Sunday, December 31, 2017

Ella's 3 Years and 3/4 Report

I know I say this every time I post a quarterly update on Ella, but I just can't believe how fast this third child of mine is growing up!  It is all happening too fast and it is just breaking my heart!  I wish that I could just push the "pause" button on this little girl's life and keep her little for a few years longer.  But such things are impossible and so I am just trying to savor every day that I have left with my baby before she leaves me for good during the day.
Ella turned 3 years and 3/4 years old while we were driving home from the cabin today.  It's hard to believe that my next update on her will be when she is four years old.  As much as I hate this, she really is starting to act so much more like a four year old and look it, too!  I swear that Ella really hit a growth spurt in the past few months as she has gotten so much taller and longer!  She used to be such a petite, little thing, but now she is just as tall as most of the kids her age.  I really need to switch out her 3T clothes for 4T clothes since everything is looking too snug and too short on her, but I just haven't had the time yet.  Speaking of clothes, Ella has also fallen in love with clothes the past few months and changes outfits multiple times a day all on her own.  She has especially fallen in love with dresses and prefers to wear them over pants and a shirt on any given day.  Ella also has no sense of "weather appropriate" clothes and prefers to wear summer clothes year round now.  She is constantly choosing to wear sundresses or a skirt and a short-sleeved shirt of summer pajamas while it is raining and freezing outside and I am constantly telling her that it is too cold to wear these kind of clothes!  Sometimes I win, but most of the time she wins!  When we are staying home, she still prefers to wear one of her nightgowns all the time just like her older sister did when she was this same age.  Ella has also taken an interest in what items of clothing match and what accessories go with certain items of clothing.  It is quite cute to see this side of her personality developing.
Ella continues to love all things girly.  She loves barbies, princesses, fairies, and mermaids.  She absolutely adores the Pinkalicious and Fancy Nancy book series and wants to have us read them to her every day.  Ella has really enjoyed her preschool co-op this year and has finally established some independence from me.  She enjoys the socializing and playing with the other children in the co-op and learning about the letters and numbers.  She loves to complete the worksheets and the crafts each week and has really gotten into coloring and painting at home.  Like her older brother, Ella now asks me to print out multiple coloring pages a week (usually princess themed) for her to paint at the kitchen table and she loves coloring in her coloring book while we are riding in the car.  Ella has also discovered scissors lately and loves to just cut up pieces of paper which I think is great practice for her and I totally don't mind picking up scraps of little paper on a daily basis.  She also has really gotten into singing and loves to sing her church and preschool songs with me while we are home or in the car.  Sometimes I will just catch her singing to herself which is just about the sweetest thing. Ella also makes up funny names all the time for characters in books and movies or dolls she plays with or anyone on the street whose name we don't know.  She uses names like "Cheeny," or "Tonn,y" or "Chonna."  I don't know where she came up with these kinds of names, but she uses them all the time.  She also continues to say funny and cute words or phrases that keep us laughing.  She says, "Fancy Ancy," instead of Fancy Nancy which Ron and I refuse to correct because we think it is just so adorable.  She also referred to the wise men in the nativity story this Christmas season as the "treasure men" which just cracked us up.  Ella also said the funniest thing to me one day while we were in the car that I managed to write down before I forgot.  We were driving past a parked train on the train tracks downtown and Ella wistfully let out a sigh before saying, "I just want to go in that choo choo somehow."  Oh, how her grandpa would agree!
Lastly, the thing that is not so cute that has happened these past three months is that Ella has started to outgrow her afternoon nap.  Oh no!  During the month of October, Ella began to not fall asleep after I put her down for her nap and would end up playing in her room the entire time.  By the time I left for New York City in November, I thought she had outgrown naps for good.  Luckily, she caught a cold while I was gone, so by the time I returned from my trip she was pretty tired by the afternoon and took a nap every day for two weeks straight!  Since the beginning of December, Ella has been taking a nap about 50% of the time which I have gotten used to.  Ella always does the same routine with me every day which includes eating lunch, reading one or two stories, and then going to bed.  If she doesn't fall asleep within the first few minutes, she will normally get out of bed and start playing with her toys.  As a result, I have introduced her to the concept of "quiet time" and require that she plays quietly in her room (or sometime Lia's room) until her brother and sister come home from school at 3:30.  At that point, Ella is allowed to come downstairs and join the rest of us.  This system seems to be working out pretty well for the two of us and I hope that I can keep this going until she heads off to full-day Kindergarten in 1.5 years!  Perish the thought!

