My Little Fish 2013

As we did last year, we did survival swim classes for the kids. Survival in that it's supposed to help the kids get out of sticky situations in the pool. But really it means a test of Mommy Survival - 4 days a week for 4 week bootcamp of sorts. At any rate, it's a top notch program and I was so impressed with how much they learned this year. 

Last year was a whole lotta crying and working on floating. This year, we only had 2 days of crying (one of which involved me chasing my son up the stairs when he heard the word "swim lessons") and the rest was happy, happy, happy. (Yes, I've been saying that a lot - too much Duck Dynasty on my DVR). 

At any rate, they progressed to almost actual swimming this year - very cool to see. Quinn is definitely a little fish and pushes herself so hard in each lesson. Ryan is a little more chill about his kicking but would get out of the pool each day with a big grin on his face.

They only let you take small snippets of video so here are a few... note: part of the training is for the kids to swim a bit, then know to roll over and float to rest and regain energy to swim for the side again. Q did not care for the floating aspect and rarely made it to the 5 count. She just wanted to swim the length and never come up for air. Something about this doesn't shock me. Ryan was usually more than happy to flip over and rest. No surprise there either.

Anyway, here are the videos and a few pictures from their last day. Another note: I am actually insanely jealous of my son's golden tan. Clearly he didn't inherit his parents' tanning genes - or lack thereof. Must have gotten the grandmas' ability to brown after being in the sun for 2 hours. Second note: Q will only let me put her hair in a pony tail for swim lessons. I wish so much she would let me do it other days - she looks so girly and grown up - it just makes me happy :)

I didn't even prompt them to hug - they just did it. Most days they love each other and it makes my heart so happy to see their bond. Soooo sweet.

Waiting patiently for their turn. Yes, Q insisted on her pink toms prior to the lessons.

Let me in! And are those thigh/calf muscles I see? Time to get that girl into soccer & gymnastics!

Our turn!

See that tan!!!! Lucky boy! Q has had just as much sunscreen and time in the sun, but she got a little of Matt and I's "powder" gene :)

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Five on Friday

Another Friday brain dump. Short bursts of thought right now is about all I can handle.

<1>  Summer colds. We all (minus Matt of course because he is super human and never gets sick) have summer colds. I was hanging strong until Ryan sneezed in my face approximately 867 times the other day and now I have succumbed. Seriously is there anything worse than not being able to breathe when it's 105 degrees out? I submit not. It's also been a little bit of a bummer because I had all sorts of fun stuff planned for the kids this week - several play/swim dates and back-to-school shopping (ok, that was more for me), but we've pretty much canceled everything. Hopefully they are on the mend today - whoo boy, cranky! This was them yesterday sharing a seat and a banana. Wonder why we all get sick at the same time???

<2> Make up. Yesterday Q decided not to take a nap. Even though she desperately, I mean DESPERATELY, needed one. So did I. At any rate, she stayed up with me and played play doh and puzzles, with the occasional tantrum thrown in. When I went to wake Ryan up from his THREE HOUR nap (for real - y'all can't do that on the same day???), Q apparently abandoned her crafts and tip toed to my bathroom. When I came downstairs and heard quiet, I assumed she had gone to use the potty in my room (she's particular some days). When she still didn't emerge for 5 minutes, I went looking. Someone found Mommy's lipstick and used approximately an entire tube to spread all along her face, eyes, hands, hair, everything. I just stood there for a moment taking it all in. Then I told her whatever she did, DO.NOT.MOVE.OR.TOUCH.ANYTHING. and ran for my camera. 
She did NOT want to have this particular moment documented but I couldn't help myself. hahaha. (What was less funny later was trying to get the lipstick out of her eyes)

Her attempt to hide when she knew she was in trouble.

<3> Back to school. Definitely getting more real now. We got "the call" on the kids' class placement and who their teacher is. I was sad to discover that they broke up a lot of their 2's class (mostly because I had really started to become good friends with several of the moms in there), but they do have their closest friend with them so we are thrilled about that. I actually call them the triplets, all blonde, small, and sweet --- I watched A once a week this past spring so our kids have spent a lot of time together. And then came the shocker (clearly I need to pay more attention) that they no longer break up the kids by "young" and "old" classifications. Which means my tiny ones will be in a class where 4 of the kids will turn FOUR early this fall. OMG. I was a little freaked out until I heard the rest of the class won't turn until late spring 2014 and there are still 2 kids younger than R&Q in the class. June birthdays are just hard! Especially if you are already on the petite side. Anyway, we are looking forward to a great year - one more month! Must get well so we can get in the rest of our fun summer activities.

