29 July 2010

Sunshine and a Mini Swimming Pool

This summer has been a very warm one. One of the things that the kids like to do is sit in a little swimming (which is really only big enough to sit in) pool that Adam's brother bought for Audrey. It has a Disney Princess motif.


And not surprisingly.

Usually, I try to remember to fill it with water in the morning and let the sun warm it so it's not so shockingly freezing when they want to play in it in the afternoon. It's worked out really well.

When I've remembered to fill it.

Audrey and Lucas really love it.

Luke loves chewing on the squirting fish toys.

And Audrey loves to splash the water with the tips of her fingers.

It has been a really nice way for the kids to stay cool in the sweltering heat of a high desert summer.

23 July 2010

One Year

We had a Birthday in our household this week.

On Wednesday The Lucas turned the big numero uno. That's right, he is one year old. Officially.

It's hard to believe that he is already one year old. It doesn't seem possible that we've already had him for that long. But at the exact same time it seems like he has always been a part of our family. And I guess that's because he has.

It was fun to watch him dive into his very first birthday cake. There was no hesitation. Before we had even finished with the birthday song - as soon as the cake was within reach - he took a big handful of cake and frosting off of the edge of the cake. So, I cut off a big chunk of the cake for him to continue to demolish and shove in his mouth by the fistful.

He really went to town. It was really funny to see...

it was made even more funny by the fact that Audrey was so, so different on her first birthday. When we set the cake in front of her and sang happy birthday she just sat and looked at the cake, waited until we were done singing, and then very slowly reached out her hand and using only her thumb and fore finger, very delicately took a single candy sprinkle that lined the bottom of the frosted cake and ate that single sprinkle. And she continued to daintily eat very small pinch-fuls of sprinkles and frosting. Such a girl. And so funny that that's just who they are. I love how they are both so distinctly themselves. It's a beautiful thing.

Happy One Year, Bud! We love you so much!

17 July 2010

Sorry Mandi

So, you all have come to know that my wee daughter has quite a lot of spunk. I share stories here and there and I hope they paint a vivid enough picture that, even if you've never met her, give you an idea of how awesome she is. Because she is. And at the end of the day, really the main purpose of this blog is to share how blessed we are and how thankful we are for those blessings.

I just wanted to share quickly the latest thing that Little Miss Audrey does.

She calls me Mandi.

Now, don't get me wrong. There is nothing inherently wrong with calling me Mandi. It is my name after all. And there are much worse things that I could be called. However, this is my two and a half year old. I do not want to be called anything but Mom or Mama or Mommy. I do not want to be on a first name basis with my toddler. It's too soon.

It all started a few weeks ago when Grammy and Audrey and I were working in the yard. Grammy turned on the hose but the trigger on the end of the nozzle attachment was half-cocked and since I was standing near the end of it my legs got sprayed. The surprise of it shocked me as I (I'll admit it) screeched and quickly grabbed the nozzle and deactivated the trigger, stopping the flow. To which Grammy replied, "Oh, sorry Mandi. I must not have turned the nozzle off. Sorry." Obviously, this was not the first time Audrey had heard me called by my first name... but apparently it was the first time it occurred to her that she should be able to call me Mandi too. Immediately she started saying "Sorry Mandi. Oh, Mandi. Sorry." To which I replied, "Audrey. I'm Mom. Call me Mom. Mom. Mmmmmooooooommmmm."

Ever since then, she finds a few times every day to call me Mandi. Sometimes it's when I have an accident (drop something, or bump my leg or knee or elbow) and she'll say "Oh sorry, Mandi." Other times she's just calling for me and she says "Mandi!" And I always respond, "Call me Mom."

Thankfully she really doesn't do it ALL the time. I am still some derivative of "Mom" most of the time. And I'm pretty sure calling me Mandi is just a novelty and will pass. I just hope it passes soon because I love this little girl and I love being her Mom. I can be other people's Mandi. But to be a Mom, that's sacred and special. And to be her Mom, well that is one of the biggest blessings of my life.

12 July 2010

She Has All of the Colors of the Rainbow

My sweet little girl. Sometimes I just don't know what to think of her. She is such a mixture of sweet and sassy, generous and stingy, polite and cheeky, easy-going and stubborn. Just like the now-famous analogy of life being like a box of chocolates, the same can be said of Audrey - you never know what you're going to get. She has all of the colors of the rainbow.

Speaking of rainbows - she loves them. And every other girly-girl thing. She still loves pedicures. And manicures. And make-up (especially "lips sticks"). She loves shoes. In fact, just today we took Grammy to the mall to get a hair cut, so we decided to walk around while we were waiting. Audrey started to get a little cranky (admittedly, nap time was fast approaching) so we went into a shoe store... and instantly the crankiness subsided as her senses were overcome by the smell of patent leather and the allure of sequins and bows. Immediately, she kicked off her flip flops and began trying on all the "pitty shoes" - there is no medicine like shoe shopping for my little girl. She loves dresses and dressing like a princess.

(Case in point.)

