Friday, September 30, 2016

2 and 1/2 Years Old Today!

I can't believe that my baby girl is 2 and a half years old today!  Where or where has the time gone?  Well, for starters, you can see by the pictures that Ella got herself a big girl bike this week after figuring out how to ride her brother's without any help from anyone in the family!  I found the most adorable, Pinkalicious bike on Craig's List for only $15 and picked it up yesterday.  After Ron installed some training wheels on it last night, Ella was up and running and loves it.  Luckily, the sun came out today, so Logan and Ella were able to go out for some bike time on the sport's court before lunch.  I just can't get over how grown up she looks on it.  
As for the rest of Ella's life, she continues to be the biggest bundle of energy and nonstop motion that we have ever had in our family.  She is constantly on the go and still thinks that she can do everything that her older brother and sister do.  A few weeks ago, she figured out how to climb out of her crib (not fall out of her crib) and now climbs out of her bed every day after waking up in the morning and from her nap.  Neither one of our other two kids ever figured this out at such a young age!  The one downside to this is that I no longer have any control over when her nap "ends."  Instead of getting a few extra minutes of work time before going to get her out of her crib, Ella now just gets out the second she wakes up!  Oh well.  At least she is really good about staying in her bed after I first put her down for naptime and bedtime.  Ella continues to be the littlest one of our family which makes her craziness all the more funny and ironic.  Ella still comfortably fits in 24 month and 2T size clothing which was something that both Lia and Logan had long outgrown by this age.  
Ella loved the summer season that just ended and thoroughly enjoyed swimming in the water, playing on the beaches, sliding into our baby pool, playing at the parks, and riding her trike (and now bike) all over the place.  She also developed a total love for all things Elsa and Anna and can now sit down for a whoppin' 90 minutes and watch the entire movie, Frozen, without getting up which is a major accomplishment for her!  Ella has also really started to get into the Disney princess thing and has discovered the dress up box (that Ron brought up from the basement) in the past few weeks.  Almost every day, she can be found parading all over the house in a new princess dress.  She also quizzes me on a regular basis as to which princess is which when she sees their faces on a plate or in a book or on the magnets on the fridge.  She will ask the question, "Who's this?," over and over again.  It's quite funny.  Along with princesses, Ella has also discovered Lia's Barbie dolls in the past few weeks and can be found toting one around the house as much as her baby dolls.
Ella still takes a nice 2-3 hour nap every afternoon and easily goes to bed each night around 8 to 8:30.  She loves being read to and would spend an hour reading with me in her recliner chair if I let her every day.  She enjoys any attention from anyone and loves to sing in the car and dance in the house.  In fact, she discovered Lia's Girl Scout Christmas CD (that was still in my car) this summer and now we have to listen to Christmas songs everywhere we go!  Ella also loves doing puzzles, coloring, and riding her toy car around the house.  She is still a decent eater although she refuses meats and vegetables from time to time.  Ella runs where ever she goes instead of walking, she still sneaks her pacifier out of her crib on a regular basis, she loves sitting in my lap whenever I sit on the floor, she has a crazy, high-pitched scream that she hits when she is really upset about something, and her hair has somehow grown halfway down her back.  I don't know how that last one happened.  I honestly feel like one day her hair was shoulder length and the next day it was halfway down her back.  
Ella's vocabulary continues to improve although I still struggle to understand what she is saying from time to time.  The funniest word that she says at the current moment is "belly butt" which she says when she means belly button.  She also says "belly butt" when talking about a button on a piece of clothing.  We think it is so funny!  Ella also loves the word, "tiny," and uses it all of the time instead of the word small to describe herself or something "tiny" in her life (like her crib in comparison to her siblings' big kid beds).  Ella also LOVES saying prayers and dominates most meal time and family prayers.  In fact, she has been known to throw a huge tantrum if she doesn't get to say the prayer.  As a result, two prayers are sometimes offered on the food. :-)  However, the cutest thing is how she always says, "Christ, Amen," at the end of her prayer when copying one of us saying "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  She also say "lollipop" for popcorn and "cean" for the word, clean.  She always asks me, "Is it cean?," when she wants to know if she can eat off of her princess plate or wear her princess nightgown to bed.  The other cute thing that she says on a daily basis is, "Ella wake up," whenever we first see her after she climbs out of the crib in the morning or after her nap.
Overall, we love our Ellie B and just can't get over how fast she is growing up!  We just think she is the cutest thing ever and are so grateful that she is part of our family!

