Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just Keep Swimming

This summer we had the kids take swimming lessons. This is Erin's third year of lessons so she was pretty used to them and really excited about them. I didn't expect her to cry like she did when she was three, but I also didn't expect her to do as well as she did. From the first day whenever they asked who wanted to be first she'd excitedly raised her hand. She had no trouble talking, doing anything the teacher asked or even swimming around the other five kids along the wall repeatedly, only to have all the other kids do the same. It's a little surprising that the teacher allowed them to do that while she was out with other kids, but as it turns out it was her first time teaching and the kids did get a lot of extra practice. Way to start a trend Erin.

I'm just amazed by how far she has come, and here's why. I would always see these other kids with no fear making friends anywhere they went, actually swimming at swimming parties, raising their hands at story time, performing Broadway musicals in front of thousands of people, etc. while my child cowered behind my leg if anyone so much as looked at her. Of course I know that it doesn't matter if you are a bit timid and aren't the first one to jump into things (coming from someone who was and still is a little that way). You can be a perfectly acceptable contributing member of society if you are a little shy (I keep telling myself that anyway), but it's just cool to see her come out of her shell like this.

At the end of her last class they got pushed down the big water slide by their teacher and Erin, with her newfound bravery, was the first one down. Jared caught this shot of her as she spun around at the end. I guess the fact that she didn't drown after that is a good sign that my money has been well spent.

Alex just finished his first round of lessons. Since he's not three yet we couldn't do the group lessons, but I wanted him to start so it was just him and Fred, his private instructor (for 10 minutes a day). For the first two days, Alex alternated between screaming and being pushed under the water toward the wall, followed by more screaming. After that I was sure that it was a huge waste, realizing that the only hopeful aspect about the lessons was that he was smart enough to stop screaming when he got shoved under.

But, to my amazement Alex walked right up to Fred that third day and did not scream once for the rest of the lessons (that is except for the hour before each terrifying event). He was counting imaginary fishes on the bottom of the pool, blowing bubbles, giving high fives, jumping in and turning around to touch the wall, and kicking by himself to the wall (he's still pretty young for the arms). Seriously though, it was an incredible transformation. In the end, it was worth the time and money. If nothing else, he will be that much more prepared for next summer. Way to go!

This picture was of his second lesson, so he was still has his worried face on. I didn't get any of his post screaming lessons, but you get the idea. Look how tan that guy is (not Alex, his teacher... just in case)

And speaking of swimming... for anyone that may not know this already, Florida is really, really hot in the summer, unbearably hot and sticky. You'd have to be crazy to go to the park in the summer. There are only two options for surviving the summer here: 1. shuffle your kids from one air conditioned space as quickly as possible to another (house, car, gym, car, house, car, museum, car, grocery store, car, house... and then collapse in your 78 degree cave) or 2. go swimming. The second option sounds pretty good, until you factor in all that comes with it: swim diapers, swimsuits, towels, sunscreen, snacks, water... and that's just the hour of prep time. Once you get there, that's when the real work begins. Kids are hanging on me in three directions, yelling that they're going to jump to me, kicking off my legs, swimming to the wall, trying to run around the deck and into the hot tub, asking me to put on their goggles (again!), or fighting over them at the edge of the deep end when I'm 30 feet away. Good grief, I spend the whole freaking time just making sure these kids don't drown! (You know what would be easier? Yeah, putting on a movie in the air conditioned home.) But, in order to survive Florida summers, we must go swimming... and heck, the kids have a blast (even if I get new gray hairs from each plunge).

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Saturday is a Special Day

My day yesterday started with some nesting. Not because I'm prego, although I sure get a lot done when I am. Possibly because I have time, not being in school right now. But most likely because we recently took the plunge and got HGTV, and all those other Dish Network channels, but most importantly HGTV. We love the DVR and I love all those design shows. So far, I have not gotten sick of it yet. I have definitely been inspired by it... to the point of painting the garage at midnight, buying coordinating throw pillows and new rug for the family room, sewing new curtains for the living room, creating a new homemade dining room wall hanging to match the new light fixture that we need to get (and wire), finding a new color for the family room and painting it along with the shelves we are going to build, putting up new blinds in our bedroom, building a custom headboard, creating cute wall decor for the kids' rooms, staining the garage floor, and redoing our master bathroom. All right, most of these are on my "things to do list". Yeah, I have a lot to do and Jared thinks I've gone off the deep end. Maybe so. But can I just reiterate this fact? I love HGTV! So I spent the morning doing all that...