Audrey loves flowers and butterflies. And pink. And purple. She loves purses and telephones. She loves dolls and Barbies (especially when they are modeled after a Disney Princess).

She loves taking her "Pincess Rella" and dancing and twirling with her. On this particular Sunday a few weeks ago, Audrey dropped her doll in favor of dancing with a freshly picked tulip.

Yay! Look at me! So pretty! And girly! And dainty!

She was so sweet and gentle and feminine.

But beware.

Just when you think you have this cute little girl figured out...

she will prove you wrong by...

ruthlessly shredding that same flower she was just so careful with.

And then she'll follow that by going on a bug hunt - looking under rocks and along the cracks of the sidewalk.

One minute she will be singing (a princess song or a primary song or Elmo's Song) and giggling like the cute little girl she is, and the next she'll be growling and making monster noises.

She loves to run as fast as her cute little legs will allow her toward you demanding to "wing" (hold her by the arms and spin her around as fast as you can until you feel like you're going to throw up). And then right as you are setting her feet back on the ground she is demanding to do it again. "Gain. Gain. Gain! Wing! GAIN!!" And trust me, if you are the one who is swinging her, you will beg for mercy before she does. It's like the kid doesn't get dizzy. Or sick. Or woozy. Ever. The faster and the higher and the longer, the better.

She loves to rough-house and wrestle. She loves to run and skip and nothing - not even a skinned knee - will slow her down for long. She is adventurous and fearless.

And I love it.

I love her spunk.

And her spirit.

One of my favorite pictures that illustrates this dual nature in my sweet little spunky girl was snuck while she was taking a nap. On this particular day she had insisted on wearing her Cinderella dress from last Halloween. That's the girly-girl princess side of her. The adventurous, spunky side is represented by her favorite pillowcase:

Yep, that's Superman. This pillowcase is easily a couple of decades old (it's Adam's favorite from his own childhood) and Audrey loves it. She also loves this Superman throw blanket (also Adam's from a few Christmases ago).

My pampered princess who loves adventure and fun.

May it always be so.

08 July 2010

A Day at the Point

A few days after Audrey, Luke, and I had returned from our trip to California we went to Thanksgiving Point. For those of you who do not know Thanksgiving Point is kind of a cool little place. They have extensive grounds on which they host all sorts of cool things throughout the year. Cool things like a Tulip Festival in their garden section. Cool things like a Highland Games / Scottish Festival. Cool things like concerts, symphonies, and other musical events. And the list of attractions and events goes on and on and on and on. And on. They also have more permanent things like a glass blower's studio and a bunch of different galleries, the largest dinosaur exhibit around, and really nice facilities for any special occasion (wedding receptions, birthdays, anniversary parties, etc.)

On that day (a few days after we got back from California), we all went to "The Point" to walk through their Farm Country exhibit - like a large petting zoo without too much petting. I thought Audrey would get a kick out of all of the animals.

When we arrived, there was a large water feature/sculpture right in the main entrance corridor. It looked like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. Right up Audrey's alley. It was brightly painted in primarily primary colors, with lots of piping and moving parts. Right up Audrey's alley. It had lots of levers that you could pull and push and each one did something - made a noise or sprayed water or whistled. Again, right up Audrey's alley.

Here's Grammy dodging a spray of water after engaging one of the levers:

Curious what other obstacles the feature had to throw at her, Brave Grammy taking one for the team again.

The official verdict: Audrey loved it.

I liked it too and I wanted to make sure to capture some memories from the day. So I whipped out my camera and tried my best to get my two cuties to smile for the camera.

They didn't.

In fact I couldn't even get them to look at the camera. Let alone smile while looking at the camera.

I couldn't even get Luke's attention. Audrey's apparently been giving him lessons on how to avoid looking at the camera and thwart mom's attempts to document their happy childhood.

C'est la vie.

We saw all sorts of animals. Goats, chickens, peacocks, turkeys, pigs, horses, cows, ducks, geese, rabbits, llamas, donkeys, alpacas, and a bunch of other things in between.

There was even a part of the area that had mini old west buildings: a dance hall and a jail where little kids can go inside and play.

So she went in and played like she was in jail. Except she's so small that Grammy had to lift her up to be able to see out of the barred windows.

Her crime?

Not looking at the freakin' camera when her mom is trying to document her happy childhood.


Story of my life.

Audrey's cousin got in on the action too. His name is Ammon and his crime is he is too cute for words.

Oh, and also he's got the coolest hair ever. Double offender. That's serious stuff.

As cool as the animals and the water feature and the jail were, the highlight was definitely the pony ride. They had a covered pavilion where they had about eight ponies and small horses hooked up to a rotating thingy so children could go for a ride if they wanted. I took Audrey over and asked if she wanted to ride one of the horses and she said no. I asked her about four times and each time she refused. (It was between rides and the horses were just standing still with no children in their saddles.)