Ella cruising along on her new big girl bike!

Stopping to give mommy an adorable smile.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Ella and the Big Bike!

It is no secret that our little Ella is hand's down the most adventurous, fearless, and coordinated of our kiddos.  She thinks she can do everything her older siblings do...and, most of the time, she's can!  So, I shouldn't have been surprised when I poked my head out last night to call the kids to dinner and found Ella riding around on Logan's big boy bike like it was no big deal!  But, I must admit, that my mouth totally dropped when I saw this!  I immediately turned to Lia and asked, "When did Ella start riding Logan's bike?" to which Lia casually responded, "Today."  Good grief!  Just that morning, I had been outside with Logan and Ella and was surprised to see that Ella had finally figured out how to pedal around on her Winnie the Pooh trike (all summer long, she had scooted around on it).  Within a matter of hours, she had graduated from trike to bike.  Good grief.
This may come as no big deal to some parents to have a two-year old cruising around on a bike with training wheels, but I didn't buy Lia's first big girl bike until she was four years old.  And that entire spring/summer, she would gingerly ride it around our flat cul-de-sac (only with a parent at her side) and would freak out every time there was the slightest of dip in the sidewalk.  With that previous experience in mind, one can understand my shock at seeing Ella proficiently pedal a big bike around our sport's court without a parent even helping her get up on the bike, no less teach her how to use the pedals.
Ever since this moment in time yesterday, Ella and Logan have been fighting like cats and dogs over his bike.  Ella is totally bored with her trike and wants to ride the big kid bike and Logan doesn't want anyone touching his bike.  I get it, I get.  I guess I'll be perusing Craig's List in the next day or two to find a suitable replacement for Ella's newly discovered interest!

Ella proudly showing off her new bike riding skills!

Pedaling away.

Flashing me her million dollar smile.

The cutest two-year old ever.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Logan's Big Boy Bed!

This post might come as a shock to the entire world to learn that our four-and-a-half year old boy was still sleeping in a crib until two nights ago.  Yes, you read right....but just let me explain!  One of the greatest pieces of advice that I learned years ago from my sister-in-law, Susie, was not to move Lia out of her crib and into an adorable, toddler bed at age two.  As cute as it looks, the events to follow are not!  I mean, who wants a two-year old crawling out of bed a hundred times of day, making a mess in their bedroom, sneaking our of their room, and, worst of all, kicking their afternoon nap to the curb!  I faithfully followed this counsel and did not move Lia out of her crib until she was three years and three months old.  It was one of the best decisions I ever made as she took naps until she was almost four years old and I vowed to repeat this same process with any children to follow.
Fast forward a few years, and we have a three-year old Logan who is wild and crazy and all over the place.  Due to the previously mentioned qualities, I needed him to take his afternoon nap as much as he did so that I could get a few hours of peace and quiet in the middle of the day.  In addition, Logan needed boundaries more than Lia ever did to just help him calm down and follow the routine of the day...and the crib provided these boundaries for him.  And although I put a stool next to his bed right after he turned three, the crib's bars just helped him to calm down and mellow out every time he layed inside them.  Plus, Logan never minded being in his crib and every time I talked about moving him into his big boy bed, I was met with resistance.  As much as other people thought I was crazy to do this, I have no regrets.  I am pretty confident that my four-and-half-year old boy was still napping on a daily basis until a month ago due to the fact that he was sleeping in a crib.  However, when the school year started a few weeks ago, I felt like it was time to make the transition.  Logan was starting PreK and was finally beginning to act older.  His tantrums have really started to decrease and he is doing really well in his primary class at church.  He also is starting to sit for long periods of time to "read" books and work on a coloring project.  Signs of Logan growing up can be seen every day.  Plus, I knew that he would be meeting and making some friends in his PreK class who we might end up inviting over for playdates this year and I didn't want them coming into Logan's room and making fun of the fact that he was still sleeping in his crib.  It was time to make the big change...
So, I had Ron buy Logan a new mattress and bunky board when he went to the furniture store at the end of August.  I then broke out all of the bedding that I bought for Logan's big boy bed when he was a newborn (after my mom had discovered a bedding set at Target that matched the colors and theme of his room perfectly) and washed it all.  Lastly, I got Ron to bring up the old headboard and footboard from the basement for me to paint.  I spent four afternoons in a row this past week sanding down and painting three coats of white paint to get Logan's bed looking shiny and new.  This headboard and footboard are identical to Lia's and were bought for my grandparent's Lake Samm cabin when they remodeled it in 1972.  After my parents decided to take them out of the cabin years ago, they held on to them until I was able to take them to use for future, children's beds.  I just love that these old pieces of family furniture are getting a second chance at life!
After getting everything ready, Ron helped me put the bed together yesterday.  He attached the headboard and the footboard to the bed frame and put the bunky board and mattress in place before taking Logan and Lia off to the fair for the next several hours.  While Ella napped, I worked in Logan's room and thoroughly vacuumed it, made the bed, and got everything washed and put away from his old crib and changing table.  When it was all done, Logan's room looked so dang cute!  I couldn't get over how perfect his bed looked tucked up against one side of his room and how perfectly his bedding matched the colors and jungle theme already on his walls!  I was so excited to show Logan and Lia when they got home and their reactions did not disappoint!  Logan loved it and was so excited to sleep in it that first night.  I can't get over how much my boy is growing up....

