Saturday, September 30, 2017

3 1/2 Years Old!

How is it possible that my baby turned 3 1/2 years old today?!  Time is just flying way, way too fast!  Oh, how I just love this little peanut of mine!  She is such a joy in our family and brings such energy and happiness to us every single day.  Ella continues to grow up every day and is 100% a little girl and no longer a baby in any way, shape, or form.  Ever since the summer, she only will wear dresses outside of the house...which is going to pose a problem as the cold weather sets in for the next several months.  And just like her older sister, Ella prefers to wear one of her "jamma dresses" in the house whenever we are home.  I have stopped fighting it and will only make her get dressed into real clothes when we leave the house and, most of the time, Ella will change right back into a nightgown the second we return home.  The funny this is that Lia had totally outgrown this phase (by several years) before Ella started it.  So, where did she come up with this idea?!  It must be a genetic thing.  Ella loves all things Disney Princess, Barbie, and Fancy Nancy.  I think that she has succeeded in taking every single book that falls under these three categories from Lia's room and has permanently moved them into her room.  It's just a good thing that Lia is totally into chapter books now and doesn't mind.  Ella also has really gotten into coloring and painting pictures.  The funny thing is that she will just choose one crayon or paint color and will color the entire picture in that color.  She doesn't stay in the lines yet, but does a decent job filling the entire picture in with the chosen color.  It's quite cute to see how hard she is concentrating when she does this.  Ella really loves playing dolls whether it is with small, princess dolls or bigger, Barbie dolls.  Although she can be found playing alone, she prefers to play with someone else and constantly asks Lia, Ron, or me to play with her.  She has also started to play with Logan and they can be the cutest thing when they are getting along and playing nicely with each other.  Ella still prefers to be with me over anyone else all of the time, but I am happy to announce that she is totally going to her church nursery class and to her preschool co-op without even blinking an eye.  I still bribe her with candy at the beginning and the end of class, but she finally has developed a little bit of independence from me which is a huge relief!  Ella also loves her movie time every morning, still takes an afternoon nap every day, and has developed an aversion to most meats and some vegetables during dinner time which I am not a big fan of.  Ella is very vocal about not wanting to grow up and always wanting to stay a "bee bee" (how she pronounces the word, "baby").  The sad thing is that I always agree with her which is probably not healthiest thing for her.  I wish that she would stay my little girl forever.  *sigh*  She is just the cutest, sweetest thing and I love her to pieces!

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Voice of an Angel

Yesterday was our ward's annual primary program that both Lia and Logan participated in.  Since I got called into the primary presidency a month ago, it has been fun to be a part of the practices for the first time in my life these past few weeks.  The primary children sang a total of eight songs in addition to each having their own turn up at the microphone to say one or two lines.  Logan wanted nothing to do with it and refused to ever get up to say his part during the practices.  However, Lia was the total opposite and jumped at the last-minute opportunity to both sign a song with a small group of girls AND sing a solo.  I couldn't believe it when I saw her hand shoot up into the air when the music leader asked if anyone would like to sing a solo for a song whose original soloist had just cancelled last minute.  Lia was so brave walking up to the microphone and singing the song with a the help of the music director for the first time.  I don't know if I would have had the courage to do this when I was nine years old.  After practicing every day at home with me this past week, we showed up to church yesterday with an excited, but nervous, Lia and a bribed Logan (we promised him a Lego set if he got up to say his part).  Since I sat in the first row with the Sunbeams I was able to get up and stand at Logan's side when it was his turn to say his part.  Although Logan kind of panicked when he first saw how many people were in the audience, he grabbed my hand for moral support and then said his few words into the microphone.  I was so proud of him.  After that, Lia signed her song, sang her solo, and said her line.  She did such a wonderful job with everything--especially her solo!  She was confident and sang clearly and loudly into the microphone.  It sounded so great!  Both Ron and I got several compliments from people after the program was over including two people who said that she sounded like she had the voice of an angel.  Good job, Lia!  We are so proud of you!

