Thursday, August 22, 2013

The end of the Swimming Season

It was a great swimming season for our fam this year.  We live in a great area.  We are just around the corner from so many things.  The elementary school Tate will attend next year (YIKES), parks, a great outdoor mall, and most importantly for us this summer, our neighborhood pool.  The YMCA runs our pool during the summer so we were able to have swimming lessons there in the mornings too.  Tate took three sessions of lessons this summer and absolutely loved it.  By the end he was jumping off the wall and swimming a few feet by himself to his teacher.  We were all very proud, especially Tate.  
This year he discovered how awesome goggles are.  They were like instant courage for the kid.  If he was in the pool, he was under the water.  
Most of his time in the pool he looks like this:
He was thrilled with being able to see what was going on beneath the surface.  Like he was in on some incredible secret with his new eye-gear.  My favorite moment involving his goggles happened at the beginning of the summer.  He was so proud of his goggles and wanted to show them off to everyone he met.  He followed a little girl around the pool and said, "Hey!  These are my new goggles.  Watch what I can do!" He goes under the water and, after a few seconds, pops back up.  "Pretty cool huh?!"  Later, when we were eating lunch during a swim break, he watched a girl walk past.  He told me, "Mom, that girl is pretty.  Do you think she's nice?"  I told him I thought she probably was.  "That's good.  Do you think she will like my goggles?"  Oh what a sweet boy I have.
Finn LOVES the water too.  He is so excited when we go to the pool.  Our morning jog often brings us by or near the pool and when we turn toward home instead of going to the pool he always cries, "Wawa!  Wawa!"  so sad that we're not going swimming right now!
Finny went through phases this summer.The first half he couldn't get enough of the water.  We have a separate kiddie pool that starts really shallow and at the deepest is only 3.5 feet.  Tate can touch all the way across, which makes my life so much easier, but Finn just can't yet and that made him so frustrated.
For the first part of the summer he would walk to the deep end until the water was to his chin and he was on his toes and either I let him go under, or turned him around to walk back to the shallow, which caused him to make some very loud noises.  He would trip constantly and ended up lying on top of the water, spread eagle, holding really still.  It was a very scary position to see little Finn in.  Unfortunately, for the first half of the summer, it didn't seem to phase him much at all when he tripped or fell.  He just wanted to keep walking to the deep end.  He didn't want to hold your hand.  He didn't want to be held.  He wanted to go where Tate was BY HIMSELF!
In the last couple of weeks he's been a bit more timid and clingy.  It's kind of nice, actually.  To be in the pool with him and not worry about him trying to drown himself with his insistence that he can do anything.  Plus, he's not a very cuddly boy in general, so it's fine with me if he wants to be held in the pool.
We spent lots of mornings at the pool and several evenings after Glenn got home too.  It was the perfect way to be in the summer sunshine and we soaked it up as much as we could this summer.
Last weekend we were super lucky and tried out Broomfield Bay with the Cluffs.  They had extra guest passes so we all got in for just 4 bucks!  We have GOT to do that again next summer.  It was so perfect for our little kiddos.  There were several slides that were just their speed, a water play ground, and tons of shallow places to walk and play.
 Tate loved the slides that he could go on by himself.  He quickly got bored with the plain "sitting while sliding" position
 And started making up new "poses".  It was fun to watch.
 Finn went down a few times with Glenn and wasn't really sure how he felt about it.
He kept going down with this trepidatious look on his face and then saying, "Again" when it was over.
After slide 5 or 6 he somehow got a huge burst of courage and started going by himself.  He would climb up the stairs, decide which slide he wanted to go on, usually changing his mind a couple of times, then one of us would help him sit down and the other would catch him at the bottom.  Then he'd start giggling and chanting, "A-gain! A-gain! A-gain!" over and over.  It was so cute and funny.  It's kind of nice to see a bit of a timid side of him once in a while because he usually has no fear from the get-go.
It was a great swimming season.  I'm glad our boys love to swim because it sure is a nice way to spend the summer!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Utah

So we were really busy in the month of July.  First I went to NYC with Mal, then 4 days later Glenn and I left for our Cruise.  We got home on Saturday and on Tuesday the boys and I flew to Utah for a week.  Glenn had to go to Montana for a work field trip so we figured it was the perfect time for the rest of us to visit Utah this summer.  We hadn't met my sweet new nephew Hayze yet and we just had to make that happen before he got any older!
The morning we arrived, Grandpa asked Tate if he would like to go to work with him.  Just for an hour or so.  It was every little boy's dream.  Grandpa works in one of these:


Tate spent about an hour driving the dump truck with grandpa, pushing the button to dump the dump truck, then driving back and riding in the tractor while they loaded the dump truck again.  He was so excited and it was so nice of Grandpa to share that with him.  What fun for a little boy...or a grown one!
Aub and her littles, Auntie Kenz, and the boys and I went up to the Children's museum at Discovery Gateway one morning.  It's a partner with our Science museum in Denver so we got a few tickets for free, but the nice man at the desk let us all get in for free.  It was awesome to be able to play as long as we wanted and then head home when kiddos were worn out because we didn't have to worry about getting our money's worth.  All the kids had a great time, including Kenzie.  Ha!
Kenzie was a huge help.  Aub and I have 5 kids between us now and they are all little and busy and hard to track down in a crowd.  It was nice to have another set of responsible hands to help us keep track of them.
Mya and Tate with their silly "smile for the camera" faces in the construction zone.
Tate and Finny in the water area with their water smocks.
It is impossible to get a picture in a crowded museum with just the people I want in the picture.  There's always someone's leg, bum, arm, or whole body in the background or sideground in this case.
The bottom floor of the museum was so cool.  It was like a huge play city with a construction zone, little play house (Finny's favorite was the vacuum), barn, and grocery store.  Little Sadie was right at home in the little dog house.  Sometimes Miss Sadie is a puppy.  A very sweet, petite little puppy.
This might be my favorite picture from the trip.  Tate was dying every day waiting for his cousins to come over and play.  He could not get enough of them and they all got along so well and even let Finny follow them around most of the time.  It makes my soul smile to see these little kiddos who I love so much all get along so well.  It bodes well for many fun family adventures in the future.
Little Finny has a soft spot for babies.
Or maybe just baby Hayze.  Seeing Baby Hayze could always cheer him up when he was grouchy.  We'd say, "Finny, do you wanna see the Baby?"  And he'd stop crying, grunt "uh-huh" and come running.  He loved to point out Hayze's nose, Finn's favorite body part right now, and just poke at him, smile at him, and try to hug him.  The hugs had to be closely monitored obviously.  Finn could crush Baby Hayze.  Little Hayze is such a doll.  I'm so glad we got home this summer to meet him.  He is so sweet and happy.  He smiles so easily and rarely cries at all and put up with all 4 bigger kids wanting to see him and snuggle him really well.  Oh I miss that little guy.
We went swimming 3 or 4 times.  Here are Mya and Tate all bundled up trying to get dry and warm after a swim.
Sometimes we let Finn wander around in his swim diaper because he's just so stinkin' cute wearing almost nothing.
And I think he's happier the less he's wearing too.
Finny loves Grampa.  He had a bit of trouble warming up to Gramps at Christmas, but this time, he sure seemed to like being around him.  Grampa and Uncle Cody seem to brighten his life when they walk into the room.
It was a pretty relaxing week.  The kids played downstairs and on the tramp for hours and hours.  It was pretty funny watching Finny's little solid body try to get any air on the tramp.  Mom, Aub and I tackled an organization project.  Tate and I visited Kenzie at her work a couple of times.  She works at an ice cream place and always gave Tate tons of gummy bears so, naturally, he was in heaven.  Aub, Mom, and I got out for a girls night to dinner and a movie while Cody watched all 5 kiddos.  Thanks again for that Cody.  It was so delightful.  I really like living in Denver, but I do miss my Momma and Aubry and Kenzie.  They are awesome and I love being around them when I get to go home.  Wish we could have ladies nights once a month.
Thanks for a wonderful week, fam.  We miss ya so much already!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Cruisin'

Glenn and I wanted to get out of town alone and since Carnival has such cheap prices this year, due to several unfortunate incidents, we decided to try a cruise.  I'd only been on a 3-day cruise with my family once years ago and Glenn had never been.  He was a little skeptical but has some friends from church who love to cruise and talked him into trying it.  Seriously, there is no cheaper way to see so many different places in one short trip.  And so nice to be able to just get back on our hotel every night, to the room that we unpacked in just once, and wake up in a new place nearly every morning.  Very cool. 
My mom was able to come and watch the boys at our place while we were gone.  We were gone a very long time this time.  A whole week away and I was nervous, as always, leaving for such a long time.  I'm so lucky that my mom has been willing to watch them when we are able to get out of town.  It would be so much harder to leave them with anyone but my momma.  She is amazing and loves them like I do.  She took them to the pool almost every day and spoiled them rotten. They both cried when she left and didn't miss us much at all while we were away.  She's so wonderful!
We got very few pictures of our trip.  We were too busy relaxing to take pictures most of the time.  And do we really need pictures of us laying in chairs or on towels by pools or on beaches?  Not so much.  And that's how we spent a large majority of our time.
Here we are on the ship before we left Miami.
It was a massive ship.  There was tons to do and obviously a ridiculous amount of food available all the time.  Some was really good, some was less really good, but we did our best to make the most of the good food and hit up the gym at least once a day to compensate for all the eating and lying around time.   The shows were not great.  A little cheesy and boring so we only went to those once.  They did have movies on the deck at night and comedy shows and other things to do at night so we took advantage of the other fun stuff.  We really feel like we made the most and the best of every day on our trip.   
Our first stop was the cruise line's little private island, Half Moon Cay.  The sun was hot, the water was clear and cool, and the sand was soft and white.  It was the perfect day for just lying on the beach and we did just that.  Well, I did just that all day long.  Glenn got antsy at one point and went for a long hike past a few signs that said, "No trespassing" and such and found some cool old ruins.
The next day was a sea day as we traveled to our next island.  It was pretty windy and that made reading and getting sun on the deck a little more difficult, but we made the most of it and had a nice, relaxing day none-the-less.  During the day we found out that a tropical storm was in our path and we had to change our itinerary a bit.  We ended up going to San Juan, Puerto Rico the next day and they had to cancel the stop we planned to make at St. Thomas and told us we'd be going to Nassau the last day of our trip instead.  Bummer.  We really wanted to see St. Thomas.  Maybe next time.
San Juan was really cool.  Glenn had been there before on Ocean Classroom when he was in high school so he was excited to go again and to show me around the old city.  We got off the boat stinkin' early because Glenn didn't want to miss anything...unfortunately everything didn't open for a couple of hours so we took a little bus tour around the city, got our bearings, grabbed some pastries for breakfast and then set off to see some old forts.
That's El Morro.  The most famous of the two forts on the island.  It's in all the touristy pictures and such. 
An old graveyard beneath El Morro.  Amazing.
I think Glenn and I both liked the bigger of the two forts, San Cristobal, a little better.  There was a lot more to see and had a lot more information about how the soldiers lived in and defended the fort.  