On Sept. 12th, I let Logan skip his nap and help me paint the first coat of white on his bed.  He had so much fun painting the headboard and footboard with me.  

Logan painting away!  We have similar pictures of Lia helping us do the same thing with her bed.

One more picture for Logan's sake!

On Friday night, September 16th, Logan slept in his crib for the last time.  Here are some pictures of my boy cuddling in for one last night's sleep inside his "bars."

Since I washed the sheets, blanket, and bedspread for Logan's bed a few days earlier, Logan discovered his new, big blanket and immediately fell in love with it because it is so soft and cozy.  As a result, he started sleeping with it in the crib a few nights before he moved into his bed.  Here he is with his big blanket underneath him and his baby quilt that his grandmother made on top of him.

One last shot of my cutie before turning off the lights and going to bed!

And here it is!  A freshly bathed Logan dressed in his pj's and ready to spend his first night in his new bed.  Doesn't it look so cute?!

My cute boy posing away.

A close-up of Logan once he had climbed into his jungle sheets.

Another shot of his cute sheets and reversible bedspread.

Ta-da!  A proud boy showing off his awesome bed before spending the first of many good nights' sleep in it.  Love you, Logie Boy!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Lia's Soccer Season has Begun!

After trying out soccer for the first time last school year, Lia decided that she wanted to do it again this year.  After being in an indoor league that met only once a week last year through our town's park and rec program, we decided to step it up a notch and enrolled her in a soccer club that meets twice a week in an addition to the weekly, soccer games.  Sadly, Lia's good friend, Lilah, who she played soccer with last year decided that she didn't want to play again, but Lia went ahead and bravely agreed to be placed on a team without any girls that she knew.  With the exception of having a 25-30 minute drive one way to her practice twice a week (in rush hour traffic) and no one to carpool with, it has been a very positive experience so far.  Lia has enjoyed getting to know her teammates and has really improved her soccer skills.  She has gotten much more aggressive on offense and really improved her footwork.  I just love how Lia dives into any new activity wholeheartedly and makes friends so easily.
Although her first soccer game was last Saturday, I was unable to attend since it was smack dab in the middle of Ella's nap time, so Ron just went alone with her.  As a result, today was the first time that all of us could go to her game and cheer her on.  Although it had poured earlier in the morning, it luckily only sprinkled on and off throughout the game and the girls did a great job.  It was so fun to watch her play.  Good job, Lia!

Coach Stephanie talking to the girls before the game started.

Ron passed some of the time throwing the kids up in the air.  Look at how high up Ella got and she LOVED every minute of it!

Logan's turn!

And we're off!  Lia fighting for the ball.

A close-up of our soccer player.

Lia fighting for the ball again.

Dribbling it away from the other team's goal.

Lia kicking it down the field.

Lia running up to help her teammate out.

