Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Our Place At The Lake

I've been joining Jared & his family at the lake since the very first summer we started dating, some thirteen years ago {Yikes. Typing that made me feel really old}. And even though more than an entire decade has passed by & time has slipped through our lives much too swiftly, the lake has mostly remained the same as how I remember it from that very first summer as a 19 year old girl. Of course there have been a few slight changes to the scenery of our lake adventures. For instance, the two little tots that now make the trip down with us, kicking their feet & squealing from the back seat of our loaded down SUV. There are tiny little life vests that are carefully chosen & stamped with COAST GUARD APPROVED that we squish & squeeze their little bodies into. And there is the new Safety First mentality Jared & I have somehow acquired that never seemed to cross our minds back when we were busy getting black eyes from crazy tubing shenanigans & visiting the E.R. with concussions from our wake-boarding incidents. Gone are the living on the edge days.

But other than those few slight changes in things, the lake still remains as it always has.

The shotty cell phone service {which I actually quite love. Sometimes being "unplugged" can be such a sweet thing}, the convenience store where everyone seems to congregate, the slow pace/no rush necessary mindset, the way strangers pick up friendly conversation & are eager to lend a helping hand. That's all exactly the same.

There's still the orchestra of locusts & crickets that begin their crescendo at dusk & play loud into the night, a reminder that you're far away from any hustle & bustle of city life.

The simple pleasure of diving off a boat dock & swimming circles round it.

Mornings spent on the deck, waiting for everyone else in the house to wake up {& quit burnin' daylight! *wink}, a cup of coffee in hand, enjoying the last few minutes of cool before the sun pops over the tree tops dressed in full summer blaze.

Dinner at the local cafe'.

Sunkissed noses.

Returning home with trails of chigger bites.


We had our final hoo-rah of the summer this past weekend, spent at the place that has dug its way into my heart over the past thirteen years. A place I love bringing my children to. A place that is rich in childhood stories from my husband's past.  A place that holds so much history...& offers even more future...

our place at the lake.

Meet our "captain" for the weekend.

He called himself the "captain" the entire weekend & couldn't wait to get his hands on that steering wheel to drive the boat all by himself. Drive he did. In circles. Until we were all about to puke from our dizziness. But would ya look at that face? It makes up for every bit of sea sickness.

Little Lulla hated the life jacket. It squished her cheeks & made her topple over if she wasn't propped against something. So we did our best to make her happy--with cookies.

Little water bug. Once out of that pesky life jacket, this girl had a ball. Splishing, splashing, squealing. This girl is our lake girl.

He looks so long legged to me here. He is growing so fast.

Coach brought a new Lego set to work on in the evenings. Two peas in a pod, these two.

Snuggles from Gigi

I wish I would have captured his first jump off the dock. It was fearless. A big run. A big splash. A very proud Momma, Daddy, Coach & Gigi!

This picture makes me chuckle. Coach is docking the boat & Jett's just chillin', eating a box of Cheez-Its.

It's a happy place. A place of rest. A place to come for rest & relaxation. A place for sunny adventures. A place to capture memories & relive old ones. It's one of our favorite places in the whole wide world.

It's our place at the lake.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Life's Little Lessons

Life has a way of teaching us it's lessons, doesn't it? Both through hard struggle & exhilarating accomplishment, we are taught & grown & stretched in this life. I believe the lessons that stick the strongest with us are often times those ones that we worked hard for, or in some cases, had to fall down hard for.

My Jett, he's been both working hard & falling hard lately. Life is teaching. Lessons are being grasped. And as a mother, I am becoming more & more aware of the opportunities there are to teach & show grace to my children as they brave this big world of lessons. There is much to be strained from this big bowl of parenthood I am swirling around in if I open my eyes & seek it.

Last Friday I had a list of errands to run, Goodwill being the first to check off my list {it's the end of August & you know what that means--time to start thinking about piecing together Halloween costumes}. I don't know about all you mommas out there, but getting out of the house to run errands with two little ones, it always proves to be a nightmare. It's just hard. And by the end of it all, I'm a sweaty, crabby mess that just wants to get home with my bags of groceries & two kids, swearing the entire way home that I'm never leaving the house. Ever. Again. Anyone else feel the same? Oh please, tell me somebody else feels the same.

