Monday, August 27, 2012

Alabama - Diving

On our first full day in Alabama we went to Suzie's house to go swimming. Pepaw had gone on ahead with someone else so Mema and I took the girls in the van. I had the GPS on and Mema was telling me where to go. Now, where we were in Alabama it is not like we were in the mountains, but y'all... Texas is FLAT. I'm not even used to driving on hills. And there are some BIG hills in northern Alabama. So we are driving to Suzie's house and Mema is pointing out all the relative's houses along the way and she realizes we made a wrong turn. So, I turn back and she said we were on the right track. Then she tells me to drive down this particular street and I look at my GPS and the road ends. I look up in my window and there is no more road (from my perspective.) My confidence in Mema was low since she already had gotten us side tracked once. She said, yes the road is there just drive! Well I realized we were at the crest of a hill so I just sort of trust and keep on driving. 

Sure enough the "road" ended and there was a gravel path that my van laughed at. But I manage to get down the bottom of that hill without sliding off the road and we drive through an amazingly thick forest with a cliff on one side that dropped to a river. Finally we made it to Suzie's house. She has an awesome pool and we had a very good time spending the afternoon there. Maddie and Izzie watched the older cousins going off the diving board and they wanted to try too. They even got brave enough to jump without their puddle jumpers! I couldn't photograph that though, because I was in the water helping them. Tyler caught them as they went down and then he sort of pushed them in my direction so I could get them to the wall. We made a great team and it really was one of the highlights of Maddie and Izzie's trip. 

 Izzie saw the big kids actually diving so that is what she wanted to do too. With that puddle jumper she ended up doing more belly flops than actual dives, but she did it with gusto.

 Cookie break! I made sure to have plenty of healthy snacks on me, but I did let the girls pick out one treat to enjoy.

 Maddie jumping with Roy and Ryan watching.

 Most of the grown ups did not get in the pool. Although once the pool volley ball started up, I thought Mema was going to jump in with her clothes she got so excited.

Ryan did some excellent dives!

Now, you know that hill that I came down to get to Suzie's house? Now I had to drive up it. My van was very worried about it and we almost didn't make it up, but somehow we were the little engine that could and we made it up that hill. I'm sure someone with more hill experience would have been fine but for me, it was a challenge! (later in the week I have one more scary hill story to tell....)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Shhhh!

The girls are having me whisper and tip toe around the house because Bunny and Teddy are sleeping in their cribs on the bottom of the stairs. So be very quiet not to wake them!

Early Morning Ramblings

I know that when you are a twin, sometimes it is hard to figure out who you are, separate from your sister. This will be a life long journey my girls go through. Every single person goes through this journey, but for twins there is the added element of seeing a mirror of who you are, might be, could be and even are not every single day. Most people don't have to worry about how they are singular in this world until a much older age. I know I'm over thinking it, but I want my girls to be everything they want to be and last nights conversation has just stuck with me.

We do a little family game before bedtime a couple times a month. It's "I love 'blank' about you." It started on a whim a while back and now we do it when ever we think about it. We take turns going around the family, "Izzie I love how graceful you are" or "Maddie I love how kind you are to everyone" Then I go around to John, "Husband, I love how you protect our family" and then last we say something we love about ourselves. "I love my smile." And yes, I do call him Husband in this exercise and in some other times around the kids. I want to distinguish Husband and Daddy. I tell them I love their Daddy, he's MY husband. I don't know why I started doing this, it just seemed important. Sometimes you go with your gut. It has something to do with them one day finding a healthy relationship. John seriously will roll his eyes and think I over think EVERYTHING to do with raising our children, and maybe I do. But I do. I love our family and no one can fault me for that!

Anyway, somehow I got sidetracked. When we play this game we let the girls say whatever they want, often times at this age they just repeat who ever went first. And that is fine. They LOVE this exercise. But last night Izzie was having a hard time saying what she loved about herself. I try not to put words in her mouth, but she was getting frustrated and I opened my mouth and said, "Do you love how you twirl? Your talented art? Your great math skills?" And before I could say anything else they both stopped me, "Mom," Maddie pipes up, "I am the girl that is a mather, Izzie does art." I said, "Izzie can do math too." They argued and Izzie said, "I do art NOT math." I just said that they could both do art and math and anything they wanted and just let it drop.

This has come up over and over. I don't know how it started and I know they are just trying to figure out who they are in the world, their sameness and their differences. And yes, Izzie does tend to spend more time drawing and coloring and Maddie will keep answering addition and subtraction problems all day long, but I really hope that at 4.5 years old they are not setting themselves in stone. Izzie is great at logic problems and Maddie loves 3D art like cutting and gluing. I probably just need to take a deep breath and let them be.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Before the trip and the 16 hour drive

 So before we headed to Alabama, the girls and I had to drive the 4 hour drive to get to Mema's house. We left early in the morning so that we'd have a good amount of time to play and hopefully get to bed early. The plan was to wake up at 3am the next day! This is Izzie trying on Mema's gardening hat as we relaxed and went over our packing list before dinner.

 Three AM and I loaded the van. Six people. Plenty of foot room and we didn't even block the windows. If packing was an olympic sport, I'd take home the gold. I can get more in a small space than anyone I know. That blue and green rectangle on top of the red suitcase... portable potty.... but we only had to use it once. Still... great to have a for a long car ride! My mom got it at One Step Ahead and it is great because it folds flat and takes regular zip lock bags.

