Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Laura is starting to hone her conversation skills. Her content could still use some work, but she's getting the idea!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Clare the Swimmer

Four years ago, Tim and I would have chuckled if someone predicted that Clare would one day swim on a swim team and absolutely love it. Four years ago, you would have found her sitting on the side of the pool at the YMCA, refusing to participate in the swimming lesson and crying if anyone made her get in. Fortunately, a lot can happen in four years.

Last night we were the proud observers of Clare swimming in her first swim meet. She has attended daily swim practice for the past several weeks, but this was the first meet we were able to attend that Mother Nature didn't wreck. Swim practice itself has been such a joy - Clare has eagerly looked forward to it each morning, and I have found it a peaceful way to begin my day, with Danny usually reading a book or playing with his lightsaber, Laura chilling in her carseat, and me sipping my coffee while I watch the swimmers.

The meet was much more exciting, and even a bit stressful for we rookies. But it was all worth it! I am admittedly a bit surprised, but very, very proud to say that Clare swam four events and placed first in three of them (the fourth was a relay)!

Her first event was a 50 meter freestyle, which she won by a solid 1/3 length of the pool, as you can see from the picture. When Tim congratulated her after the first race, she was surprised to learn that she'd won. She was even more surprised when he told her that not only did she beat the girl in the next lane, but in fact all the girls.

Her second event was the backstroke leg of the medley relay, which she was leading until the very end when she slowed to get her bearings. She used this experience later, for her last event, the 25 meter backstroke. I had noticed that morning at practice that her backstroke looked swift, straight and strong, a significant improvement over just a couple of weeks ago. That winning touch proved it, too!

She was pretty nervous for her third event, the 25 meter backstroke. Typical of Clare, she was nervous not because of the competitive pressure but because of the looming threat of disqualification due to an illegal touch. Just that morning she had been one of many swimmers to get pulled out of the pool and forced to do pushups because she had only done a one-handed touch. Fortunately she managed to keep it legal as well as fast!

Not surprisingly, she was flying high last night. She was so excited to swim in the meet at all. I really don't think she had even thought as far ahead as placing, let alone winning any races. The best kind of attitude, and one that I think speaks volumes about her character. Way to go, sweetie!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Club, Junior Edition

For the past year or so, Clare has attempted to engage me in a book club, wherein we each read a book of her choosing and then discuss it. Sounded great in theory, but we really only got around to it once. We had several books on the To Read list, though! Evidently Clare mentioned our club to her friend Abby, who in turn mentioned it to her mom. They thought it sounded fun and wanted to do it, too, so she emailed me with some questions about it. This inspired me to take the whole thing a step further and suggest that we join forces, thereby formalizing it a bit for us. And yesterday was our inaugural meeting!

We let the girls select the book, which was an American Girl mystery: The Stolen Sapphire (A Samantha Mystery). The four of us met for brunch, and I was impressed when the girls immediately wanted to launch into a discussion of the book. I was also impressed that they continued the discussion for quite a while, growing rather impatient when Mrs. T. and I would digress into conversations of our own. Let's just say my own book club probably wouldn't meet their conversational standards.

After a good chat, the girls also made a thoughtful deliberation on our next choice, having each brought three books to choose from. There were several contenders which may pop up in later months, but for now we're going with the Judy Blume classic, Otherwise Known As Sheila the Great. And I am very much looking forward to the next meeting with these delightfully literary ladies!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Story Time with Danny

A snippet of Danny as both emerging reader and sweet big brother:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blue Eyes Smiling At Me

Nothing but blue eyes will I see? Hard to say. Laura gets a lot of comments on her beautiful blue eyes. However, both Clare and Danny had bright blue eyes well into their first year, as the following photos will attest. Clare's are now very much green, while Danny's have morphed into more of a hazel (Edward eyes, for those Twilight fans).

Clare at 9 months:

Clare at 12 months:

Danny at 4 months:

Danny at 13 months (why yes, that IS a beer can):

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Laura the Foodie

(Dad, this seems a most appropriate post for your birthday!)
Yesterday was a big day for Laura: her first experience with food! For a family of food lovers, this was a major milestone. As I recall being the case with Clare and Danny, the first few bites were definitely of the "what on earth??" variety, but she soon got the idea. I gave her perhaps the first two bites, and then Clare asked if she could take over. She loved feeding her, and has asked to do so every day. Since Laura refuses to take a bottle and I am therefore on the hook for every other meal, this arrangement is fine with me!

Danny wasn't quite as charmed. While Clare was feeding Laura, I noticed Danny had his hands over his eyes. Concerned, I asked him what was wrong. "It's just gross! I don't want to watch." Since in most other respects he's a very good big brother, we'll give him a pass on this one.

