Friday, July 31, 2009

Swimming Lessons

We just finished a two-week session of swimming lessons for the boys. They really enjoyed it.

Fish passed his Level 1 test. Here he is doing the back crawl.

Bean was in Level 3, where they learn all the different strokes (even Butterfly-- I was surprised!) and learn to dive. He totally ate it up, even though he started out a little behind the other kids. I loved watching him get totally, completely tired out. And he passed his Level 3 test!

This was the last session our city does for the summer. I can't believe they don't have one in August! I wish we'd gotten them in sooner. Next summer we'll have to start earlier. They have a summer swim team and I think I'll put Bean on that next year. It would be worth it to drive to the pool every day all summer just to watch him enjoying himself so much and getting so much good exercise.

Today I also signed them up for fall sports: flag football for Bean and soccer for Fish. I'm always glad when a season ends because I get tired of all the running around, but then when we're not doing anything I realize how much energy sports takes out of my children. They are much less hyper at home during sports season. I can't wait until fall sports practices start!
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I'm done thumping watermelons.

It's how I've always picked 'em and it's never been very reliable. So I just figured picking watermelons was hit and miss. Then I read an article in the paper last week that suggested you look at the bottom of the melon, where it was sitting on the ground. If it's yellow, the melon will be a lot riper than if it's white. Last time I was at Aldi and they had $3.99 melons I decided to try it. Most of the melons in the bin had white bottoms, but I found one that was quite yellow. I thumped it just out of habit and I thought it didn't sound at all hollow, but I decided to take a risk and buy it anyway. A $3.99 experiment. I was a bit nervous.

It was the best melon I've ever eaten. Talk about SWEET! It was like candy. It was crisp too. We ate near the entire thing in one sitting.

Yellow bottoms, folks. That's the way to go.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

What Happens When I Sleep on My Hair Wet

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Tired and Wired

As the evening wore on at the ward campout, my boys got more and more wired. This was mostly because as soon as the campfire was built they had access to all the marshmallows they could get their little paws on.

If you enlarge this picture you can see that each of my boys is roasting quite a few 'mallows on their stick. This is only one of many, many trips to the fire pit.

My Roo, on the other hand, quickly started to wind down once it got dark. The Badger really enjoyed snuggling her on the swing.

On the way to the campout, Roo got two big gobs of bubblegum in her hair (I HATE bubblegum-- anyone know how to get it out of Sunday pants?) The first thing we did upon arriving was to procure some margarine and remove the gum. She spent the whole evening running around with oily hair, getting dirtier and dirtier. When we got home late that night (we did not stay overnight!) I thought it was so cute to see how curly her hair was from all the oil.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Rabbit at Camp

The Rabbit had a very busy time at the ward campout doing her best to explore as much of the great outdoors as she could...

...before people caught her and put her back in the baby swing.

I was very grateful they had those two baby swings hanging from the pavillion. It was really quite brilliant. Chasing a toddler around a campsite can wear you out very quickly. Having someplace amusing for the toddler to hang out really helps.
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Honey Ham

I asked my sweet little sugarpie Roo to pose for me by the lake at the ward campout. She always poses for me so beautifully. This time she decided to ham it up. I don't know what got into her, but it was hilarious.

I did finally get a fairly normal shot. I love her dirty little face!

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Water Creatures

I married a sea creature and it is becoming more and more apparent that my boys are taking after their father.

Our ward (church congregation) had a campout on Friday night. It was held at a privately-owned lake, which meant we had the swimming dock and the boats all to ourselves. All the kids there had so much fun swimming, boating, and diving. My boys especially loved the kayaks. They paddled them around for hours.

It really struck me how they just looked like they were exactly where they belonged.

