Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lia Gets Lea!

After I had decided to buy Lia her fourth and final American Girl Doll last December (when I managed to get Grace Thomas for an unbelievable $44 instead of $120), the Girl of the Year 2016 was released a few weeks later on January 1st.  And much to our surprise, this doll's name was Lea Clark. I just couldn't believe it.  What are the chances of an American Girl Doll being released during the few short years that our daughter is into these kind of dolls with the SAME name?!  Apparently 100%.  Regardless, I knew right away that we would have to buy this doll before she was retired in December of 2016; however, I wasn't thrilled about buying another doll--especially after deciding that we were done.  Then Ron came up with the brilliant idea of having Lia save up every single penny to buy this doll herself.  We proposed this idea to Lia back in January and she immediately agreed with enthusiasm.  And so for the next eleven months, Lia worked really hard to earn and save one dollar at a time from her weekly chores.  I was so impressed at how much self-control she practiced for almost an entire year.  Lia never deviated once from her end goal even though there were several toys along the way that she wanted to have.  Occasionally, Lia got a little extra help like the $33 we were able to get back from Walmart and Costco after returning some birthday gifts from friends that she didn't want or need.  She also got $5 from grandpa after cutting several inches off of her hair and grandma also paid Lia $5 for doing several chores when I was out of town and grandma watched her for two days.  Slowly, but surely, Lia's little stash of money grew and grew and she patiently waited until she had saved up a whopping $120.  I was so proud of how well she stuck to reaching this goal--especially for a girl her age.
In addition, since I am now a bit of an expert at finding and making deals with AGD products, I knew that I needed to get Lia some sort of discount on this doll to make paying for her even more of a possibility.  Luckily, a 30% off sale occurred over the Easter weekend and grandpa kindly agreed to drive up to the store in Lynnwood to buy Lea Clark and some of the other items in her collection.  As a result, I actually had the doll hidden in one of our closets for seven months before Lia earned the money to pay for her.  And thanks to the discount, Lia's $120 that she earned by Thanksgiving weekend was actually enough to pay for the doll, her pajamas, and two of her pets!  So instead of taking Lia up to the store in December like we had planned, we surprised her with a trip to the "store" in our bedroom tonight after putting both Ella and Logan to bed.  I had her come into our bedroom and cover her eyes.  I then brought out all four items that she had earned in four of the red, American Girl Doll bags with white tissue paper sticking out (exactly like the store) and put them on the floor in front of her.  When Lia opened her eyes, she was so confused and excited!  After explaining to Lia that she had earned enough money to pay for FOUR items, we had her open the gift bags.  She was so excited and a little speechless!  The pictures below show it all!

Lia opening the last of the four bags and the best one of them all!  Her new doll, Lea Clark!

Lia showing off the pretty box before opening it.

Two girls with the same name!

When Lia reached $100, I put it in her bank account to keep it safe and to make a little interest, but the remaining $20 were kept in an envelope in her bedroom.  Here are her twenty one-dollar bills all laid out neatly on the floor.

Lia immediately decided that Lea needed to be put into her pajamas before going to bed.  So, here is my expert changing her doll's clothes.

Lia showing off Lea in her darling jungle-themed pajamas with her turtle and Margay cat, stuffed animals.

Showing off the tropical animals that go with Lea's collection.

Lea and her animals.

Lia then wanted to introduce Lea to all of her other dolls (a tradition Lia now does every time she gets a new doll).  Here they are all lined up with their own pets.

Lia, her dolls, and her mega dollhouse.
What can I say?
We heart American Girl and all of the happiness and hours of imaginative play that it brings into our lives.