Here's Clare at work:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Laura the Jet-Setter

Laura and I jetted off to Boston for a weekend with Mallie and Breen (Lisa and Erin to the uninitiated). It was Laura's first plane ride, which came later for her than the other two - Clare took her first trip at three months, Danny at three weeks. Traveling solo with her brought back a lot of fond memories of gallivanting around the country with Clare. It was such a treat to focus exclusively on her, especially since I knew Clare and Danny were in great hands back at home.

Mals took us to Cape Cod on Saturday, which was my first visit. For this Hotlanta resident, the weather was glorious: cool and rainy. I think Laura loved it, too. Or perhaps she just loved having three moms, plus two little girls, fighting over her. Whatever the case, she was a jolly little pumpkin all weekend! She even managed to finally roll over...right after I left the room to get some water. Breen will never let me forget it, either. (Breen also proudly walked around Cape Cod with Laura in her arms, graciously thanking people when they complimented her baby and never once correcting them. Hmph!)

Mallie's darling daughters, Abby and Sarah, repeatedly wished that Laura lived next door or was their baby sister. They have their own sibling on the way soon, though, so I suspect Laura will soon be a distant memory. I will remember this trip for a while, though!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fourth Year at the Lake (but hopefully not final)

The kids and I essentially unpacked our suitcases from Florida and repacked them again, this time stocked for an always-coveted trip to Lake Martin. As I was in this packing process, I realized this would be our fourth summer heading to the Pryors' awesome aquatic abode. Obviously it was Laura's first, and Jennifer had also added her own baby, Kobe the Shiba Inu.

I was very apprehensive about how it would be to take an infant to the lake. Since it's a relatively short drive, I entered into the excursion knowing that we could always just turn around and return home. Fortunately, I need not have worried. Between two other moms more than happy to take a turn with her, and her happy disposition to hang out in the portable swing or just laying on the couch, she did just fine. (The boat was another story, but hey - you win some, you lose some.)

I'm so relieved that she enabled us to stay, because it allowed for some special time between the "Three Amigas" as well as for the kids. Which we all needed, with the Pryors moving to New Jersey :-( As usual, the kids had an absolute blast, and also exhausted themselves such that they were both sound asleep 15 minutes into our drive home.

It's hard to say what next summer will bring, but I refuse to believe we won't eventually return to Eden!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Vacation, Baby!

One look at our calendar for the next few months, and there's not a whole lot about it that screams "vacation." There is something listed every single day, to the point that I have had to schedule playdates 6 weeks in advance, just to make sure we work them in before school begins. This is primarily owing to the amount of travel we undertake during the season. Something I wouldn't trade for anything, but something I have also learned is quite exhausting by the end.

True to form, we started the off-school-season with a bang by heading to Sarasota, FL for our family vacation. Just the five of us. (A phrase I'm still learning to say.) Having Tim to ourselves for a whole week is a treat in and of itself, and the grandparents' condo in a tropical location is the icing on the cake. Travel with an infant, though, isn't quite so sweet. Which we knew, and which I remember from doing this same trip with a four-month-old Danny.

We mixed it up with a fair amount of divide-and-conquer tactics as well as determined gatherings of the whole family. Clare, Danny and Tim went to the beach one day, the next I took them to the local YMCA's awesome aquatic park. Tim and the big kids ventured to Adventure Island one day, while Laura and I enjoyed a very peaceful day at home (with a jaunt to Target). The next day I took Clare and Danny on a boat tour of the bay area, complete with dolphin sightings and marine life encounters. We all managed to get to the Mote Aquarium; the pool for Laura's first swim; Big Olaf's for their deliciously creamy ice cream; and the beach.

In fact, we celebrated Laura's five-month birthday with her inaugural visit to the beach. It was a picture-perfect afternoon on what was ranked yet again as America's #1 beach: Siesta Key. The kids were in heaven, the water felt fabulous. Sadly, Laura did not cooperate, so we had to pack it in much earlier than the rest of us would have liked. I think Tim and I were both much more resentful of the baby than either Clare or Danny. Babies: so cute, so frustrating! Given that this was following her refusal to take a bottle, and four days' worth of refusing to nap in the afternoon (despite perfect napping in the morning), I suspect our irritation was more cumulative than anything else.

Since the beach was the most distinctive aspect of this trip - we can hit the pool every day here at home - we decided that was where we needed to spend the last day. This time, though, we took two cars (yahoo for Donna and Larry keeping a vehicle at the condo!). Laura and I arrived late and left early, and everyone was happier.

And so it appears it will go this summer. We'll find ways to do the things we love to do, but it's going to require more planning, more compromise, and more patience!