Monday, February 29, 2016

23 Months Old!

Oh, I simply cannot believe that my sweet, baby girl is turning two years old in a month!  How did this happen so fast?  As you can tell by the pictures, Ella really has turned into a full-fledged toddler these past few months.  She is such a little girl!  And, boy, does she keep me hopping.  She is so, so busy.  Ella is constantly getting into things or trying to keep up with her older brother and sister.  She seriously thinks that she is ten years old most of the time.  But, we just love her to pieces and think she is the cutest thing around. As for her latest developments this past month, Ella continues to speak one of two words at a time.  The cutest one is that she says, "yesh" instead of "yes."  Ella also puts an "s" on the end of most of her words.  For example, she says, "mores" instead of "more" when she wants more food.  She also says, "Okay," in the funniest voice whenever she agrees to do something that we ask her to do.  The other funny word that Ella came started using this past month is "Doby" which she consistently uses for "grandma."  I don't know how or why she came up with this word, but she really says it to mean grandma all of the time.  Ella continues to love her blanket and her ya ya and insists on dragging her blanket around the house most days.  She is also my sneakiest child and continues to sneak upstairs several times a day to pull a pacifier out of her crib.  She has also managed to climb inside her crib (without the help of a stool or anything) two times this past month.  I don't know how she manages to do this, but we have found her in her crib two times without any help.  Amazing.  This little girl is so fearless and coordinated.  She still loves shoes and constantly can be found putting on a pair of her shoes or someone else's shoes in the house.  Whenever she hears that it is time to go outside or in the car, she is the first person in the laundry room trying to put her shoes on.  It's so funny!  Ella loves having books read to her and enjoys any one-on-one time I give her on the floor.  She also is loving the outdoor play that is coming with the spring weather and will climb up any ladder and slide down any side that we play on.  Ella still naps like a champ every afternoon and does a great job sleeping through the night.  Her fussy eating phase has seemed to subside a bit as she now only needs a little coaxing to get most foods in her mouth.  Ella has also started to throw serious tantrums whenever she is not happy about something and many of these tantrums are thrown on the floor.  I am going to blame her older brother for setting a stellar example in this department for her entire life as the cause of this.  Ella also gets hurt a lot and gets harassed by Logan a lot.  As a result, she unfortunately spends a lot of her day crying.  She is definitely heading into the terrible twos phase.  Oh well.  We love her anyways and just can't get enough of her!   

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Daddy Daughter Dance 2016

For the fourth year in a row, our stake hosted a Daddy Daughter Dance in February.  Usually it falls on the same Saturday as Lia's friend party, but this year it was a week later.  Although she had a busy day of attending another friend's birthday party and playing in her basketball game, Lia was super excited and anxious to head out for an evening with her daddy!  We got her all dolled up in one of my friend, Sarah's, beautiful hand-me-down dresses from her two daughters and even curled Lia's hair which seriously happens twice a year.  She looked so beautiful AND grown-up!  I can't get over how Lia does not look like a little girl anymore.  She really looks like an eight year old and is turning into such a wonderful, little lady!  Lia and her dad headed out right at 6 p.m. for an evening of dancing and snacking on chocolate and strawberry milk and every kind of cookie under the sun.  They even stopped for shakes at Sonic on the way home.  I'm so glad that they share this evening together every year.  Just think, in two more years, Lia and Ella can be going to this dance together!  :-)

My pretty princess all ready for the ball.

Daddy and daughter ready to go!

Their picture from the dance.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lia's 8th Birthday!

After Lia's large friend party on Saturday, I was grateful to host a much smaller and simpler family party for her.  However, since her grandparents were flying back from Mexico on her actual birthday, she chose to wait an entire day so that they could join us.  Besides bringing homemade sugar cookies to class on Monday, we did absolutely nothing else on her birthday.  She didn't even get to open a single present!  I was really impressed with Lia's self control and her willingness to postpone all of her birthday fun just so her grandparents could be with us.
Like last year, Lia requested her favorite dinner which is "breakfast for dinner."  Since my parents drove almost an hour to join us, I beefed up her request and made an egg casserole, bacon, and delicious cinnamon rolls.  After dinner, Lia opened up her gifts.  Like Christmas, it was mainly an American Girl Doll birthday.  Besides getting some new clothes and some more Disney zum zums, everything else was American Girl.  She got a few new pieces of furniture for her mega doll house including a beautiful, wooden vanity from her grandma and grandpa and a beautiful, wooden sideboard from her Lola and Papa John.  We also gave her some new Caroline Abbott books and the Kit Kittredge DVD, plus a few items from Grace Thomas' collection (the 2015 Girl of the Year doll).  The big surprise was saved for the very end when I pulled out one last gift which had been hidden in the office:  a Grace Thomas doll!  Although Lia already has a look alike doll, Grace is her true look alike since she has freckles in addition to the fair skin, dark hair, and blue eyes that her look alike has.  Whenever we were visiting the AGD store last year, various employees would tell Lia that she looks like Grace Thomas.  I finally got to the point where I would jokingly tell them to quit saying this!  However, after I got the deal of the decade in December and found Grace for $44 instead of the regular $120, I couldn't resist buying her.  You can imagine Lia's surprise (and accompanying screams) when she opened this last gift!