<4> Lisa & family come to visit. This past weekend we went to Galveston to meet up with my great friend from Dallas. Such fun for all of our families to be together - and the kids are at an age where they can really play together. Her older girls were so sweet with the twins and carried them around everywhere :) We stayed the night with them after a full day at the beach and then came back the next afternoon. Just great to get away for a little while. Then on their way back to Dallas, they stayed with us Monday night and I discovered 2 things: 1. I can cook breakfast and dinner for 10 people, 5 of them children, and have all enjoy it : ) 2. You can totally fit 6 extra people in this house - just takes a little creativity and flexibility. So fun to have them here. Hoping Lis took more pictures than I did, because I have very few. I'll hopefully get them and upload next week. Thanks D family for an awesome time --- we love you guys!

<5> Explaining new clothes purchases. If you are a friend on facebook, then you've probably already seen this post but it's worth mentioning it again:

Me: Dang it, Quinn. You need to learn the art of how mommy explains new clothing/shoes purchase. Daddy got home & she immediately ran to him to show off her NEW (she screamed "NEW SHOES, DADDY, NEW SHOES!) sparkly Toms. I've learned after 10 years to say "What? Oh, these? I've had them in my closet forever. And I got them on sale. For like $20."

Quinn stinks at keeping a secret. Or at least delaying until Mommy can explain said purchase. And truly I could --- they were part of the big Zulily sale and I saved SO much. SO SO much. The biggest problem about Zulily though is their wait time before shipping. I had almost forgot about those dang shoes. And of course they showed up the day after a Nordstroms box arrived for me. So I'm pretty sure the husband just thinks I sit at home with the kids all day and shop online. Fantastic. 

And pretty sure that order had 2 pairs of Toms in it - the other pair should arrive soon. Time to play stalk the UPS guy to grab the package before ummmm hummmm...someone else does.

Happy Friday!

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Mom In Charge: Tips for a Great Family Vacation

So this is a first for me. I've never really let anyone guest post on this little space of mine. Mainly because it's sort of our family scrapbook and my attempt to record memories, the good, the bad, the funny, and the ugly.

However, when Kendra Thornton contacted me about sharing tips for having a great family vacation, I thought it would be something y'all would enjoy --- especially those with young children. And perfect timing as people plan their last vacay of the summer before the season is officially over. Kendra is a thirty-something mother of three who resides in Chicago. She is also the former Director of Communications at Orbitz - so she's been able to travel a great deal - 28 countries on 6 continents, wow! 

So I'd say she probably knows a bit about traveling. Here are her awesome tips for a great and stress-free family vacation. Thanks for sharing, Kendra! And if we ever make it to Chicago - someplace I've never been but always wanted to go - I'll be in touch :)

A vacation is the ideal way to rest, relax and bond with your loved ones. It's a wonderful way to spend time together, but little hiccups along the way can become cumbersome. Even though it may be late in the season, a little planning ahead can make for a fun and memorable experience for the whole family.

Tip #1: Lists
To-do lists and packing lists can be a lifesaver. Write down everything that needs to be packed for each family member and check it off as it's packed. If written lists aren’t typically your thing, try out an app for your mobile device like Packing Pro, which lets you create the list right on the device. Don't forget to include activities for the car or the plane. Also, remember things that need to be taken care of at home, like hiring a pet sitter.

Tip #2: Choosing Your Accommodations
Select hotels and resorts that cater to families with children. Many have child-friendly activities, like horseback riding and crafts. Some even have indoor waterparks, or a waterpark nearby. I always take this all into consideration. Last year while traveling to Florida, I used Gogobot to find a list of some of the top ranking Orlando hotels that were also very family friendly. Once you've narrowed down the options, bring in the kids. Having a voice can help them get more excited. If you have younger kids, consider places with babysitting services, giving the kids the chance to socialize, go to the pool, watch TV and play games while you and the hubby get the evening to yourselves.

Tip #3: Play The Destination Game
This game is perfect for road trips. Avoid the inevitable, "are we there yet?" by stopping along the way at an interesting location. Get the kids involved by letting them choose some of the stops. There are tons of exciting roadside attractions all over the globe, so do some research ahead of time and figure out what your family would enjoy!