Okay, back to the story. Goodwill. An old, worn pair of denim overalls for Jett's Halloween costume. A weathered urn that I picked up, sat back down & picked up once again, this time placing it in my cart realizing there were lots of places in my house that it could be a perfect fit for. A mini candelabra. A pair of black shoes for Lulla's Halloween costume. I was happy with my findings & eager to get out while the getting was good--meaning while my children weren't falling apart & while I still had enough gas in me to get me through the next stop--grocery shopping. I was skimming one more section as we were headed to the front of the store when I caught Jett hanging on the handle of the cart--the cart that his sister was sitting in. I got after him, quite sternly, because this hanging thing he's's a problem. He hangs on our bedroom door handles at home. He hangs on the refrigerator door. He hangs on the clothing rods in our master closet. We caught him hanging on the back windshield wiper to my SUV. He's been in a heap of trouble lately for hanging on things that aren't meant for hanging on. We've explained the consequences. We've disciplined for it. We've talked through horrible scenarios that could result in his this newfound excitement for dangling from things.  So this day, I told him to stop, told him he could tip the cart over, told him he knows better. I turned away only to hear in the next few seconds, a great big bang of a CRASH!!!!!! Sure enough, he'd hung on the handle just as soon as I'd turned my head & this time ended up pulling the cart over. He was lying on the concrete floor, flat on his back, most of his body pinned underneath the cart. Lulla was laying on top of his chest, still buckled into the cart, both her legs bent underneath the handle. It was silence as my panicked self rushed to them, trying to pull the cart up, while holding onto Lulla as her top-heaviness was trying to pull her forward out of the cart. It wasn't long before the shock of what had happened was setting in & they both began wailing. I picked Lulla up out of the cart, mostly worried she had hit her head when she fell forward or broken her legs by the way they both had been lodged underneath the handle of the cart but as I looked all over her body, I didn't see any evidence that she was terribly hurt, only that she was scared. Jett was sitting up on the ground now, holding his left leg, saying it hurt around his shin. It had a pretty decent red mark appearing so I felt around on it & asked him to walk on it, which he did just fine. He was crying huge tears & began repeating, "I'm sorry, Mommy! I'm so sorry, Mommy! I'm sorry I hurt Sissy! I'm sorry! I'm sorry I broke your pot! I'm really sorry I broke your pot! {I hadn't even realized, but everything from the cart had flown out in the cart wreck & he was apologizing because the urn had broken & shattered into pieces.} " He was so remorseful. So scared. In that moment, I was flooded with emotion. I was terrified at the thought that both of my children could have been hurt terribly & I was so thankful that they fell the way they did, thankful to God for protecting them. I was angry, angry that it had to come to this for Jett to finally realize his actions are dangerous. I felt compassion, knowing by Jett's face & the reaction he was showing, that he truly was so sorry for his actions. And so I took a moment there in the middle of Goodwill while I was kneeling, Lulla propped on one knee & Jett cradled in my other arm to tell him this is why Mommy & Daddy are always after him to stop hanging on things. Not because we are mean. Not because we don't want him to have fun. Because really bad things can happen & we truly do know what is safe & what isn't. Honestly, I probably wouldn't have had to say a word in that moment & the lesson Jett gleaned that day would have stuck like crazy glue. But he was already in my arms & we needed a little breather before we got up & went on our way, anyhow, so I took the opportunity to explain through the lesson life had just tossed him.

What I really wanted to do after the Goodwill trip was call it a day & go home. But we were a twenty minute drive from home & a two minute drive from Hy-Vee. My cupboards were bare. My grocery list was long. So I sucked it up & we did our grocery shopping. And let me tell you, I have never seen Jett more quiet & well behaved in the grocery store as I did this day. He didn't make a peep. He didn't beg for junkfood. He didn't tell his sister, "I'be had enough!" when she smacked him in the head, repeatedly. Still as a little mouse, he was. And come to think of it, I haven't caught him hanging on a single closet rod, door handle or windshield wiper since last Friday.

