Monday, June 28, 2010

Swimming at Pine Tree

This past weekend we went swimming with Brian and Shannon and the kids. It was fun (as it always is) with all of the children together. The set-up at their pool caters to families with young kids. They have a baby pool, a large pool with a large shallow area and a playground right off the pool area....all of which is fenced in so the little ones can't run off. In addition, they allow kids less than 5 yrs old to eat for free....which is a heck of a deal.

Preston loved going back and forth between the baby pool and big pool, and Bennett just hung out wherever everyone else was. It was a fun way to spend the morning.

Thanks Brian and Shannon for inviting us!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs!

Now that Bennett is 3 yrs old, she will be starting 3K Preschool in the fall. Since both of the kids also attend summer school, I could elect to keep her in her previous class, or move her to her new "big school." The two year olds only go Monday and Wednesday, but the three year olds can attend Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I hemmed and hawed about it, but finally decided to send her to her new school now so I could spend some alone time with Preston on Friday mornings.

It has worked out great, and turned out to be one of the best decisions I made for Bennett. She absolutely loves her new "big school." She loves the change in curriculum, her new teachers, and her new classmates. Each week of summer school they have a theme, and last week was bugs. I sent her to school with an empty mayonnaise jar and she decorated it with stickers. Her teacher told them all about different bugs, and gave them each a cricket last Wednesday. Bennett was so excited with her new pet, and she never left him out of her site. She would carry him (we assumed it was a boy....don't ask me why) to her bedroom when she took a nap or went to bed, take him with her in car when we ran errands, held him in her lap when she watched movies on the sofa, etc. Preston was enthralled with him too, always looking at him and saying "bug."

Ms Celia (her teacher) put a little slice of an apple in there, and this cricket managed to survive on this food for 10 days. He was still alive, though he was missing one leg, when I let him go last night in our yard. That poor thing had been startled so much in the past 10 days with the kids dropping his "home" and him rolling around on the kitchen counter, I honestly was shocked to hear him chirp each day. Bennett had lost interest in him the past few days, so I decided to put him out of his misery and let him go.

However, both kids are still fascinated with bugs, so when we saw this HUGE green bug crawling on our car after church, we drove home very slowly so he wouldn't blow off and the kids could get an up close look at him. Does anyone know what he is? He is the largest insect I have ever seen, probably measuring 1 inch thick and a few inches long. When we were staring at him, I could see his little yellow eyes looking back at us with his extra long antennas blowing in the wind.

Anyway, summer is in full force here, so we will have plenty of opportunities to explore more. One night I will have to help the kids catch lightening bugs - that was always a fun time for me as a kid.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just Do It!

At the beginning of this year Steve received a pedometer from his company for a competition that they were holding. KBR wants to encourage a healthier lifestyle and wanted to see how many people could reach 1 million steps by the end of September. He got off to a great start, and has been extremely diligent about moving his pedometer to any shoe he is wearing (running shoes, work shoes, even flip-flops). Initially he was coming home and telling me how many steps he was averaging each day and week, which was making me so upset that I couldn't be apart of it.

For those that know me, you won't be surprised to know that I wanted a pedometer too so I could compete against him! With Valentine's Day right around the corner...guess what I got for my gift? Yep, my very own pedometer. Unfortunately mine is not as user-friendly as Steve's. It requires a special watch and the pedometer needs to be tied on to a shoe (not clipped). So it doesn't work for my standard uniform of shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops.

Though I can only use it when I am working out, I must admit it has made me work out more often. Back in January I decided I needed to get off my duff, and start exercising again. It started off slow, but after I got my pedometer things started to build. Then I started walking with my friend, Allyson a few days a week. We started off walking a couple of miles, and then it grew to 4-6 miles, with us averaging 5-5.5 miles several times a week now.

A few months ago, I learned to set goals on the Nike website for myself, and I am happy to say that I have successfully met two now. My most recent goal was to walk/run 100 miles in 4 weeks (averaging 25 miles/week). Allyson and I had easily been averaging that several weeks ago, so I didn't think it was unreasonable when I set it. However, with my weekend away and the temperatures averaging 95 degrees for the past two weeks, it has been more difficult to exercise outside. So I really had to press myself to get up early and do it, or go to the gym.

I am happy to say I am back at the gym, running and walking on the treadmill and now lifting weights several days a week. I feel SOOO much better and have definitely seen a change in my mental health and my body! Steve is doing great with his million step challenge, and shouldn't have a problem reaching it. He is even making it to the gym a couple days a week. We are both bound and determined to be more fit, and we learned that it wasn't going to happen with us sitting on the sofa.

So people...get off your duffs and JUST DO IT!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Julie

Yesterday was Julie's Birthday! Bennett and Pres were very excited to wish their mommy a big happy birthday but they may have been slightly more excited about the potential for birthday cake. Both were so excited about singing and blowing out the candles that dinner was quite the struggle.

We celebrated the big occassion with a strawberry cake from Edgar's. For those of you who haven't had this cake, the cake and icing are both made with real strawberries (the icing has actual strawberry chunks and is pretty darn good). Following dinner we put 5 candles on Julie's cake (for some reason 5 is Bennett's favorite number) and we all sang happy birthday.

Prior to slicing into the cake the kids got to lick the icing off of the candles. As you can see by the last picture below (see the candle on the right) one of our kids (who shall remain un-named) got a little carried away... All-in-all we had a great time.