Then we went over to another part of the exhibit and after a few minutes returned to just watch the horses (who, this time, were in the middle of a ride - each one had a rider and a lot of the riders looked to be around Audrey's age/size). Seeing her peers riding safely (and with smiles on their faces) must have bolstered her confidence, because when I asked her one more time if she would like to ride one of the horses, this time it was a resounding and excited yes. In fact, her yes was followed by one of her famous "Audgie's turn!" command. So I let her pick which pony she wanted to ride - the prettiest light colored brown horse with blond hair.

Naturally I wanted to snap a few pictures.

Can you blame me? I mean, seriously?

Apparently, she learned nothing from the hard time she served in kiddie jail.

Me: "Audrey! Hey! Yoo-Hoo! Over here. Look at mommy, please! (waving left arm frantically while holding camera in right hand, finger on the trigger - I mean button) Audrey! Look at the camera! C'mon!"

Audrey: nothing. Not a flinch or any other indication she can even hear me.



Aaaahhhh... success! Yes!

...And then the ride started. I told Audrey she needed to hang on to the horn of the saddle. The horses were going slow but still a bumpy sort of rhythm for a two and a half year old's very first time riding any kind of live animal. She did a great job. She didn't even need me. But I was there (with a firm grip on her sweater and dress) just in case.

She had so much fun. I loved watching the joy and excitement on her face.

It was a great day in the "Country"!

And now one of Audrey's favorite things to do is watch the short video clip that I took of her very first pony ride.

04 July 2010

Highlights from California

So, remember back in May when I told you about my sister who had a baby? Well, about a week and a half after she had her new little baby boy, we went to California to help with this great transition. Great as in great.

And great as in challenging.

And great as in huge.

And great as in life-changing.

And great as in great - like a most wonderful, blessed and happy event!

We (Audrey, Luke and I) were there for two and a half weeks. Some (sane) people would question how I thought I would be helpful to my sister and her newborn and her five month old when I had my own hands full with my two and a half year old and my 10 month old. And it would be a valid question. And I know that I wasn't nearly as much help as I would've liked to be - but I am so glad that I got to be there with one of my favorite people in the world during such a wonderful time.

Here are some of the highlights from our trip:

To start, it was so cool to see little Benjamin (I can't believe how much he's grown since we were last with him in January - of course I've seen pictures but actually seeing him in person - and hefting his stout little frame are two very different things). He is such a sweet little guy and he and Luke were quite fascinated with each other. They spent a lot of time having baby staring contests and sucking on each other's fingers or poking each other in the eye. They were so cute together.

They also took a lot of walks with me in our double jogging stroller - which oftentimes ended in a nap.

Here's Hugh - the reason we came. He is such a cute little guy. He has this raspy little cry (and sometimes not so little!) that just makes your heart melt. I felt so lucky to be one of the first to get to know him.

One of the coolest things about the trip was watching Audrey and Luke's relationship evolve and develop. Before the trip a lot of their relationship was Luke getting into something Audrey didn't want him to get into and Audrey yelling at him ("No Yucas!"). On day number three of being there, Luke learned the stay-on-his-knees crawl (no more commando creeping). And that very quickly turned into Luke becoming proficient at climbing the long flight of stairs at Megan's house. Which apparently impressed Audrey enough to convince her that Luke might make a pretty fun play mate. The "No Yucas!" cries quickly turned into pleas: "C'mon, Yucas! Crawl, Yucas! Stairs! C'mon, crawl!"

And he was only too happy to oblige. They would follow each other around giggling the whole time.

She still wants to boss him around but at least this way he is included in the fun. It was really cool to witness the two of them laughing and following after each other.

Another thing I loved was watching Audrey with my dad. We quickly fell into our own little routine there. We stayed with my parents - so we would spend the mornings at Megan's doing whatever we could to help, then I'd bring Audrey and Luke back to my parent's for nap time, then we'd go back over to Megan's for the evening, then back to my parent's for bath and bedtime - and start all over again. Very quickly the post bath time became play time with Grandpa. This usually meant long conversations on the driveway hill, marching up and down the hill, clapping and singing songs, and running around.

Then we would go for short walks down the street. Audrey would run ahead of Grandpa, then turn around and run toward him with arms outstretched...

which turned into a little leg-hug.

Luke's favorite thing was by far climbing the stairs at Megan's. I think he felt like such a big boy.

He also started to wave.

Hi mom! Look at me!

One night it rained during the night and as we were leaving the house the next morning on our way to Megan's, I was greeted with this lovely sight:

My parents have a beautiful peach rose bush right next to their porch and on this bush five buds were all clustered together, just covered with tiny rain drops. Here's a closer look:

And then there was a pretty pink one too. This one was the only bloom on the bush. So pretty. So serene.

And as beautiful as the lovely roses were, the most beautiful thing to witness was my children enjoying their grandparents. Luke on one of his "walks" with grandpa:

He's so excited to go up the stairs... again.

Audrey didn't want to miss out on the fun.

One of Audrey's favorite things of the trip was her very first manicure, compliments of Grandpa and his steady hand. She kept saying "Princess nails!" and fluttering her finger tips. She felt very special.

We had a great time in California.

We can't wait until we can go again!