Right after I got home it was back to reality and Jared was off to Scout camp. Normally this would have been fine, seeing as I am with the kids alone every other day. But yesterday E and A were SO crabby and tired. Every few minutes I was breaking up another fight. This went on for longer than I had patience, and then I heard them start to bear their testimonies. They were taking turns using the vacuum attachment as the microphone and it went something like this, "I'd like to bear my testimony. I know this church is true. I know Jesus loves me. My favorite food is spaghetti. My favorite vegetable is corn. My favorite fruit is bananas. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." (I can't wait to hear this from the pulpit) I had to smile as they rotated bearing some variation of this testimony, always including their favorite foods, especially since they went from pinching/scratching/hitting to this.

The crabby testimony bearers finally conked out five minutes before Marissa woke up, so it was just me and her for a couple of hours. I am really not sure if she's ever had alone time like that, because she was honestly really bored. What did I ever do with just one child? (not break up fights, for starters) I mean we read books, played with blocks, sang songs and even watched Baby Einstein, but still, I'm not so exciting. Kids are way more fun to follow around. I guess I never realized how easy it is to just have her wander around so happy with the other kids.

I finally put her down again and began painting... five minutes before the other kids woke up, happy this time. I do love being a mom, and I'm loving working on the house too. A few more hours of kids, feeding, bathing, dressing, reading, telling a story from when I was a kid, threatening to lock the door if they didn't stay in bed, and I was back to my painting. I did end the day on a good note, another episode of "Get it Sold", though I fell asleep before it was over. I guess I need to put that on my list of things to finish too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bedtime Stories

Like most kids, mine always want us to tell them a bedtime story. Several months ago Erin got really interested in stories of us when we were kids. I remember loving to hear about my parents' childhood. Maybe because as a child you just can't imagine that someone that old could have ever been so young like you. Baffling, yet entrancing. So now, every night we get two requests: Three Bears and a story from when you were a kid. At first it was no problem conjuring up childhood memories, but since I feel like it has to be something new every time, it's becoming a bit more challenging. I think I've gone through all the stories that make me look good and have moved on to the ones that could possibly "teach them a lesson" (ie. the moral of this story is you should never pretend your sister's brand new cardboard house is a trampoline while she's at school, or the moral of this story is you should never convince your younger sister to throw away your older sister's Barbie because you are mad at her AND you should not silently sit by while your younger sister has to give her Barbie to your older sister as a punishment--do as I say not as I do, or did).

So in an effort to preserve some of my better memories, I thought I would write them here. This one sticks out for some reason. I was 10 years old and it was 1986, the height of the Lee Press-On Nail craze, at least for me. I must have seen one of these commercials and got it into my head that I must have a set. It was a secret desire of course, but somehow or another I would have Lee Press-On Nails. And I had a plan. I was in fourth grade so naturally I was responsible enough to be employed. My first job was to walk a first grader home and play with her for about an hour till her mom got home once a week, and then I got a dollar. As I walked home each week with that dollar burning a hole in my pocket, I thought about the many ways I could spend it. 3 Musketeers? No. Gum? No. I would save it for the prized fake nails.

Here are the commercials. Yeah, I still can't understand why they don't sell these anymore.

After what seemed like a really long time, at least a month or so, I felt I had saved up enough money to buy them, between $3-4. So I walked down the street to the local drug store with high hopes and a glimmer in my eye knowing, secretly, that I would soon have the most beautiful nails any elementary child ever had. I walked down the nail aisle and there they were, almost more incredible than the commercial. I didn't want the clear ones that you could paint. What I wanted was much better: the hot pink ones. Those would be mine. But then I looked at the price. $7!!! What? You might imagine a kid would give up after seeing that, but I was determined. I would just have to save up more money.

