Saturday, April 25, 2015

Morgan 1st Track Meet

Morgan had her first track meet this past Thursday.  Despite the fact that the calendar said it was April 23, the weather was more like a March day...windy and only in the 40's.  Not an ideal day for running a track meet.  (At least it was dry and for that, we are thankful.)  When Nolan and I got to the meet, we found Morgan and her best friend Maddie trying to stay warm before their first event.  There was quite a bit of time before she was set to run though, so we went back to the van to hide stay warm for a while.  After a few minutes, Gramie C arrived and so we went to sit in her van and visit with her until Morgan was set to run.  Then I left Nolan with Gramie and headed over to watch Morgan's first race.

Here are all of the girls getting ready for the 50 yard dash.  They would run two for the "A" team and then the "B" team would run.  For this first meet, Morgan was on the "B" team.

All lined up....
Morgan is in lane 6 wearing the blue shirt and white leggings.

And they're off!!

It was a close run all the way to the finish line, but Morgan pulled out a first place in her heat.  She was really excited since she has never run short sprints before and didn't know what to expect.  She ended up running a 7.44 time, which actually would have given her third place in the "A" team's race, but I think she was happier getting the first place in her heat than whether or not she would have scored any points for the team.  LOL

Unfortunately, as soon as her dash was over, I had to dash as well.  Gramie C was going to stay to take Morgan to Awana's after her track meet while I went to a parent meeting for the Tippecanoe Valley Aquatics Club where Marissa will be swimming this summer.  The swim meeting went well, but I missed watching Morgan run the 100 yard dash - where she also took 1st place in the "B" heat.

She has another meet this coming Monday.  I'm hoping that it's quite a bit warmer for sure!!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day Four ~ Operation "Potty Time"

Nolan and I are on day four of Operation "Potty Time".  Oh my goodness.  One of my least favorite parenting tasks of. all. time.  Seriously, for me, it is.  I remember the moment that I knew I was pregnant with Nolan.  So many thoughts rushing through my mind and one of them actually was, "Oh great!  Another baby to potty train".  And I'm not even joking!!  And then suddenly they catch on and they're wearing underwear everywhere and you ask yourself what the fuss was all about in the first place.  I'm looking so forward to that happening again in this house!!

Overall, it hasn't been too bad for Nolan so far, but each time I think we are making progress he seemingly takes two steps back.  The first two days I kept him naked all day and with the help of the kindle and a pile of books and some extra PBS, he just sat on his little potty seat most of the day and was successful numerous times.  We danced!  We cheered!  We gave treats!  (The only accident he had in those first two days came after Noel and the girls were home and I was distracted with dinner and homework and everything else that happens in the busy hours at night.)  I was excited and thought it was going more quickly than I could have imagined.

Yesterday came around and he had several accidents.  He didn't act like he even noticed!  He didn't want to sit anymore, he just wanted to play with his toys.  When Noel came home from school and it was time to eat dinner, Noel suggested that I put him in underwear for dinner, rather than a pull-up.  That time when Nolan had an accident, he started crying and trying to get his wet soggy pants off of him.

Today has been successful and then not all at the same time.  By the time I got to him this morning, he had already wet in his diaper from overnight.  He sat on the potty for a while before we took the girls to school but didn't do anything.  After we took the girls to school, we ran a few errands - two hours worth, in fact.  I tried to take him to a public restroom twice but he didn't want anything to do with it.  Amazingly, he was still dry when we got home.  (HUGE success!!)  I undressed him and he sat on his potty chair for another two hours while we played puzzles and read numerous books and even ate lunch.  Surprisingly he still did not go!  (Again, this is a success in some regards because he is proving that despite drinking three glasses of juice, he has control and can wait longer periods of time), but I am still discouraged because as soon as I put his diaper on him for his afternoon nap, he went right away in his diaper.  Little booger!!  Maybe I just need to put him to bed in his underwear and be prepared to change his sheets often!

Oh well, there's always tomorrow....and the next day....and the day after that.... and he does look really really cute in his little boxer briefs!!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Belated Easter Dinner

For the past couple of years, we have hosted the family Easter dinner / egg hunt at our house for my side of the family.  For my girls, it is one of the most anticipated family events of the year!!  When they began asking about Easter this year, we realized that Easter Sunday fell over our time away for spring break.  I started talking to my family and offered to host it again this year if they were able to wait until after we returned.  Thankfully, they all graciously agreed.

