Monday, July 30, 2007

And the thunder rolls...


And with that one sound, every one had to get out of the pool. For at least 30 minutes. If it thundered again, the 30 minutes would start over. It was 5:00 and we had been swimming for 20-30 minutes. Tears ensued. Thankfully it was not a full-blown, kick & scream fit like I used to have to deal with. Thank GOD those days are over. (I really mean that. I needed God to get through them back then.)

Anyway, the comments once we got home and someone thought I was out of earshot were very amusing. Alpha said that if she had her own pool, when it thundered, she would yell "Everyone IN the pool!" She obviously knows nothing about weather, nature, and law suits.

Her second comment was that once she gets old enough to have her own house, she will have a "water house" where you can swim all through it.

I did try and explain the rationale between thunder, lightning, and dying. Lightning likes big pools of water, and lightning will kill you. She kind of got it. I told her we used to get really mad, too, when we had to get out of the pool.

Childhood is tough. It's so hard to learn some of life's lessons. I just hope I can keep teaching them rather than having my girls find them out the hard way.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Viva Pinata!

Boy, this weekend has flown by! It's 10:30 on Sunday night, and I'm not sure how I got here. I'm not ready for Monday. I rather like the weekends. I am also done reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It was a good book. Overall, I liked it. And now I can resume my normal life that involves laundry and paying bills.

But for now, let me tell you about my mom's and sister-in-law's birthday party! It was rockin'! We had KFC for lunch and then chocolate cupcakes (decorated by Alpha & Beta) for "cake".

After cake and presents, we went outside and had our very first Pinata! Nobody present had ever had a pinata before. Ours was Spongebob. Here he is hanging from a hook in the carport.

Aunt Robin got the first crack at him.

After having Uncle Matt pull the line awhile, the girls and Grandmother got in on the act. Uncle Matt was blindfolded and tried to hit it. They did a good job moving Spongbob out of the way.

However, after several frustrating and inefficient hits, Uncle Matt knocked off Spongbob's leg! Then he either hit a hole in him or found the special "tab" that would let the candy fall out on its own. Here is Beta drowning in candy!

And so, we all had attended our first pinata party! The girls loved it! It was even fun for the rest of us because it was something different. Every one commented on how much fun it was.

And if you can't have a pinata on your ___th and ___th, birthdays, when can you have one?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Last night was the last swim lesson! Yay for me! The girls were sad, though. They love swim lessons.

Unfortunately, neither of them passed. What that means is that if we were to sign up again, they would have to be in Level 1 and can't go on to Level 2. Alpha was so close! All she couldn't do was float on her back for 3 seconds. Jim tried to help her before we left, but she's way too tense. (Kinda like her momma...)

Beta was really too young to be in this class. I'm glad they let her try it, so she could be with Alpha, but I think we'll wait until she's 5 or so to try again. Unless she just insists on lessons next summer. I think our best bet at this point is just to go to the pool a lot and practice on our own.

Our pool is indoor and open year round. So maybe we can keep swimming even after school starts. I hope I can take the girls more before summer is over, though. They need the practice while it's fresh on their minds. Alpha especially, is really excited about swimming. She even swam for 3 seconds!

Both girls have made tons of progress over the 2 weeks and LOTS OF TONS of progress since last summer, when neither one would go into water above their waists. Maybe with lots of practice and patience, they'll accomplish what their old ma and pa couldn't.

Monday, July 23, 2007

I'll get back with you on that....

Hello, all! This is quick. I have not posted because all of my free time has been taken up reading that confounded book! I will post more when I finish it. Though I won't post the ending or any spoilers. I'm not even visiting Mugglenet much until I finish it.

We had a swim breakthrough the other day! I took both girls and their life jackets to the pool on Saturday. Alpha was actually leaning forward in the water and doing the doggy paddle like they had them do in class the other night. She was so proud that should could do the "doggie swim". She even tried it with her life jacket off, but that didn't work as well. Oh, well. success breeds success. Hopefully she'll do better tonight in class.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The girls have sunk to new depths...

The swim lesson saga continues... Tonight was our last night this week. We still have Mon-Thurs of next week. I'll be so glad when this is over. It really takes up our whole evening with showers and such.

I won't bore you all with too many details. I will regale you with heroic tales of cleverness!