My parents came down from Issy with Brent, Kelsey, and Brynn (since they were still visiting after the Coldplay concert).  I asked my two nieces to be sneaky and try to take some pictures of Lia.  Here is one of Lia singing her solo in the song, "To Think About Jesus."

And here is another one of Lia signing to the song, "As a Child of God."

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Coldplay: A Head Full of Dreams Concert

Although I am not a die-hard music fan or a regular concert goer, I do have two bands that I have absolutely loved for years:  U2 and Coldplay.  I fell in love with U2 in the early 90s while in high school and I fell in love with Coldplay right after college in the early 2000s.  I have seen U2 in concert a total of three times in my life, but I have never seen Coldplay.  And, to be honest with you, it wasn't even on my radar.  I am too busy being a mom of three young kids to follow where and when Coldplay is performing.  But, just by luck, I received an email from Tickmaster the week before the U2 concert I attended last May with an ad for Coldplay's upcoming concert to Seattle.  Apparently, their "A Head Full of Dreams" tour has been touring since March of 2016 and Seattle was to be their 103rd city out of a total of 123 cities!  I immediately wanted to go to this concert, but with who?  Since I really didn't have anyone in my town, I started thinking outside of my own immediate area and thought of Brent, my one brother who loves Coldplay as much as me.  There's just one catch:  he lives in Montana.  I decided to call him up and ask him if he wanted to join me.  And to my surprise, not only did he say that he was in, but also his two, teenage daughters.  So, before I knew it, tickets were bought and I was going to see Coldplay with my brother and two of my nieces.  I was so excited!
Brent and his two girls drove out to Washington Friday after leaving work and school early.  After they spent the day palling around with other cousins yesterday, I picked them up in Bellevue and off we went for our evening of fun in the Century Link Stadium in Seattle with 65,000 other Coldplay fans.  After two lackluster, opening acts, the four of us were blown away by the most amazing, colorful, fun concert of my life.  It was like one nonstop, dance party for two hours.  It was an amazing display of color and energy between the fireworks, rainbow colored confetti, giant balloons, lasers, and electronic wristbands that lit up!  I have never attended a concert where there were so many fun things to look at and interact with in addition to dancing and singing along to the music.  Chris Martin and the band played all of my favorites from "Paradise" to "A Sky Full of Stars."  It was so much fun to dance the night away with my brother and my nieces at my side while watching the stadium constantly light up in a spectrum of different, flashing colors from the wristbands!  It was one of those nights I will never forget!

The giant, Coldplay poster hanging outside the stadium.

Sarah, Kelsey, and I standing in front of the poster.

We made it!  The four of us standing in front of our amazing seats on the 18th row of the stadium before the concert started.

Sarah Mae showing off her new, Coldplay hat that she bought before the concert.

#ColdplaySeattle.  Bring it on!

The amazing backdrop of the stage complete with a rainbow made from real, cut flowers.

The map of Coldplay's concert tour in North American all lit up on the screen as they were about to enter.  Notice that the line stopped in Seattle.

What we first saw all around the stadium when the electronic wristbands lit up as Coldplay was coming out.  Since these wristbands were controlled by a computer, we had no way of knowing when they would turn on or off or what color they would be.  It was so fun watching them change throughout the concert AND seeing the spectacular display that thousands of them would create around the stadium.

The "Head Full of Dreams" symbol on the smaller screen above the stage.

And here they are!  The opening act begins after Coldplay came onto stage and started singing, "A Head Full of Dreams."

A close-up of Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland.

After some time, the band moved down the runway to a smaller stage in the middle of the audience on the floor.  This was fun for us to see as it was really close to where we were sitting.

All four of our wristbands lit up and glowing!

Brent and I dancing the night away.

During the performance of the song, "Adventure of a Lifetime," they sent beachball-sized, balloons into the audience that were so much fun to try to hit back up into the air.  They bounced around the massive audience for the rest of the concert.

A shot of a some of the balloons that ended up floating around the stage.