Some of the lessons that stick the most are the ones we have to fall down hard for.

But luckily, not all lessons are learned the hard way. Some are brought to us through great opportunities--opportunities to stretch ourselves, to grow within, to nurture within ourselves the seedlings of accomplishment that are lying on the surface needing to be watered & pruned until they begin blooming on their own. And my Jett, he's been having lessons like this, as well.

About three weeks ago, we were at Target & Jett, like every other three year old, likes to spend a good amount of time in the toy aisles when we are at there. When our day isn't rushed & we have the extra time, I like to let him browse. I like that most days he learns that we walk away from those toy aisles without buying a thing, & that just because he wants something, doesn't always mean he gets it. And sometimes I love watching his face light up when I am able surprise him & say, "Throw it in the cart. You can have that toy today, buddy." On this particular day, he had set eyes on a remote control plane character from the newly released Planes movie & he was giddy with excitement. He wanted it. Baaaad. You know the drill. They get so excited, carrying on about how cool it is. Their eyes are eager, filled to the brim with pure childhood. You want to buy it for them. You want them to have it. You want to make them happy. But this plane was 40 bucks, & for me, that's just too much money to spend on an toy on a random Wednesday afternoon. So I explained that the plane was indeed very cool, but that it also cost a lot of money & perhaps for a special occasion he could get a plane like that. He accepted what I'd told him & he mentioned that maybe he could get it when he goes to see the movie & I agreed that was a good idea & that we'd talk about it. But my momma wheels began turning...

Back up a few days. Jared & I had come to the decision, after noticing that Jett's thumb sucking was increasing significantly throughout the day, that we needed to find a way to curb it. Honestly, I wasn't  all that concerned about the thumb sucking in general, & neither is Jett's pediatric dentist. But, Jared & I agreed we would like to see him doing it much less. But we knew the only way to stop the thumb sucking was to get rid of the trigger--a nasty old ratty tatty Hallmark dog that goes by the name of Belle.  Jett ditched Monkey months ago & began clinging to this dog, Belle & Belle is attached to Jett at all times. In the car. On the couch. Throughout the house. To church. Everywhere we go, Belle goes. Kicking her to the curb was the real challenge that was lying in front of us, not really the thumb sucking.

So one day, Momma came up with a plan of attack that included a chart, some star stickers, a month of work {30 days to kick a bad habit, right?} & the prize Jett has his heart set on at the end of this accomplishment.

The deal was this: The dog stays in Jett's bed. She doesn't come dowstairs. She doesn't go in the car. She doesn't watch t.v. with him. He is allowed to have her at naptime & bedtime, only.

And I'm proud to announce, that other than the first few initial weepy moments when the reality of what was happening was setting in, Jett has been on board like a champ!

We've only got a week left until the remote control plane {that is sitting in a Target bag in my front entry closet because I couldn't risk it not being at Target at the end of this} will land it's wheels into the arms of our Jett Jett. He has done so well & Jared & I & all of Jett's grandparents {who have joined in the fun of rewarding him as well for this big accomplishment}, are beyond proud of him. But the best part of all this? Seeing how proud he is of himself. Inside his heart, something is happening--self confidence, a sense of accomplishment, a speck of work ethic, it's all building. And you can tell by looking at him, by the way he announces to his loved ones that he is done sucking his thumb, that what is stirring inside his heart, it feels good to him.

Some of the lessons that stick the most, are the ones we work hard for.

Lesson learning's been happening all across the board around here & I am grateful to this life, for coming alongside this momma & giving me the nudge to grow my child, through both the tough times & exciting ones. My boy is better for it. He is carrying within him traits of character & strength that only a few short weeks ago, he hadn't yet discovered in himself.

I am paying close attention these days. Opportunity everywhere. Lessons to be gleaned. Ways to grow. For me as a momma & for my littles.

Life has a way of teaching it's lessons, that's for sure.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cannon Ball!

Oh, don't mind me. I'm just over here cannon-balling off my own little diving board.

