Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Craft - Thunderstorm

We were inspired by a recent storm to focus on thunderstorms for our next craft day. I love a good storm, and the kids do too as long as the tornado sirens don't go off!

We had fun reading a book about storms, making our own thunder cloud, and taking pictures in the "rain."

Waiting Out The Storm by Joann Early Macken.

We had too much fun making it "rain" on each other.

Monday, July 25, 2011

If You Judge A Fish...

I was such a proud Mama watching Haley and Jake at swim lessons this year. They are both a little timid when it comes to water - and were very reluctant to take lessons - but they really love to swim and both showed big improvements this year. Haley especially didn't want to take lessons because she knew it would push her out of her comfort zone a little bit. I loved watching her every day, pushing a little further, and seeing the look of pride and accomplishment on her face when she did something that was hard for her.

I think that's one of the hardest lessons for me as a parent. My natural instinct is to protect and shield them from everything, and I believe that letting them learn at their own pace is often the best approach. But I know that I also need to encourage them to get out there and try - even if it's hard, or if they fail a few times, or if they don't want to. Seeing them exceed their own expectations - and even my expectations - is pretty amazing.

Look at him go!

Lots of chatting went on near the wall.

Alex entertaining himself...

I had lots of time to ponder while watching lessons several times a week (when I was lucky and Alex's nap coincided with swimming time). For the first few weeks I have to admit I was very annoyed by one of the other moms. Her kids didn't seem very well behaved, she always sat in one of the end seats so everyone had to climb over her to go sit down, and her son was in Jake's class and would splash Jake the whole time. Jake would try to move away or ask him to stop, but it didn't do any good and she didn't seem to notice. In short, I felt a little smug and superior, thinking that she was just clueless. Then one day near the end of the sessions, Alex was dozing and I had time to quietly watch this mother. I noticed that she watched her own kids with the same expression of amazement and pride with which I watched mine. She smiled when they finished a task, and waved to them when they wildly waved their arms and mouthed, "watch me, Mom!" I was instantly humbled as I realized that her priorities were the same (if not better) than mine.

There's a quote from Albert Einstein that I love: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." I felt terrible that I had judged this woman so harshly for such ridiculous reasons. As I left that day I made a point to smile at her, thinking sadly that I could have struck up a friendship with her if I hadn't been too busy judging her - something I will be sure to remember in the future.

Lots of lessons learned for all of us at the Y this summer....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Craft - Stars

Back from vacation and left to our own devices to entertain ourselves, we decided that Fridays would be our "theme craft day". The kids picked stars as our first theme, so we read about stars online, had a special star-shaped lunch, made some star decorations for the front door (similar to this one, just cut different sizes and colors and stack them), made and ate star-shaped cookies, and plan to go out and look at the stars tonight after dark. My mom used to take us out to stargaze when we were little and I have so many fond memories of it; I can't wait to create similar memories with my own kids.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Odyssey 2001 - Sunny Seattle

Oh, how I love this city! I'm so grateful that we get to spend a little time here each year and share all of our favorite places with the kids. I can't get enough of the mountains, the water, the views....I just love it, especially in the summer. We never have enough time to see everything we'd like, or all the people we'd like to see, so we squeeze as much into every minute that we can.

This year we just hit a few of our very favorite spots.

A perfect Seattle afternoon - lunch at Ivar's on Lake Union. Watching the bridges open and close for the boats never gets old for the kids (or me, to be honest!).

We created so many memories here during our college years...
I can't believe it's been almost 10 years since we left!

Chris and Rob puttin' together the new grill so they can grill us up some pizzas...yum!

Haley and her BDFF (Best Dog Friend Forever), Abby.

Um, Haley...Alex is *not* a puppy, no matter how much you wish he were.

Alex is sooo tall, with Uncle Chris and Aunt Jen. Thanks for putting us up...I bet the house seemed REALLY quiet when we left!

I just had to get out on the water while we were there. A ferry ride from Tacoma to Vashon island was the perfect day trip. The kids and mom and I spent the afternoon taking in the views and exploring the island.

I swear if I ever get to live with a view like this, I will never ever take it for granted. Ever.

Alex and Grandma Ann.

Quintessential Jake face. With Alex's sweater on.

He is such a ham.

Please move to North Dakota, Grandma!

We stopped at a nursery on Vashon; they had so many amazing container combinations. What I wouldn't give to live in a garden Zone 7/8 again.

Bellevue Square has changed a LOT since I hung out there as a teenager. Fortunately the ferry play area is bigger and better....the shopping isn't too bad either!

Fish faces while watching the flying fish at Pike Place. We dropped by quickly to pick up a few bottles of our favorite balsamic vinegar. Until next year!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Summer Odyssey 2011 - Alex turns TWO!

Lucky Alex - his birthday seems to always fall during our summer trips so he gets to celebrate with the whole family. It's wonderful to have them all with us to share his special day! This last little while he's been obsessed with diggers, trucks, construction vehicles - you name it. So we decided to have a CONSTRUCTION TRUCKS birthday party for him. He loved the attention, the toy trucks, and the delicious cake.

At 2 years old, Alex is a VERY busy boy. He is curious, playful, and loves to tease and laugh. He loves trains, trucks, construction vehicles, airplanes, and anything else that is loud/moving/large. He loves to be outside and would probably be content to spend all day every day outside, digging and running and exploring. Alex is such a teaser and loves to torment his big brother and sister (if we had a quarter for every time one of them yelled, "Alex!!!"). Fortunately they adore him and put up with it most of the time. He, in turn, adores them as well and always wants to be in the middle of the action. It's hard to imagine what life was like before our little "peanut" joined us. We love you, Alex. Happy 2nd Birthday!!!

It wasn't simple to pull off a party in the middle of a trip, and at a campground, but Alex seemed to like it just fine.

Showing off his DIGGER shirt.

Everyone wanted to nibble at the Reese's "dirt" in the dump truck.

I love this shot of the 3 of them, and how Haley and Jake are so excited for him.


What good sports all the guys were to wear the party hats!

Kim and Gracie.

Bubble bonding time with Uncle Nick.

Jake test-drives the new toys for Alex.