Eating our breakfast for dinner in the dining room.  Please notice Logan's large, blue gun on the table.  He always adds a touch of class where ever he goes. :-)

Lia opening her first gift:  a parlor desk for her doll house.

Lia smiling for the camera before opening her second gift...

Grace Thomas' pajamas and baking outfit.

Lia pulling out her new clothes.  This shirt has tiny Eiffel Towers on it which she loved!

Lia posing with grandma before opening another one.

Lia showing off her new Frozen themed zum zums.

Logan making a funny face for the camera.

Lia opening up her American Girl Doll.

Grandma and Lia proudly displaying Grace.

Lia giving papa a huge hug to thank him for her new doll!

Grandpa examining Grace up close.

After Lia finished opening gifts, grandma and grandpa had one last surprise for Lia--my old Barbie, dollhouse that I got for Christmas in 1982.  It was custom made and built to look like a house on the canals of Venice.  It has been kicking around my parents' house for years and I finally told my dad (who has been asking me for years) to bring it over to our house.  Now, Lia has a place to put all of my old Barbie furniture and hopefully will spend hours and hours playing in it like I did growing up.  And, yes, Ella is wearing grandma's big shoes in this picture.  Oh, that girl.  She loves wearing other peoples' shoes!

We finished off the evening with cupcakes and ice cream.  Since I now make an elaborate cake for Lia's friend party, I refuse to make a second one for her family party.  Luckily, she is fine with a homemade cupcake.  Here is our big, 8-year old with Grace getting ready to blow out her candle!

Lia and Grace blowing out the candle.
Happy Birthday, Lia!  We sure love you and are so grateful that you joined our family eight years ago!  I can't imagine my life without you!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lia's Beanie Boo Birthday Party

After hours of preparation, I am happy to say that I successfuly wrapped up Lia's friend birthday party yesterday.  Unlike previous years, Lia went back and forth as to what theme she wanted to have this year.  On her own, she came up with the idea of a Beanie Boo party one day this past fall, but I told her I would only do it if there was a plethora of ideas on the internet.  However, I never got around to looking into it until the beginning of January when the holiday season was over.  I was blown away to learn that there was hundreds of ideas online and so I told her it was a "go!"  And I am happy to report that this was our cutest friend party yet.  I really had a fun time coming up with ideas for the decorations, activities, games, and the cake.  In addition to the Beanie Boos, I decided to go with a lavendar, turqouise, and bright pink color theme with polka dots.  Like Lia's 6th birthday party, we invited 18 girls and got a "yes" from 17!  Ahhh!  I let Lia add one more to the list and so we had 19 girls under our roof for two hours.  But thanks to having everything planned out and having Ron's assistance, the girls had a great time and the party was a real success!  I am so grateful for the wonderful group of friends that Lia has from church and school.

This the second year in a row that I made a coordinating wreath out of deco mesh to hang on the front door.  We just happened to have five, minature Beanie Boos that matched the color theme to put on the wreath.

Although Lia loves Beanie Boos, she does not have a large collection (mainly because I can't stand  piles of stuffed animals in my kids' rooms).  As a result, we had to borrow 35 Beanie Boos from three of Lia's friends.  It really helped to make the party so cute.  Here is the mantle all decorated.  The penant says "Happy Birthday" with a different picture of a Beanie Boo above each letter.

The grand table set for nineteen girls!  I leared how to make tissue poms this year which hung from the ceiling and the windows in addition to the balloons and streamers.  We also ran Beanie Boos down the entire length of the table.  It looked so cute!

The birthday cake with Lia's Beanie Boo unicorn, Magic, on top!

A close-up of the table with the polka dot plates and napkins, the confetti I made out of scrapbook paper, the Beanie boos, striped straws with the Beanie Boo strawtoppers I printed and cut out, and polka dot pillows I sewed for each of the girls' Beanie Boo (that we asked them to bring).  

