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No work... just play

Sunday, June 29, 2008
We had another great weekend - filled with lots of fun outdoors for the kids, a spa session for me, and a golf outing for Brad. The housework is definitely falling behind, but we are most certainly enjoying ourselves. :) This week will be tougher with preparations for our vacation and catching up from a weekend of play.

We had a cookout at Mamaw Kathy's on Saturday evening, where the kids were able to see their Uncle Ryan, Aunt Jennifer, and Rianna. They played outside most of the evening, enjoying a few short minutes in the baby pool before a storm came through. Even through the rain, they enjoyed playing on the covered porch and eating tons of good food, thanks to Daddy on the grill. Both were asleep within minutes of getting in the car. I'm sure Rianna was exhausted, too. Now that she's getting older, I can see her growing tired of playing the same thing 1,000 times over and over with Bailey. While I understand what she's going through, I can't help but think it's funny. She used to lock us in her room at her house when we visited so that she could have our undivided attention. Paybacks are terrible. :)

Today (Sunday), we enjoyed swimming in Mimi and Poppa's pool with Eian, Braden, and Gage. Bailey found a baby frog that was on the verge of death from the chlorine in the pool and spent a lot of time showing it off. My brother, Cory, told her that she should kiss it and it would become a prince. After a few seconds of thought, she looked at Cory and said, "I think this is a girl frog."

Both of the kids really enjoyed playing with the boys. Bailey was so happy to have friends that she could pretend with. They use a full size adult float as their ship, complete with foam noodles as their oars. The boys will be on vacation with us next week - so it was nice to see that they are going to have a great time playing together. Jake was just impressed by everything they did. He even gave Braden a hug for no reason.

I think I had as much fun as Bailey and Jake playing with the boys today. It was the first real time that I've spent with them when we haven't been in a hurry or distracted. All three of them are sweethearts, each in his own little way. Eian is more reserved around me (other than when he was hitting me with sponge balls from the pool). Gage would be my little baby if I'd let him. He hugged on me all day... and even gave me a big kiss before he left. But... today, Braden was my buddy. He is so much like my brother, it's almost scary. His tales of catching fish that are ten feet long and seeing sea monsters in the lake just had me rolling. From what I understand, he's not typically the affectionate type, so I was very pleased when he hopped up on my lap at the end of the day and let me hug on him. I've thought about all three of the boys all evening... I can't imagine how crazy I'm going to be about them by the end of our vacation.

Sorry there aren't any pictures this time. I forgot to pack my camera in our packing frenzy on Saturday. I also forgot to get our pressure washer to clean the boat with, which was a huge reason that we were planning to go to Ashland this weekend. So much for getting work done!

Indiana, Uncle Ryan, and our Buckethead

Friday, June 27, 2008
Last week we traveled to Warsaw, Indiana for Brad's grandfather's funeral. It's always tough to lose a loved one, regardless of age and expectation. For me, it was strange to see Brad losing his last living grandparent and know that my children wouldn't remember any of their great-grandparents on Brad's side of the family. While I wish we had been traveling for another reason, we did enjoy visiting. It was really nice to see Brad's family. We hadn't seen most of them in at least 5 years, making it the first time most of them met our kids.

The kids were real troopers on the trip and really did well (we traveled about 6 hours in the car). Of course, Brad's brother, Ryan, rode with us and made it easier. He is a big kid himself and the kids LOVED him. I am still hearing about how much Bailey misses her uncle Ryan. I'm not sure if it was the constant attention he gave her, the candy he was sneaking her when I told them it was almost dinner time and they should wait to eat, or the fact that Ryan enjoyed watching the cartoons we had in the car more than she did. :)