Winter Trip to Priest Lake

Well, it was quick turn around this year between Christmas and leaving for our annual, winter trip to Priest Lake.  Although I was totally exhausted after the busy Christmas season and from some other personal things that happened in December, I forced myself to power through the fatigue and get ready for our trip the next day.  Luckily, Ron offered to do the grocery shopping, but I still spent the majority of the day packing up everything from snow clothes to the food.  Ella, Logan, and Lia had a quiet day at home playing with their new toys and watching their new movies.  We headed out the next morning of December 27th to spend the next five days up at Priest Lake.  Although there had been very little snow on the ground a few weeks earlier, the snow storm that came to us on Christmas Eve also came to Priest Lake with a vengence.  18 inches of snow fell while we were up there!  It was absolutely amazing!  After we past Priest River in the late afternoon on Wednesday, Ron and I felt like we were in the middle of nowhere in a snowy, winter wonderland.  It was so amazing!  We arrived at the cabin a little before 5 p.m. and had enough time to unpack our car before dinner was served.  We then spent the next three days tucked away in the cabin in the middle of the woods while it snowed and snowed and snowed.  It was so magical!  We all had a great time playing in the snow and the kids loved being with the cousins.
In addition, Ron and I did something that we have never done before while up at the cabin.  We left Logan and Ella behind with my parents one day so that we could take Lia skiing at Schweitzer in Sandpoint, Idaho with my three brothers and Rebecca and all of the kids.  Although we spent over five hours in the car that day driving to and from the ski resort, we enjoyed a fabulous day up on the slopes with incredible, fresh snow!  Lia took a two-hour class in the morning while Ron and I skiied and boarded seperately.  Lia had a great experience skiing for the first time on the little "magic carpet" hill and was so happy when we found her at the end of her lesson!  I was so relieved.  We then went back to the car for lunch before returning to the slopes for the rest of the afternoon.  Rebecca was so tired from a morning of skiing that she spent the entire afternoon on the bunny hill with Lia while Ron and I took turns going back and forth from being with Lia to going on a run on the mountain.  We tagged team like this all afternoon and it really worked out nicely.  I was able to go skiing with the triplets, Brynn and Kelsey, and Brent and Riley and never had to ski alone once!  It really felt so invigorating to be back up on the slopes after all of these years.  We met up with everyone around 4 p.m. and headed back out into the winter wonderland to drive home on some crazy roads full of unplowed snow and arrived back at the cabin a little before 7 p.m.  I was so grateful that Ron was driving and not me!  We then enjoyed one more day at the cabin sledding and relaxing before we turned around and drove back home on December 31st.  It was such a fun way to end this year's Winter Break.

Logan enjoying the snow first thing on the morning of December 28th.

Ella hopped on one of our sleds and immediately went down the driveway all on her own during our first morning out in the snow.  Her fearlessness never ceases to amaze me!

A close-up of the cutest snow bunny ever!

Lia and Ella playing in the snow.

Brynn and Kelsey spent plenty of time chasing Ella around in the snow during the days we were up a the cabin.  One of Ella's favorite games was to run off into the woods near the cabin to hide for Brynn and Kelsey to find her.  She would then pop out of the forest onto the road several cabins down from our where she started.  It was the cutest thing!  I just love how these two, teenage girls get the biggest kick out of playing with Ella.

A family photo taken in the snow before we started sledding that day.

Lia heading down the big hill.

Uncle Brent giving Lia a little help.

Ron sending Logan off!

Where Logan's sled finally stopped near the bottom of the hill.  I just love this picture because it shows how beautiful the trees looked with all of the snow on them!

Brent was nice and let Lia ride on his back several times during our week there.  Here they head off with Trenton and Logan behind them.

Lia trying to keep her hat on as they zoomed by me.

Trenton and Logan flying down the hill.

Lia and Brent and Trenton and Logan reaching the bottom.

I was able to sled with both Ella and Logan several times which is so much fun to do with them. Here I am flying down the hill with Ella in my lap.

Logan behind the steering wheel this time.

The two boys at the bottom.

As always, we celebrated Callie's birthday while up at the cabin on the evening of December 28th.

After Callie opened her birthday gifts, all of the cousins and some of the adults exchanged Christmas gifts, too.  Here is grandma opening up one of her gifts.

Ron, Lia, and I got up at 5:30 on the morning of December 29th to leave the cabin a little after 6 a.m. with Rebecca.  After driving 2.5 hours, we arrived at the beautiful, ski resort of Schweitzer.  After getting Lia's ski gear rented, we ventured outside to find the meeting place for her class that started at 10 a.m.  I was so proud of how brave she acted during all of this as I knew that she was very nervous.  Her are the three of us outside the lodge where we rented her gear.

