Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Seagrove Beach Trip

It is hard to believe that the last time Steve and I were at a gulf coast beach was shortly after we were married five years ago! We certainly were way overdue. Steve LOVES the beach and has been wanting to go for awhile. Back before Christmas, a group of us starting talking about the beach and how much fun it is. This casual conversation between 6 families led to the formal planning of a beach trip, and it was booked within 2 months!

Since we had 12 kids between the 6 couples, we thought it would be terrific to travel with 1 or 2 babysitters. One of our friends suggested sisters who teach at her daughter's school who do babysitting on the side....fortunately they agreed to come with us. However, it took some time finding a house large enough to suit our group of 24!! To top off our growing list of wants in a house, we needed to stay within our budget. After weeks of searching, we found a 7 bedroom house with 2 loft areas that had beds, a private pool and across the street from beach access in a private neighborhood (so there would be little traffic).

At first, we were all so excited to be taking a trip with 5 families that we love and have so much fun with socially. But as the trip neared, I started to panic that the house might be too loud and chaotic with 12 kids (and that is coming from a very loud person). Steve convinced me that everything was going to be fine, and he was right! Our trip to Seagrove Beach with our friends was awesome! We all got along fine, the kids had a blast and it was overall a very fun and relaxing trip.

Our trip started off with a little of this...

Which led to a little of this....

As most of my vacations do, we lived it up our first day and night! The next day was Father's Day and Elle's birthday party, which was fun. The rest of the week was spent playing on the beach, swimming at the pool, finding seashells, visiting a local splash pad, attending an outdoor concert at Carillon Beach, crab hunting several nights, eating lots of wonderful food and drinking wonderful concoctions!

The weather was HOT every day, so if we weren't in the water, then we were nearby (so we could jump in as needed), or inside where the air conditioning was working overtime. However, the kids could never get enough, so it was nice to have babysitters there to swim with them in the pool when we just wanted to chill on the beach, or had to prepare dinner, etc.

We also celebrated my birthday while we were there. Kadie made a cake for me..."better than sex" cake (my new favorite), and everyone enjoyed some by the pool. Then that night, Steve made reservations at Cafe Thirty A for a "parent's night out." We all thoroughly enjoyed our dinners, but were ready to hit the town afterward. So we cabbed it down the street to dance at a local place. Unfortunately, the band was ready to leave town and went "on break" about 45 minutes after we arrived. What they didn't know was that we had Chris with us. He asked to borrow one of the guitars and then played several more fun songs so we could continue to dance.

Surprisingly, we still weren't ready to wrap up our night so we cabbed it to Panama City Beach to dance more at Tootsies (the name says it all really). We finally got home around 3:30 AM. It certainly was our latest night, and one where we cherished having our babysitters (that had all 12 kids asleep by 9PM that night!).

It definitely won't be another 5 years before we see a sunset on the white beaches of Florida!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pony Rides!

Yesterday morning I took the children to our library for a pony ride! Yes, our library was providing this fun experience. During the summer, they have their reading club and to inspire the kids to visit the library more often, they have lots of special events and this was one of them.

We had been talking about it for a few days, so when we pulled into the parking lot and saw the two ponies in the back corner, they got very excited. They immediately selected which pony they were each going to ride, and had it all planned that they would go at the same time.

When it was our turn, they got their wishes and went for a short loop in the parking lot. They both enjoyed it, though you can't really tell from the photos.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bama Rising!

Tuesday night Steve and I attended the Bama Rising concert with a couple of friends. Several weeks ago the lead singer of "Alabama" got the idea to have charity concert for all of the state's tornado victims. He recruited some local talent and secured Brad Paisley, and the rest of the country singers just lined up! Since the CMA Fest was this past weekend, and most of the country musicians would have planned to take some time off following it, he got the idea to have it Tuesday night so they could easily drive down from Nashville to sing. The Birmingham Civic Center donated the space, and the rest was cake!
Tickets went on sale at 11am and were sold out within 1.5 hours! I went down to the BJCC to purchase the tickets that morning and was shocked when I arrived early and the line was out the door. TV stations were there, and every window at the ticket office was open. It was a well-oiled machine and the line went very quickly. The only bad thing was you had no say in where your tickets were, you could only give them an amount you wanted to spend per ticket and the computer generated the tickets. Needless to say, we weren't thoroughly impressed with our nosebleed seats, but we were in there and the music was loud!

Alabama opened the show with several of their big hits, and even Steve sang along (out loud)! Then several local people sang: Blind Boys of Alabama, Bo Bice, Taylor Hicks, etc. Each artist sang a couple of songs, and then there was about 5-10 minutes of dead space in between. It was 10:30 pm before a "big name" person even sang (outside of Alabama), so we knew the concert was going to go long. When we started doing the math with how many performers were left and that they averaged 3/hour, we knew it was going to be 1am before the show ended (it was actually 1:10AM!!

We certainly got our money's worth with a concert that lasted 5.5 hours! Of course, my favorite -Brad Paisley was dead last. In between, Montgomery Gentry, Kelly Pickler, Rodney Atkins, Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley, Sara Evans, Martina McBride, Darious Rucker and Sheryl Crow played! There was even a surprise guest....The Commodores! When they came out onto stage and sang "Brick House," the crowd erupted! I swear they pulled their outfits from their 1980s tour, but their matching dance moves were still appreciated by everyone. It really was a fun show to see and listen to, and I am glad that we could be apart of it and support the cause! Our hearts are still breaking for everyone who lost their home and belongings on April 27th.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A New Challenge Develops

Months ago when I was having daily challenges with Bennett, I asked friends with older daughters when it would get better. I was told that her tantrums should lesson when she turns four years old. Of course, I didn't expect it to change overnight, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and am hopeful that they were correct. She is definitely comprehending our expectations of her and starting to make better "choices." I say that word because that is what we always tell our children...."you have to make good choices" or "that was a bad choice" (which then results in punishment).