That's our massive ship in the background.
I love old buildings.  There's something almost romantic about being in buildings that are hundreds of years old.
It was a nice morning.  Not too hot for the first couple hours but then it got muggy and gross.  We wandered around most of Old San Juan.  Saw a few churches, beautiful tiny streets and plazas.  It was a really lovely little place.  We had lunch at a place one of Glenn's friends recommended and ate a Mofongo.  It was basically mashed plantains stuffed in a big cup with yummy meat and peppers shoved in the middle.  It was delish but it didn't really look it.  Never would have ordered it without the recommendation.  So glad we did, though.  
El Morro as we drove away on the boat.  San Juan was a very cool stop.  Glad we got to see it and wouldn't mind seeing more of it again some time.
Our next day was spent in Grand Turk.  We didn't even bring the camera off the ship because we didn't want another thing to carry or to worry about it in the sand all day.  Carnival had this little section of the island all laid out with shops and manicured beaches and a pool.  We hopped on a taxi to explore a bit and find some place to shop or tour, or a less-crowded/touristy beach.  As soon as we left the little carnival compound the island got really sad really fast.  It was very poor and dirty.  We took a taxi to the center of "town" which was basically a run-down little strip mall and a couple of food shacks (where Glenn ate some fried conch...I passed on the conch and had some ice cream instead.)  We started walking down the street in search of a beach to park at for a while.  We met a lady who gave us a ride in her golf cart to a beach up the road a bit.  It was much less crowded and the water was gorgeous.  We relaxed, read books, soaked up sun and swam when it got too hot.  It was a very nice few hours, then we headed back to the cruise ship area until it was time to go.
The next day was another sea day.  The weather was MUCH better than the first sea day and we spent most of the day on the deck reading, swimming, and going down the water slide when we got too hot.  It was awesome.  So much relaxing.  Every night we had dinner in a big dining room with this newlywed couple.  The conversation was really forced and kind of like pulling teeth to get them to say anything, but the food was usually good so we kept showing up.  The chocolate melting cake was amazing.  I might have eaten it every single night.  I have no desire to know how many calories are in that little cup of chocolate goodness, but it probably wouldn't have stopped me if I did know.  It was SO good.
We spent our last day in Nassau.  We had booked a sail and snorkel tour on a catamaran for the morning.  We sailed out for an hour or so and then snorkeled for a bit and sailed back.  It was the perfect day to do an excursion like this.  It was kinda gloomy so we didn't feel like we were missing any sun by being out on an adventure.  There were tons of fish, a few really brightly colored ones.  Really glad we booked at least one little excursion and Glenn was happy to get out on a smaller boat for a bit.
He's a sailor at heart.  I think he'd live at sea if he could.  
The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the Atlantis resort.  Turns out there are very few places you can see and play in at the resort unless you wanna pay a lot of money, or are staying there, of course.  But it looked pretty amazing.  Maybe some day.  
Then we went back to the center of town and did some shopping before heading back to the ship.
We had an absolute blast.  What a great first cruise.  I think next time we will go to some different islands, but this was a great first trip.  I'm so glad we made the plunge and spent the chunk of money to get away together.  It's only going to get harder to do as the kids grow up but I hope we can make it a priority because, man, was it nice to be alone for so long and realize that we still really like each other and that we're pretty dang fun together.