The Little Mermaid on Broadway

Natalee asked me a few months ago if Lia and I wanted to join her and her family to see the Broadway musical of the Disney classic, The Little Mermaid, while it was in Seattle for the holiday season.  Since Ariel has been Lia's favorite princess for years, I immediately jumped at the opportunity and had Natalee buy us two tickets!  I decided to keep this a secret from Lia and surprised her when she came home from school a few days ago with a "letter" from Ariel surrounded by a bunch of her Ariel dolls.  At first she was confused by it, but eventually got excited when I explained to her that we were going out for a night on the town with some of her cousins!  We picked up my mom in Bellevue last night and then drove into Seattle to meet Natalee, her mom, and Brynn and Callie.  We enjoyed a delicious and final dinner at our beloved Spaghetti Factory in Seattle that is closing after 47 years of business in December.  We then drove to the 5th Avenue Theater for the 8 o'clock performance of The Little Mermaid.  As we expected, the music, costumes, and sets were amazing, but were surprised to see that they completely changed the ending of the story.  Overall, it was wonderful to see and Lia and I had a great time on this mommy-daughter date!

The letter from Ariel that was waiting for Lia when she came home from school the other day.

A close-up of the letter.

All of the girls enjoying a final dinner at the Spaghetti Factory.

The sign outside the 5th Avenue Theater.

Lia, my mom, and me in front of the sign outside the entrance of the theater.

Callie and Lia getting ready to head inside.

Lia, Callie, and Brynn waiting for the show to begin with Aunt Natalee and the grandmas behind them.

Callie, Lia, and me right before the show began!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Trimming the Tree!

We kicked off the start of the holiday season this morning by driving to the Christmas tree lot and picking out our tree.  After perusing the aisles and gawking at the high prices, we found the perfect little guy in the "low rent" district of the lot.  After putting the tree up and decorating it, I think we scored with our choice as it looks quite nice.  The children loved trimming the tree with me while we listened to Christmas music.  Ella even dawned a hand-me-down, watermelon themed bikini for the occasion.  I thought it made perfect sense! ;-)  Regardless, I think that we are all super excited to start the Christmas season and all of the fun that comes with it!

Lia and Logan showing off one of their ornaments while Ella hangs one of hers up.

All three kiddos trimming the tree!

Ella checking out some ornaments while Logan looks on.

Ella proudly showing off Lia's Elsa and Anna ornaments.

Logan smiling while working hard on decorating his favorite side of the tree.

And a shot of Lia hanging up another ornament. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Two Weeks Down

It is no secret that our little Ella thinks that she can do anything that her older siblings can do. As a result, it should have been no surprise to me when she sat down on the potty chair on her own accord this past summer and went pee pee.  But considering the struggle that it was to get our two older children potty trained, it still was a total shock to me.  I have never had a child voluntarily sit down on a toilet and go the bathroom for the first time AND I have never had a child do this before his or her third birthday.  In fact, in order to get that to happen for the first time with both Lia and Logan, it took many hours of talking about it and practicing it.  So, needless to say, I was totally surprised and thrilled.  However, I was not thrilled about the timing as we were leaving to go to Hawaii four days later and I did NOT want to be in the middle of potty training while dealing with airports and airplane flights and hotel rooms and constantly being on the go.  As a result, I made a conscious decision right then and there to not go full-speed ahead with the potty training thing until we were done with all of our summer trips.  And so for the rest of July and all of August, Ella went pee pee in the potty once or twice a day, but still wore diapers.  Once again, I have never done this with a child of mine, but I told myself not to feel guilty about it as we would commit to real potty training on the first day of school after life settled down into a predictable routine.  
So fast forward six weeks to the first day of school.  After dropping Lia off at school, we came home, put on Ella's princess panties, and then set out to get Logan's haircut before his first day of PreK the following day.  Ella promptly had her first accident right then and there in the hair place.  Luckily not enough came out to form a puddle on the floor.  After many of these "little" accidents that Ella never seemed to mind, I threw in the towel after two days.  I just couldn't deal with it and I told myself that Ella wasn't "ready" because she never seemed to be bothered by having wet clothes on her skin.  My mother was not pleased with this decision and had no problem informing me that I gave up too quickly, but I was just too tired and busy with life to deal with it.  As a result, the rest of September and October passed in a blur.  I kept on telling myself that I needed to give it another try, but kept on putting it off because there was always something else that needed my time and attention.  
This all changed at the beginning of November when Ella and I were in her nursery class at church and I learned that a just-turned-two-year-old with a two week old sibling had just gotten potty trained.  This news sent me into orbit!  What mother of a newborn has time to potty train a barely two-year old?!  After hearing that the father (who works from home) decided to take on the task himself, I felt a little better about myself, but it still made me mad.  If this barely two-year old could be potty trained, then my two-and-a-half-year-old could do it, too!  And that was all it took.  Sometimes my competitive nature can be a good thing!  So the next morning, on Monday, November 7th, I put Ella back into her princess panties and recommitted myself to making it happen.  And I am happy to report that two weeks later, it is a go!  Ella has only had a few accidents here and there, but luckily it is never enough to make a mess on the floor.  And unlike her older sister and brother, she goes to the potty twice as much as they do, so the amount that comes out is always half as much making her messes a breeze to clean up.  I am so amazed that I have a child who is barely two-and-half potty trained.  I have heard about this world, but have never been privileged to live in it.  Leave it up to my independent and head-strong Ella to decide when she was going to make this happen and to do it months before I ever expected!  Oh, that Ella.  I just love her to pieces and am so proud of her for being such a big, little girl! 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The End of Soccer Season

