Thursday, June 30, 2016

2 and 1/3 Years Old Today!

Oh, this little girl.  I have never had such a fearless, independent, sassy two-year old in my life!  Ella Avalon just keeps us on our toes and cracks us up on a daily basis.  I never ended up doing an update for her 2nd birthday (sorry, Ella!), so it has actually been six months since her last report.  Ella is nonstop go, go, go.  She runs everywhere which is just the funniest thing as her thin, brown hair constantly flows behind her as she runs.  She is obsessed with swimsuits and pretty dresses and can be found putting on several different ones a day.  In fact, she is extremely proficient at dressing herself which is also something I have never had in a child this young before.  Ella has to constantly keep up with her older brother and sister.  Anything they want, she wants.  Anything they say, she says...and she normally screams it instead of just saying it in a normal volume.  Ella loves cute, little things and especially likes to kiss pictures of cute, little animals in her storybooks.  It is so funny!  She loves baby dolls, stuffed animals, and Disney princesses.  Ella especially loves her soft, pink blanket and her ya-ya.  She still sneaks upstairs several times a day to fish one out from her crib and then proudly comes back downstairs with it in her mouth.  She is going to have a hard time saying goodbye to the pacifier when we decide that the time has come to give it up!  Ella still does not show much of an interest in television which I attribute to the fact that she is too busy to ever sit down and watch something.  However, when she does, she likes watching Elmo shows and our potty training movie called "Potty Power."  Ella also enjoys "coloring" pictures and drawing on paper--especially when she sees her siblings doing it.  She loves having stories read to her and being held by her mommy.  Ella has loved the recent, warm weather and jumps at any opportunity to wear a swimsuit outside to play in the baby pool or on the beach.  She continues to sleep well at night and take a long, afternoon nap every day.  She is still a little picky with some meat and vegetables, but for the most part does a pretty good job eating food.  And that's my baby girl (who is growing up way too fast) in a nutshell!  Love you, Ellie B!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Last Day of School!

We wrapped up both Logan's and Lia's school year this week.  Logan's last day of preschool was on Tuesday, June 21st.  We finished off the year with a party in our backyard.  Although it had poured the night before, I was luckily able to still host it outside on a cloudy day.  The kids just kept their jackets on and had a grand time playing on the play set and on the sport's court and eating goodies that everyone brought.  At the end, we handed out little certificates while playing "Pomp and Circumstance."  Overall, Logan's co-op was such a better experience than Lia's.  Only one mom canceled last minute one time the entire year--and it was last week!  So Logan was able to meet twice a week with his friends all year long to learn about a letter and a number.  We saved a ton of money and had a good time.  However, I must admit that I am a little ready to be able to just drop him off next year at his new preschool and not have to worry about hosting every six weeks.

Logan and all of his preschool buddies (plus two younger siblings) holding up their certificates in our backyard.
From left to right: Vera with her two sisters, Logan, Jace, Claire, Reese, Sterling, and Liam.

Lia finished off her last day of second grade today.  Since Labor Day was so late this year, school did not start until September 8th.  As a result, her last day of school was not until June 23rd which is very late!  Although we have had some spectacular, 80 degree weather this Spring, the last two weeks of school were totally cloudy and cool which helped make it easier for the kids to go to school so late in June.  Overall, this was a fabulous school year for Lia.  She had hand's down our most favorite teacher of all three teachers at her elementary school.  Lia absolutely loved Mrs. Caufield.  She was so fun, organized, responsible, and energetic.  She made going to school and learning such a joy for Lia.  In addition, Lia had a bunch of friends in this class at the beginning of the school year and even made a few more throughout the year.  She loved heading off to school each day and also really enjoyed all of her after school activities which included piano, Girl Scouts, Activity Days, gymnastics, and three seasons of team sports:  soccer, basketball, and softball.  She was sad to see it go, but I know that we are BOTH ready for a break and for some summer fun!
Here is Lia about to head off to her last day of school with her brother and sister at her side.

The last day my baby is a second grader.  Doesn't she look so grown-up?!  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

This is the kind of thing...

that makes Lia and me laugh,
and makes Ron worry!
Happy Father's Day, Ron! (wink, wink)

A close-up of our girly boy.

A shot of everyone after the girls decided to follow Logan's lead.

And a crazy pose also started by Logan that the girls decided to copy.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Mommy Daughter American Girl Doll Date!

Several weeks ago, I learned that the new Leah Clark American Girl Doll movie coming out this summer was going to have three showings in the movie theater next to the store.  Since the AG movies normally go straight to DVD, I thought this would be a special treat to take Lia to see the movie for the first time in the theater.  I then got a group of eight other moms and their girls to join us.  We had such a great day today.  We left at 9 a.m. and didn't get back til 6 p.m. because Lia and I swung by Issaquah on our way home to visit my dad for an hour or so to wish him a happy Father's Day.  It was so fun to watch the movie with Lia and all of her cute, little friends AND the free gift favors that she got from AGD were awesome!  We then headed over to the store afterwards for lunch in the bistro and some fun wandering around the store.  I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again...we heart American Girl.