And chasing it down again!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

First Days of School!

After a summer of seemingly nonstop play, it all came to a screeching half with the start of school yesterday.  I was in total denial of the entire thing as we rolled into our driveway the night before at 8 p.m. after our camping trip to Blake Island.  I laughed to myself as I just knew that all of Lia's little friends were bathed, in bed, with their clothes picked out and their backpacks packed for the big day.  And here we were literally playing until the 11th hour.  Oh well.  I will always be one of those moms who loves summer and loves playing with her kiddos.  No schedule, no homework, no activities, no piano practicing, no nothing.  Sigh.  All good things must come to an end.
Symbolically, the sun disappeared and the rains descended apparently even the heavens knew that the fun was ending.  After a crazy and rushed morning, we managed to get Lia and the rest of the kiddos ready in time for some quick pictures on the porch and a mad dash down the hill to Lia's school.  We parked waaay out on 12th Avenue and were forced to take the long walk around the entire field (thanks to the school forgetting to unlock the gate) to get to the school.  Luckily, they were running behind schedule and Lia's class was dismissed a few minutes late which gave Lia a chance to get in line and gave me a chance to snap a few more pictures.
Lia was the epitome of calm, cool, and collected.  She has grown so much these past three years of school.  She was totally relaxed and excited for school to begin.  We had met her teacher last week and she looks so fun, organized, and dedicated to her job.  Plus, her room is decked out in Seahawks paraphernalia from floor to ceiling with giant, cut-out posters of Doug Baldwin everywhere.  So, how could Lia go wrong?!  I am so grateful that Lia gets to go to such a wonderful school with such wonderful friends.  Here's to another fabulous year!

Lia all dressed up in her new clothes ready to go!

Since it was raining, Lia insisted on striking a pose with her umbrella.

As always, her two siblings insisted on copying her.  After we had to hunt down two more umbrellas, this is the picture we got!

After getting to the school and finding Lia's class line, we found her good friend, Sienna, for a picture.  Lia has three good friends in her class this year, but her closest is Sienna who she has known since PreK.

We saw Mollie and Gabs as they were walking to their lines, so we snapped a quick picture of them.  I will be babysitting these girls every morning again for another school year.

My big girl heading off to class.  So proud of you, Lia!

Today marked Logan's first day of PreK at the same Lutheran Church Lia attended four years ago.  Although we participated in a co-op last year with some women from my church, I was able to get him enrolled several months ago at this fabulous preschool that Lia and I absolutely loved.  And to top it all off, I found out last week at parent orientation that Logan was assigned Miss Vera as his teacher who was the same teacher Lia had.  She is honestly one of the kindest and most loving people I have ever met and is the coveted teacher to get at this preschool.  She has taught for over 25 years, so I didn't even know if she would still be teaching when Logan started preK.  Believe it or not, this little guy (who normally just likes to stay home on his couch and watch TV in the morning) was actually excited to go to school.  He was so cute and packed his backpack with notebooks and a bunch of pens and crayons.  Logan even admitted to me that he was a lot excited, but a little bit nervous which is pretty mature for him.  In fact, I don't think I have ever even heard him use the word nervous before.  Regardless, I am really glad that I held off enrolling Logan in a real preschool for a year.  He really has made some progress these past few months and has finally started to move out of his terrible twos.  In many ways, it has been a rough 2.5 years for the two of us, but it has really bonded us for life.  I sure love this little guy and part of me is so sad that he will be leaving me for full-time school in just one year.  But, I digress...
So, here is my cute, little guy in his new Star Wars outfit and hat standing on the front porch.  He even came up with this pose all by himself!  I just think he is the cutest thing.

We tried another pose with the front of his backpack showing.

After dropping Lia, Mollie, and Gabs off at school, we dashed up the hill to Logan's preschool.  It's a good thing that his preschool is only a few minutes from Lia's school so it will make getting him there by 9 o'clock very do-able every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  We quickly parked and rushed inside with Ella and her backpack.  She has to do everything her older siblings do!  Logan quietly and patiently waited in line until his teacher came to pick them up.  Logan barely flinched as I kissed him goodbye.  This is a big deal for this little boy of mine.  