Finally, after several more weeks and careful counting of my money so I would not have to leave the store empty handed again, I walked there (unbeknownst to my family) and bought them. Surely, this was happiness. My first major purchase, and something so awesome! Upon opening them and putting them on I soon realized that these nails were meant for adult hands, and I was 10. Evidently the store I went to didn’t carry “Miss Lee Press-On Nails”. But that didn’t matter, I stuck those babies on and yes, they were incredible! Incredible and very big, and really long (I must have gotten the glamor length), but so cute. I wish I had a picture. After a short while I realized that I couldn’t do everything I had previously been able to do, like hold a fork or brush my teeth or close my hands all the way. I did however learn to ride my 10-speed around by pressing my open palms on the steering wheel. Admittedly, braking was more tricky, but I clearly remember riding around like that admiring the hot pink beauties. Yeah, I looked ridiculous!

After a while I realized that my summer would be spoiled if I kept those things on. Sadly, I peeled them off knowing that all my hard work and saving was, well, pretty much a huge waste. Fortunately, the nails kept some of their stickiness so I could reapply them whenever I needed to feel Lee Press-On-y again. I do remember keeping them in a box for several more years to come too, although for better or worse I do not have them today. Bummer, because they might actually fit me now.

So the moral of this story is… don’t spend your money for that which has no worth, or if you work hard enough you can get anything you really want, or don’t be drawn in by dumb advertisements, or sometimes you have to learn lessons the hard way like I did. Maybe there is no moral, but just lets my kids know that their mom was kind of just a weird kid with weird adult-sized hot pink fake nails.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My baby is one!

June is a big month for our family. In one week we brought cupcakes to Erin's class to celebrate her birthday, 2 days later we had a cake for Jared's birthday, and then 3 days after that was Marissa's birthday. I made some brownie cupcakes for her and celebrated on Sunday. It's so hard to believe my baby is one! (Side note on Erin's cupcakes: they should have told me in advance that they had to be store bought! All the teachers, aides, kitchen help and administrators were freaking out over the the home made violations. I was really hoping all the kids didn't coincidentally get the food poisoning the next day. That could have been suspicious.) Back to Marissa...

Marissa started walking at about 10 1/2 months but recently she has begun training to be one of those speed walkers. It's definitely not running, but that kid can move. She also likes climbing and balancing. I found her standing on the table a couple of times recently, should that concern me? She also learned how to get off beds and couches by turning around, though we have no idea how she learned it since we didn't teach her. Being the third child with an older brother who's adopted the "tough love" philosophy means she is also learning some good defensive skills. She may be small but she's really tough.

Her first word was "hi" and she is so cute when she says it as soon as she sees you. One of her other first words was "kitty", so whenever she sees one of our cats she says "hi kitty" or a dog or a bird or a hamster, pretty much anything that is alive is a kitty to her. She also says "daddy", "mommy", "cheese", "shoes", "poo-poo" (when you are changing her), "no, no, no, no, no" (usually when she wants something or when you try to take something she has away), "thank you", "yucky", "yummy", and "purple popple" (it's a purple stuffed animal that turns into a ball).

She was 18.5 lbs and 29 inches at the doctor this week, which is somewhere around 10-25th percentile. People always comment on how small she is and how they can't believe how well she is walking. She is still a thumb sucker when she goes to sleep or when she's tired and cuddles up to you. Every time I put her to bed she gives me a big, snugly hug. It makes me want to stop time and just hold her forever. She's going to grow up and do other great things, but I don't want to forget how small and sweet she is now.

