia had to pose in the mermaid one!

Lia's troop did a skit about mermaids and eels (go figure) before playing many rounds of Bingo!  Here are the girls acting out their skit.

After a decent night's sleep, we woke up Sunday morning, packed up our cabin, and went back down to the lodge for breakfast.  Here is Lia with Sienna, Stella, and two of the troop leaders.  

Mommy and daughter enjoying breakfast before doing K.P. duty and heading home!  Thanks, Lia, for a fun mommy-daughter adventure.  I sure love you!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

We're Going to Disneyland!

Ever since our visit to Disneyland the summer of 2012, I have dreamed of returning to Disneyland alone with Lia.  In 2012, Lia was almost 4 1/2 years old and in love with the Disney princesses.  However, we had to juggle princess hunting with a nursing baby and a million other needs and wishes.  After promising myself that I would never go back to Disneyland with a baby who wasn't weaned or walking, I did it again this past February.  Although this trip was an amazing success for the most part, it was a ton of work and I found myself once again wishing that Lia and I could just go to Disneyland alone together.  Lia is so well behaved, so pleasant to be around, and such a good traveller AND, we both love doing the same things at Disneyland!  If we didn't have to meet the needs and wishes of a temperamental toddler (who is a boy with completely different interests) and a wiggly baby, it would be a total vacation for me and a total blast!  But I never thought this dream would come to pass, so I quickly brushed it aside.
Fast forward a few months to the beginning of May.  I found myself on the phone with my childhood friend, Andrea, who goes to Disneyland several times a year with her daughter, Lauren, who is only  1 1/2 years younger than Lia.  Lauren is an only child and has never known what it is like to go to Disneyland with other children.  In addition, shes loves Disney princesses as much as Lia and loves hunting for them in the park as much as her!  While comparing notes on these two girls and talking about how much fun they would have together, Andrea invited us to join them for their next trip to Disneyland AND said that we could stay in their room in the Disneyland Hotel with them!!!  Since I am a total Disney girl, it has always been a dream of mine to stay in a Disney hotel in the park...but I would never cough up the money to stay in one.  I'm just too frugal of a traveller.  But when this offer was thrown my way, I was sold hook, line, and sinker!  After running this by Ron, I quickly found and bought airplane tickets for Lia and me to fly to Southern California in October.  However, there was only one problem--I just wasn't at peace with giving Lia such a huge gift without associating it with a holiday, but both Christmas and her birthday would fall after our trip was over.  So, although I am not a big believer in doing much of anything for my kids' "half birthdays," I decided that this was the closest thing I was going to get to a real holiday.  After keeping it a secret for almost four months, I was finally able to give Lia her half birthday present today!  I wrapped up a big box in Frozen themed wrapping paper and let Lia open it up.  After explaining it to her, there was much screaming and jumping by the both of us!  Needless to say, the two of us are soooo excited to go on our first "womancation" together!

Lia standing next to her mysterious, half birthday present before opening it!

Lia tearing it open with Logan at her side.

Lia looking into the box.

I took all nine of Lia's Disney princess Barbies, dressed them in their respective dresses and combed their hair, and put them in a box filled with tissue paper. I then made little signs for each of the Barbies to hold which spelled out the message:  "Lia--we miss you! Come back and see us!"

The first half of the message.

The second half of the message.

As you can imagine, Lia was a little confused when she first opened the box.  But after I explained it to her, this was the look on her face.  Just priceless.

Lia and her Barbies.  Oh, it's going to be fun!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Priest Lake Family Reunion

After weeks of going back and forth, I decided to brave it and head up to Priest Lake with all three kiddos sans Ron for my family reunion.  Last year I didn't feel up to it since Ella was so young and so we sent Lia up alone with my parents for the week.  Ron and I came up with the younger two kids at the end of the week to join my family.  However, this year I decided to try it out on my own with the hopes that Ron could join us at the tail end of the reunion like we did last year.  But as the weekend approached, Ron got so slammed with work that we decided that it would be best if he stayed home and pounded out a lot of work while we were still gone.  So, for the second time this summer, I was without Ron's help for ten days.  I will admit that it was a lot of work, but the sacrifice was worth it as Lia and Logan had so much fun playing with cousins.  The weather was stunning all week long and so we got in lots of water and beach time.  Overall, I'm glad that I went and am very grateful that I was able to hitch a ride up and back with my parents, but was very tired when we got home.  It'll a take me a few days to recover from this one...

Logan finally started to get brave around the water in August and jumped off of the dock and into my arms several times.  He also agreed to go out on a ride on the windsurf board with Spencer.

However, he started crying when Spencer went out too far, so this is as good as the pictures got!  :-)

Lia enjoyed lots of beach time--sometimes with the triplets and sometimes alone.

Like last month's trip, Logan was also found on the beach more than in the water.  Here he is hanging out with grandma and grandpa at his side.

Lia paddling away in an inner tube.

The boys lined up on a kayak--Trenton, Garrett, Riley, Bryce, and a crying Logan.  Oh dear.

Ella was super cute this trip and really enjoyed floating around in the shark floatie that Natalee brought with them.  I pushed her around in it several times the week that we were there.  She was so relaxed and happy in it and would even reach out and pat the water.  

Ella and mama taking a dip together.

Sarah Mae swimming at our side.

One of the nights, my mom had the great idea of asking the grandchildren to participate in a family fashion show.  Each of the kids modeled one or two outfits that belonged to their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents.  It was so fun!  Here is Lia modeling one of my favorite church dresses that I wore back when I was 11 years old.

Callie modeling one of her grandmother's college dresses.

And Spencer striking a pose in his great-grandpa's jacket and hat from Germany.

Garrett saluting us in his grandpa's army uniform.

Brynn striking a pose in one of Omi's dresses.

And, lastly, here is Kelsey working it in her grandma's jelly outfit that she really wore in Hawaii when she was in college.

We convinced Logan to go out another day on the windsurf board with Trenton at his side.  I just love this picture!

Trenton and Logan hanging out on the dock together.  They were quite the pair this week.

Ella loved playing with the wind chimes on the deck.  Here is grandpa holding her so that she could play with them one evening.

Logan and Trenton back out on the dock for a twilight swim.

Sweet Ella and me out for an evening dip as the sun set.

Sarah and I passing Ella back and forth.  Ella really seemed to love this.

My sweet girl!

Logan hanging out one evening with Brynn and Trenton on the swing.

Now Logan with the boys--Riley and Trenton.

The boys talking and relaxing--I just love this picture.

The entire fam (minus Ron) on our last full day before departure.  What a week!