A shot of the large Schweitzer sign we passed on the way to Lia's ski class.  Look at that snow falling!

Waiting to meet Lia's teacher in front of the ski school sign.

Lia putting on one of her skis after her teacher arrived.

After practicing the feel of skiing on one ski, Lia's teacher had the class take them off and walk over to the "magic carpet" hill.

Lia following her teacher with the rest of her class.

Lia's and her class putting on their skis.

And she's ready to go!  I thought she looked so incredibly cute with her ski gear on.

After watching Lia's class for a few minutes, I took off to go skiing the rest of the morning with the triplets and had a great time.  I was amazed at what great skiiers they have all become.  Here I am with Vivi and Callie at the top of the chair lift.

And, they're off!  Vivi, Sarah, and Callie heading down the slope in front of me.

One of the many, hilarious crashes that Vivi had during our morning together.  According to Eric and Rebecca, this is something she does on a regular basis while skiing.

Ron and I both met back up at Lia's class a few minutes before it ended so that we could watch her.  It as so fun to see her skiing down the little bunny slope and riding back up the "magic carpet" over and over again.

And there she goes!

Striking a pose!

After lunch, I enjoyed skiing with Lia down the little, bunny hill every time it was "my turn" to watch her.  I hope that this is the first of many times skiing on the slopes together.

After a long day away from the cabin on December 29th, we enjoyed a slower day at the cabin on December 30th.  We all played out in the snow in the morning and then Lia and I went sledding with the brothers and some of the cousins in a different location during the afternoon while everyone else stayed behind.  Here is Ella frolicking in the snow outside the cabin during the morning.

Eric helped to pack down the run that Logan and Lia always like to go down each year in front of the cabin.  Here is Logan heading down the hill!

This short run is quite steep and provides for some good air.  Here is Logan catching some on his way down!

My girls and me.

Ella eating some snow which is something all three of our kids love to do!

Logan crashed into a bunch of sleds at the bottom of the steep hill in front of the cabin.  This is the fun picture I got of him afterwards.

The five of us ended up following the triplets over to our neighbor's deck to play in their untouched snow.  Here is a family picture we had taken with the lake in the background.

The triplets and Lia laying on the deck.

The kids and Trenton enjoyed some TV time in the afternoon.

And some story time, too!

Brynn and Kelsey made their traditional doughnuts our last night there!

Lia joined in one of the many games played that week.

Logan finished off the evening by taking a with Trenton.

Monday, December 25, 2017

White Christmas!

Due to our late evening the night before, Ron and I were both very grateful that our tired kids slept in a bit later than normal this morning.  The little ones started appearing in our bedroom around 8 a.m.  Ron and I got out of bed and looked out the window to see that two inches of fresh snow was on the ground!  It was so fun and magical to have a white Christmas as it is such a rare occurrence in the Pacific Northwest.  The last white Christmas I can remember having is when Lia was a baby in 2008.
After getting out of bed, Ron and I went downstairs to turn on the Christmas lights and the music while the children waited impatiently at the top of the stairs.  When we were ready, they came running down to find their couches full of goodies from Santa.  Much screaming and jumping took place for the next minute or so while they got their first looks at their loot.  We then let the kids play with their Santa gifts while we made our traditional, Christmas breakfast.  After breakfast in the dining room, we returned back to the living room to open all of our gifts under the tree.  It is always so rewarding to watch the children's reactions as they open their gifts.  So many hours and hours of work goes into making Christmas possible and it is always so worth it when I get to see how excited our children are when they find out what is inside all of those pretty packages that have been sitting under the tree for several days.  We then had just enough time to change out of our pajamas and get the living room picked up before we were treated to a visit from grandma and grandpa.  They came to visit us this year for lunch and to deliver their presents.  This always helps the day feel even more special.
After their visit, we all get dressed in our snow gear and headed outside to play in the snow.  We spent about an hour in the backyard sliding down the slide on the sled, throwing snowballs, and building a snowman.  Although I was totally tired and really just wanted to take a nap, I was grateful for the chance to play in the snow on Christmas afternoon with Ron and the kids as I might never have the opportunity to do this on Christmas ever again! After coming back inside, we settled in to watch the new Beauty and the Beast DVD that grandma gave Lia for Christmas.  About half way through the movie, I got up to start preparing our traditional, Filipino dinner that I make every year for Christmas dinner.  We sat down to eat after the movie had ended to dine on sinigang, adobo, rice, and lumpia with sparkling cider.  We enjoyed a quiet dinner together before finishing off the evening by giving the kids a big, group gift--a trip to Disneyland.  It really was a wonderful, white Christmas!