So despite the cold rain that was predicted to fall all day on Sunday, we still came together and grilled out and had another great egg hunt.  It was a bit more challenging this year since it had to be indoors and in tighter spaces, but the kids still made the best of it and took home tons of candy!!

After lunch, we took the three youngest kids downstairs while a few adults hid the eggs on the top two floors.  Each kid would hunt for 19 eggs, and it was neat to see a few of the older kids pairing up to help the youngest three find all of them.

Austin grabbed Nolan and eagerly helped him find all of his eggs.  It definitely helped that Austin had hidden many of those and knew right where to lead him.  LOL

Braden paired up with his younger brother Clayton as they went hunting.

Kenna did great looking for eggs by herself, with a few suggestions from others on occasion.

Nolan knows the routine.  He was ready to start opening them up to see what goodies were inside...

After the youngest three were finished, I took all of the other kids outside on the covered porch to give the adults time to hide the rest of the eggs.  Since there were more older kids, the eggs were hidden on all three levels of the house and stuck in all sorts of drawers and nooks and crannies.  (Only the master bedroom and bath were off limits.)  With 19 eggs a piece, it takes a while to get all of them hidden so the kids had plenty of time to goof off while they were waiting.

Some even tried to do a little peeking to help out their cause...

Finally Uncle Noel peeked out to give a few ground rules and then they were off!!

Bad thing for the kids, adults tend to hide eggs in high up places....

....or dangerous hard to reach areas!

It took a while to locate all of them and a few of the adults had to get together to talk about where they hid their eggs to make sure that they had all been found...but everyone did end up finding all 19 of their eggs and then the candy eating could really begin!

After the egg hunt was complete, the kids all just seemed to scatter as they played games together downstairs or tossed footballs around.  A couple of the girls asked if they could use my make-up and put together a fashion show of sorts.  I agreed -- but maybe next time I should be more cautious!!  Thankfully it's going to be a few years before Laynie starts leaving the house with make-up on.  She just may need a few pointers!!  (Even Nolan pointed at her and started laughing when he saw her if that tells you anything!!)

Happy Belated Easter!!

Awana's Boxcar Derby

The girls' Awana group hosted it's annual boxcar derby last Friday night.  We had all anxiously awaited this night for several weeks and they were so excited to finally see how their cars did.  Melayna's age group picks out a matchbox car and races those rather than design their own wooden car.  Melayna won first place in speed this year with her matchbox car and she was really excited about that.

The older two girls designed and raced wooden cars.  This year they each looked online to find their own designs.  Noel cut them out of course, but then the girls painted them and finished them up.  I was really impressed with their creativity this year and how well they turned out.

Morgan chose the pencil design and Marissa designed her own shoe.  They were both hoping to win an award for design, but neither of them did this year.

Nolan was pretty bored and restless at the beginning, but once they started racing the cars, he quickly settled in to watch.  I think he decided that he wants to give it a try really soon! 

Morgan and Marissa ended up having to compete against each other for the third place award for speed.  It was a pretty intense moment, as you can see...

Morgan ended up winning the third place trophy and you could see the disappointment on Marissa's face but she still hugged Morgan and congratulated her, which made me proud of her.  (I knew how badly they both wanted to win a trophy so there was certainly mixed feelings involved knowing that only one was going to have their wish granted)

All three girls after the event.
They are all winners in this mama's book!

Monday, April 20, 2015

It's Potty Time!!

I pulled the potty chairs out a few months ago.  We set them out in the bathrooms so that Nolan could see them and get use to them.  He sat on them with his clothes on from time to time; even brought a few books into the bathroom with him at times.  But he didn't ever want to sit very long - and with the holidays approaching, I didn't push it.

Then Nolan turned two the first week of January.  The holidays were over and the girls were back in school.  Seemed like a great time to try potty-training.  But then we got buried (literally) in snow days and inconsistent schedules.  Then Nolan got sick.  Then I got sick.  Then finally, the last week of January, I pulled the potty seat out to the living room and thought we would give it a go.  Nolan took one look at the seat and yelled "NO POTTY" and quickly carried it right back into the bathroom.  Okay, with that kind of attitude, I wasn't thinking we would have much success.  I decided to wait another couple of weeks and try again.

Along comes the end of February.  Once again I try to attempt it.  In fact, we had a good day or two under our belts before sickness hit our house again and I had a couple of girls under the weather and laying around on the couches for several days.  There were a few other things that came up in our church that needed my attention... extra babysitting, extra errands.  And when I looked at the calendar and realized that spring break was coming up with it's 12+ hours of driving each way - did I really want to potty train this young one and then stop to take a potty break every hour (or less?)

