Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A quick post before the "big vacation" post is uploaded...

Isabella is a FIRECRACKER.  She is adventuresome.  She is fearless.  She is determined to accomplish things.  Wow! what a kid~   After twenty-three (23) 10-minute lessons... less than 2 hours in total... she was able to do all of this:

Her swim instructor tips her over upside down in her clothes in a pool.  Isabella came up to the top / rolled over/ and floated so she can breathe.  The instructor pushed her down to the bottom of the pool another way (feet first) and she was to do the same thing.  This first series of photos was taken from class # 24 - the first "test." 

The next day (class # 25), she did the second "test."  She had to do it again but with big, bulky winter clothes on.  It was pretty incredible.  She passed her two tests, as she clearly demonstrated during the lessons that she can swim, roll over to breathe, roll back to swim, roll over to breathe, then swim again.

She was "rewarded" with being able to jump off the diving board at the end of each lesson the last couple of weeks of her instruction.  Did I already mention that she's fearless??!! (The instructor said she was one of her best students & that she "gets it" really well for her age.  Next summer, she may only need 1 week as refresher on how to react if falling into the water.)  

The instructor also says that after having gone through this program, the children are not "drown-proof" but at least they have a fighting chance should they fall into a pool.  This is a little comforting to us, as Isabella seems to LOVE the water.  She wants to go go go... swim swim swim.   


Part of the "big vacation" post is about Mercer spending time in Florida after our week at the beach.  But - I mention it here because early last week, my college room-mate, Cindy, and her family stopped by for a brief visit / eat dinner together.  They are living in Germany right now while her husband works overseas.  They are back in the US and in Atlanta for some specialist doctor's appointments for her kids.  Mercer SO ENJOYS hanging out with these boys when they all get together.  He would be crushed to know that there were boys his age here playing with a few of his toys and entertaining Isabella.  It's too bad that he couldn't hang out with Daniel & Trevor, but... we're really grateful for the short amount of time that we did get with them!

Except for the medical issues they're having making them unsure, Cindy and her husband love it there and are considering staying over another year -- extending her husband's work contract.  

We miss seeing them a few times a year (they normally live about 2 1/2 hours from us), but if they stay longer... somehow... we need to sneak in a trip over there to visit!!

One day.  (~maybe~)

Friday, July 10, 2015

Swim team wrapped up at the end of June.  It was an intense 6 weeks of daily practices and weekly swim meets.   But - wow - what an improved swimmer Mercer has become!!  It was hard to get him up and be excited about going to practice each morning, but he did it.   He ALWAYS enjoyed the meets, however.... they were full of action. Often he snuck in some junk food that he doesn't normally get.  He had lots of fun playing on the pool deck and outside (playing football most meets on the grass with various kids).  He enjoyed the actual swimming too - mainly so that he could earn a ribbon for each of his events.

Mercer came a long way in those 6 weeks.  We are both very proud of him!!! 

(This funny pic shows Isabella sleeping through much of this final meet.  She was not as excited to be there, obviously.)

Here are some shots of the overall team as well as the 7-8 year old group (minus a few of the boys).  I was one of the "bull-pen" moms.... and had to round up each of the boys for their events.  There were around 70-80 events each meet.  The group of boys were in approximately 8 - 10 of those events each meet.  Mercer swam in 2 - 4 events each time.  (Some of the more experienced boys swim in additional events with more advanced strokes.)  Mercer focused on freestyle and backstroke individual events as well as relays.  If he does this again next year -- which he says he wants to -- they'll likely work on his breast stroke and butterfly.  Then he would compete in more of the races.

Here are some photos of the awards ceremony at the end-of-season swim party.  The coaches (a group of dedicated high-schoolers) came up with a special award for each kid, they said something about every member of the team as well as presented each with a trophy.

Mercer's special award says "No Brakes," the Jr. Coach who presented his award citing that he did not want to stop swimming at the practices.  When the kids were to swim to one end of the pool and get out / walk back... he would swim back instead.  

