Sunday, July 27, 2008

Beach Day

We went to the beach yesterday and it was so much fun! The weather was perfect - blue skies and a nice breeze. It was super-hot, but we stayed cool in the ocean and the pool. It was our second visit this summer and the kids LOVED it both times! Which is really saying a lot because they weren't really fans of the ocean when they were younger.

Not anymore - they had a blast playing in the ocean! There was a sandbar a little ways out so we had to go through some deeper water to get there. They loved walking back and forth through the deep water (remember, deep is a relative term when you are only 3-4 feet tall). I just couldn't believe how brave they were - especially little Abby! Her head was barely peeking out of the water at times. They had fun playing with daddy in the ocean - wrestling in the water, getting piggyback rides, swinging way up high and then coming down to let the waves crash into them.

They also built sand castles and collected seashells to decorate the castles. I wrote their names in the sand and Drew really loved jumping all around his name.

You would think I'd have tons of pictures to show for all this fun, but I don't. My Nikon is taking an extended vacation with its manufacturers and I sure do miss it. I took the opportunity yesterday to record lots of video because I'm usually so busy taking photos that I don't get enough live action shots.

But - I took over 200 pictures capturing all the glorious fun when we were at the beach a few months ago.

I just can't figure out why my camera needed a break.

I've narrowed it down to 15 of my favorites. I love these pictures because they really capture how much fun we had that day. Some really great family memories...

Did you count?

You caught me. I added two more at the last minute.

It was just that much fun!!

And, yes, I have several pictures of me playing with the kids. However, this is my blog and if I don't want to post a picture of myself in a bathing suit then I don't have to.

And you can't make me!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Nicest Thing.

Drew and Abby are blessed to have a wonderful father. Matt is very involved in their lives and he spends lots of quality time with them.

I say this because not all dads are quite as committed to the "big picture" and I think it's important for my kids and I to remember that our daddy is. By that I mean that not only is he an excellent provider for our family, but he gives 100% when he's at home too.

Every morning, Drew gets out of bed as soon as the light starts peeking through his window. At 6:15. Anyway, he used to come get in bed with me and snuggle until it was a more reasonable time to get up. Then one day I think he realized he could get some extra time with daddy in the morning if he went to his side of the bed. Now, Drew snuggles with daddy until it's time to get up. At first I was a little sad to lose my snuggle buddy, but then I realized how sweet it is that Drew wants that extra time with his daddy. And Abby's favorite thing to do with daddy before work is to "help" him shave. It's a good thing that Matt has a lot of patience and is much nicer than I am in the morning.

The kids are thrilled when he comes home at 5:30 each evening and they bombard him at the front door. Most guys (or me, if I worked outside the home) would want some time to change clothes or unwind before they joined the family for dinner. Not Matt. He lets the kids come help him put away his things and jump all over the room as they excitedly relate all the things they've done that day.

We eat dinner as a family right after that and then there's a little time to play before baths and bed. Matt spends this time of the evening playing, bathing kids, and reading books. He doesn't read the paper or play video games or watch TV. He's got an hour and a half before their bedtime and he always spends it with the kids.


The weekends are the same. Sure, there are things to do around the house, but for the most part, you'll find Matt with the kids. He rarely ever gets time alone (which I seem to find very necessary these days) and he's never out for a weekend with the boys. He WANTS to be with the kids because he misses them so much during the week.

What I love most about this is that Drew and Abby have no choice but to know how very much their daddy loves them. He doesn't just say it with words - he shows his love by the quality time he spends on the floor or outside playing with them - not just watching from the sidelines. He doesn't just provide for the family - he's willing to make the sacrifices that a family on a single income needs to make because he truly believes that it is best for me to stay home and be the one who takes care of them.

I guess what I'm saying is that Matt puts his values and beliefs into action and our family is reaping all of the benefits.

We picked Matt up from work yesterday so we could all go out to lunch together. It's a special treat for the kids to see daddy during the day and they loved it. We dropped Matt back at work after lunch and Abby was sad. "Why does daddy have to work? Why can't he come home with us?"

Drew said, "Don't worry, Abby. Daddy will be home for dinner. We'll see him then. And, he'll be home on Saturday and Sunday. Those are days for us."

So, it must have been on Drew's mind when he was going to bed last night. Matt later told me that when Drew came over for a hug and a kiss he said to him, "Daddy, I wish it was Saturday and Sunday."

And, when Matt told me about it last night, he had tears in his eyes.

He said it was the nicest thing Drew had ever said to him.

Because it was Drew's way of saying that what he wanted most was to spend time with his daddy.

And the reason it meant so much to Matt?

I'm guessing it's just because the feeling is mutual.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

If A Stormtrooper Falls in A Playroom...

...and no one is there to pick it up, does it still ruin a perfectly good scene from Star Wars?

I don't know.

