Thursday, June 28, 2007

Battle Lines Drawn

Tommy and I have resolved that there are battles we won't fight with the children. These days they dress themselves, fix their own hair, and choose their own accessories. That often means we leave for Gymboree with a tiara on our head, or a fireman's hat! Sometimes (like this morning) we head off to a doctor's appointment with Cinderella make up covering our face, an adorable sundress, and huge black leather boots up to our knees (check out the newest family photo link for a picture of those shoes!). Or, our skater shorts down to our feet and our Mohawk standing straight up! I will say that the children brought sneaky smiles to the faces of all the adults we say today:).

Dinner Time

Our latest favorite tradition is our weekly dinner with Aunt Ashleigh. She comes once a week - and we fix her a Thrailkill special for dinner:). She stays for pajamas. She gets the ever important task of writing in Mikaela's diary with her (good thing the diary is a secret journal as Mikaela is writing down what we all eat these days!). Then she reads each of the kiddos the story of their choice, watches the performance of prayers and favorite parts, and stays all the way to give good night kisses. What an aunt! We love her and are enjoying our new summer tradition!

Pool Time - Finally!

A HUGE round of applause for the persistent daddy - hours upon hours of moving dirt in our backyard, and finally we achieved a (somewhat) level spot for our swimming pool. The pool has so much water in now that not only do we need a ladder to get in, but we also have to put a life jacket on Xander! Mikaela is still our little Mermaid - that's her swimming under water, kicking those feet, using those diggers! Xander loves the pool too - he likes to flip over and play beach ball with daddy.

Who are those cuddly creatures?

Those hot summer days require a lot of baths! After our baths, we crawl into our crazy towels and just hang out. There is nothing cuter than Xander's Winnie the pooh ears, except for maybe that ladybug next to him!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Abigail's 5th Birthday

We attended Abigail's 5th Birthday party on Saturday - a Sleeping Beauty Princess party at School Street Gym in Watkinsville. Mikaela had a blast. The girls began the party with some stretching exercise (you knew there was serious fun coming if you had to stretch first!). Then, a gymnastic obstacle course. Crawling through tunnels, forward and back word rolls, jumping on the "donkey", and climbing over mats.

Mikaela then choose to have her face painted like a butterfly - she was so excited. Mommy was so surprised as she has never let anyone paint her face before! The girls then took turns on the HUGE trampoline. Then, off to eat castle cake made by Ms.Dawn. The hit of the party seemed to be the "blocks" (sugar cubes" that Ms.Dawn used as decorations on the cake.

The girls finished the party with watching Abi opening gifts. Abi was excited to see the painting that Mikaela made just for her (and the two books and strawberry shortcake bath supplies). The pinata was broken, all the candy was grabbed up for goody bags, and I would say the party was a huge success!

Swim Lessons!

We just finished up our week of swim lessons (Mondays from 4 - 5). We took lessons with Ms.Jennifer, who taught us last year. She is Thomas Barr's mom from Mikaela's class at school.

Xander got promoted (perhaps prematurely) to the Pre-Beginner 1 class. One step up from Mommy and Me. Monday he did great - off to big boy swimming class, big smile, all fun. Tuesday the rain came in the middle of his swim lessons, and the rest of the week was downhill from there. By Friday we figured out the best compromise was for Mommy to sit on the steps with the class, and for him to do the activities with the teacher. He did AWESOME on Friday. Ms.Jennifer said he is very relaxed in the water. He goes under water and pops right back up. His class worked on going under, reaching for the wall, monkeying walking along the wall (to get to a ladder or steps), diggers (one ball, two ball - using your hands when swimming), kicking, and jumping in from the side.

Mikaela is our resident mermaid. Who knew? She spent the whole week under water - probably didn't' hear much of the lessons! Her class worked on diggers, kicking, using a kick board, jumping in from the side, swimming back to the side when one breath out, reaching for the wall, how to climb out of the pool from the wall, and general water safety. She loved it!

We hope to show off our swimming tricks to all of you this summer:)!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Pool Time

Welllll.....the pool is up, sort of:). It is held up by two wagons, a big box, the dog crate, and a toy box lid. But it is holding water. And two out of three little people think it is fabulous (Jaden is still not crazy about being in the water outside!). We are enjoying it immensely.

We get in with the kids almost every afternoon. What a way to kill those few hot hours before bedtime!

Mikaela has become a fish. She learned that she can open her eyes under water (without her Shrek goggles). She is swimming all over the place!

Xander is our pool clown (why should the pool be any different). He loves to make every one laugh with his silly antics. His favorite thing is to wrestle with his daddy - a little WWF in the backyard pool.

Hanging Out at Home

Ahhh....the beauty of summer. Wake up at the same time, with two rambunctious children who have no preschool to attend, and try to figure out what to do all day! Summer is a break for who?