Well, like it or not...spring break is over.  Our schedule during the day is the most relaxed that it's been in a while and it's just time.  So we started today.  I am arming myself with a lot of books, puzzles, coloring books, plenty of new "big boy" underwear, lots of juice, lots of cleaning supplies and as much extra patience as I can come up with and we're just going to hit it hard this week.

I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Happy Birthday!!

Happy Birthday to my Man!
I love you and you're still the one I want to grow old with!!

Here's to many many more!!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

One Last Story ~ From Val's Point of View

This is a copy of a post that Miss Val put on her facebook page this morning about the morning Nolan took us all by surprise:

 "I cannot resist this story......While George's nephew and family were visiting, Uncle George arrived each morning bearing donuts, which the kids just loved (adults too)! On Monday morning, Angie Mikel Howett had a Pepsi at the table. Nolan tried to get that Pepsi, but Mommy was quick in removing it from his reach and sent him on his way. Well, Nolan played his cards right and eventually climbed up on the chair at my counter (while we were all talking and not paying attention). And he quietly helped himself to Uncle George's soda. No one noticed, but eventually Uncle George did! Well Nolan finished off that drink! Luckily it was only about 1/4 full at the time. One 2 year old who loves Pepsi!"

Spring Break Getaway - Part III Cont.

I am a plan maker.  I like to have plans.  And I prefer when things go according to those plans.

Since the forecasters were calling for higher temps on Tuesday with thunderstorms, our plan, we decided, was to use that day to tour the museums.  Because of going through security in every building, we decided to pack as lightly as we could that day.  We didn't bring a stroller so Nolan could walk around with us (or be carried) and I decided that since we would be inside much of the day, I would just use my iPod for pictures.  It would be much easier to just keep in my pocket rather than carrying the heavier camera.  (That's why so many of the previous posts' pictures are really low quality).

Our plan for Wednesday was to do the monument tour.  Although it was suppose to be cooler, the chance for scattered showers was only 10% and so we figured it would be a comfortably cool day to walk.  Our friends told us that it could be anywhere from three to eight hours, depending on how many of the monuments we included and how much we stopped to take pictures and things.  Since Nolan obviously needed a nap and was too little to walk several miles, we brought a stroller for him, and I threw my large camera into the backpack.  We would pack lunches again and just have a great day.

And then we woke up to rain.  Cold rain.  The radar showed that it should be gone by the time we arrived in D.C. so we grabbed sweatshirts and the few things we had packed for the day and we headed off.  We decided that since we also wanted to visit Arlington Cemetery, we would just take the metro there that morning and then after we were done there, we'd take the metro back over to the other monuments.  Again, seemed like the perfect plan.  

Until... we came up out of the metro station and discovered that it was misting and about 41 degrees.  The wind was also blowing making it downright chilly on our walk to the cemetery.  Then, as we went through the visitor center and found out where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was and headed off, I pulled out my camera (so proud that I had actually remembered to charge the battery) and tried to take a couple of pictures.  Nothing. Happened.  Unfortunately, the battery was still back at the house (two hours away) sitting on the battery charger.  I was so disappointed.  With the iPod in the van, I now had nothing to take pictures with, but what could we do?  So, I just smiled and said "Hey, we'll just have to remember all of this in our minds only this time"  and I think some of the girls were relieved that they would no longer have to do some posing in front of all of the monuments.  LOL  (So, as a disclaimer, all of the pictures that you see on this post are just free advertising pictures that I pulled off of the internet.  Although we saw everything just like these pictures show - I cannot take credit for the quality).

Found this picture of the metro station online.  The architecture in these stations were amazing!

As we toured Arlington, I couldn't believe the rows and rows of graves there.  It was so quiet and orderly.  I can only imagine the amount of maintenance that must happen there to keep everything looking so amazing.  Unfortunately, we were all so cold so we just walked directly to the tomb of the unknown soldier and hoped that we got there in time to see the Changing of the Guards ceremony that happens every half hour during the spring and summer months.