I almost forgot to mention the one thing I won't miss, her major drooling problem! The poor kid has been teething non-stop for a few months now (I think the tooth count is around 12, but I could be wrong--every time I reach in there's another one. Why can't they come all at once and just get it over with anyway?), and the slobber has only escalated. We're talking four bibs before church was over last Sunday. I'm going to go as far as to say her problem is slightly worse than Alex's was, but he doesn't drool anymore so there's hope. The doctor says she's well-hydrated. I say let's hope it's not too much longer. I guess if I have to take drooly along with cute, cuddly, sweet, happy Marissa I'll take it.
Checking out the cupcake.
All right, now that the frosting is gone I can play
"drop the cupcake on the floor repetitively as my sister picks it up"
Opening her presentI loved this doll because you press her tummy and she laughs just like Marissa. Try it, just press Marissa's tummy.
Happy first birthday sweet Marissa! We love you!

Friday, June 5, 2009

I love these kids!

Erin and Alex were having a fight one day when Erin runs off yelling: Alex, you are unacceptable!!! Alex, trying to think of the meanest comeback to that, yells: Erin, you are modest!!! Erin: I am not!!! Wait... yes I am!!! Sometimes these kids really crack me up. Lately I think they've been having trouble figuring out which one is the good one: modest or immodest. The other day at the grocery store Erin saw a magazine with a girl in a bikini. She yelled, "Ewww! That lady is modest!" One of these days they'll get it.

Alex and his little friend have some great conversations. One time I was listening to them in the back of the car debating about Alex's yellow shirt. Friend: Your shirt is yewow? Alex: No, it's lellow. F: Yewow? A: No, lellow. F: Yewow? A: No, LELLOW! F: Oh, yewow. A: Yeah, lellow. Less than a minute later Alex asked about the friend's drink. Alex: Is that your dink? Friend: No, it's my bink. A: Your dink? F: No, my bink. A: Your dink? F: No, my BINK! Most recently Alex got really mad that his friend said Pissmas instead of Cwissmas, the correct way to say Christmas. And later that day they kept asking to take a bass or a baff... oh, a bath. I love two year olds. They make no sense a lot of the time, but they are so funny.

The other day Alex tripped and fell on his hands. He started crying so I asked him if he hurt his hands. He said, "No, I hurt everything!"

Alex thinks that blond is a color. For instance, our tan car is blond, crayons can be blond and his chest of drawers is blond. One day he was standing between his chest of drawers and his red firetruck bed and said, pointing to the dresser, "this is blond and this (pointing to his bed) is spicy." No idea where he got either of those ideas. Side note on the bed. We already had a toddler bed for Alex when someone gave us the firetruck bed. They love to play in it but Alex refuses to sleep in it. Where does he sleep? In the same bed as Erin! So we have two extra beds taking up space that nobody sleeps in. Err. Anyone need a bed?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Special Day

Today was a special day for Erin and Jared (and just so you know, nobody else in our family is special today as Erin informed me).

It was Jared's 33rd birthday today. Luckily, that was all the candles we had (I don't know what we're going to do next year). Erin helped me make a lopsided carrot cake, even though carrot cake is disgusting according to her. Something about vegetables being in it? And we made his favorite meal, taco pie. Not too exciting, sorry Jared. He did get to eat on the homemade "You are Special" plate and I got him out of the meeting he was supposed to have tonight. Oh yeah (really I just wanted him to help put the kids to bed). He wanted a table saw, but had to settle for some jeans, a pair of gym shorts and a charging station since we just bought new couches. Maybe next year (he thinks maybe Father's day, but isn't that like in a couple weeks?). Hey, maybe we can count him joining the gym last week? Anyway, Happy Birthday Jared!

It was Erin's special day because she had her preschool graduation. She has come a long way since last year when she cried the whole time. This year she had a few speaking parts including "My name is Erin Daniels. Did you know that caterpillars turn into butterflies?" (I did know that... I knew a lot of the other kids' facts as well) and "G, g.. g.. guitar, H, h.. h.. heart."
She did a spectacular chicken dance, and when it accelerated in the end Erin was by far the fastest one. That's got to count for something.They wore caps and gowns. I noticed that Erin is also the shortest one in her class. Maybe I need to feed her more? Well, she is also one of the youngest ones too.I was such a proud parent watching her, I even got a little choked up a couple of times. Erin is such a smart, funny and cute girl. I love to watch her grow up and do things like this.
The fam. Woah, at least one of these kids needs a nap here.