We officially wrapped up our first soccer season of juggling two kids in the same sport.  It has been a busy fall with one practice and one game or two games every Saturday since the middle of September, but we made it work.  Most of the time, Ron and I had to divide and conquer (with me going to Logan's game for moral support and Ron going to Lia's game to be her personal coach), but occasionally we were able to attend both games on the same day.  Overall, it was a good run.  Although Logan eventually got more confident on the court and would kick the ball a few times a game, we learned that he isn't quite ready for the competitiveness of team sports.  So, we are going to hold off on enrolling him in basketball and t-ball this school year and just stick with a small, soccer class that is offered at our Rec Center for the rest of the school year where he constantly gets his own ball and can just focus on the basics of dribbling and kicking.  On the other hand, Lia's soccer skills and overall confidence in the sport improved drastically from the previous year.  It's hard to believe that last year she was just trying to figure out the rules of the game and would really only play defense as she was afraid to ever kick the ball.  However, this year, Lia totally blossomed.  She really figured out the rules of the game and became a very aggressive soccer player, both on offense and defense.  Her assistant coach commented more than once on her great footwork and how she is one of the fastest runners on the team!  She finished the season absolutely loving the game of soccer and can't wait to pick it back up next August!  I am proud of Logan for sticking with something that he didn't love 100% and that was totally out of his comfort zone and I am proud of Lia for working so hard and improving her soccer skills so much!  To wrap it up, here are some pictures of their last games...

Logan's final game of the season was on Saturday, November 12th.  Here he is out on the court with his team.

Logan and another teammate chasing down the ball.

Logan going in for a kick!

Logan chasing after the ball.

Logan's assistant coach getting the team ready to give high fives at the end of the game.  I just love how little these kids look in comparison to their coach.

Logan "high fiving" the opposing team.

Although the Rec Center does not provide trophies at the end of the season, one of the moms on the team offered to be in charge of ordering them from a local company.  I was really relieved to learn this as Logan had been asking me all season long about getting a trophy and I never had the heart to break the sad news to him that he wouldn't be getting one at his last game.  Here is the excited look on Logan's face after getting his trophy after the game was over.  Look at how happy he is!

My cute boy showing off his trophy and certificate.

Holding his trophy high up in the air!  Logan had told me in advance that he wanted me to take a picture of him in this pose.  Such a cute boy.

Lia's last game of the season was today, November 19th.  She fought a good fight with the rest of her team and finished off the game with a 1-1 score.  Here is the backside of my girl showing her uniform number which was 22.  We all loved her number since she was born on 2-22.

Lia going in for the kick.

Lia throwing the ball back into the game after it went out of bounds.

Lia kicking the ball again.  I just love the angle of her body in this picture.

Lia chasing down the ball.

Lia stopping the direction of the ball with her foot.

My girl walking down the field at the end of the game.  I just can't get over how grown up she looks in this picture!