The amazing green and purple lasers during the performance of "Paradise."  It was so awesome to see this--especially in combination with everyone's wristbands flashing on and off in an array of colors.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Another Loganism for the Books

Ever since Logan could talk, he has been cracking us up.  In fact, I actually feel bad as there are soooo many funny things that he has said over the past few years that I haven't written down, but today I managed to find a moment to record one of our conversations from earlier this morning!
I was madly rushing around during the last few minutes prior to leaving the house to drive Logan and Lia to school.  This is always the craziest time of the day for me as I am trying to juggle several things at once with a tight deadline.  After I finished making the last item for the kids' lunches (sandwiches), I promptly packed Lia's in her lunch bag and left Logan's sitting on the counter.  I zipped up both lunch bags and walked to the back door where I put Lia's on the floor for her to pick up on the way out and Logan's safely inside his backpack.
Upon returning to the kitchen, I discovered Logan's sandwich still sitting on the counter.  I then announced out loud to both Logan and Ella who were still eating breakfast that I had completely forgotten to pack Logan's sandwich to which he responded, "Do you have a crazy brain?  Is it mixed up?"
After getting my giggles out of the way, kissing Logan on the head, and telling him that he was the cutest boy alive, I told him that my brain is definitely all mixed up.  I couldn't have said it better.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ella's Day at the Fair!

The last time Ella and I went to the Washington State Fair was three years ago when she was just a baby.  After faithfully going to the fair EIGHT straight years in a row, I decided that I had basically grown to hate it and needed a break until I started liking it again.  I grew to dislike the crowds, the inflated prices, the tacky rides, and the pressure of needing to get home in time for the afternoon nap (and the subsequent tension that it caused between Ron and me).  So after experiencing all of this in 2014, I told Ron that I was done for awhile.  I graciously pulled out and he happily started taking Logan and Lia without me.  However, after talking to my mom about it the other day, she gave me the idea to go on a week day morning with just Ella when the crowds were at a minimum and when there wouldn't be older siblings dragging us off to Sillyville the entire time (the obnoxious area where all of those tacky rides are located).  Since Ron had gotten a second free educator's pass from school and Ella is still free (since she is under the age of 5), I decided to go this morning and even invited my mom to join us.  Besides the fact that it rained almost the entire four hours that we were there, we really had a great time.  Ella was a total trooper and happily stayed bundled in her stroller while holding an umbrella over her head.  It totally protected her from the rain and she was just the cutest thing hidden under her little, blue dome.  We got to do everything we wanted--we saw all of the animals, went on the carousel ride, ate a delicious lunch, and checked out the amazing produce displays.  It was the perfect amount of time to spend at the fair and we managed to leave in good spirits and in time for Ella's nap.  I will definitely be doing this again next fall before I lose my Ella to full-day school forever the following year!  Ugh, perish the thought.

My sweet Ella getting ready to go on the one ride she chose!

Mommy and daughter after finishing up our ride on the carousel.  Ella was so sad when it ended that we had to go find the other carousel ride later that morning.

Ella was the most excited to see the mama pig with her piglets.  She kept on asking to see them over and over again.  

Grandma and Ella inside one of the large barns checking out the massive, Draft horses.

Ella and me with the adorable, Shetland ponies behind us.

Ella was fascinated with all of the birds inside the poultry barn.  I was a second too late taking this picture, but Ella had just been standing there, totally mesmerized, staring at the second rooster from the end who had been pecking at his food in a little cup.  It was the cutest thing!

After lots of animals and and a few rides, we sought solace from the rain under a massive tent and ate our BBQ sandwiches and corn on the cob.  Delish!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ella Starts Preschool!

