Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ella's 2 3/4 Years Old Today!

I can't believe that this little sweet pea is almost three years old.  The thought of it just makes me want to cry.  In so many ways, she is still my little baby, but in other ways she is so grown up and does everything her older brother and sister do.  Ella is still the biggest bundle of energy we have ever had in a two-year old.  She runs everywhere she goes and is game to do anything!  She has such a zest for life and can also be so feisty and sassy.  Ella continues to prefer her mom to anyone else...including her dad which makes both of us sad.  We have never had a child be such a "mama's girl" before.  I literally have to sneak out of the house whenever I need to leave her behind with Ron which luckily does not happen that often.  Once she figures out I am gone, she normally gets quite upset and continually asks when I will be home.  Whenever she hurts herself and needs comfort or needs help with something, she always wants me to be the one to do it.  As adorable as this is, it sure would be nice to get Ron's help a little more often when he is home.  But such is life with Ella Avalon at this time.
Ella has really become a "girly girl" in the past several months.  Like her older sister, she loves all things Disney princess and can be found wearing five different outfits from the dress-up box in one day.  She loves fancy dresses, jewelry, and pretty shoes.  She loves baby dolls and princess dolls and sneaks into Lia's room almost every day to play with her things.  Luckily, Ella now is starting to acquire her own collection of toys and dolls and enjoys playing independently in her room on a regular basis, too.  Ella still loves her ya-ya and pink blanket that she also calls "comfy warmy" (like Logan).  If she could have her pacifier, pink blanket, and mama all the time, she would be one happy camper.  Ella has also really developed a love of movies in the past few months and thoroughly enjoys her "movie time" every morning.  She happily lays on the big couch with her pink blanket and eat her "gummies" (fruit snacks) while watching her movie of choice.  However, Ella loves one-on-one attention from anyone and would read books, color pictures, complete a puzzle, and play dolls with any willing participant.  Ella still takes a soild two-hour nap every afternoon and sleeps 10 to 11 hours every night.  She also insists on taking baths in the big tub with her brother and sister and refuses to take one alone in the little tub in the children's bathroom anymore.  She wants to do everything they do and wants everything they want.  We sure love our Ella Avalon and cannot imagine what our lives would be like without this bundle of energy!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Priest Lake in the Snow!

We just returned home from our five day trip to the beautiful, snowy, winter wonderland at Priest Lake.  There was so much snow at the cabin this year and several inches fell the day after Christmas which was the day before we left.  Luckily, we managed to make it over Snoqualmie Pass on Tuesday morning even though we had worried that the pass might be closed or we might be stuck in long delays due to the storm that had just come through the night before.  However, the snow plows had been out in full force throughout the night keeping the roads cleared for the most part.  Although I-90 was covered in compact snow when we reached the pass, we were able to drive through, but at a much slower speed.  It took us about nine hours to get to the cabin instead of seven and half, but we were just grateful to arrive safely and to get there in time for dinner.  All of my brothers and their families got there before us and the cabin was cozy and warm with the Christmas decorations already up!  It was so beautiful.  I just couldn't get over it.
My parents unfortunately never made it up to the cabin due to how bad their viral plague was.  They never got better the entire time that we were all up there.  And the real surprise came when my dad got diagnosed with shingles half way through the week.  As a result, his flu turned out to be a real blessing in disguise as it had forced him to stay home close to things like Urgent Care, doctors, and prescription medicines which were all things he badly needed once his shingles were discovered.  If he had been up in the woods at Priest Lake, it would have made getting to doctors and getting home really difficult.  So although we missed my parents dearly, it was a good thing that they never came up.  Regardless, we had a wonderful time playing in the snow, sledding down the hills, and being with the cousins.  The children always have such a great time up there and I just love being in the middle of nowhere in a cozy cabin in the snow.  It is always such a fun way to spend the second half of our Christmas vacation and to wrap up the holiday season.  Here are some pictures of our time up at Priest Lake...

The three kiddos and me outside and ready to play in the snow on our first morning there.

Logan getting a feel for the sled after being pushed down the hill by me.

Logan crashing into a snow bank on the side of the road.

It came as no surprise that Ella immediately took to sledding and was never afraid of doing it all week long.  Here she is happily sledding down the hill on my lap.

Logan going for a run down the hill with Papa.

Lia has gotten much braver in the past year or so and now happily flies down the hill on her own.  Here she is going down the hill on her maiden voyage of the trip!