Though Bennett still cries at least once every day (we have a very emotional little girl), her meltdowns are becoming fewer and far between. I report this because we couldn't be happier to be getting over the hump. However, just as I say that...our little boy is becoming a holy terror.

Preston is full of energy, always has been, but he has become quite difficult within the past couple of weeks. It is so hard to watch him throw his tantrums, which consist of him using "potty talk" and saying "I not, I not, I not, not not" when asked to do something. For example, today we were leaving the gym and I asked him to gather his things, for which he promptly replied "I not, I not, I not, not, not" his sing-songy way. It was cute a few weeks ago, but when I hear it over and over in a 24 hour period, it wears on my nerves real quickly. We don't know how to handle him because he is unfazed by timeouts and spankings. In fact, we have to use our wooden spoon as a threat to get him to react.

Funny story about that...tonight we were getting ready to walk upstairs to take baths, and he threw a toy down the stairs. I asked him to pick it up, and he quickly responded "I not, I not, I not, not, not." I then grabbed the wooden spoon and said "excuse me?" He very quickly replied with "Ah yes, ah yes, ah yes, yes, yes." That one made me laugh! If only he was that quick to change his tune and actions everytime.....

Friday, June 10, 2011

Swim Lessons Are Over!

My kids are excited that their lessons are over, but probably not as much as I am! Their lessons fell right in the middle of the morning, making it difficult to get much else done for the past two weeks. The money was well spent though, as the kids feel good about the water and can swim well enough to save themselves if they fell in the water.

Frankly, Bennett looked great in the pool today....she had big kicks and long arms! She was glidely across the top of the water. If only she was consistent in taking a breath by herself. Perhaps that will come with more practice at the pool this summer.

Pres has been pushed some this week which has caused him to not enjoy his lessons as much. Ms Laura has been encouraging him to take a breath by constantly moving away from him when he swims to her. However, he won't lift up and therefore holds his breath more than he feels comfortable...causing him to cry. Oh well, he still loves the water and is doing great away from lessons!

I feel good about our lessons this year and where the kids finished. We'll spend a little time at the pool next week, and then we are off to the beach where we will be swimming everyday! Yeah for summer!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Can You Believe It?

After swim lessons today, the kids and I met some friends at the pool. The kids took turns jumping in and swimming to me. After 30 minutes of this, I asked Preston if he wanted to jump off the diving board. I was shocked to hear him say “yes” so I decided to capitalize on his wishes and we walked over there. He walked out bravely, and jumped off the side of the board (which of course is dangerous and not allowed), and swam to me. When we got out, I explained that he has to walk to the very end of the board and jump. Since he was anxious to jump again, I watched him climb the ladder and walk towards the end. He needed a little coaxing to walk to the edge, but he did it and jumped in again. Again, I met him about halfway out and helped pull him to the side.

After another hour of swimming around, he asked to go off the board again. I let him, but this time when I met him halfway we got scolded by the lifeguard (a different was working that area). Evidently they don’t allow any parents in the diving well, and expect the kids to swim to the side by themselves. Though Preston (and Bennett) are doing wonderfully with their swim lessons, neither are consistent at taking breaths while swimming, especially Pres. Since I don’t want him to panic while swimming, I just let him swim underwater for what I think is a reasonable amount of time and then grab him.

Steve flew back into town this afternoon, so after the kids awoke from their naps we went back to the pool to show Daddy! Initially he did not want to do it, so we swam in the pool and jumped off the side. After 30 minutes, Steve asked him again, and he was ready…..or at least we thought he was. He waited so long debating whether to jump or not, that they closed the diving well! When he had finally psyched himself into doing it, he couldn't and began to throw a fit. The lifeguard witnessed the whole thing and told him he could jump one time. He walked out there, but then stood there debating whether or not he was going to jump (I know we should have just pulled him off the board, but we didn't). When we told him time was up….he did it!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

School's Out for Summer!!

It's that time of the year is out, it is hot outside, there are no bedtimes, and we're finding things to fill our days. Top of the list, so the summer isn't unbearable, is swim lessons! The kids started their 2 week lessons with the same teacher of the past 3 years, Ms Laura. She uses a "sink or swim" method so there are a lot of tears at the beginning, but by the end of the two weeks...the kids can save themselves if they fall in a pool and some can swim. The only bad thing about these lessons this summer is the time of them...9:30-10:30....right in the middle of the morning!

It stinks, but is worth the sacrifice if my children can even sort-of swim. We spend so much time around water during the summer months, so I need this for peace of mind. I didn't know what to expect with the lessons since they haven't been swimming since last summer (and they didn't finish the summer as strong swimmers). But we spent a couple of days at the pool last week, and a weekend at the lake....and they have surprised me!

Though 8 of the 10 kids were screaming and crying on day 1....Bennett was all smiles! She was so excited to start her lessons. Preston, on the other hand, was NOT happy when Laura made him swim with her and I wasn't in the pool with them.

The first couple of days were a little rough with Pres, but we are on day 3 now...and I am happy to say that they are both having fun! Please keep your fingers crossed that the techniques are absorbing and they both become better swimmers!