Friday, August 29, 2014

Swim Lessons: 2014

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This year the boys did two weeks of swim lessons again...the first two weeks of June. I feel like we've had a rather mild summer and the beginning of June was just warm...definitely not hot. So we had a few chilly days at swim lessons, but the boys both were troopers. And this year, Logan's lesson was first...

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This was a big year for him in terms of progress. Here he is practicing his "monster arms" (freestyle stroke). 

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He successfully grabbed a toy off the bottom of the pool by himself. Mrs. Stacy celebrated with him.

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This year, he wanted to wear his goggles almost all of the time, which definitely helped him concentrate on the actual swimming. But, he also does really well without them too.

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And of course, while little brother is in his lesson, Ethan swam. It's nice that I didn't have to get in with him because like I said...it was chilly!

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He jumped to his heart's content. So much that I had to tell him to save some energy for his swim lesson. 

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Although there's very little down-time in the class with just three students, Logan would always come over and talk to Ethan and hang on the hand rail.

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I mentioned that this was a big year for Logan...he worked on coming up for a breath...

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...and then going back down to swim.

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And before the two weeks was up, he was swimming on his own! It just clicked for him and he was so proud. We were too. I had a feeling that this would be the year because this was the age that the same happened for Ethan and he just took off. 

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The last part of class is always jumping. Both of my boys love it and look forward to it. 

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A big thumbs up was Logan's rating of his swim lessons this year. I love that he enjoys it and loves to swim.

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After his lessons, sometimes Logan would swim like Ethan did during his lessons, but sometimes he was too cold and just wanted to wrap up in a towel. Then, the sun was too bright so I loaned him my sunglasses since I was taking photos anyway. That, coupled with his lollipop from Mrs. Stacy and he was a happy boy again. 

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Time for Ethan's lesson. Obviously, he knows how to swim. But, his stroke is not refined, although it gets him from point A to point B. He is continuing to take lessons to fine-tune his strokes as well as learn new ones. 

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For this age, Mrs. Stacy will often show the kids how to do the stroke. That's what they are looking at off-camera. 

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Mrs. Stacy's assistant is working with Ethan on making his free-style stroke more pretty and efficient for him. 

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He actually did quite well with it after some practice. It's hard to change the way you've been swimming. 

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He worked on keeping his head down a little more than he is used to as well as the side-breathing that's done with free-style swimming. 

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Then they worked on back stroke (he loves pushing off the wall to start this one), and learned how to do the butterfly (hilarious). Ethan's best/natural stroke is still breast stroke and they worked with him on that one too. 

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Putting on his flippers...

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Ethan worked on some harder strokes this year and really made some improvement in his swimming. He loves lessons too...I am so glad. And I was glad to have our swim lessons out of the way at the very beginning of the summer so we could enjoy the things they had learned for the rest of the summer. 

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Cardboard Castle

At least a year ago, a really thoughtful friend of my mom's gave us this cardboard castle for the boys. I had it tucked away for a rainy day...literally. I wanted to wait until I really needed something to keep them occupied. Then, in early June, when we'd had some rain and weren't able to play outside, I decided it was time.

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Ever since we moved into the new house in March and the boys saw the box again, they have been asking when they could color their cardboard castle. They were so excited when I took it out of the box that day. Thank goodness it only took a few minutes to assemble because they had the crayon box out and were ready to attack it. 

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Here's a shot of some of the detail work. You can guess which one of them colored the flames and which one colored the holder. Ethan usually hates it when Logan "scribble-scrabbles," as he calls it. But miraculously, on this day, he didn't say a word about it. Maybe he was too busy with his own coloring plans to care. 

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They were both into it and just the coloring part alone occupied them for a long while. 

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Then they just wanted to play inside/with the castle. Logan was dressed as a pirate that day. Not unusual, but we also have a knight costume that would have been more fitting. 

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When I came upstairs to check on them later, I noticed that Ethan had written their names in the banners on each side of the castle. 

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For the entire rest of the day (no joke), they played and played and played with that castle. They even colored on it some more in the days to come. 

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We kept it up for a while for them to play with. I just recently took it down and put it away for another rainy day. Something tells me that if I wait a little while, pulling it out again could be just as fun as it was the first time. The combination of art/craft and pretend play is not only great for kids, but great for mom because it kept them occupied all day!

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Cedar Creek Lake and High School Friends

Near the beginning of June, a couple of my friends and I got together with our families at Cedar Creek Lake. My friend Christina has a lake house there...or her parents do. They were gracious enough to allow us to bombard the place for a whole day with all 8 of our children.

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I love these ladies....Mary and Christina. I love that they have known me a long time (since we were 14/15) and knew me before I met Casey or had kids...we were in high school together. I love that we make the effort to get together about once a year to catch up. 

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Here's the lovely house as seen from the boat dock. You can also see how low the lake is right now...as is the plight of ALL Texas lakes. As if out of character, we actually experienced a lot of rain that day. See how it's overcast and cloudy?

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And here is our crazy crew...minus the two babies who were up at the house. Notice how they're all boys? Yep, there's just one girl among all of them...Christina's daughter. 

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Christina and her parents had set up a slip n' slide for the kids at the house, which was super fun because they have quite a nice slope to the back yard. The kids played on that for a while as the adults decided we should try to get out on the boat just in case it rained the rest of the day. 

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That first boat ride was pleasantly cool as the gathering storm clouds completely blocked out any sun. The kids didn't mind, though. Most of the time we could find them up in the front asking Jonathan (Christina's husband) to drive faster!

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Jonathan was even kind enough to let Logan drive for a little while. 

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We kept a watch on the clouds and when it started to sprinkle, we took that as our cue to head back in to the house. Luckily, it was about time for lunch anyway so we fired up the grill and ate...all while a big storm rolled through. It poured rain and even blew it in sideways onto the deck. We were all so glad to see the rain, though, knowing our current drought situation. 

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After the storm passed, the clouds miraculously parted and the sun came out. It didn't rain again all day. So we got to enjoy the best of both worlds...a big, awesome rain storm, and a nice, sunny day for being on the lake. Jonathan got out his fishing gear and patiently showed the boys how to toss the line out. 

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Then the jet ski was set loose and everyone (that wanted to...not me) took a turn zipping around the lake. Casey took each of our boys separately. 

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He said that he went at top speed the whole time with both boys and that they totally loved it.

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While waiting his turn, Logan attempted fishing...I was really afraid he was going to drop the whole thing in the water, but he didn't. 

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This is the view of the lake and boat house from the deck of the house. Isn't it crazy how the day cleared up and the sun is so bright? But you can still see the wet deck from all the rain a few minutes before. 

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Since the rain was long gone, we got out on the boat again and tried tubing this time. Of course, it was a big hit. 

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After a good long while out on the boat again, we came back to the house and swam in the lake off the dock. 

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Ethan will find any place to jump into water. 

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This was such a fun, relaxing day to spend with our families and good friends. Thanks to Christina for giving us a place to gather for the whole day. It's a treat to get to spend this much time together.

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