Just teasing of course (at least a little). We are having a blast. We wake up every day and do whatever we feel like! The kids are enjoying numerous art projects - stamping as I type. They love to play dress up - everything from Cinderella and her lost slipper, to the singing knight, to evil witch "ha ha ha." We play outside as much as we can stand. This morning we filled the sand and water table with ice cubes - what fun!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Summer Swimming!

I know what you all are thinking - no the playground wasn't enough of a build, we are tackling a swimming pool as well.

All of our neighbors have managed to purchase the large Walmart plastic pool (18 ft X 4 ft) and put it up successfully.

We must be the exception to the rule:). Our pool is struggling. Tommy is still working on digging the dirt and leveling the spot. Cross your fingers!

In the meantime, don't tell the children that the pool could look any different. The propped up, off centered version with a foot or so water in it, is their idea of a dream vacation! They wake up twice daily begging to go swimming in their pool with their new Shrek goggles (god bless the dollar store for always having what we need at the perfect price!).

The current version is still holding water - and doesn't require mommy to get in. A nice ice tea, perfectly placed chair, and I can dip my feet in and swear I saw every "see what I did" for the whole afternoon!

Vacation Bible School 2007

We had a blast at Vacation Bible School this year. Our church, Centerhill Baptist Church, decided to have family vacation bible school. Tommy, or I, took the kids each night. Our family was members of the Tribe of Judah (bright orange flag with a lion). Our tribe moved through the town of Galilee, experiencing life as those did during the time of Jesus. We waited all week to see Jesus. We overhead that he had been seen - he even fed thousands with one fish and one loaf of bread!

While we waited, we went to gathering with all the other tribes. There we sang songs, had a welcome prayer, and danced in big circles! After gathering our tribe headed off to do our own tribe business. We went over our lesson of the day. Next, it was off to synagogue for us. Women and men sat separately, yamikas were worn, and the rabbi taught us about life in the synagogue.

Xander's favorite stop was the seaside playground. We played ancient games. We went fishing for sea life, raced with baskets of water on our heads, and played ball games.

Mikaela is a true shopper and loved the market place. Each night we worked in a different shop. Some nights we tied ropes or made necklaces from sea shells. Other nights we had harder jobs like sanding boats, or drilling holes in our menorah.

We took turns baking bread for our group (check out new family photos for a picture of Xander kneading our bread on Friday night!). Toward the end, we would go get our bread (in a basket), go to the well and get our water, and join our group to break bread and eat together. Mr.Carl shard with us that in ancient times they always broke the bread before they ate it. This was their way of giving thanks, then after the meal they prayed.

We closed each night with more songs and dancing. On Friday, we did meet Jesus (our very own preacher, Brother David dressed up). He shared his good news with us.

We all had a blast!

Friday, June 8, 2007

Disney Princess Ballet Camp

Mikaela attended Disney Princess Ballet Camp at A Step Ahead Dance Studio this week. Each day celebrated a different princess - right up some one's alley! Monday was Cinderella day, Tuesday was Belle day, Wednesday was Snow White, Thursday was Aurora and Friday was Jasmine. Friday was the final performance.

Let me tell you! What a show Xander and I got to attend. There were three ballet performances - complete with Cinderella sweeping the floor, Belle introducing dinner, and Snow White dancing in the forest.

They saved the best for last! The show ended with the Boot Scooting Boogie. Cowboy hats and tap shoes for all:).

Monday, June 4, 2007

Our First Family Vacation

We took a deep breath - and dove right into our first family vacation. Just the four of us. One hotel room. Three days, two nights - one three hour car ride two ways. Okay - so sometimes when you do the math, you might not call it a vacation.

We left Friday mid day for Chattanooga, Tennessee. We arrived at our hotel, The Chattanoogan, around 3:00 in the afternoon. We no sooner had dropped our bags when two young people voted unanimously to try out the indoor swimming pool. For those of us who remember swim lessons from last year (two kiddos crying, one choking me), I was totally caught off guard when our princess got in and swam under water! Of course she stayed within a hands reach of the wall, and could touch in the lower end of the pool - but no more baby blowing bubble stuff for her! She swam and swam and swam!

Evil Knievel - do first, think second - still afraid of the water. He still cried and clung to my neck. He warmed a little (literally) in the smaller jacuzzi - but no going under water for him. We did get a few bubble blowing moments. We ended our day Friday and Saturday with afternoon swims.

Our hotel was about ten blocks out from the aquarium. We rode the shuttle everywhere we went (except Rock City). The kids loved it - no car seats:). Saturday night we experienced a musical ride as some local flavor sang to the kids. They even knew a few Dora ones - there are surprises everywhere it seems!

Friday night we arrived at the shuttle boarding site and the bottom fell out - by the time the shuttle came, we rode it, and then walked the three blocks to dinner - we were soaked! It was so much fun. The kids jumped in puddles - drank rain water - had a blast.

