Saturdays

Saturdays for me and Little H look a lot like this…

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…while the big kids and Daddy spend their Saturdays like this.

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JDubbs is coaching both the big kids in t-ball, the reason why we held Jax back to play t-ball one more year rather than go on to coach pitch.  We wanted one year where both Jax and Em were on the same team with Daddy coaching them, in case Em didn’t take very well to baseball.  So far they’ve both been pretty good about it, and I hope they continue on, but if not we always have memories of this year!  Em is always trying her best and Jax does his best to boss everyone around, even kids on the other team!

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They both have the potential to be good enough to play, at least for fun, and I’m glad we will have these memories to start them on their baseball career.  Not all kids enjoy the slower pace of baseball, but playing is in their blood, on both sides.  I think with Daddy there to guide them and Little H and I there to cheer them on, they will continue on long enough to experience all the fun and camaraderie being on a team and baseball/softball has to offer.  There are too many fabulous memories for both JDubbs and me to look back on to hope that our kids don’t at least give baseball a try!  So far, so good!

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I could get used to Saturdays like this.

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Both my big kids have had a great start, thanks to their Dad!  He has had lots of patience and given up his weekend mornings to encourage them and help them feel successful and proud!

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They make quite a team!

 

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Outside!

I could lament how inadequate this winter was, how short the ski season turned out to be and how we only made one snowman and went sledding as a family one time!  But when we are outside without jackets on, soaking up the sunshine, knee-deep in mud season, hanging out with JDubbs while he turns tree sap into homemade maple syrup, I find it hard to feel bad about anything.

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The day after Little H’s birthday party mud season was in full effect, with temperatures in the 50’s and the kids rocking their boots and sweatpants, light jackets on or none at all!  We played baseball in the side yard–in March!!–brought out the little playhouse, and generally relished the feeling of the sun on our faces.

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I can’t lament the sunshine, or not having a single snow day, or how our summer is going to begin the second week of June!  I can’t regret the months ahead of more time outside, less idle time inside, more fresh air and less TV.  With Little H turning three, they can all go out and play in the yard together, and although mud season can be awfully messy, I will take it!

Happy Spring!

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Daddy’s Girl

As I said when I described our trip to Maine last week, Little H was not very fond of the water.  While she was dipping her toes in for the very first time, Jax came running toward her full force shrieking his head off, and after that she has held true to her constant explanation, “I don’t like waves.”  Even to cool down a little or during low tide, she wanted nothing to do with the ocean and preferred a bird’s eye view to her feet in the sand.  I think it had something to do with the company.

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Half the magic of vacation was Little H’s refrain, “Dada no go work today?” with a big old smile on her face.  No work, more time to spend on his big strong shoulders, her favorite place to be.

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I’d like to say she warmed up to the water over the course of the week, but that didn’t happen of course!  When Daddy sets a precedent like this, why would she?

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One of my favorite duos to photograph, at home or away: Daddy and his kiddos, but especially his baby girl.  These two melt my heart, but mostly because I can tell she has him wrapped around her little finger.

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Love those big strong shoulders and sandy toes!

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Camping With Kids, Take One

For Father’s Day this year, JDubbs decided he wanted to break with tradition and instead of spending the weekend at home with his family, he wanted to take our little party of five on an entirely new adventure and start a tradition of our own: he wanted to take the kids camping.  JDubbs grew up camping and the idea of the five of us in one tent, the security blanket of bedtimes and schedules out the window, sounded exactly like the kind of weekend he wanted.  I, on the other hand, was less sure, grasping at any and all vestiges of normalcy.  “Should we bring books?” I asked him.  “What about toys?”  He looked at me like I was officially out of of my mind and reminded me that that is what sticks are for. Trying hard to focus on the potential for magic and not so much mischief, I simply packed the kids’ clothes and let JDubbs do the rest.  All we needed was a place to sleep, he pointed out to me.  The rest we could improvise if need be.

Improvisation is not generally how I roll.  Have you seen my chore chart?  I generally enjoy things neat and organized.  This weekend was going to be an experiment in many things, one of which was parenting-on-the-fly.  I took a deep breath and trusted in my husband, and perhaps a little in God, that all would be well.

I have only been camping in a tent twice in my life, both with JDubbs when we were in our twenties, when there was more emphasis on beer than babies.  But those experiences left me with a great impression of JDubbs’s ability to come prepared and be responsible, so while he and the kids unpacked the van, I basically stayed out of the way and let the master do his thing.  I did mine–I took photos.

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It has been long established that setting up camp is not in my particular skill set.  I would be more successful teaching a bear to read than to pitch a tent.  But JDubbs had three very eager helpers, and before long, we had shelter, and the kids were wholeheartedly proud and impressed.

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My next job was to keep the kids out of the way while JDubbs set up the food/grill/campfire.  They were content to stay inside the tent, although preventing them from popping one of our air mattresses–which I had laboriously blown up in the nearest bathroom and somehow managed to carry back to camp–wasn’t exactly easy with three little monkeys jumping on the beds!

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The kids were barely through dinner before they were begging for dessert.  Of course we obliged.  Camping isn’t camping without having to cut the marshmallow out of your daughter’s hair with a leatherman!

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Then it was off to bed for Little H, with the big kids staying up until it was dark to sit by the fire with us.  Jax excused himself and went into the tent to read for a while, but Em was our little buddy and hung out chatting by the fire with just me and JDubbs until bed.  It’s so amazing what you can learn about what’s inside your child’s head when you have nothing else to do but just be there and listen.