Logan discovered this week how much he loved eating snow.  I could find him eating this stuff every time we went outside to play.  It was pretty funny.  Here he is with snow all over his mouth after taking a large bite of the delicious, white stuff.

As always, Ella had to copy what Logan was doing.  So she also got into eating snow on this trip.

Ron, Logan, and Ella at the top of the sledding hill.

Logan and papa going down again.

Ella wandering around.

Logan enjoyed exploring the deep snow on the side of the sledding hill.

Both of the little ones even agreed to go down the hill at the same time with me.

Logan, Trenton, and Ella playing in the deep snow.

My favorite family picture taken all week long.  I can't believe how everyone is looking at the camera and smiling at the same time.  This doesn't happen every day in the Hartland.

Some of the parents at the top of the sledding hill.

Logan and Trenton hanging out and eating snow.

The kids had plenty of indoor cabin time throughout the week.  They passed a lot of the time playing games.  Here is Lia with some of her cousins playing "Apples to Apples."

We brought up Logan's Star Wars Lego set that he had just gotten for Christmas since we knew there would be some down time at the cabin to put it together.  Here is Ron helping him out with Princess Ella looking on.

On our second day there, Ella agreed to ride down the sledding hill on Lia's back a couple of times.  She has no fear when it comes to these kinds of things.  I just thought it was the cutest thing to see the two of them flying down the hill.  Here is one of the action shots I managed to take of them.

The two girls speeding down the hill after they passed me.

It snowed on our second full day there which made it even funner to be in the snow.  Here is another picture I took of Logan eating snow with the snowflakes in the foreground.

The kiddos and me.

Ella riding down on Lia's back again.

Chris introduced video games to Ella and Logan for the first time.  Although the two of them had no idea what they were doing, they got a kick out of holding their own controller and pushing all of the buttons.

Lia tried out "Minecraft" for the first time with Sarah and Vivi.

I brought up a sock snowman craft (left over from Activity Days this month) for the girls to do.  Here are Lia and the triplets making their own snowman to take home.

Ella joined the group and pretended to feed her stuffed penguin a bunch of buttons left over from the craft. 

On our third full day at the cabin, the majority of the group went skiing to Schweitzer.  As a result, Natalee and Trenton stayed behind with us which made for a quiet and relaxing day.  We started out the morning sledding down the driveway and snowbank near the garage for a change.  Even Ella was game to try going down the driveway on her own sled.  It was the cutest thing!

Logan fell in love with the snow bank and went down it over and over again.  It's pretty steep, so I was impressed that he was willing to try it out all on his own.  He's starting to grow up...

Of course, Ella was willing to go down the snow bank with me.  Here we are at the bottom.

And going down again!

Lia did a few runs herself.

We then decided to venture down the 88 stairs covered in snow to check out the beach below.  Here are the kids climbing on and around the boat lift that has been pulled onto the shore for the winter months.

Lia sitting on a 'snow throne.'

Logan relaxing on our dock covered in snow.

Another family picture in the deep snow with Priest Lake in the background.  So beautiful!

The sun came out for a little bit on our third day there.  Here is a picture I took from the deck looking out over the water.

After the gang returned home from skiing, the girls finally broke out their stuffed animals that they had all brought up to the cabin.  Here are the triplets and Lia with their extensive line-up of Beanie Boos.  This kind of stuffed animal is definitely a favorite among our entire family!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