Friday night we had dinner at the Cheeburger Cheeburger - 75 flavors of milkshakes in a 1950's style diner. Cheeseburgers for all! Definitely fries with that.

Saturday night we also took the shuttle and ate at the famous Sticky Fingers. Even Xander ordered BBQ - and was covered in the 6 different varieties of sauce they offer!

The kids loved the hotel room - who wouldn't like us all four sleeping together in one room? You knew the downside to vacationing was coming right? Friday night, two tired parents, long drive, big swim, big wet outing, two very excitable overtired children - no rest for the weary. They took turns waking all night - after we finally got them to sleep! Saturday both kiddos slept - but mom and dad weren't used to sleeping with little feet in their backs or heads on their head!

All in all - very worth it! Just don't call for a few days - we may be sleeping:)!!!!

Rock City Fairy Tale Festival

After a very nice breakfast at the hotel (yummy french toast with syrup for all - and that fattening crispy bacon that mommy never buys!), we headed out for a day at Rock City. We were very excited - Mikaela in her Alice in Wonderland t-shirt and Xander in his prince charming shirt. We entered Rock city and read "Once Upon a Time" - that has to the beginning of a great story! As we toured Rock City, we came upon many, many fairy tale characters.

We first met a beautiful fairy who blew bubbles for us and wished us well. Next we happened upon Jake and the The Giant arguing over something - wonder who knows what? We saw Hansel and Gretel who were nice enough to give us candy and tell us the story of their evil stepmother. We found a grumpy ol troll who tried to make daddy pay to cross the swinging bridge (until Daddy told him he was a teacher and then the troll just laughed!). We saw the Princess and the Frog Prince. Mikaela was willing to kiss the Frog Prince, but not profess her love for him so a frog he remained.

We were so proud of our future actress who got the leading roll of Baby Bear in the Goldilocks and the Three Bears interactive story telling. No one every said "Someone sat in my chair and broke it to bits" better than she did! Mikaela and her daddy also played fairy tale trivia and didn't miss one (okay so Mommy answered that last one for them - but who can name all the 7 Dwarfs by themselves?).

We found the evil witch with her red apple - no way were we going to tell her how to find Snow White!

We ended by finding Maid Marion and Robin Hood - what a great tale they told us. One of adventure and love - a great combo!

As any great story ends, so did ours, we vacationed happily ever after...

Riverfront Park

We had a blast at the Riverfront park in downtown Chattanooga. The park was very cool in that it was made to be accessible by all children, even those with disabilities. Danger girl climbed high, slid fast and had a blast. Our little wild man was slow going - a few slides and he was ready for a snack.

Chattanooga Choo Choo

We couldn't leave Chattanooga without seeing the Chattanooga Choo Choo. We walked to it from our hotel - two blocks up, and two blocks out. We passed The English Rose tearoom (which Mommy couldn't believe that we missed having tea at) - Mikaela was excited as we just The English Roses new book by Madonna last week. Our resident train engineer was excited to see the big train. We bought train rolling stamps as our souvenir - they kids couldn't wait to make their own tracks and trains when we got home. We rang the bell to let everyone know the train was coming! Mommy had a very nice coffee in the beautiful gardens while the kids ran through the shrubbery mazes and looked at the colorful fountains.

Creative Discovery Museum, Chattanooga

Our last stop before returning home was to the Creative Discovery Museum in downtown Chattanooga. We had the best time! The visiting exhibit is Alice in Wonderland - wonder which princess was excited to find that out? We entered into water exploration first - towers to climb, boats to race, and lots of water to play in! Our next stop was Dinosaur discovery. We could build our own dinosaurs, make silly dinosaur faces, or read interesting facts that other kids wrote. Music Station was the favorite stop of one certain young man. Large musical instruments contained buttons to push in which you could hear the sound. Xander sang his famous "1, 2, 3 Like a Bird" and recorded it in a studio. Got to hear himself on the radio! Over, and over and over and over.......After art station where we became portrait artists and clay potters, we headed upstairs to Wonderland. We got to walk down the hall of doors and try to find the missing rabbit. We had our very own Mad Hatter tea party. We experimented with mirrors to learn all kinds of new tricks. This museum has a rooftop playground - how cool was that? We played checkers and connect four (as big as Kaelee!). Bubble stations, and pulley races kept us busy outside. We finished our museum tour in the Little Yellow House - we could dress up as dogs and crawl in the doghouse, work in the workshop, climb up in the tree house, or make mom a much needed snack in the kitchen.

Can you believe that we didn't have time to do the whole museum? I feel another trip to Chattanooga coming on.......

Dora, Dora, Dora - The Explorer!

Xander is still in love with Dora the Explorer. Daddy wants him to get more use out of his boy dress up clothes. Xander is so smart - he dressed up in the boyish
pirate costume, and named himself "Dora the Pirate." Good thinking! He can sing all her songs, do all her dances, answer any question she throws at him.