After a decent night’s sleep, it was breakfast in red Solo cups while wearing fuzzy bathrobes…

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…and then a hike to a nearby waterfall.  The kids were really excited about the adventure, and super good troopers about the trek!  We hadn’t brought the stroller with us and it never would have made it down the trail anyway, so JDubbs and I took turns carrying Little H (when she’d let us) and keeping clumsy Em from breaking her neck.

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Afterward we had naps all around, a bit of ice cream and some quiet time…

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…before heading to the river for some cool fun, which mostly revolved around finding interesting rocks and throwing sticks.

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The big kids eventually brought their favorite sticks back to the campsite and used them as wands to cast Harry Potter spells on each other.  Our neighbors could hear shrieks of “Wingardium Leviosa!” and “Petrificus Totalus!” as Jax and Em ran around trying to make each other fly and hexing each other with the full-body bind all afternoon.  Looks like JDubbs was right; apparently toys are overrated.

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Back at the campsite, the kids got a little antsy waiting for dinner.  I broke out the emergency markers I keep in my diaper bag for restaurant distraction, and was hilariously surprised to see the kids set up what was basically their own tattoo parlor!  I guess since everyone on my side of the family has at least one (if not four or five), it’s not too surprising that the kids were ready for some ink of their own.

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The forecast called for rain so before the sun set JDubbs and I basically broke down everything extraneous that night and packed it back into the van.  By morning all that was left was our tent and the people and gear inside.  One thing that we kept out, however, were the necessary accouterments for snipe hunting!  That is one tradition JDubbs would never forget!

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Don’t know what a snipe hunt is?  Look here–I can’t remember if I fell for this the first time JDubbs and I went camping, but I think there is a high likelihood I did!

Well, JDubbs, as I often say, you were right.  Camping was a really great escape for our family, a chance to unplug and reconnect, to spend quiet moments listening and loud moments laughing and living life.  I hope this becomes a new tradition for our family!  You deserve only the best and happiest memories for Father’s Day!

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We love you!

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It’s Game Time!

Okay, enough practicing.  It’s game time!

Em’s ballet conflicted with t-ball so I didn’t make it to all Jax’s games, but the ones I did were so priceless I can’t wait for next year when Em can play, too!  Jax was very excited and passionate about being on the team, and I know that a lot of that had to do with his excellent coach, who did such a great job teaching them the foundation and love of baseball while still having lots of fun.

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My favorite part was watching Jax at first base, trying so valiantly to do what he knew he was supposed to do, even if his body may not have the coordination to keep up with his brain yet.  He’s got time, and meanwhile, watching his eager and overzealous effort was delightful.

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Of course, there’s nothing cuter than little guys wearing gigantic batting helmets.  Unless it’s a little guy wearing a gigantic batting helmet with his shirt tucked in “just so” (by Dad) to his regulation gray baseball pants, cinched right above his very first pair of cleats.  My heart explodes just a little looking at him.

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He has a good little swing and loves running the bases!  He is (not surprisingly) a bit of an aggressive base runner, so he often tries to stretch a single into a double…even if there is a kid still on second base.  Like I said, he’ll get there.

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Add to all that the joy of being on a team, rooting for one another and learning to be a good sport, these Saturdays in spring were some of my favorite parenting days yet!

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Go Lions!

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Paradise

Becky, where have you been?  The blog has seemed a bit…empty.  Well, there’s a good reason I haven’t been around, and it especially has to do with the fact that I left my computer and big camera at home as I traveled a couple thousand miles away with JDubbs and a group of core girlfriends that I’ve had the pleasure to know for the last three decades.  Basically, we stole a few days in paradise, also known as the beautiful island of Puerto Rico.

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We spent an evening in Old San Juan and had lots of yummy food, made some great memories and a bit of mischievous fun.

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The days were spent soaking up the sunshine, swaying in hammocks or floating in a pool with music playing, drinks flowing, and such great company.

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And then, the main event.  The amazing, wondrous, remarkably memorable wedding of our dear friends Jess and Ryan.  To say the bride was beautiful, the groom so happy, the guests thrilled, and the setting spectacular would be understatements.

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We were so happy for our friends, and so happy we were able to celebrate with them on that special day, in such an incredible setting!

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And with a surprise visit from a live band, some Moscow Mules and a little bit of Dirty Dancing, it was a night, a weekend, and a trip we will all never forget!

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Here’s to paradise!

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Daddy’s Kind Of Craft

A week or two ago JDubbs came home from Home Depot with one of those elaborate jack-o-lantern kits that make your pumpkin look like one of your kids’ favorite characters or a really intricate Halloween scene.  I gave it one glance and decided I wanted nothing to do with that.  I figured he bought it, he could get elbow-deep in a pumpkin and then meticulously cut away at minute details of Elsa and Anna’s eyebrows.  So one evening, he and the big kids gave it a shot, while Mommy looked on from a safe distance from the pumpkin guts.

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Both kids were really brave about sticking their hands in the pumpkin, but I did especially love Em’s slightly squeamish expressions.

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Jax and JDubbs do a lot of things together, but I do love the bond that exists between JDubbs and Em.  She is a very girly four-year-old, but often she is the one who volunteers to help Daddy out with his projects, like boiling syrup and in this case, carving pumpkins.

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But after a while even she got tired of the process and abandoned JDubbs to his drudgery.  It took forever!  At one point I went into the kitchen and asked JDubbs how it was going.

Tedious,” he replied.

Yeah,” I said.  “I was surprised you wanted to do that.”

“Hey, leave me alone,”  he said with an air of self-righteous defensiveness.  “I’m doing a craft.”

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You sure did, babe!  Not everyone has the tenacity to stick with a project like that.  Well done!  Em loves her Cinderella jack-o-lantern!

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