They played "the penny game" again. The lifeguards threw pennies in the water and the kids were supposed to pick them up. Well, obviously, you can't pick them up unless you go under. Ah, ah. ah. Not so fast! Not unless you are one of MY girls!

Alpha is blessed with long arms. She would get her mouth in the water, but not much else. She found several pennies that way. Beta's method just takes the cake! She found a penny in the shallowest part. However, she still couldn't reach it. So tonight, she just stuck her foot on it and drug it on the bottom of the pool up into the VERY shallow end and then reached down and got it. One of the lifeguards was trying so hard not to laugh. She picked it up, looked over at us, and said, "I got a penny!" We yelled back, "You're cheating! You're supposed to get your face in the water!" It didn't phase her. She was as happy as a clam. (on top of the water, of course)

So, um, Gramma? Are you available for some private swim lessons? This is one of those times we really need to live closer. Perhaps you could convince the girls to put their faces in the water. I'm not sure we can. Although tonight, Jim said he was considering bribing them to do it. This is a desperate man! He never likes to bribe them. I guess we'll just see how next week goes.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I don't know how you mothers do it...

Ok. A quick post because it's late and I'm tired.

Well, I thought swim lessons couldn't get any worse. Then tonight, they threw all the kids in the deep end! Ok, they put life jackets on them first. But still! Can you picture your 3 year old in 7 foot-deep water with only a neck lifejacket holding her up?????

They start off by showing the "safe" way to enter the pool, i.e. sit on the side and just slide in. Everybody hops in ! Except for my two. One little boy even says something about it and it makes me want to holler "hey, that's rude!" But I don't. It seemed tonight like they took some of the more advanced kids out and put them into the other class. That was a good thing. Both Alpha and Beta got some one on one attention tonight. They needed it badly!

Both lifeguards got the girls in and helped them swim around. Alpha looked strained the entire time. But as we were leaving, she says the deep end was her favorite part and asks if we can go buy her a life jacket tonight after her shower. (we said no)

Beta didn't say much on the way home. She didn't say she was scared so I guess she's still ok. It was too funny, though. Once the life guard got her in the pool, she had Beta floating on her back and kicking her legs. Beta was holding her breath! Yes, above water. Alpha kept trying to "run" in the water and say she was swimming. She would never lean forward, only backward. The instructors were trying to get them to doggy paddle, but neither girl knew what they were talking about. We've got to go to the lake and maybe see some dogs in the water.

Anyway, the girls are still having fun. Alpha wants some "free time" in the water so we might try and go this weekend to practice what they've been learning.

In the meantime, 3 down, 5 to go!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tying myself up in knots

Ok. So maybe the post about Jamaica Day 3 should have read "Jamaica Day 4". Who's counting? I wished it was day 3...

I'm back on "real" real time now.

And I could still use some more vacation time in Jamaica!

BIG NEWS!!!!!!!

Alpha learned how to tie her shoes!!! I was off work yesterday. It was naptime because I had declared it naptime. Alpha, however, doesn't take naps. As I was putting Beta to bed, I remembered that my goal for Alpha this summer was for her to learn to tie her own shoes. So, I told her I was going to teach her to tie shoes. I went and got one of my tennis shoes because hers are velcro.

Teaching someone to tie shoes is harder than I thought! I also never realized how complicated a maneuver it really is. After demonstrating and trying to explain, I let her have the laces and go to it. Several times I'd say, "Ok, now grab that other lace before it gets away!" Or something along those lines. I tried my best to sit on my hands and let HER do it. She only started to get discouraged twice. It probably took about 30 minutes before she got it! All on her own! She's still got lots of practicing to do. I told her I'd make her tie shoes once a day until we bought her some tennis shoes for winter. She was really proud of herself. I was proud of her, too!

When Jim got home, she showed him that she could do it. He asked why she had wanted to learn to tie shoes. She replied, "mommy told me to."

Also yesterday, the girls started swim lessons! I had a lot of fears as a child. Swim lessons was one of them. I absolutely hated them. It was even worse that my brother liked them and was doing better than me! I still can't go underwater without holding my nose. I can swim, but not very good. But enough about me...