That school bus that just passed by my house? Pretending I didn't see it. The chilly evenings that are dangling Fall in front of our faces? Ignoring them. The quietness of the neighborhood that has replaced the shrieks & shrills of children running through water sprinklers? Blocking it out.

I'm not ready for summer to be over. I'm just not. It seems as though it was the most fleeting summer I've ever experienced & I'm bummin' hard that it's going...going...gone.

It's been a good summer--a really good one. And though I know Autumn is just around the bend & offers every kind of good fun that I live for, I want to celebrate summer just a while longer. So if you're like me & feeling a tad gloomy over summer coming to an end as well, come along. We'll hold hands & make a big splash into deep water denial together.

Some of our summer celebrations as of late:

Small Town Summer Parade:

Killing time while waiting for the parade to begin. Sidenote: I overheard Jett the other day while he was playing, saying he had two girlfriends. When I chimed in & asked him who they were, he proudly announced the names of the two little blondies pictured above {who just so happen to be sisters}. Oh, boy.

Our crew.

The rumbling of a tractor makes this little boy's heart go boom boom. Farmers, hay balers, Johnny Poppers, Gators, John Deere green...he is obsessed.

Pool Days:

With the shortened pool hours, the crowds have scaled back & we've been able to have the pool nearly all to ourselves.

She is full on walking. But only in grass. And only on carpet. No hard surfaces. Wood floors, tile, concrete...& out comes this bear crawl.

His favorite thing to do at the pool.

Little fish swimming under the water. 

This photobomb makes me laugh.

She's too little for this slide. But try telling her that.
He became so brave around the water this year. 

Date Night:

 Noodles & Co. for dinner {per his request}

 His first movie at the theatre: "Planes"
 "Dusty" in one hand & popcorn in the other. All set to go!

We waited a long time for this movie to come out & though there have been some mixed reviews, we thought it was incredibly cute. Jett loved it--hasn't stopped talking about it, in fact. He has started collecting the Planes figurines.  He is already asking me when we can buy the movie. He questions me on a daily basis about some of the scenes from the movie. It was a really great first movie for him. But here's the part where I'm not sure whether or not I should stamp a big, fat COMPLETE SUCCESS or EPIC FAILURE on Jett's first movie go-er experience. Let me preface this by telling you a little something about my Jett Jett. He's not a make a scene kind of kid. He has always been very aware of his surroundings & not one to draw attention to himself. He's never let a tantrum rip in the middle of a grocery store. His face turns red when a stranger speaks to him.  He's just not that kind of kid {now his sister--a whole 'nother story}. But on this particular evening, we had ourselves a scene. A big one. The moment the credits started rolling, this kid lost it.  He wailed. And sobbed. And grieved like I've never seen him grieve. In between gasps for air, he bellowed, "Don't want it be OVERRRRRR!" & this is what he repeated & continued to repeat about a thousand times...through the theatre, out the doors, through the parking lot, in the car, all the way over to Coach & Gigi's where we picked Lulla up. The tears just streamed & streamed & streamed. He cried his little heart out until his face was a blotchy, tear stained sight to see. Some moments Jared & I found it to be kind of funny & the next moment our hearts were breaking right along with him. He finally settled down on the car ride home & then proceeded to ask me every single question he could possibly conjure about planes & propellers on planes & wings on planes & antennas on planes. Everything & anything about planes, we covered it on that car ride home. It was a very sweet night & one I think we'll all remember for a long time. But you see my dilemma, right? Success or failure? I do not know.

A Camping We Did Go:

Jett's been dying to go camping. And there's a daddy that has been dying to take his son camping. a little trial run, we set up camp in our own backyard. And for added fun, the neighbors joined in the fun & set up their own backyard campsite, too! 

 Jared camped in this tent when he was a kid & became highly offended when I said it was old & stinky. 

Building the camp fire.

Fellow campers.

I cozied up Old Stinky the tent with warm quilts & a pile of goodies to snack on for the boys & Lulla girl & I headed in to spend the night in our own beds. We'll need a bigger, fresher smelling tent if they plan to get us girls in there for an all nighter. 