Tip #4: Routine
Maintain your typical daily routine. Schedule activities around regular naptimes and mealtimes, or face the consequences of a cranky child. For mealtimes, pack a lunch so that you can eat on the go. Also, bring some lightweight snacks with you when you’re away from the hotel just in case your meal times get pushed back later than usual. You can also use meals and naps for a natural break between types of activities, giving the kids a moment to catch their breath.

Tip #5: Flying
You know that horrible ear pressure that occurs during take off? It's annoying for adults, but can really hurt kids' eardrums. Make sure to bring chewing gum and a light snack or drink for the children. Drinking through a straw can also help remove the pressure. Candies that are gummy or chewy can also cut down on the pressure.

The summer is winding down, so be sure to start planning now so your family can still enjoy a great vacation together! I hope these tips come in handy, and that you have a wonderful end of summer!

Thanks again, Kendra! Happy traveling to all :)

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Five on Friday

For the past few weeks, I've followed a few blogs that do "Five on Friday". Seems like an excellent reason to have a random brain dump so I'm jumping in.

1. 29 days until LSU kicks off! So.flipping.excited. I was also super pumped that my Vive La Fete collegiate items I had pre-ordered way back in April or May arrived. Usually I just get Quinn LSU stuff and Ryan A&M things - it seemed the proper way to divide. However, since my days of dressing the twins alike are dwindling, I decided to splurge. So now they each have matching Aggie & Tiger gear. In true Q fashion, she smelled new clothes and immediately ripped off her pajamas yesterday and threw on her LSU dress (yes!). Then we did our "Hot boudin" cheer.

2. We just finished our 2nd week of swim lessons. With 4 lessons a week for 4 weeks, it's like I purposefully hazed myself. At any rate, the kids are really enjoying them now and ask to go all the time. Thankfully the start up was much better than last year --- this time they only cried the first 2 days and now they've been super champs. We aren't quite swimming yet but I have growing confidence that if they fell into a pool, they could get to a side or flip over and float which is really all I want at this point. I think by next year they will be little fishies.

3. I absolutely cannot believe it is AUGUST. To be honest when the summer started, I really was dreading it. The Houston heat and humidity makes almost any outdoors activity absolutely unbearable unless it's first thing in the morning or late, late in the evening. Last summer was horrendous. The kids had just turned 2, I couldn't take them to our pool by myself, and we were in the midst of moving. So I was basically Mom of the Year last year --- lots of drop offs at a local sitter center and Little Gym classes.

This year is totally different and we are having so much fun! We are rarely at home during "wake" hours --- instead we've had multiple play dates, swim dates, and we're even able to run errands without me feeling like I want to punch myself in the face. Most days. And I'm able to take them to our local pool all on my own --- it has a great shallow area with a splash pad thingie, so I just let them loose for a couple of hours at least twice a week. It's been good for all our souls. So now I'm actually a little sad that in just a month preschool will be starting :( It's just gone by way too fast and I'm determined to lap up every last bit of summer.

4. Houston is finally getting it's own Mom Blog Network! I originally heard about it from my friend Tiffanie's blog and immediately liked their facebook page. Anyway, they were looking for contributing writers and featured guest bloggers so I submitted a little bio. I'm so excited that I will be a guest blogger! Not sure what all that means in the way of posts but looking forward to it. It will be so fun to get to know these Houston Moms that represent all walks of life in our area. (Their website isn't up quite yet but go like their facebook page!)


5. And let's just end on this moment: Earlier this week I was tucking the kids into bed while Matt attended a meeting. I was super tired and quite honestly, just ready for the whole bedtime routine to be over. I got Quinn tucked in first and then went back to Ryan's room because he wanted "mommy to lay down just a minute" :) We said our prayers, talked about our day, and then I had to do the obligatory kisses --- "kiss my tummy, kiss my head, kiss my toes, etc" And then he said something that blew me away and melted me from the inside out. As we were laying there, all of a sudden he said, "Mommy, you my best friend." Say what??? I didn't even know that he knew the term "best friend" and here he was calling me that. And because I wanted to just make sure that I heard him right, I made him repeat it. A few times. And he really meant it. And then I cried like a baby. My sweet boy. 
(and I never feel like it's fair to end on one twin and not the other but trust me Quinn had her sweet-filled and wonderful moments this week too. I'll make sure to share hers next week :) just to keep things even)

Have a great weekend - we're off to the beach to meet some dear friends. PTL!

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