I am participating in a preschool co-op this school year with four other moms from church like I did when Logan and Lia were preschool age.  Since I am in charge of it, I offered to host the first week which was last week.  So, technically, Ella began preschool last Tuesday, September 12th, but I think it's a bit anticlimactic to take the first-day-of-school pictures when we are not even leaving our own house.  As a result, I snapped this picture today as I was dropping Ella off at Jace's house who lives up the hill from us.  
Of all of my children, Ella is the clingiest.  She loves me more than anyone else and does not like being separated from me--even when she is left at home with her dad and siblings.  It is something that I have never dealt with before.  As a result, Ron or I have always had to sit with Ella during her nursery class at church and I have always wondered and worried how she would make the transition to preschool.  We decided a month ago that the time had come for some "tough love" and I dropped Ella off at nursery and told her that I would not be staying.  I bribed her with a piece of candy when I dropped her off and promised her another piece of candy when I picked her up.  As hard as it was to leave a crying Ella behind, I knew that it was necessary for a successful preschool year.  And to my amazement, she only cried for five minutes and then suddenly stopped and started playing with toys.  I simply couldn't believe it when another parent found me in the hallway at church and told me this.  I should have done this months ago!  So, to my absolute relief, Ella has now been successfully dropped off at nursery for four Sundays in a row.  I still have to bribe her with candy, but she does a great job quietly sitting down and playing with a puzzle whenever I leave her there.  So, with all of that said, I had high hopes for today.  
Although Ella started crying every time I told her that preschool would be at someone else's house this week, she was actually in a calm mood this morning.  She chose two pieces of candy from the candy bowl right before it was time to go and willingly put on her shoes and grabbed her "pack pack" as we headed out the door.  I was so happy to see her bravely walk up to Jace's front door with me, calmly walk inside his house, take off her shoes, and run straight upstairs where she knows the toy room is located.  I had asked Jace's mom, Alisa, to host the second week of preschool weeks ago since their house is the only other house in the co-op that Ella has ever played at before.  Luckily, Alisa, agreed.  So, that helped to make this transition to preschool at someone else's home a lot easier.  We will see how Ella does next week when I drop her off at a total stranger's house.  Oh dear. 
Regardless, Ella was so happy and excited when I picked her up two hours later today.  She came running to the door, shouting my name, and gave my legs a big hug!  Alisa said she did a great job and had no problems.  Ella was so excited to tell me all about it and proudly showed off her letter B and number 2 worksheets and her "B" bracelet.  Although it absolutely kills me to see my "baby" growing up, I am so relieved that she had a successful first day of preschool at someone else's house.  Here's to many more!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Calling All Superheroes!

This year, our Stake Primary Presidency decided to host a Stake Activity Day for all of the girls ages 8 to 11 years old in the stake.  Since my calling the last two years has been the ward Activity Day Leader, I was delighted to get one evening "off" this school year and to join in on the fun.  The theme was "Super Heroes" and the Stake Primary Presidency really did a cute job planning out the evening.  There were darling decorations, a fun craft, a delicious dinner, and then four stations for the girls to rotate through for the remainder of the evening that all related to super heroes in one way or another.  After helping out with the craft and eating dinner, I assisted with the "Super Hero Training" station where the girls shot Nerf guns at targets and had to navigate through a "laser" obstacle course (made of strings tied back and forth between several chairs).  Lia had a great time palling around with her friend, Isabel, and I had a great time watching her enjoy all of the activities!  It's always fun to share an evening with one of my kiddos!

Lia and Isabel posing in their super hero capes and head bands that they decorated for their craft.


The entire group of girls after crafting and eating dinner.  Lia is just to the right of the center of the group.

The girls striking their best super hero poses.

Lia and Isabel listening to Stake Primary president talk about super heroes in our lives.  Lia is in the back row with her head turned slightly to the right.