In the car and ready (almost) to roll. No they did NOT go back to sleep. They were EXCITED!

Check out the cool little car pillows I made them on ropes that velcroed to the seat belt. They loved them.

 Before we started out, we moved our little van to the right side of the car which was "Texas" and as the day progressed it slowly, slowly inched its way across the van to the "Alabama" side. This helped the kids see how far they'd come and how far they had to go. Getting half way was exciting.

 First stop was Denny's for breakfast around 6:30AM. (Izzie, Maddie) They also loved eating breakfast in their PJ's. We got dressed right before the lunch stop!

Ryan, Mema, Pepaw.

Another still "dark" photo. Maddie, Mema, Ryan and Izzie.

Now it's light out, but we still haven't gotten into our clothes. But it was time for a movie break.

 
 Coloring to pass the time. I forgot to pack a coloring book for Mema. I should have made FOUR kiddie packs, I think Mema was jealous!

Ryan and Izzie.

Pepaw and I took turns driving, although he did most of the driving.

 Part of the drive is on something called the Natchez Trace, it's an old Indian Trail and it is very pretty. Two lanes the ENTIRE way with beautiful trees and lots of stops along the way for photo ops & restrooms. It's a very windy road and was very peaceful.

 I bought a few dollar store prizes for the kids like silly putty, cars, special pens and these handcuffs for Ryan. He LOVED them, much to Mema's chagrin. She stayed under arrest for most of the drive.

I had to take this photo and text it to my hubby (It's sign language for I LOVE YOU!) We missed him, but we would have had to tie him to the top of the car, there just wasn't room and it was a very last minute trip!
We finally arrived around 7 PM and the girls found this doll house and made themselves RIGHT at home! It was a long 16 hour-ish drive but it was fun and full of lots of memories. I will treasure the week I spent with Mema and Pepaw forever.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'm back, but still don't have it together

I am so glad I went to Alabama to visit family last week. I'm glad I decided to just be spontaneous and keep a "make it work" attitude. The girls and I had such a fun time with Mema and Pepaw. I found out I really love my Great Aunt Mary and getting to know my Great Uncle Irvin. Not to mention the rest of the family. They just kept on coming in droves. More and more, every block as we drove around Mema would point out the window, "Cousin so-in-so lives here, Great Aunt Mmmm lives here, that is the house that my other aunt what's her name grew up in." I could not even begin to remember all the names she rattled off. Some were current and some were from her past recollections and I never was quite sure what was present and what was a distant memory. Of course we met all of her "core" family members, but she said we'd need a month or two to get around to visiting ALL the family that lives in the Northern Alabama area.

Mema is one of six children. I think I finally got the birth order down. Gayther, Mary, Lena (my Mema), Jerry, Waylon, and Roy. Although I better double check that. We stayed at Aunt Mary's house and we met all the other brothers, their wives and a lot of their children and grand children. If I think about it too hard, I go cross eyed trying to remember who goes with who!

One thing that was challenging for me, was to give over control and learn to just go with the flow. I think I did remarkably well, but it was hard for me and I did have more than a few moments of complete stress out. Especially when it came to food. I was doing my best to be a gracious guest but my food issues are deep, I suppose! I was worried about the girls tummy hurting from eating different foods than what they were used to and I really did not want to increase their sugar intake since they are on a very low sugar diet (using mostly natural sugars) at home. So when we were with other cousins that were eating oreos, krispy treats, gatorade, cookies and such, I tried to bring along fresh fruit, milk, water and Larabars (a processed food that I approve of for special treats!) I am not judging the way they ate, I just know that we aren't used to those foods and I didn't want their tummies (or attitudes) to change. But I (hope) I was fairly easy going and didn't cause too much upset with our "weird" diet!

I was remarkably flexible with their bedtime and I deserve a pat on the back for that! At home they go to their rooms for bedtime at 7pm and they nod off usually between 7:30-8:30. Some nights on vacation we were out until almost 9 and we all did great. There were a few late night tempertantrums, but for the most part I was proud of all of us for how bedtimes were handled. Luckily when you are vacationing with 70+ something year olds, bedtime isn't going to be that late anyway!

I'll take a few days to get all the photos uploaded, I'm still labeling and sorting. I took a LOT and I will be posting A LOT, but for now, I'm just going to put up this one panorama I took.

This is a bunch of the family on the last day of vacation. We were swimming in the Tennessee River at JeanAnne's house.

Friday, August 3, 2012

On being spontaneous

Yesterday (that would be Thursday) my Mema called me at 11:30am and asked if the girls and I would go to Alabama with them on Monday. More precisely they are leaving at 3:00am on Monday. Which means I need to drive to her house in Bryan (about 4 hours away) on Sunday. I spent most of the rest of the day yesterday mulling over the idea of going on a last minute vacation that involved a 16 hour drive in a minivan with two 70 year olds, two 4 year olds, my 8 year old cousin and myself. There is not going to be a lot of room for extra stuff. I told her that we'd love to join them and then I just was sort of in shock for the rest of the day. I got a decent nights sleep last night and so today I'm going to be extremely busy. Packing and prepping for this drive. I've got to clean out my minivan, prep up snacks, figure out entertainment that doesn't take much room and pack and try to get my cat into the vet for a suspected ear infection. Wowsers.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Watching the Olympics

A future USA Swim Coach lives in my house...

Last night while watching Mens 100 Freestyle Maddie was shouting at the tv, "Reach and Pull! Reach and Pull! Go USA! REACH AND PULL!!!!"