Both girls are in Level 1 - water exploration. I have no idea what that means. Beta was supposed to be in a "mom & tot" class, but they didn't have enough kids for it. So they stuck her in level 1. This makes me incredibly nervous! We've had 2 lessons now and I can hardly stand to watch. Ok. Ok. The girls are doing fine. But they actually had them go under the water! After 6 years of watching them like a hawk at the pool to make sure they never go under water, now they are supposed to! Do you know what that does to a mother's heart rate?

Also, my kids are failing! Shhh! Don't tell them I said that. Neither one has gotten totally under the water. Alpha is close, but Beta only goes up to her top lip. When they had to hang onto the side, lie down in the water, and practice kicking, my girls "ran" on the floor of the pool. They might have even kicked the wall. Alpha told me today that that had hurt her legs! Tonight they had tossed pennies into the pool and the kids were supposed to go underwater and get them. Alpha managed to pick one up by putting her hand over her mouth. ???? Beta never picked one up. Which was fine by me. Beta really is too young for this course. She needs some one on one at this age. I really only enrolled her at all b/c I knew she'd be mad if Alpha got to swim and she didn't.

However, both girls think they are doing just great and get all excited about swim lessons. I figure that's all I can ask. I hated taking lessons so at least we're ahead of the game in that respect. Whenever either one looks over at me, I smile and give them a "thumbs up" sign. Maybe when they become mothers I'll explain that this is the universal, "I'm shaking in my boots for you" sign. But that can wait.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Jamaica, Day 3

Thursday, July 5

After the devastating scuba experience the previous day, I was determined to get out on the water somehow! So, we decided to kayak! I figured if I was horrible under the water, maybe I'd be better ON TOP of the water. Besides, I've done canoeing before. I can DO that. Once again, it was beautiful! You truly could see straight to the bottom in about 8 feet of water. (the glass-bottom boat guide had told us how deep it was) (What? You thought I got in?) We stayed out a fairly long time. Jim tried leaning over the side to look, but I told him I had gotten out of my comfort zone enough yesterday and really didn't feel like doing more today. Besides, after our boat ride, I KNEW what was down there!

After spending the rest of the morning in the pool, we decided to stick to the shade. Our shoulders were already starting to turn pink! They had a game pavilion as well as xbox. We played some ping pong with old paddles and a nearly broken ball. THEN, I took on the ultimate challenge. FOOS BALL! See, Jim's office has always been into games. First ping pong, now foos ball. So, when we started to play, he thought he had it all sewn up! Well, I had news for him! See, I attended youth at church when I was a teenager. So, I was pretty good at playing on BROKEN foos ball tables. He's used to playing on NEW foos ball tables. To make a long story short, I WON! TWICE!!!

I figured that was to get him back for the scuba diving.... Just kidding!

Evening, our last night!!!
*sniff* Our last night in paradise! It was fun, exciting, and a little sad. We got all dolled up and went to the fanciest restaurant they had. It was WONDERFUL! It felt like prom or something. I haven't been that dressed up probably since our wedding. Well, ok. There was Matt & Robin's wedding and my friend Holly's wedding, but that's different. I found this fabulous red dress at Charlotte Russe in the NW Ark mall. For only $30! Regular price! I bought the shoes at wal-mart for $8 (yes, cheap) and the jewelry at wal-mart for about $15. We ate at Eleanor's and had filet mignon and some sort of fish. (Jim can't remember now) They even brought us passion fruit sorbet to cleanse our palate. Afterwards, we just walked around the property and tried not to think about the next day.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Jim's NEW blog!

Hey! Jim has changed his blog over to blogger. He has assimilated, like the rest of us. Go check it out!
You can also click on "Jim's blog" over on the right side in "Places I Visit (often)".

Our vacation does a nose dive

Wednesday, July 4

Today, Jim and I had signed up for scuba diving. You could get resort certified in one day and take two dives. Jim was certified when he was 16 so all he needed was a refresher course. I, had never scuba dived. Or had the desire to. Or cared to.

But being young and in love has a strange way of making you think you want to do things you wouldn't ordinarily do. Like try to breathe under water. But more on that in a sec.

Here is the pier that the big boats docked at. These were the dive boats, the glass-bottom boat, and the deep-sea fishing boat. Isn't the water beautiful? Ahhhhh. I SO wish I was back there.