A spontaneous, team photo taken at the end of the game with Lia's head coach, Stephanie, on the left and her assistant coach, Dan, on the right.  Like every sport Lia has participated in, she really grew to love her coaches and her teammates by the end of the season.  She has always been so social and loves being a part of something.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Reflections Night

When Lia came home from school all excited one afternoon in September about entering her school's PTA Reflections Art Content, I must admit that I wasn't exactly thrilled.  We already have so much going on in our lives with all of her other activities, that I wasn't looking to add another thing to the list...but how can a mother say 'no' to a child's enthusiasm to enter into a district-wide, art contest?  After going back and forth for a week or two or three between composing a song, drawing a picture, or writing a story, Lia finally committed to writing a story.  She then began writing a lovely narrative describing our family trip to Hawaii in great detail.  After several days of working on this, she changed her mind and decided to scrap it for a fictional story called, "The Cutter Who Wanted to Climb."  She started writing a rather strange story about a girl who enjoys climbing trees and cutting them.  I thought that it was a very strange change to make from a personal narrative, but decided to just stay supportive and positive.  After finishing up the story a few days before the deadline of November 1st (which I thought was awful as it was the day after Halloween), I quickly typed up her story leaving large, empty spaces on each page for Lia to then go back and illustrate.  Since Halloween fell on a Monday night this year, I told her that this story had to be totally done on Sunday night so that we were not stressing over this while trying to trick-or-treat and enjoy our Halloween evening.  Lia didn't have time to illustrate the story until Sunday after church.  With the exception of taking a break for dinner, Lia locked herself in our home office and worked on drawing and coloring eight very detailed pictures for SEVEN hours!  I couldn't believe how incredible focused she was for so long and how incredibly hard she work on creating such beautiful and thoughtful pictures.  I was very proud of her to say the least.
And, so tonight, the kids and I drove down to attend a Reflections Gallery Night in Lia's school library.  It was a very pleasant night complete with fancy cheeses, meats, and crackers for refreshments!  Lia's story had been mounted on a lovely display board and even had a ribbon on it announcing that she had advanced to the district level.  Luckily, this same award happened to her two good friends, Mollie and Sienna, who had also submitted art projects, too.  The girls were all very happy and excited to say the least!

Lia and Sienna both chose to write stories for their submissions, so their projects were on display next to each other on the "story table."  Here they are showing off their ribbons while standing in front of their stories.

Lia with her ribbon and her story!
Good job, Lia!  We are so proud of you.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Disney on Ice 2016

We headed out this morning to go to Disney on Ice as a family without Ella who we left home with my 12-year old niece, Vivian.  This was Lia's sixth time and Logan's second time going to Disney on Ice.  We always have such a fun time attending this fabulous show as a family and I kind of feel like it is one of the things we do every year to kick off the holiday season since it always tours through Western Washington in November.  This year's show focused on four different story lines:  Toy Story III, Little Mermaid, Cars, and Frozen.  It was the perfect mix of girl and boy movies to keep both Lia and Logan happy.  We had a fun time seeing all of the amazing costumes, special effects, and ice skaters while eating popcorn and candy that I had snuck into the show!  As always, it was a great way to spend the morning and maybe we will bring Ella along for the ride next year!

We always get there early to check out all of the Disney paraphernalia for sale.  Here are the kids checking out the goods.

Mommy and the kiddos in front of a giant, cotton candy tower.

Ron and the kids getting settled into our seats before the show began.

The Toy Story soldiers and other toys marching at the beginning of the show.

The gigantic 'Lotso' Bear skating around.

Barbie and Ken falling in love!  This is such a funny part of the movie.

Ariel, Sabastian, and Flounder dancing 'under the sea.'

Ursula tempting Ariel to give away her voice.

Ariel and Eric skating together.

Ariel and Eric with Sabastian and Flounder at their side.

I was blown away when actual cars drove out onto the ice for the Cars portion of the show.  They looked just like the ones at Disneyland!

Lightening McQueen looking cool as always.

Elsa and Prince Hans asking Elsa for permission to marry during the Frozen segment of the show.

Elsa 'letting it go!'

The awesome ice palace that appeared in front of our eyes at the end of Elsa singing "Let It Go."

Olaf singing about summer with the bees and the butterflies.

Elsa and Anna friends again at the end of the show.

Ron smirking at me while Logan enjoyed the show.