The night before we left to go to Warsaw, Jake started something that most people would just ignore. He started wearing a butter bucket on his head. I had cleaned out an empty butter container a while back and put it in the cabinet with our tupperware. Of course, Jake loves to play in this cabinet. So, he had dragged everything out and was sorting through the containers when he ran across the butter bucket. Brad and I thought we would die laughing when he placed it on his head, because Brad was notorious for wearing a lard bucket on his head when he was a toddler... almost every single day. There are tons of pictures of him with a bucket on his head. I guess it's genetic! We sent a picture of Jake to Kathy (Brad's mom) in Indiana. The whole family enjoyed seeing how much our little man is like his daddy. :)

My Water Babies

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Yes, the guilt has finally set in. It's a little after midnight and I've crawled out of my place in bed to come and write. Part of it is guilt, but most of it is that I'm going to completely forget most of the little details that I've been trying to capture and store up to write about. :)

The kids have definitely been enjoying the summer. Two weekends ago, we spent some time in Ashland for Father's Day. Brad was able to get away to go golfing for a change, which I really hope he enjoyed and hope he gets to do again soon. The kids and I, on the other hand, enjoyed the pool (Brad did too, as you can see below, after he golfed!). Brad and I could not be luckier... we both LOVE the water. We could stay all day in or around the pool, lake, or ocean and never grow tired of it. Thank God our kids are like us. I just have to say that it is so nice!

Bailey, always a little more timid than her fearless brother, does not like to go under and does not like to have her face in the water, but she can swim. She has been swimming with a life jacket since last summer. If she would just get a little braver and a little less nervous, she could easily swim without any assistance. These were the thoughts going through my mind at mom's a couple of weeks ago. So, we introduced "swimmies" or arm floats (as shown below) to her. After a little bit of hesitance, Bailey was in the water with her swimmies and no life jacket. If only she'd go under... I could have her swimming and going off the board by the end of summer.

Jake, on the other hand, has no fear of water. The first few times we went swimming, he was unsure. Well... not anymore. Jake would swim without me, if I would let him. We had been getting him in the water without any life saving devices, simply holding him, because we couldn't find life jackets that fit just right. He started with just sticking his face in the water every now and then. Then, it became blowing bubbles or drinking the water. Now, the kid puts his face in, mouth closed, just for the fun of it. And he now wears swimmies and swims alone. Trust me, don't touch him... he'll just shove you away and yell. :) I've had so many flashbacks of my youngest brother, Colt, learning to swim at the same age that I have actually called Jake Colt on accident at least 10 times.

Which brings me to my first little water baby. Colt's 17th birthday was on the 21st. Seventeen. Unless you have a sibling who is at least 10 years younger than you (or unless you are Cory), you wouldn't understand how strange this is for me. I can remember everything about his life - every little stage that I write about for Bailey and Jake, I remember watching Colt go through. Of course, I was a kid and didn't cherish all of those moments the way I do with my kids now... but it's really hard to think that it was 16+ years ago when I was teaching Colt to swim and watching his love for the water grow like I see it happening with Bailey and Jake. I realize how fast it goes by when I look at him. I can't imagine how I'm going to feel when Bailey and Jake are turning 17. I can only hope that I'm as proud of my two kids as I am of my two brothers. Cory is one of the most wonderful men I've ever been around. Despite all of his crazy ways, he's turned out to be a great fiance and an amazing stepdad. I'll have to write a whole other blog about him. :) And Colt is one of those kids that just get it. Yep... he's a teenager, but he has it all going for him. I enjoy being around him more and more every time we get together - not as his older sister, but as his friend. Maybe it's because he really has so much of my personality. :) lol...

Anyway, just as a point of reference... here are a couple of photos of Colt - one of my favorites when he was just a baby in the pool (I think it was his 2nd birthday) and one of him with Cory at our cousin's wedding last fall.

Making new friends

Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Bailey is learning how to make new friends, both at day care and at home, these days. It's interesting to watch her go through this stage... the oldest child syndrome comes out at home...

My long-time friend Cheryl, whose blog is here (she has a great write up about our day together and some photos, so check it out), and I have been trying to make more time to get together, with or without our little ones, for a couple of years now. We've only managed to see each other about five times in the past 2+ years that Brad and I have been back in Lexington. I guess when there are five children three years old and under, it's kind of tough. :) Thank goodness for these blogs... otherwise we'd need a full year to get caught up. Anyway... we finally managed to get the kids together for a fun play date at our house.