All of the Lia's friends who joined us today were from her school with the exception of Bella--her good friend who lives up the street that goes to church with us.  Here are Lia and Bella posing with their dolls on the "red carpet" outside of the movie theater before the movie began.

Lilah, Mila, Sienna, Lia, and Bella all eating their free popcorn and drink (that came with the $10 movie ticket) before the movie began.

All of the girls minus Lilah and Bella after the movie finished.
From left to right:  Olivia, Gabs, Mollie, Sienna, Lia, Eva, Addy, and Mila.

Lia getting ready to dive into her lunch in the AGD bistro with Grace and McKenna at her side.

Mila, Sienna, and Lia eating their lunches with the dolls.

I called four weeks in advance to make reservations for all 20 of us to eat in the restaurant, but learned that this would be impossible.  Apparently, everyone going to the movie had the same idea.  So, I was lucky to snag a table for six at 12:45 just minutes after the movie ended.  Everyone else did their own thing for lunch, but the six of us had a good time eating inside the store.

Lia enjoyed wandering the store with Mila, Sienna, and me for several minutes after lunch.  Here are the girls posing in Lea Clark's rainforest house.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Lia's Award Assembly

Three times a year, Lia's school holds an assembly where five students in every class are recognized for demonstrating one of the five character traits their school focuses on.  Although Lia has come home from school many times telling me that one of her friends was recognized at one of these assemblies, it has never been her.  So, I was so happy when a letter came in the mail last week telling us that Lia had been chosen to receive one of these awards.  We were asked to keep it a secret as the students never find out until the morning of the assembly if they are receiving an award or not.  So, it was fun to sneak into her school with Ella and Logan after dropping Lia off at the gate.  Amazingly, Ron was able to get away from work and meet us there.  Lia was so surprised when she walked into the gym and saw all four of us sitting there.  We enjoyed seeing her receive her award for most "determined" in her class and we are so proud of what a wonderful, responsible, conscientious student she is in school.  We love you, Lia!

Lia's shocked face after spotting us as she walked into the gym.

All of the children from grades K-2 who were receiving awards sitting up on the stage before the assembly began.

Cute Ella giving me a smile from her seat next to me.

Lia walking up to receive her award.

The five students in Lia's class who were recognized today standing in front of the group of children.  From left to right:  Lia, Cole, Sienna, Ophelia, and Brody.

Lia giving me a smile as she leave the gym at the end of the assembly.

Lia showing off her certificate and star (with her name on it) that hung on the gymnasium wall.

A close-up of my cutie.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Mega Dollhouse

It all started last summer while watching different American Girl Doll videos on youtube.  Lia and I were introduced to the world of ridiculously large, doll houses that were custom built to fit American Girl Dolls and their large furniture.  At first, we just oohed and ahhed at all of them never thinking in a million years that we would have one to call our own in a matter of months.  But after showing a few videos to Ron, he seriously began talking about building one himself and then we realized we had the perfect, empty spot on the landing at the top of our stairs for one to go.  So before we knew it, Ron and I started talking about what kind of dollhouse he should make.  And then I started my hunt of acquiring doll furniture to furnish all of the rooms.  Since I am the queen of buying a deal and it is a serious game of mine to never pay for a full-price item from AG, I set out on a hunt buying items off of Craig's List, ebay, the AG website, and from the one and only AG outlet in the world in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  It was quite the project, but I loved every minute of it and I even became friends with a hilarious and awesome store employee named Sue in the outlet store.  Although they technically aren't allowed to ship any items to customers, she hooked me up with seven, incredible, retired pieces of furniture at incredible bargain prices!
By the end of the summer, my shopping was complete, but we had to wait until Christmas Break when Ron finally had the time to build this mega dollhouse.  It ended up having nine rooms and being seven feet wide by six and a half feet tall.  Although it wasn't painted, Lia promptly moved into it by the end of break and immediately started playing in it.  However, it wasn't until Ron's Spring Break in April that he found the time to paint two coats of white primer.  After he went back to work, I painted all nine rooms during nap time which took me five days in a row.  I managed to use paint that we already had in the house from different rooms that we had already painted in our old house and current house.  I couldn't get over how cute all of these leftover paint colors looked inside of the dollhouse.  I then went to the fabric store and bought two different kinds of thick, furry fabric to use as carpets in the rooms and, voila, the dollhouse was finally done!  And although it has been finished since April, I finally got around to taking some pictures this past weekend to send to my friend Sue at the outlet store since she had requested I send some months ago.  I figured that I might as well post a few on the blog for our family history!  So here you go...Lia's (and one day Ella's) mega, American Girl dollhouse!