Julie does such a great job with this blog but rarely takes the time to brag on on behalf of Bennett and Pres, I wanted to wish mommy a very happy birthday and let her know how much we love her. Love, Steve

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to all of the special daddys out there, but especially to Steve, my father, Lynn, and Steve's father, Louis. These three men are such wonderful, giving people and do so much for me and the children and I love you for that!

This year, the children both made special gifts for their daddy. In fact, I wanted to share a quick story. After school on Wednesday, Preston had his Father's Day gift for Steve (since he doesn't attend school on Fridays during the summer), and Bennett was upset that she didn't have her gift too. I asked her if she had already made it, and she said "Yeah, I made him a tie." I was slightly confused, but didn't press the issue. Friday Steve picked her up from school, and she was so excited to share her gifts with him early. Aren't they cute? The key chain is from Preston (a thumb print football).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My Little Fish

Yesterday we went to the pool for the first time since the kids finished swim lessons, and we were both so surprised at how well they are doing. Within an hour at the pool, Bennett was jumping off the side of the pool and swimming to us. Even Preston was doing well, swimming back and forth from the side of the pool to us.

We were so pleasantly surprised that we went to the pool again this morning and brought our recorder so we could document their progress from 3 weeks ago (which I think is amazing, if I may say so). After watching Bennett jump in countless times, Pres even began doing it on his own today. All I can say is those swim lessons were the best money I spent this month!

Now all we need to do is work on their form!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fun in the Sun with Friends

This weekend I was lucky enough to escape to the beach for a long weekend with my girlfriends. It was a special treat to enjoy the beautiful area before the oil really destroys the white beaches, the crystal clear water and all of the wildlife that lives in and on the water. Thanks to my friend Mary Michael for extending the invitation to a group of us!

We started our adventure early Friday morning, so we could pack as much sun and fun into the weekend as possible. After hitting the grocery and liquor store, we were ready! We were staying in Mary Michael's sister's home on the bay near Orange Beach. Due to the oil, they have closed many of the passes from the ocean so we were able to swim and enjoy the warm water. It is sad though, because fewer boats are out and everyone is canceling their trips to our gorgeous beaches because of oil that hasn't even hit most of it yet. This disaster is costing the gulf shore billions of dollars, not including the lasting damage it will have over the next several years cleaning it up and building it back to the beautiful place it is.

With that said, we did go out on a boat Saturday (within the bay) to a little sandbar and to eat lunch. While we were there, we saw a boat of a local worker that had oil all over the boat, and a huge tarp inside that was also covered in oil. I think the reality of this mess really sunk in when we saw that....very sad.

Friday night, we went out for a couple of cocktails and dinner. A couple of us (clear your enjoyed the day a little too much and didn't recall the whole evening due to a failure in memory. It started off fun, with our group going to a little dive bar named Pirate's Cove. It was all outside overlooking the water, and it had about 10 dogs that were running wild throughout the place. Being the dog lover I am, I was petting them all, and even picked up the one-eyed Chihuahua, Paco and was carrying him around.....UNTIL one of waitresses told me he had fleas. I dropped him like a sack of potatoes and was like "thanks a lot." I immediately freaked out, and we left. Who wants to eat at a place that has dirty dogs with fleas running in and out of the kitchen??

So we drove to Orange Beach and went to Lulu's (thanks to our designated drive, Mary Michael). This is where it started to get a little fuzzy for me. Evidently the electricity was out and the place was running on generators. On top of that, it was a Friday night and it was PACKED! We waited for a long time for a table, and didn't end up eating until 9:30! For us moms who are now accustomed to feeding our kids early dinners, we were ready to gnaw our arms off! As soon as we ate, we left and headed home.

The following morning we enjoyed breakfast and mimosas at home, and then packed a cooler for our boat ride. Lucky for us, the neighbor was eager to drive us around for a few hours, so we took in the scenery and relaxed. Saturday night, we enjoyed a delicious dinner (shrimp and grits and a yummy salad) at home. We stayed up late sharing stories and laughing....too much fun!

Sunday, we had another great breakfast and then enjoyed the sun and peaceful bay with a book before heading back to Birmingham mid afternoon. Staying those extra hours really made the weekend feel longer, and when I got back I actually felt RELAXED! Thanks girls for a great weekend!
And thank you Steve for taking great care of our kids, our dog and our house, and for telling me that you appreciate how I do it meant the world to me!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Swim Lessons Day 2

No comments necessary, just one short video of each child this morning displaying their swimming skills (or lack thereof).

Summer is Here!

Now that school is out and the warm weather is here, I need to make sure that I can be comfortable at the pool alone with two small children. So once again, we have enrolled our kids in swim lessons. We decided to use the same lady as last summer, so we will go everyday for the next 11 days (taking off only Sunday).

Yesterday was our first class, and Bennett was excited! She had jumped off the side of the pool in Georgia to Steve and attempted to swim while holding her breath. There were no tears with her and she looked like she did at the end of last summer (which isn't great, but at least she didn't regress).

Preston, on the other hand, was NOT a fan. When she dunked him the first time, he started crying and didn't stop until he was in my arms....outside of the water. Each child had several turns, but at the end of the hour, she got each kid in one more time for a quick turn. Preston pretended to be sleeping on my shoulder and ignored her, so he missed it (the little stinker). Hopefully he will do better today. Right now, he has no inherent skills.

As you can see in the last photo, he doesn't have the instinct to kick or move his arms. He just does the "dead man's float."
I hope to be better prepared later today with some videos (the recorder was dead yesterday). So stay tuned for progress reports.