It's hard to believe that we wrapped up another Christmas season tonight.  With the exception of my parents both coming down with the viral plague in the past few days, it really was a perfect and wonderful holiday.  We started off by heading to my parents' house yesterday after the Seahawks game ended.  Although my dad was already really sick with a bad cold/flu combo, my mom managed to put on her delicious, turkey dinner that we all contributed food to.  This was Chris' and Natalee's year to be with our family, so it was fun to have all of the Washington cousins together.  We enjoyed the dinner, participated in a family, Christmas program, and then played a "White Elephant" game which is something we have always done in the past at my mom's family's Christmas party that did not happen this year.  We unfortunately ran out of time at the end of the evening to do our traditional lighting of the Christmas tree with real candles, but since my dad wasn't feeling well it probably was best that we skipped it this year.
The next morning, the children woke up to their Santa gifts carefully laid out on their designated couches.  They were so excited to run downstairs and see what they had got from Santa.  There definitely was an American Girl Doll theme for Lia, a Star Wars theme for Logan, and a princess theme for Ella.  They all seemed to really enjoy their gifts.  Since Christmas fell on Sunday and we didn't want to rush things, we opted to just have our nice, traditional breakfast in the dining room before getting dressed and heading off to church.  After we came home around noon, we opened up our gifts under the tree.  Since my mom had woken up with the same flu this morning, she left my dad at home and amazingly managed to drive around to all three homes in half the time that they normally take.  Instead of coming to our house for dinner, she came right after we had finished opening up our gifts after church.  The children were able to show grandma what they had gotten for Christmas before we exchanged gifts with her.  It was sad to see grandma leave so quickly, but she really was so sick and needed to get home and into bed.
After my mom left, the children and I watched the new Star Wars movie that grandma had given us as a present.  Afterwards, Ron helped me make our traditional, Filipino dinner that we ate at 7:30 in the dining room.  Since we had to fit church into the Christmas schedule, everything was a little pushed back the rest of the day, but it ended up being okay since we didn't end up hosting my parents who are normally in a hurry to get home after a long day driving from house to house.  Overall it was a wonderful, relaxing, and peaceful Christmas which we all appreciated after such a whirlwind, holiday season!  Now it's on to Priest Lake...

The Hartland fam posing in front of the Christmas tree at the grandparents' house.

Lia playing some Christmas music on the piano as part of the Christmas program.

Logan and Lia sharing a chair with their older cousin, Vivi.  Logan found this Santa hat from when he was a baby in the top drawer of his dresser.  He somehow managed to squeeze in onto his head even though it is several sizes too small.  However, it looked so funny as a result!

Aunt Natalee leading everywhere in the ringing of the bells.

Logan, Ella, Riley, and Bryce ringing their bells.

The children also acted out the nativity story while Ron read it from the Bible.  Ella got to be Mary this year (with Brynn as Joseph) which was just the cutest thing...especially with the ya-ya in her mouth.  

Vivi and Lia were matching angels which Lia was just thrilled about.

Logan was so excited in advance to be the star, but when the moment actually he arrived, he was a little grumpy which made the entire affair even funnier.

All of the grandkids (minus Garrett who just watched this year) together after the story was over.

Lia's Santa gifts all neatly laid out Christmas morning before she came down the stairs.

Although Lia already has gotten her historical, American Girl Doll Caroline and the sailing outfit that she is wearing, she got the two different accessories that go with it:  the travel basket and the bonnet and jacket.  Santa "borrowed" Caroline a few days before Christmas to send her to the 'Santa Salon' to have her hair styled by the elves.  As a result, she showed back up Christmas morning wearing her sailing outfit with her hair all pretty and fixed.

Logan and Ella shared a couch.  It is pretty easy to tell which half is Ella's and which half is Logan's just by the colors.

Ella's half of gifts with lots of princess stuff!

Logan's side of gifts with lots of Star Wars and pirate goodies which are his two current, favorite things.

Lia's reaction after seeing her Santa gifts.  I just loved the look on her face!

Logan and Ella both quickly changed into their princess and pirate clothes.  Here they are showing them off to the family.  They looked pretty darn cute if you ask me!

Lia opening up her new, mini, Caroline doll.

Ella trying out her doctor kit with her Elsa and Rapunzel dolls at her side.

Lia dressing a Barbie in her new mermaid outfit with Logan looking on.

Mama and the kiddos in front of the tree.

All of the children alone.

All three kiddos checking out Ella's new, awesome tent.

Everyone ready to dive into our Christmas breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, homemade bread ring, and Martinelli's sparkling cider.  Notice how BB8 is the sixth member of our family.

Logan and his new friend, BB8.

All three kids dressed up in their Christmas clothes ready to head off to church.

Ella in her princess shoes and dress showing off her new Barbies that she just unwrapped.

Logan showing off his BB8 Operation game from Aunt Renee and Uncle Derek.

Papa helping Ella to open up a Princess Sophia purse.

Logan opening up another gift while wearing his awesome pirate costume (yes, he put it back on again after church).

Lia opening up her American Girl Doll salon that she was super excited about!

The kids gathering around mom after she opened up her new popcorn machine.

Ella modeling her beautiful Cinderella gown and glass slippers from Aunt Austin and Uncle Robbie.

Ella showing off her Elsa dress from Santa with the pretty gloves and accessories she also got from Aunt Austin and Uncle Robbie.  She was definitely excited about all of the new items she was able to add to her dress-up wardrobe!