Ok. Ok. Back to posting. Let's see. How shall I describe scuba diving? Hmmm. How about "I don't know" because I didn't do it. The class I went to had a video. We watched it. Kind of made me nervous, but I wasn't going to give up without trying. We then went to the pool. The instructor made us swim 2 laps to warm up. I don't know why. I also know that I almost could not do it. I made it, but my heart was beating SO hard when I was done. I felt like I had just gone out and sprinted an entire mile! Before my heart returned to normal, we hooked up to our scuba gear and were told to put our mask in the water while holding onto the side of the pool. I did just that, AND PANICKED! I knew air was coming out of the oh, um, thingy you put in your mouth, oh, the regulator. But my brain saw the water and said "NOOO! Can't breathe under here!" So I came up. I then spent the next 20 minutes (at least) trying to convince myself that I was fine. I wasn't scared of drowning. The water was 4 feet deep! But for the life of me, I could not quit freaking out when I went under. It was like being claustrophobic. One instructor even came over and tried to help. He said in his lovely Jamaican accent that I was not the 1st, 2nd, or even 10th person to do this. He said they teach thousands of people to dive every year and this is not unusual at all. I eventually got down on my knees in the water, but I still didn't like it. I would come up and he would say, "why did you come up?" And I would think "was I supposed to stay down?" This was, afterall, scuba DIVING!

Long story short, I wimped out and left. The next day, Jim had a cold so he couldn't even go on the dive he signed up for. So, we wasted $140 finding out that I couldn't scuba dive. But you can't say I didn't try! Jim says maybe we can find a lake up here to practice in. I say maybe not.

AFTERNOON - Trying to recover from the bad morning
We took a glass-bottom boat ride in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the skies were clouding up so the water was getting murky. However, we still saw some sites. This picture was taken from the top of the boat. The dark area you see is where the seaweed was growing. The lighter area is pure sand. When you looked down, either through the glass or on top of the water, you could see straight to the bottom! And the water was so blue! There must be over 1 million shades of blue in one snapshot of the ocean.

EVENING -- 4th of JULY!

The crew at Sandals did a wonderful job trying to make us Americans feel at home on the 4th of July. They had a cookout at one of the restaurants that included grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, pork, good doughy bread, and all desserts topped with cherries! There were red, white, and blue balloons tied to the backs of our chairs, which made it feel like a kid's birthday party. We met a couple there from Michigan, and then one from Canada. I don't know why the Canucks were at the American celebration, but they were very nice. (and just married)

Later, Jim was developing a cold, and I was just worn out from my "swim" earlier in the day so we turned in early. And vowed to just stay in the pool tomorrow....well almost...

Ok. Ok. Here's one more picture of the ocean. This one is now my computer background. I may have it blown up and put by the side of my bed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Jamaica, Day 2

Hi ho, guest blogger Jim here (Wendy's other half). She is busy pacifying the natives tonight, so I have the privilege of blogging about day 2 of our recent trip.
After finally catching up on our sleep Monday night, we ventured out Tuesday morning in search of all the stuff we saw in the brochure. Breakfast was buffet style at Bayside, and we decided to try the Jamaican national dish: ackee and saltfish. Ackee I liked, saltfish... not so much. We didn't see the waffle & omelet stations (made to order) until we had eaten, but we resolved to check 'em out tomorrow.
So with the ocean a mere 30 yards from our balcony, we did what anyone else would do: we got in the pool (seen above, at night). The resort has four pools, each with its own personality: sedentary, relaxed, quiet party, or full on par-tay. We chose the pool outside our balcony, which was the "relaxed" pool -- no swim-up bar, but still plenty of places to sit and drink. We sat and drank the morning away with not a kid in sight or hearing. Bliss!
Lunch was at Bluefields, which gave us our first crack at "real" Jamaican food. I got the jerk chicken, and Wendy got jerk caesar salad. While the salad was lacking in chicken, my 2-piece plate was plenty and plenty good. Moist, fall-off-the-bone chicken with just the right level of jerk spice. Yum! Here we also met the first of many birds on the property who seem to have learned a thing or two about stealing customers' food. Be warned: they are smarter than they appear.