When I picked Logan up 2.5 hours later, he was so happy and excited about his morning.  His teacher said that he did a wonderful job listening, following directions, and coloring in the lines.  This was a major relief for me as there were many times last year when he would not do any of these things for me when I hosted preschool.  I am so grateful that his first day of preschool went well.  Here's to many more!  Here is a picture of Logan showing off his crown that he colored at preschool.  Look what a nice job he did coloring the pictures on it!

Monday, September 5, 2016

End of the Summer at Blake Island

For the seventh summer in a row, Lia and I headed out to Blake Island for our end-of-the-summer camping trip with my family.  This is honestly one of my favorite things that we do all year long as I just love it on this quiet island in the Puget Sound.  It is always so beautiful and calm and it is the one place where I don't have to worry about where my kids are or what they are doing.  They can roam free like we did as kids growing up in our neighborhood.  This year, I gave in and decided to take Logan with me under the condition that he was not allowed to throw any tantrums...and he kept his end of the bargain until the final hour of our trip.  Oh well, he almost made it.  This year, we joined Chris' family and my mom for the overnight camping trip.  My dad and Natalee's parents came out and joined us for the day on Monday.  Normally, we go overnight on Friday night, but we changed our plans last minute and went Sunday through Monday to avoid the bad weather that was forecasted for Friday (rain and thunderstorms).  Sunday turned out to be a beautiful, sunny day in the low 70s and although it was cloudy on Monday, it did not I'd say we lucked out.  As always, we had a glorious time out on the island exploring the beach, the marina, the park, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.  The kids got a big kick out of the deer and raccoon everywhere and had a great time playing with the cousins.  We finished off Monday by picking up a few crabs from Chris' crab pots and heading back to his house for an end-of-the-summer feast.  It was sad to say 'goodbye' to everyone and to summer when we headed home that night, but as always, it was a wonderful way to end the season!

The amazing view from our campground.  

The kids always get a kick out of playing on the make-shift teeter totters on the beach.  Here are Lia, Riley, Logan, and Trenton playing on two that were side by side.

Logan and Trenton had a great time playing in the tents before all of the beds were set up.  Here they are in Chris' tent.

After getting out to the island, setting up our tents, and making foil dinners, we gathered around the picnic table for dinner.  Here we are eating away as the sun started to set.

I was able to get some great shots of the kiddos at twilight as they played on the beach.  Here is an awesome picture of Logan walking across a large piece of driftwood suspended on some rocks.

A beautiful shot of a sailboat moored in the water off of our campsite.

A picture of Lia leaping off of the driftwood. 

All of the cousins lined up in a row.

My cute Logie boy.

A happy brother and sister.

A happy mama with her kiddos.  Oh, how I love summer and enjoying it with my children!

After a not-so-stellar night sleep (our air mattress had a leak), we woke up a to a cloudier and cooler day.  Here are the kiddos and me with grandma.

Logan showing off the perfect crab shell he found on the beach.

Trenton, Brynn, Lia, and Logan playing next to the marina.

For a second year in the row, some of the kiddos made cute, fairy houses next to our campground.  Here are Calllie, Lia, and Riley showing off their miniature homes.

After breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning playing on the sand.

Lia and Brynn.

After Logan requested that we make a fort on the beach, Chris agreed to help us.  All of the kids pitched in and we ended up with quite an impressive fort made out of driftwood. 

Lia trying out the fort.

Uncle Chris and some of the kids showing off their finished product!

Chris, Brynn, and I dashed over to the Tillicum Village lodge after seeing the boat arriving with all of the tourists.  A few years ago, we learned that if you walk up to the lodge and blend in with all of the arriving tourists, you can get a free bowl of delicious, clam chowder!  It's kind of naughty, but they always have extra clam chowder after everyone has moved inside the lodge that they probably throw away, so we really are only eating something that would have been thrown away anyways.  Here are Brynn and me enjoying the delicious soup.

After lunch, we enjoyed some more beach time before packing up and heading back to Chris' house for dinner.  The kids found another awesome teeter totter and enjoyed putting three on each side. 

A close-up of Logan, Riley, and Callie.

And a close-up of Brynn, Lia, and Trenton.  

Thanks, Blake Island, for yet another end of the summer trip!  We sure love it out there and can't wait for next year.