Cheryl arrived with her boys and lunch from McDonald's (children's choice, although we didn't mind some fries). Bailey was overly excited about her friend, the new Connor, as she calls him (her other best friend is also named Konner). She greeted him and Alexander and Sawyer before they could get completely out of the car, totally invading their personal space, and probably making them just a little uneasy about what to expect. Well... that was probably the nicest she was all day. Unfortunately for me and Cheryl, Bailey was having a tired day and everything and anything that poor Connor did was worthy of tears in Bailey's mind. I don't know how many times I looked up to see her puckering up or yelling or tattling that Connor was doing something. After several attempts to try and make her stop with the whiny behavior, I just gave up. I'm sure that the other kids and Cheryl probably wondered if she is always like this. Thank goodness that Cheryl and I are good enough friends that I'm sure she will give Bailey at least one more try before she rules her out as a bad influence on her little men! :)

Other than the fact that Bailey was being overly whiny, the day was really nice. The kids enjoyed playing in the baby pool, the sandbox, and the swingset. Cheryl and I really enjoyed catching up and talking about our wild children, even when we were dodging balls, enforcing sharing and timeouts, and wiping runny noses. :) Her little ones are great children. Connor, the oldest, reminds me so much of Bailey. They are the headstrong, oldest children. And you can tell that they both are used to ruling the roost. Both of them spent more time worrying about what the other one was playing with than truly enjoying the toy they had. Making friends is tough when you're so much alike, but I think by the end of the day they were getting the hang of it. :) Alexander and Sawyer (twins) did great. Alexander loved to play with balls and seemed easy to please and able to entertain himself. Sawyer, while I should probably not admit it, was my favorite of the three. He was the sweetest little guy, and probably tied with Jake for the best behaved of all five. All he wanted to do was sort and organize the play-doh, the chalk, the balls, and rings. He would be a babysitter's dream child. Give him some like items and he's set for hours. Jake, of course, was completely overwhelmed by everything. He wasn't sure if he should try to jump in on the action, or try to find a safe place to hide. He spent most of the day hanging out with me and Cheryl, flirting with Cheryl and playing peek-a-boo with the blinds. Oh... and he got spoiled with Coke from McDonald's when Bailey wasn't paying attention.

It was great to have friends over, and something I hope that we get to do a lot more now that we're all able to get out and go more. Contrary to what one might think, Bailey definitely had a good time. I heard all about her missing the "new Connor" all evening. She was telling me big stories about getting to go to his house to play. She is also excited to see the twins, who she calls "the little Kadens." (Point of reference: Kaden is her other friend, Konner's, younger brother.) I think a few more playdates and we won't be spending time trying to referee her disagreements with the "new Connor" and she'll even play more with the "little Kadens."