After the girls finished rotating through all four stations, they gathered back in the gym to listen to one of the counselors in the stake president.  Here is Lia making a funny face while the photographer took a picture of her and the girls in her group.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Growing Pains

We are only four days into Logan's first year of full-day, public school.  Although I drop him off to school every morning with a smile on his face, he is still getting used to the transition from 2.5 hours of preschool three days a week to five, full-days of school a week.  Here is a prime example of this:
Logan, Ella, and I were at Lia's soccer practice tonight.  Luckily, the beautiful, summer weather has continued so far which has made her 1.5 hour practices not as painful to sit through with two, younger children.  After eating a Chick-fil-A, picnic dinner and some time playing on the playground, the kids and I moved onto the grass to watch the end of Lia's practice.  It was during this time that Logan decided to sit down and crawl all over me.  He then casually asked when his next day of school would be.  I answered that it was tomorrow.  He immediately looked at me in total shock and said, "AGAIN?!"  Yes, Logan, again.  Welcome to the rest of your life.  It's tough growing up. :-)

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Lia's First Soccer Game

Lia started her soccer practices this season on August 7th after driving home from Priest Lake most of the day.  Since then, she has been practicing every Monday and Wednesday evening in very hot, 80 or 90 degree weather.  She has been a total trooper and has never complained once.  In addition, although we stayed with the same soccer organization again this year, I transferred Lia to a different team that practices only 10 minutes away from our house (in comparison to the the school where she practiced last year that is 25-35 minutes away from our home depending on traffic).  Lia bravely joined this new team where she didn't know anyone and most of the teammates already knew each other from the previous year.  I am so proud of how hard she has worked and for her positive attitude.
Today was Lia's first game.  Although she was a little timid, she did a good job chasing the ball and defending her girl.  Like last year, I am sure that Lia will continue to get more confident and aggressive as the season progresses.  Here is to many more action packed and fun filled games for our soccer player!

Lia looking down the field.

Waiting for the ball.

Walking down the field.

Lia chasing the ball.

Lia assisting her teammate.

Fighting her opponent.

Running after the ball.

A big kick.

Running down the field.

Fighting for the ball.

More chasing after the ball.

High fiving the other team after the game is over.

Friday, September 8, 2017

First Day of School!

After another fun filled and action packed summer, school started this week.  I am always just as sad as the kids are to see all of it come to an end.  We had such a good run this summer with the most amazing weather!  I feel like it didn't rain once the entire 2.5 months that we had off!
Tuesday, September 5th, was Lia's first day of school.  She was a little nervous the night before and had a difficult time falling asleep, but acted as calm as a cucumber the next morning even though she said that she was still a little nervous.  She looked so cute wearing her new clothes from the Pirates of the Caribbean clothing line sold at Kohls this past summer.  We love this movie series and love that her shirt said "Mermaid Spirit" which perfectly sums up this girl of mine!  Lia was put in Ms. Arnett's class with her three closest friends from her 3rd grade class:  Sienna (who we have known since PreK), Allison, and Persephone.  I couldn't believe her luck at the three of them getting another school year together.  Also, Lia gets to be in a brand NEW classroom this year as her school just finished building a 12-classroom addition for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.  The classrooms are beautiful and so modern and fancy with two flat screen TVs, wi-fi, and a conference room between their class and the neighboring one.  Lia even gets to have her own one-on-one devise (a tablet/lap top) to use on a daily basis.  Her school is the first in the district to get this luxury!  So, it looks like Lia is going to have a great year!

We started off the morning with our traditional, first-day-of-school pictures on the front porch before we headed off to school.

A side profile of our grown-up, 4th grader complete with her emoji backpack and lunch bag that she picked out.

Our traditional sibling picture.  Such silly kids!

Once we got down to the school and hiked what seemed like a mile to the blacktop, we found two of Lia's good friends in line:  Sienna and Allison.

It wasn't long before Persephone showed up which meant I needed to take another picture so that I had the "complete group" together.  The height difference between these four girls just cracks me up.  Lia has always been in the 90th percentile for height and Sienna has always been off the the two of them make the other girls look so tiny!

I think Lia's nerves totally melted when she found her friends in line.  After waiting several minutes, her line finally dismissed and off she went!  She was so excited!  I can't believe how grown-up and independent she has gotten since she started school there four years ago in Kindergarten.

Logan on his first day of school, Friday, September 8th.  You can tell by the less-than-enthusiastic smile on his face that he was not excited about going to school.