You tell me.

I think I may have mentioned that Drew is mildly interested in Star Wars. As such, I don't believe there is a single Star Wars toy out there that he doesn't own. He pretty much made a clean sweep on his birthday and we could film Episode 7 right here in our home if we could just get the funding.

Of course, I would have to convince Abby that she couldn't be Qui-Gon Jinn.

Because she would pick him over Princess Leia in a heartbeat.


So, after we put the kids to bed on Drew's birthday, Matt opened all of Drew's new action figures and arranged them as you saw in the above picture.

We were pretty sure he'd be thrilled.

His reaction did not disappoint.

He yelled out from the playroom, "Abby! Abby! Come here and see what my grown-ups did!!!"

That kid is one of a kind, I tell you.

He spent a long time acting out battles and lightsaber duels. Those figures barely stand up by themselves, so I spent the morning carefully balancing each character on their tiny little feet only to have them blasted away in the next battle.

It was so worth it though - check out this smile!

And, here's some video I took. It's a little long (2 minutes), but I think it's really cute. You would probably only agree if you really love my Drew...or Star Wars...

May the force be with you. (especially if you made it all the way through that clip!)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Birthday Boy

My sweet, sweet Drew is turning 5 today.

I love this big boy...

Five years ago, I had no idea how much this little man would change my life. Other parents try to prepare you for what it's like to have children, but nothing could have ever properly prepared me for the way my heart feels when I see this face...

Drew, you bring so much joy to our lives. I am so proud of you and everything that you are. You have the most wonderful and caring heart of anyone I know. You are so very smart and you love to learn new things. You are very funny and creative - we are always laughing at the things you say and do. You are very polite and articulate - other people can't believe that you are only five years old.

You are mine, sweet boy, and I just wouldn't have it any other way. I am so grateful to have you as my son and I can't wait to see what the future holds for you.

Happy, happy birthday to you!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

And Why Wouldn't You?

I really do love my blue eyed girl.

She is sweet and spunky. Affectionate and silly. Smart and mischievous. Kind and gentle. Energetic and determined. And she has a sweet tooth like you wouldn't believe.

And I love that she has blue eyes. It's selfish because mostly I'm just happy that it makes her look a little bit more like me. Drew is a spitting image of his father (I'm not complaining) and Abby also resembles her dad's side of the family. She actually looks like her Aunt Denise did when she was a little girl.

But, the blue eyes - they are mine. And I think that at least one of my children should resemble me just a little.

I did grow them for 9 months and all...

So, back to my blue eyed girl -

She's a girlie girl and I'm totally ok with admitting that I wouldn't have it any other way. I love that she twirls around the house in her dresses and wears dress up shoes with her pajamas. She carries around a purse more than I do and she's always excited to pick out matching bows for her outfit. She loves to have her picture taken almost as much as I like to take her picture.

But, I tend to go overboard when I start taking pictures. I take as many as I can because it's the only way to guarantee that I'll get the shot that I want.

After too many pictures to count, she starts to get a little bored with the whole thing.

Boredom turns to annoyance -

And that turns into downright disgust.

Is it wrong that I love this expression just as much as the ones where she is smiling?

I love all of my kids expressions and I love capturing them in pictures so that I'll always be able to remember how their precious faces looked when they were young like this.

But, that face is not a good sign.

No, I better promise that there will be some M&M's in the near future...

There we go.

I told you this sweet girl has a crazy sweet tooth!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Give It Up For The Goggles.

Word on the street (well, Aunt Anna's street at least) is that there are about 3 of you out there who check this thing each day and WANT ME TO POST MORE OFTEN, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. I'm hearin' you loud and clear, so here's a post full of pictures that you oh so desire...

The kiddos just finished swimming lessons a few weeks ago. I'm proud to announce that the lessons have finally paid off and my children can now swim! After spending 3 long, hot summers at the pool each day - this is very exciting news, indeed.

Last year, my kids did not want to put their heads in the water. They got very upset (read: furious) if their little faces got wet. I bought them goggles thinking that would help the situation.

They were quite insulted that I thought anything would make them want to put their faces in the water.

Here's Drew (last year) doing all he can to keep his head above water.

Is it me or is he smirking just a little?

When the instructor let him go to swim to the wall, he would just doggy paddle until he made it there or until she saved him - whichever came first.

Abby wasn't much better. I don't think she realized she had a choice about keeping her head up when the teacher pushed her towards the wall. She just kind of coasted until she got there and she was NOT happy when she reached that wall and her face was all wet.

But, she was so darn cute that I totally forgave all her complaints.

My friends were telling me that this would be the year that the kids would finally get it. My hopes were dashed after the first lesson when we had the same problem about putting their heads under water.

Luckily, this year, they were all about the goggles. They had seen some friends wearing them the week before and that seemed to make a huge difference. We made a big deal about their new goggles and they were very excited to try them out.