And when I say "boys" I mean this one too:

It was especially fun to watch Fish. Just barely six years old and he had total control over his kayak. I was impressed. I also think it did a lot for his confidence and self-esteem. He even took one of the girls in his Primary class for a romantic little cruise:

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A Party to Remember

I suspect that most people have situations which give them irrational anxiety. For me, it's company. When they're actually here I usually really enjoy them, but before they come I always get anxious and after they leave I realize I am emotionally drained. The degree to which this happens depends on the type of company. Family and close friends are fine-- if I have any anxiety it's negligible. Casual friends or acquaintances give me enough anxiety that I don't invite them over very often, but when I decide to do it the anxiety doesn't get in the way. Children, however, send my anxiety levels up to something I have to really struggle to deal with. I've been working on this for the last eight years since I gave birth to a highly social child who craves company. The worst possible situation for me, which sends me into an almost paralyzing state of anxiousness, is hosting a child's birthday party and inviting a group of children over to my house.

It took me three years to get up the nerve to have this party. I tried to put my boys off again, but since Bean was turning eight (a big milestone in our culture) I decided to face my fears. It hung over my head for weeks. Every time I thought about planning it, choosing games, buying favors, or making invitations, I just wanted to go to bed and suck my thumb. But I bravely went forward.

The funny thing is, I'm actually pretty good at throwing a party. I thought I was pretty creative with the party games and everyone had a good time. On one level, I was even having a good time, even though I was counting down the minutes until it ended.

The theme of the party was submarines. Could I possibly be the only person in America who has ever made three submarine cakes in three days for non-commercial purposes?

We started out the party with a craft: decorating their own sailor hats with fabric markers. These also served as name tags, since many of the kids did not know each other. Once everyone had arrived and made a hat, we played "shark tag" in the backyard with a costume shark fin I had bought. Then we had a fish-spearing contest with Swedish fish and toothpicks. After that we played "pin the octopus on the submarine." Finally, I got out my giant parachute and we played parachute games for quite a long time. There's a lot you can do with a parachute to keep a hoard of wiggly boys busy. When I finally ran out of parachute game ideas it was time for cake and ice cream and presents. The boys got lots of really awesome presents.

At the end of the party we gave out favors. The way we did it ended up being one of the highlights of the party. The favors were simply a little squirting shark and some bubblegum gold coins in a cellophane bag. I put them all in a chest I have that looks like a treasure chest. I put this under the parachute. We all stood around the parachute and shook it while the boys, one at a time, put on a diving mask and dived under the parachute to get their treasure out of the chest.

When they were all gone the house was suddenly very quiet. It was also a wreck. The Badger earned my undying gratitude by moving the entire dining set and scrubbing the dining room floor on his hands and knees.

I just went to bed and lay there, wondering when I was going to stop twitching.

The boys are already talking about their next party, and Roo's got hers all planned out. Will these ever get any easier for me? I hope so. I want my children to have as many wonderful childhood memories as possible. It would be somewhat helpful if I didn't end up in the psych ward in the process.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Boys Live Here

It's obvious everywhere I turn.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Portrait of an Eight-Year-Old Boy

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Bean's Big Birthday

Boy, life is just one big party around here lately!

Here is a picture of Bean's birthday dinner. Lasagne, garlic bread, and corn on the cob. (You can also see that none of us ever got around to fixing the birthday streamers after the Rabbit's escapade.)

He was so excited that he got a model rocket kit. We can't wait to launch it with him!

So, here's the second of my trio of submarine cakes. I drew the submarine and wrote the lettering, then I gave the bag of frosting to Bean and let him doodle all over the cake. Then I let him put a bunch of Swedish fish wherever he wanted. I'm glad in this instance I remembered that letting him help and have fun was more important than having a picture-perfect cake. Maybe next year I'll let him do all the decorating himself.

And here's the whole family, minus the photographer.

(Yes, I know my family collage on the wall behind us is falling apart. I keep thinking about fixing it, but I get distracted and it gets pushed out of my mind. After all, it doesn't scream.)

Anyway, I think Bean had a great day!

I can't believe I've been a mother for eight years!

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Life With a Wild Badger

Wild badgers are very unpredictable. You can never entirely tame one. Every once in awhile their feral side comes out and they do something like start a cake-in-the-face fight.

He is always gentle and loving, but life with this Badger is definitely not tame! And I wouldn't have it any other way!

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Why the Birthday Streamers Didn't Stay Up Very Long

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