As we came up to the Tomb, a hush fell over the crowd.  No one spoke.  We all just stood and tried to take in what was about to happen.  Even Nolan seemed to know that he was suppose to be quiet and he didn't hardly make a peep the entire time we were there.  We did have to wait about 15 minutes for the next Changing of the Guard but I thought it was still neat to see one lone soldier walking back and forth in front of the tomb as he guarded it.  (If you aren't familiar with the cemetery, soldiers stand guard over this tomb 24 hours a day, no matter the weather...and the soldiers have to go through a very intense selection process in order to be put on this detail.  It's a very well regarded position and those soldiers have to sign a contract promising a higher standard of conduct than other soldiers, which I didn't know about).  Finally, after much display of formality and "show", another soldier came up and the changing ceremony began.  I have to admit that it was hard to watch this whole exchange without getting a little choked up and teary eyed.  Amazing!

When we went to leave Arlington, Nolan waved to the soldier and quietly said "bye guy".  And then we walked away as we hurried back to the main entrance and the nearby metro station.  There was so much more there that I would have liked to see, but we could tell the kids were freezing and we didn't want them to end up hating this day because "Mom and Dad dragged them around in the freezing rain all day".  We got back on the warm metro and headed over to the monuments.  Since it was windy and chilly and I wasn't worried about getting all of the "perfect" family pictures, we ended up finishing the tour in about three hours.  (There are actually two ovals that go around the monument lawn.  An inside track covers four or five of the monuments and then you can take a larger track around and go to the White House, the Capital building, and a few other monuments on the outside.  If the weather had been warmer, I would have suggested doing that, but since we had young ones with us and they had some really cold hands and faces, we decided to be flexible with our plans and just do the smaller track.  We still got to walk around the Washington Monument (which now allows visitors to go up inside again), and the new World War Monument with the fountains.  We walked near the reflecting pool, which was recently drained for repairs, and then up through the Korean and  Vietnam Memorials along with the Lincoln Monument.  There were a lot of older Veterans being escorted around, many in wheelchairs.  Most of them were led by current members of the armed forces and it was neat to see the mutual respect that they all naturally showed towards one another.  That unspoken language, that special bond that they experience.  That brotherhood that cannot be explained.  As we visited the  monuments, we tried to explain to the girls that many of these soldiers were only 18 or 19 years of age when they were called upon to fight for our country.  Many of them needing to do things that they didn't want to do and then come back home to families and pretend that everything was okay.  Just as it use to be.  I really have such a respect for the members of our military - past and present - and walking through these monuments was definitely a highlight for me!

I didn't take this picture, but this is what the Lincoln Monument looks like as you come in front of it.  One of my favorites... it's absolutely gorgeous!

And then once you arrive at the top you see the statue of Lincoln along with the words to a few of his speeches inscribed on the walls around him.

As we turned to leave the Lincoln Monument, we could see the Washington Monument off in the distance, with the very empty reflecting pool directly in front of us.  (I guess the government heard that I wanted to swim in the reflecting pool and took decisive action again it before I had the chance!!  LOL)  We were a little confused by the timing of the repairs to the pool since the Cherry Blossom festival was taking place the very next week and tourist season is about to go in full swing.  I'm sure it's a much prettier site with the water.

"Freedom is Not Free" was inscribed on the wall at the Korean War Memorial.

And then the very long Vietnam Wall.
Such a somber experience to see rows and rows and rows of name....

I think we finished our tour in record time and headed back to the closest metro station and then headed back home to the "B" house.  It was still pretty chilly outside but the drizzle had stopped so the kids ate dinner and then joined the others outside for a game of flashlight tag in the dark and a snack before bed.  Originally we had planned to spend three days in D,C. but since it was a longer trek back and forth than we originally thought and the kids were anxious to just stay put and play, we decided to stick around the house on Thursday and let the kids just play together and enjoy some time away from the van for a while.  A lot of fun was had by all as the kids played and the adults talked and laughed.  We had such a good visit.  Thank you Mr Ryan and Miss Jenny for opening up your home to us.  Please come see us at our place some day!!

On Friday morning it was time to head home.  We decided to drive six or seven hours that day before stopping at a hotel where the kids could swim and then finish strong on Saturday morning.  Much of Friday and Saturday morning looked something like this....

Oh!  What memories we made!!  What a good time we had as a family!!  But no matter how much fun we always have on vacation, there is nothing better than finally getting back home!!  Nolan had asked to go to "Nowan's house" numerous times through out the week and I truly think he was squealing with delight when he finally recognized that we were just miles from home.  As we pulled into the bottom of the driveway, he started kicking his legs and saying "Nowan's house.... Nowan's house!"

Yes, Nolan.  My thoughts exactly!!