Lia and her friend, Bella, playing dolls in the dollhouse.  This is always a first choice whenever Lia has a friend over to play.

How the girls access the top floor whenever they want to play up there.

A close-up of my girl playing in the dining room.

The bedroom for Lia's historical doll, Caroline.  The bed comes from Caroline's collection, but the parlor desk and vanity come from Cecile's and Marie Grace's collection (and came from the outlet store).

The amazing loft bed for McKenna, Lia's first Girl of the Year from 2012.  This is the most amazing piece of furniture in the dollhouse and came from the outlet store 2 1/2 years after McKenna was retired.  How and why the outlet happen to have this bed is a bit of a mystery and one that Sue could not explain.  Three of these beds just happened to arrive at the outlet from the warehouse the day before I called Sue to ask about whether or not they still carried them from time to time.

Caroline and Grace eating at Caroline's table and chairs which were also purchased from the outlet store.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Lia's End-of-Season Softball Party

We wrapped up Lia's first softball season tonight with her team's end-of-the-season party.  Being new to this team sport thing this school year, I had NO idea how much more intense little league would be compared to Lia's park and rec soccer and basketball seasons.  Wow.  Practices and or games three times a week--all on week nights during dinner time.  And once they dropped practices for games three nights a week, the coach asked the girls to arrive early at 5:15 for some practice with the 6 o'clock games ending between 7:30 and 7:45.  It was just a little too much for Logan and Ella (and me) to our attendance became a little spotty by the end of the season.  We usually would drop Lia off at 5:15 and then head back home for dinner and dishes.  We would then return to watch the second half of her game around 6:30.  Ron would try to come as much as work would allow him, but the last month or so of the school year is one of his busiest times of the year.  So, we did the best that we could and cheered Lia on as much as possible.  Lia truly grew to understand and love this game.  She had a fabulous time bonding with her teammates, learning cheers to chant from the bench, and hitting the ball as much as she could.  I don't think she went more than one or two game the entire season without getting on first base at least once each game.  And, her team actually came in second in the league!  So, overall, it was a very positive experience for her and it looks like we will be doing this all over again next year.  Oh dear.

The end-of-the-season party was held at the coach's neighborhood clubhouse.  We had pizza, dessert, and a program complete with awards and a team video.  This is the adorable cake and cupcakes one of the moms made with the team's name on it--the Sun Devils!

After dinner, Coach Ashley called each girl up one at at time to hand them their trophy, the team DVD, and to announce what award they had been voted on by their teammates and the parents.  Lia was voted for "Best Effort" and her coach said that in all of her years of coaching, she has never had a player work as hard as Lia with such a positive attitude!

Coach Ashley handing Lia her trophy and DVD.

Our cute softball player heading back to her seat.

Coach Ashley starting the team DVD with all of their girls and little siblings watching from the floor.

After the party, we gave Lia's coach a plate of homemade cookies with a card that Lia had made for her.  Here she is reading it outside the clubhouse.

Lia posing with her coach.

I had a hard time dragging Ella away from the playground after the party was over.  Here is my cute girl resisting my requests to leave.

Lia and one flip flop posing with her sister before I kicked them out of the playground!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Backyard Play

Since there have been so many warm, 80 plus degree days this year, our kiddie pool has already been dragged out multiple times this spring.  After a few uses, Logan came up with the brilliant idea of putting the pool at the bottom of our slide.  I then had the idea to run the hose water down the slide creating the perfect, little water slide for everyone to enjoy.  It has turned out to be so much fun--even for me!  I tell you, that boy comes up with the funniest ideas.  I finally got around to getting my camera out today to take some pictures of Lia, Logan, and Ella enjoying this backyard, watery fun!  I even got pictures of Logan taking our sled down the slide and into the pool.  Oh, how I love watching our children enjoy playing together in the backyard.  It just makes me smile.

All three of our children playing together (it's hard to see Ella who is at the top of the slide).

Lia going down the slide with her goggles on.

Lia crashing into the pool.

This is the first time that Logan got up the nerve to go down the slide face first.  It was pretty awesome to see him splashing into the pool with his goggles on (especially since he never liked getting his face wet in swim lessons earlier this spring).

Logan sliding into the water.

After pleading with Ella to go down the slide with Lia several times, she broke into tears and threw a little tantrum on the platform of the play set.  I just couldn't resist taking a picture because she looked so cute in this praying position.

Logan climbing up the ladder with his goggles on.

Ella finally changed her mind and decided to go down with Lia.

The two girls landing in the water.

Ella and me taking a turn.

Another crazy and wild landing for mama and daughter!

Lastly, Logan cruising down on his sled.  I just think this is the funniest thing.

Reaching the water.

And cruising to an abrupt stop.

The three girls posing in the pool with Logan standing in the background (after refusing to be in the picture with us).  Oh that boy.