Besides the sprinkler system giving the guys a wake-up call, spraying the outside of the tent at 6 a.m., the boys' first camp-out went off without a hitch. There were hotdogs & s'mores, laughter around a smoky fire & a good sleep in the great outdoors--all the things that make for a great camping trip. I do believe a real camp-out at a real campsite may be in our near future. 


Just a few more summer celebrations await us & then I promise, I'll quit my whining about summer coming to a close. 

Until then...


Friday, August 9, 2013

End Of Summer Happenings

Summertime is up to one of it's old tricks again; trying to skirt on out of here before we're ready to say farewell.

Summertime.  You gotta watch that guy.

Thought I'd share a few of our end of summer happenings while we're busy clenching onto what's left. Brace yourselves. A photo dump of sorts is about to ensue.

Swim Lessons:
Some friends of ours raved about the swim lessons they'd attended at a gymnastics/swim school, & since the past couple of years of lessons have kind of been a waste for us, we decided to give this place a shot. Best time/money ever spent. The classes were led by an instructor who clearly knows her stuff & where parents are not allowed in the pool, but can observe from outside the fence {which in my opinion is genius}. Before these lessons, Jett would have nothing to do with water being in his face. After these lessons, he swims & does so completely underwater. I could not be more impressed...with the swim school & my Jett Jett.

Baby, baby!
My sister in law is pregnant with her first baby--a girl {!!!} & we had so much fun celebrating her & that sweet baby bump at her shower a few weeks ago. Isn't she a beautiful momma-to-be? We are all eagerly anticipating the arrival of this baby & cannot wait to let the spoiling begin! This little one will make Jared & I a first time aunt & uncle so yeah, we're just a tad excited about that!

What, it's not Halloween yet?
Dress up. Dress up. Dress up. This kid goes through a dozen costumes a day. Oh & Sissy & I? We're forced to play along. Just wait til the princess dresses start rolling in. Paybacks, my boy. Paybacks.

Those Summer Nights:
My brother came over for dinner the other evening & we spent the latter part of the day, like every other summer evening, in our backyard. This particular night we got a mean game of wiffle ball going & though I hated to make my husband eat his words of "Hey Holly, are you sure you don't need us to set up a T for you?" somebody had to put him in his place. So I cranked that white, plastic ball {best hit of the night, might I add} , landing the sucker in the neighbors yard, with a dent smashed in the side of it. So yeah, no T necessary, Jared. Perhaps a few back up balls, but definitely no T.  As you can see, I'm still strutting my stuff. ;)

Since I'd outdone him in wiffle ball, he had to show off & jump the fence as if it were a hurdle. He forgets he isn't twenty anymore.

It was our turn to make the summer haul to visit our friends this year, so we packed up the kids & ventured five hours to Oklahoma for a weekend of great friends, great food & great fun.

 Pic-nicing at the lake

 Our sweet friends set up an entire day of fun for us out on the lake. This kid was in heaven on the jet skis & hasn't stopped talking about them since we returned home.
 Need for speed.

These two will never know a summer without one another. I love that.

County Fair:
You know I can't pass up a county fair. I went every year as a child & our kids will do the same. This year we went two nights in a row & I think it's safe to say, it plum tuckered us out & we are officially FAIRED OUT {until next year, of course}.

Little Lulla was too small for the rides this year, but had plenty of fun walking Grandma all over every square inch of the fairgrounds.

These faces. Sheer delight!

He hates cotton candy. Asks for it every year. Then calls it "fuzzy". Lulla hated it, too.

As we were leaving the fair the final night, the kids were taking one last look at the goats & this sweet girl walked up, knelt down & asked Jett ever so tenderly, "Would you like to come inside the pen with me & see my goats?" Jett was so excited & this young girl was just precious--with those goats & with my children. I walked away thankful for that little experience Jett was tucking away in his memory bank & hopeful that my own children will one day be so kind & generous at such a young age.

And though Summertime may have a different idea in mind, we aren't quite ready to call it a wrap just yet. We've got a few more summer happenings still to be had.

A big parade. A trip to the lake. The final week of the pool. 

So just skirt on back here, Summertime.