Logan's first day of school was today.  Our school district began starting Kindergarten a few days later than the rest of the district when they transitioned to full-day Kindergarten three years ago.  Logan didn't mind getting an extra three days of summer, especially since he is a total homebody and does NOT like change.  In fact, every time I mentioned this week that he would be starting school at "Lia's big school," he would immediately start wining and complaining that he didn't want to go to school there.  When we went down to the school on Wednesday for his Kindergarten assessment, Logan didn't say a word (yes, that means not even his name) to his new teacher during our entire, 30 minute conference.  Afterwards, when we went into a different classroom for his assessment from a teacher's aide, he totally melted.  After going over numbers 1-20, Logan totally lost it.  He started crying, crawled into my lap, and curled up into a little ball.  Oh dear.  Needless to say, we had to throw in the towel on the rest of his assessment which covered things he totally knows (letters, colors, and shapes).  But, this is my boy.  He is the apple of my eye, but he can be very difficult.  He simply will not 'perform' if he is outside of his comfort zone and that is exactly what this assessment was for him.
So, needless to say, I was a little apprehensive about how he would act on his first day of Kindergarten.  After dragging him out bed today, and forcing him to get dressed, he reluctantly ate his breakfast and got into the car.  He was very unsure about the entire thing, but luckily managed to get out of the car and walk into the school without having a breakdown.  Lia accompanied us into the office where I checked in and then into the gym to see where Logan's class line is located (since she will be the one walking Logan to his line every single morning the rest of the school year).  Logan then sat down and didn't say a word.  It was very clear to me that he was very nervous and unhappy about the entire situation; however, I had promised him that I would walk him to his classroom and help him get situated before saying goodbye as this is what I had been allowed to do for Lia's first day of Kindergarten.  Logan sat quietly in his line playing with the new hole in his mouth (from losing his tooth yesterday) until it was time to go.  As the children were standing up to leave, I realized that I should double check with his teacher, Mrs. Kirklie, to see if I was allowed to accompany Logan to the classroom.  To my surprise, she informed me that she would prefer that I stay behind in the gymnasium.  Oh dear.  So, at that point, I had to reluctantly walk over to Logan and bear the bad news.  Upon hearing this, he eyes welled up with tears.  The poor, little guy.  As the tears began streaming down his face, I stroked his hair, kissed his head, and wiped his tears over and over again while offering words of comfort.  And, to my surprise, I felt my tears coming.  I just felt so bad for him.  Plus, I think the reality of "losing" my second child to the public school system finally hit me. I will be the fist to admit that I am NOT ready for my children to grow up and leave me.  I would keep them little forever if I could.  So, while I fought back my own tears, Ella and I waved goodbye to Logan and off he went to his classroom!  Ugh.  I didn't expect this farewell to be so hard, but it was.  Once he left the gym, I picked up Ella and walked back to the car with tears streaming down my face.  This growing up stuff is for the birds!  
It felt very strange the rest of the day to not have Logan at home with Ella and me.  I kept on wondering where he was and then I would remember that he was at school with Lia.  There was a kind of empty and lonely feeling to the house that I am sure will take awhile for Ella and me to get used to.  On a happier note, I am proud to report that Logan came home this afternoon beaming from ear to ear!  He had a great day and loved every minute of it.  He reported on every detail he could remember from who he played with at recess to what it was like to eat lunch in his classroom to what they colored at their desk (a raccoon and school supplies picture).  He easily found Lia after school and gave her a huge hug when she walked up to his teacher to pick him up.  I think that Logan has already found his "new comfort zone" and I hope for a positive and exciting year of learning and growing for him!

Logan showing off his awesome, BB-8 backpack that even lights up and makes noises!

The girls making a "Logan sandwich" for the second, sibling picture of the week.  Logan looks so miserable.

Logan quietly sitting in his class line inside the school gymnasium.

Logan and the rest of the students in his line.  I had to include this picture because it shows the funny face Logan kept on making while his tongue was playing with the new hole in his mouth.

A very scared and crying Logan getting ready to follow his teacher out the door.

And, he's off!