Here's another tip: book your extra stuff (tours, etc.) before you get to the resort. After lunch we went to the tour office to see about some fishing, but the boat was booked for the week. Rats! We decided to do scuba instead (quite the story there) so we signed up for classes the following day.
Now what to do with the rest of the day. Hey, didn't someone mention a patisserie? Why yes, I believe they did.
All-inclusive resort, I think I love you.

Finally, we discovered a chess set that was originally used by the native inhabitants of the island (who were 18 feet tall):
Neat decoration, but I liked some of the other games better. That's where our story ends for today, kids. Tune in tomorrow for adventures under the sea and the weirdest 4th of July celebration on record.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Whew! I forgot how hectic it was to work and have kids. Sorry about no post last night. I'm sure nobody missed me.

Let's see....where was I.....

Monday, July 2
We woke up at 3:30 am to make it to the airport by 4:30 am. We did. And we sat until our flight took off at 6;40 am. We flew to Memphis and then to Montego Bay, Jamaica. We had to go through customs and immigration in Jamaica, which scared me, but which also turned out to be no big deal.

I took this picture in Montego Bay at the beginning of the bus ride. The city surrounding the airport was touristy and um, shall we say, risque. This apparently was a souvenir shop.

Once in Jamaica, we had to board a bus that would take us to the resort. It was 1 1/2 hours of driving through RURAL Jamaica. VERY interesting. I was afraid that by staying at a resort, we wouldn't get to see much of the real country. Well, this bus trip took care of that. It totally looked like we were in Africa. Or some other "developing" country. I figure part of it was just the rural nature of the place. These are some school girls walking home from school on Monday afternoon. All the school kids wear uniforms and each school has their own colors. Throughout the whole drive, we mostly saw Jamaicans sitting. Just sitting. And everybody was outside standing on the side of the road! I am so surprised we didn't hit anybody.

Even though I was starving and exhausted (see previous post about the midnight hospital visit), I'm glad we had to drive a ways. It really opened my eyes to another part of the world.

That night, there was a welcoming banquet and we got introduced to the managers. There was also some local craft vendors who brought their wares onto the property and sold them to us. You had to bargain, so luckily my garage sale skills kicked in. I got 3 handmade Jamaican dolls for $15. The lady originally said they were $10 a piece. They probably cost her 50 cents each to make, but hey, they come there to make money. And we have better souvenirs than t-shirts or mugs.

This is a picture of the booth where I bought the dolls. The lady had some clothes, but none that I thought I'd wear past our vacation. I inquired about one cute outfit and was told bluntly "it not fit you". She was right.
This is the ice sculpture at the banquet. Yes, it was melting very quickly. But it was so nice! It made us feel all rich and stuff. Now I see why you pay beforehand... That way you're not thinking about how much all of this is actually costing you even if it is "all-inclusive".

After that, we just ate and then crashed! I had gotten 4 hours of sleep Saturday night and then barely 5 on Sunday night. I was TIRED!

Tomorrow, Jim and I RELAX and hit the pool!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

What a week!

Hi, all! We have had one heck of a week! So much so that I'm going to split it up into small pieces and blog about them separately.

So think of this as a real time blog. Only it's a week off.

Saturday, June 30 to Sunday July 1
Beta started having breathing problems again. I gave her the inhaler, but it wasn't helping much. I even called the after hours line. About midnight, the nurse said she was going to need steroids and to take her to the emergency room. *sigh* AGAIN. Back in May, when Jim was out of town, I had had to take Beta there because she was not getting enough air.

So, Beta and I sat in the emergency room from 1 am until 5 am. I swear. Why can't my kids get sick at 7:00 pm on Saturday night? Why 1 am???

Anyway, to make a boring story short, we got sent home with a steroid dose and some antibiotics. She was also diagnosed with the beginnings of pneumonia. Wonderful.

Meanwhile, we were scheduled to leave on vacation that very afternoon! I debated whether or not we should even go, but Beta was dead set on "going to grandmudders house". I figured all I could do was sit here and give her medicine, which my mother could do as well, so we went.

And tomorrow, I will detail our long trip down to JAMAICA! It was a 10th anniversary/second honeymoon type of trip. It was AWESOME!!!

I'll leave you with a view of the Caribbean Sea as seen from our airplane. Those are clouds, not bubbles! And yes, it really was THAT blue!