Isabella has her own swimming adventures going on as reported previously.  She's in her 4th week of Infant Swim lessons that are focused on life-safety.  From where she started (learning how to hold her breath and propel herself a few feet as shown on the last post)... now she is jumping in / swimming a little / rolling over onto her back to float and catch a breath.  She can roll back over and swim a little more, then roll over again.  The program is 4 - 6 weeks long.  The instructor thinks that she will not need the full 6 weeks.  She will "test" fully clothed where she's dropped in the pool and she has to show that she can float, breathe, and possibly even get out.  We'll see how far she goes!  It is seriously amazing to watch this progression.... and Todd / I are both SO IMPRESSED by her abilities so far.  This is exactly the sort of thing that we wanted to get out of those years of swim lessons we put Mercer in when he was really young.  I think we found the "right" fit for toddler lessons.  https://www.infantswim.com/ 

Isabella is not strong enough to go across the entire pool, but that will come.  She is VERY comfortable in the water.  This is definitely just the beginning for her; she has no fear!  In fact, after her lesson tonight, she went straight for the diving board.  The instructor let her jump, but made her "work" for it by swimming and floating afterwards.  

We had enrolled Isabella into another session of "tumble tots" at the gymnastics center (before we decided to sign her up for the infant swim program).  There was a couple of weeks where we had cross-over between Mercer's swimming, Isabella's swimming, and her tumble. It was a bit much!

But, she enjoys it. The cutest thing about the class... her getting dressed in her leotard and then saying "tumble" why patting her belly.  It can't be just the leotard... check out this smile!

My mom popped into town to see the trifecta of the kids events:  a swim meet, the infant swim classes and tumble.  We were constantly on the run.  It was a short visit, but she packed in a lot!  

A few other highlights from the past few weeks:

Todd finished "phase I" of the fort-building project.  (Mercer got a set of his own tools / helped a little bit.  This was precious:  him explaining each tool to Isabella after I educated him on the pieces in the kit!  SO CUTE~) 

Part of the fort is previously owned -- from someone who has teenagers now and was getting rid of their set.
Part of the fort was funded by my 8th grade students who pitched in for a Home Depot gift card.  ALL of the fort was built with patience and love.  (the weathering will make the pieces match at some point in the near future)  There will be a "phase II" at some point too when we take over the arbor.... maybe next summer??  

We ordered something called "Squishy Forts" from a crowd-funding site called kickstarter about 1 1/2 years ago.  The fort finally came in.  Crazy how long it took for this guy who visualized this product to get it into mass production.  

The developer of the product kept us abreast of his manufacturing ups and downs along the way.  We were one of the first people in the world to receive a fort.  Hopefully his company does well now that he has a viable product.  Check it out:  squishyforts.com  

The kids are having a lot of fun with it so far.  

At the end of June was the Great American Campout.  We thought about trying camping with Isabella at this time, however.... she's definitely not ready.  She and I slept inside while the boys and the dads slept outside.  The boys stayed in the tent with Todd and zonked out.  Todd did not sleep well - nor did the other dad.  Maybe it was the sporadic croaking of the frogs??  Even though the dads were worn out, the boys had a great time.   

Another "event" that happened in June.... the 24th annual Bo Read Putt Putt Golf Tournament on our street.  The thing is - this is the first year that there was NO golf!

There were lots of water toys available for the kids, so they had a good time even though there was no golf to play.  

Everyone loved Isabella's water-sport style.  (she picked out the boots herself)  They stayed on until they became filled with water.

Also, we have proof (we have photos) of Mercer dousing his sister with water over and over again!  She just took it.... with style~

And - to wrap up recent events - here are a few photos from the 4th of July.  There was no parade this year.  It got rained out once again.... boo.  I think Isabella has only seen one so far.  Mercer still donned his red, white, and blue.

And - after cooking out with friends - we did make it up to the square for fireworks.  That was a blast.  (sorry.... couldn't resist!)