Our Trip to the Zoo

Tuesday, June 10, 2008
On a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago, we packed up a bag of extra clothes for the kids, diapers for Jake, and a cooler of drinks and headed to the Cincinnati Zoo. When I finally got everyone packed and into the car, locked the house up, and sat down in the passenger seat, Brad asked me if I brought directions. Well... I'm getting more and more like my father with age. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times we have gone on vacation, short and long trips, with nothing more than my dad's sense of direction and memory of a time that he had traveled this way before. Interestingly enough, we always made it, usually in pretty good time, but it was always a huge adventure. Most of the time, Cory and I would just hope that we wouldn't run out of gas before the next gas station (mainly because Dad was insistent that we could always make it a little bit further, ending in a negative result several times in our lives). Anyway... I told Brad that we could just follow the signs once we got to Cincinnati, that I thought I could remember it. Of course, he was skeptical and laughed, but went ahead and pulled out the driveway. So, we make our way to Cincinnati and start in the direction that we think we need to go. Obviously you can sense the foreshadowing here... why would I go into this much detail if there's not a funny story? Thirty minutes later and several right turns, left turns, and u-turns later, we pull into a gas station and I buy a map and ask for directions... the worst map I'd ever used and wrong directions. Some streets weren't labeled; other streets weren't even on the map. The directions led us to the University of Cincinnati, not the zoo. Thirty minutes passed and we're still trying to find our way. Bailey is getting impatient; Jake is getting restless. After assuring Bailey a few times that we were almost there, she says, "Hey mom... let me see that map for a minute." Brad and I, both completely frustrated by the crappy map and the inconsistent signs for the zoo, just die laughing. Like we're just going to turn around, give her the map, and she's going to tell us which way to go. I could totally envision her taking the map and telling us to go over the troll bridge, through the magical forest, and that's how we get to the zoo (for those of you who are Dora illiterate - that's an example of how the map would tell her to make it to the zoo). More than anything, I could see me 20+ years ago, looking at my dad when we were driving around some random city, telling him that I could read a map and figure it out, if he'd just give me the map. Sadly, if we were in the car today together, we'd probably have the same knockdown drag-out fight over which way to go. I had hoped that the days of fighting about which way to go were over... but clearly, I'm going to reap what I've sewn. :)

We finally made it to the zoo and were no worst for wear... probably a little more happy to be there than we would have been otherwise. The kids were very excited to see all the animals. Even Jake seemed excited - probably because he was wanting out of the car seat. We saw all of the animals at the zoo. Bailey's favorite was probably the white tiger, the gorillas, the polar bear, and the birds. The gorillas were probably my personal favorite. There was a little baby gorilla that acted just like Jake and we had a blast watching him. He would wander around, running back and forth for no apparent reason. He walked just like Jake, hitting his chest and head just like Jake does. Brad is now calling the gorilla Jake's long-lost cousin. :) Maybe we should think more about that evolution crap that I typically ignore. lol

Brad's personal favorite had to be the birds. There's a section of the zoo where you can go into a huge bird cage and feed the tropical birds. Bailey really enjoyed it when she was about Jake's age, so we thought, correction: I thought, it would be a lot of fun to take them in. Well, I am totally scared of most animals and told Brad that he had to come in too, since I'm too scared to touch or feed the birds. Lucky Brad. While we were feeding the birds, they decided to try out a new perch. One bird hopped up onto Brad's head and started nibbling on his hair. I was laughing too hard to try and help him, so I just took pictures. :) Of course, the story can't end there... another bird joined the first one. We'd get one moved and the other one would jump on him. Finally, both were on the back of his neck, fighting. It was completely hilarious to me and the kids. Brad didn't appreciate it as much, but he was a good sport.

By the end of the day, the kids were exhausted. Jake fell asleep sitting straight up and we had to move him to the backseat of the stroller to lay down, where he slept for about an hour. Bailey, on the other hand, threw a fit because she wanted her face painted and we were heading toward the parking lot. So, feeling guilty because I had told her we'd get it painted and hoped that she would forget, we took her back. A full face painting and 15 bucks later, she had transformed into a cat, even managing to say meow a few times. Five minutes after that and she was sleeping like a baby. Thank God Brad got pictures before it all smeared. :)

That was about it for our day... it was a good time and I'm thrilled that we were able to go. Sorry for writing so much, but there were just parts I felt like I couldn't leave out. I hope you enjoyed the pictures too!

Days of Summer...

Monday, June 2, 2008
We made our way to the Masterson Station pool twice today... it was a wonderful, hot summer day. The kids loved the pool. Jake is making huge progress in getting in the water, which results in me chasing him in and out of the baby pool the entire time(no laying out yet). Bailey is enjoying using her life jacket in the big pool and playing with all of the kids and their toys in the baby pool. The best part for me has to be the long naps, the early bedtime, and the three solid meals with several snacks in between. It feels good to know that they are living such full, happy little lives.

Here are some pics from today's trips. I'll be posting more about our recent trip to the zoo later this week!