After the girls arrived and had a chance to color a Beanie Boo coloring sheet, we did two crafts with the girls--making bead necklaces and party hats for the Beanie Boo they brought.  Here are the girls working on their party hats.

Suzette, Lia, and Charlotte decorating their party hats.

The group of girls hard at work. 

After the two crafts, we played several rounds of Beanie Boo Bingo on bingo cards I printed out.  Here is Ron leading the game.

The girls searching for a picture of the Beanie Boo Ron just called out.

Instead of playing drop the clothespin in a jar, we played drop the miniature Beanie Boo in the jar.  This game turned out to be harder than I thought and we only had two rounds instead of three!  Here is Sienna dropping the stuffed tiger into the mason jar.

Lindsay taking a go at it with Addison and Adalyn looking on.

We then opened gifts next.  Here is Lia opening up a gift with her new friend, Bella, who just moved up the street this past October.  

Lia reading Maddison' card.  Maddison probably gave Lia the most surprising and generous gift of all--a miniature American Girl Lea Clark doll and her first, two books.  

Lia showing off the two Beanie Boos that sisters Mollie and Gabriella gave her.

Lia reading Addyson's card. 

We finished off the party with cake and ice cream.  Here is Lia making a funny face as the girls sang "Happy Birthday" to her!

Lia blowing out the candles.

The girls enjoying their cake and ice cream.

From left to right:  Lilah, Gabriella, Mollie, Isabel, and Suzette.

For some reason, the girls fell in love with the blue, Hawaiian punch we served.  They kept on asking for refills which kept Ron very busy until they drank up the entire large jug of punch.  I managed to get this funny picture of three girls holding up their cups for refills with Lia eating in the background.  

My sweet birthday girl with her new Beanie Boo friends at her side.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Logan's Fourth Birthday!

Yesterday we celebrated Logan's fourth birthday.  We had a pleasant, little party with my parents who came down for the evening.  We ate a nice dinner in the dining room followed by a minion cake (par Logan's request) and ice cream.  I made my favorite, chocolate cake from scratch with butter cream frosting and it was delicous.  We then moved to the living room for gift opening.  Logan was quite pleased with his lot and favorites included a Lite-Brite set (yes, they still are around), Logan's own Merida quiver, arrow, and four bows (since Logan loves Lia's and broke all of her arrows), foam bullet refills for his Star Wars gun, and an awesome flying track for Dusty from the Planes: Fire and Rescue movie.  We finished off the evening with a scavenger hunt for Lia and Logan that took them all over the house where they ended up in the master bedroom closet and discovered balloons and a banner that said, "You are going to Hawaii!"  Although we decided to go on this trip this summer to celebrate my 40th birthday, I thought it would be fun to "give" it to the kids as part of Logan's birthday.  Lia did a great job following the clues all over the house and gave us the best reaction of all by screaming and jumping up and down when she discovered the prize at the end.  Logan was clueless as to what a trip to Hawaii meant, but he'll figure it out when we get there in July!

Logan's minion cake before devouring it that evening.  I think it turned out quite cute.

The grandparents with Ron and the kids at the beginning of dinner.

Logan listening to us sing, "Happy Birthday."

And blowing out his candles.

Logan eating his cake.

Lia enjoying her dessert...

along with baby Ella.

Ella watching Logan open a gift.

Logan opening up his Lite-Brite magic screen.

Logan opening up another present.

Helping Logan open up his foam bullets that are now scattered all over our house,.

Finishing up the gift opening with Ella's assistance.  

Lia finding one of the clues to the scavenger hunt in an upstairs closet while Logan looks on with his bow and arrows.

Lia reading the clue out loud to Ron, my mom, and me.  All seven clues were tied to an item that related to Hawaii (this one was tied to a flower lei).

Lia and Logan heading out the garage to find another clue.

Lia coming out of Ron's truck with another clue tied to a pair of sunglasses.

Lia and Logan racing into the children's bathroom to find another clue in the bathtub.

Lia reading her second to last clue tied to one of her bathing suits.

On the outside of our bathroom door, Lia found her newest American Girl Doll, McKenna, waiting for them wearing a hula outfit and holding a balloon.  Here is Lia posing with her beloved doll before heading in!

One of the many shots I captured of Lia screaming after reading the banner she found in our closet. I just loved her reaction!

The three kiddos posing in front of the banner.  Just precious.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, baby Ella put on the lei and Lia's swimsuit like a backpack.  It was hilarious.  She hopped up on our bed after we were done with the hunt and started dancing around.  Here she is posing for me.

Of course, Lia had to jump in on the fun and get in a picture.

This is a picture I snapped trying to show how Ella had put Lia's swimsuit on like a backpack.  Such a funny girl!