The next few weeks we saw huge improvements! And, there is no doubt in my mind that the goggles deserve all the credit.

The loved the kickboards -

Abby is still learning how to float, but Drew could do it all by himself!

Here is my little Drew fish -

And my Abby has perfect form -

I'm so proud of these guys - and so happy for them! They are having so much more fun when we go to the pool now. They LOVE to swim and they are tireless. They'll swim back and forth for as long as you let them. They love to jump in together and "race" to Mommy or Daddy and they play so well together while they are in the pool.

Going to the pool is now one of their favorite summer activities!

That is, as long as we don't forget the goggles!

Monday, July 7, 2008

To Infinity And Beyond...

I really want to get the kids a trampoline. They LOVE to jump and I just know they would have a blast with it. However, our backyard is not fenced in, so the liability of it has Matt and I hesitating on such a purchase - apparently you can be sued if someone gets hurt while trespassing on your property.

I love this country.

So, we have been creative in finding a way to let the kids expend some of that crazy jumping energy they have each and every day. We have a huge bean bag - so huge that it actually opens up into a queen size bed. It's in our playroom, but the kids like for us to drag it into the family room so they can jump onto it from the couch.

It keeps them entertained for a looong time!

Matt watched the kids one afternoon and when I came home he grabbed the camera and said, "You gotta see this..."

I loved it! Drew as Buzz Lightyear and pretending he could fly - Matt is so much fun with these kids.

And, I love that he took pictures because he knew I'd want to see it. And scrapbook it. And blog about it.

He's a good man.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Because A Nice Shot Of Adrenaline Is Nothing If Not Conducive To Sleep.

Things at our house generally get pretty boring around 7:30pm. Our kids go to bed early. Earlier than any other kids I know. However, no matter what time we put them to bed they still get up at the crack of early so it just makes perfect sense to maximize their sleep time.

And my break time.

Whatever. Don't judge me.

They are usually in bed between 7 and 7:30 and we rarely hear a peep from them after that. They are awesome at bedtime and that is just fantastic because by the end of the day I don't have much patience left to give. I am, in a word, exhausted.

So, they go to bed and then I finish up some chores before hanging out with Matt in front of the TV for an hour or two.

And, this is where I would like to lift the DVR in a chorus of praise as I give thanks for its presence in our lives. When Drew was born, it quickly became clear to me (as it does to all parents) that our time and our schedule was no longer our own and was now under the control of an unreasonable dictator.

This is not conducive to starting American Idol on time.

Something had to give (and I just couldn't send that sweet baby back) so I told Matt we needed a DVR and I had done the research - it would only be $6 a month. It was practically free. Matt disagreed and said we didn't need it.

We watch a decent amount of TV around here though and I'm here to tell you that it wasn't him programming that awful VCR all the time. So, like any good wife who listens to her husband, I went to the cable company the next day and picked up the DVR.

Luckily, he later agreed that is was the best invention ever. We should actually get commission with all of the advertising we've done for that thing.

So, it would be nice if I could at least stay awake to enjoy the TV shows that the DVR so faithfully records for us. I'm usually good until about 8:30 or 9, but then I inevitably begin to fall asleep on the couch.

Matt is pretty nice about this, but it must drive him crazy.

I'll wake up asking about plot lines or wanting to rewind it "just a few minutes."

Last night, while watching So You Think You Can Dance (awesome show, my favorite) I kept falling asleep and then making him watch the dances over because I had missed him.

I had control of the remote so I could pretty much do what I want.

Towards the end of the show it was getting so bad that I was sitting straight up and slapping my cheeks to try and stay awake while the dancers did their solos to determine who would be voted off the show.

This is high drama, people.

I began to fast forward after the last solo and next thing I knew Matt yelled out "no way!" Seems I had fallen asleep with my finger on the fast forward button and it revealed who was leaving the show in a blurry mess.

Fallen asleep with my finger on the fast forward button.

Hey, it was a less painful way to find out that the judges totally got it wrong last night.

Ugh. I'm useless.

Anyway, stuff like this happens most nights. It finally gets so bad that Matt insists I just go to bed. Right before I go to sleep I usually check on the kids. I walk down their hall (half-asleep) and open their doors to make sure they are covered with their blankets and sleeping peacefully.

Looking at those precious sleeping faces is also a pretty great way to end the day. If I wasn't so darn tired I really could just stare at them for hours.

But, follow along my friends, I'm exhausted.

I opened Abby's door one night a while ago and this was my view -

I panicked. Where was my child? How could someone have taken her while we were sitting right in the next room? Will I ever see my baby again?

I can't even tell you all the awful things that went through my mind in those few seconds I stood frozen in her doorway. I really was scared.

Common sense finally kicked in and I took a few steps into the room and saw this -

That child has way too many pillows.