Lia's Santa couch before she came downstairs.  Besides receiving three nightgowns, all of her Santa gifts came from the collection of the American Girl Doll, Kanani, who was the Girl of the Year in 2011.  Lia fell in love with this doll after seeing multiple videos of her on youtube years ago and has wanted her ever since.  But since this doll has been retired for years, her collection is only available through Craig's List and ebay and costs a lot of money.  I spent about two years buying and flipping multiple Kanani collections from Craig's List to allow me to acquire the majority of this collection for free.  This was truly a labor of love!

Logan's corner of his Santa couch.  The big hit was the mega, Lego set and the magnetic tiles that he discovered this year in his classroom.

Ella's corner of her Santa couch including a miniature dollhouse that was her "big gift" for Christmas this year.

Logan jumping up and down and screaming after picking up his box of magnetic tiles.

Although this picture came out blurry, I had to include it as it shows how happy Lia was when she discovered Kanani sitting on her couch!  Look at that screaming face!

Ella immediately began playing with her new dollhouse.  Although it came with a few pieces of furniture, I filled it with little, princess dolls and furniture that we already owned.

Ella has recently fallen in love with the Pinkalicious series, but we do not have all of the big, hardback book from the collection.  So she got the Emeraldalicious and Silverlicious books this year and wanted to read them right away!

We did something different this year and let all of the kids pick one gift under the tree to open before breakfast.  Here is Lia opening up the 7th Harry Potter DVD.

Logan immediately decided to open the gift from Aunt Austin and Uncle Robbie.  He was so thrilled to find a giant bin of Lincoln Logs inside.  Besides magnetic tiles, this is the other building toy he has discovered this year in his classroom that he absolutely loves!  He was so excited to receive this gift.

Ella opening up her first gift of the morning--a set of Fancy Nancy books.

While we made breakfast, the kids had the chance to play with their new toys.  Here is Ella playing in her dollhouse.

Logan building his first structure with his new set of magnetic tiles.

Lia wanted to immediately take Kanani upstairs to play with her in the mega dollhouse.

The kids and Ron sitting down to our Christmas breakfast of eggs, bacon, and a homemade bread ring.

Our pajama clad kiddos back in the living room after breakfast waiting to start opening all of the gifts under the tree.

Logan showing off his new pirate set to go with his ever growing collection.

Ella coloring her Moana book from Aunt Renee and Uncle Derek.

Lia opening up the Kanani paddle board set from Aunt Austin and Uncle Robbie.

A picture of our beautiful, white backyard before we played in it.

Grandma, Grandpa, the kids, and me before saying 'goodbye' to them after their visit.

Let the snow games begin!  The kids all dressed and ready to play in the snow.

Logan making a snow angel on the sport's court.

Cute Ella doing the same.

And Lia, too!

Ella attempting to throw a giant snowball at Ron.

Logan chasing after Lia with a snowball.  This is always one of the kids' favorite activities in the snow until someone gets hurt and starts crying.

The kiddos and me.

Lia and I going at it with the snowballs, too.

A picture of the snowman we built as a joint effort.

After dinner, we finished off the evening by giving the kids two group gifts that they opened together.  The first one was a combo whiteboard/chalkboard on a large easel with a large pack of dry erase markers to use on it.  The second one was a trip to Disneyland!  For the second year in a row, Lia and Ron have the same Spring Break.  As a result, I decided that we needed to go on a trip again!  Since it will be three years this coming February since Logan and Ella have been to Disneyland, Ron and I decided that it was high time to bring them back--especially since Logan has fallen in love with all things Star Wars and pirates and Ella has fallen in love with all things princesses.  I had the kids open up a large box full of red and white tissue paper.  Inside they found a pair of Mickey ears for each of them to wear (Ariel ears for Lia, Star Wars ears for Logan, and Minnie ears for Ella) and a bunch of Mickey shaped pieces of red, white, and black paper with letters on them.

Logan and Lia immediately began figuring out this "puzzle" by putting all of the letters in order to spell out a sentence.  I was surprised with how fast they did it.  The mickey shaped letters spelled out the sentence, "You are going to Disneyland."

This is the scene that followed.  Much jumping and screaming and overall freaking out!  I just love the look on Logan's face.

Our cute kiddos with their Mickey ears on sitting around the message they just spelled out!  It was a great way to end a wonderful, white Christmas!