The next great thespian…

Our summer activities this year (besides our vacation and teeball) have been theater, theater and more theater. And finally on Friday, all of our hardwork and time paid off.

Brayden and I have both been in rehearsals for the production of “The Wizard of Oz” since auditions in mid-April.  Luckily the rehearsal schedule wasn’t too bad.  We had rehearsals twice a week until the end of June.  Of course the few weeks leading up to the performances are more intense and this means rehearsals every evening lasting way past Brayden’s usual bed time.

"The Wizard of Oz" - Brayden is on the left hand side

Surprisingly, he has been well behaved even though he has been up extremely late for over 2 weeks straight.  He has even started “sleeping in” a bit.  This is unheard of for Brayden.  On a usual morning, Brayden serves as Daddy’s alarm clock — without a snooze. He is usually up by 6:45 am each day asking for breakfast.  He’s the morning person mommy and daddy (or Lydia) never were.

But one day last week, he shattered his record by waking up at 9:30am!  The not-so-good thing about this is that he’s no longer tired at his usual 8:15ish bedtime.  So he lays in bed for more than an hour trying to fall asleep, which makes him frustrated.  Hopefully we will get him back on his schedule real soon.

Mommy & Brayden - July 2011

Last Friday was the big opening night! He was excited and not a bit nervous.  I guess he gets that from me.  I am a nervous wreck for an audition, but an actual show doesn’t bother me at all.  I get the burst of adrenaline,  but never nerves. 

Brayden plays the part of a Lollipop Guild Munchkin and also a Flying Monkey.  I am a citizen of the Merry Ol’ Land of Oz.  Basically that means I am onstage less than 5 minutes. Brayden gets about 15-20 minutes of stage time. Even though we are never onstage at the same time, it has been fun doing a show with my little man.

Brayden & another Lollipop Guilder friend

He is adorably cute in both of his costumes.  He is so stinkin’ skinny we have to safety pin his pants to his shirt each night so he doesn’t lose his britches! He knew a few of his friends were in the audience on Sunday afternoon.  So he kept telling all his castmates that his girlfriend was in the audience.  He even asked me which costume he should bow in that evening.  He said, “Mommy, which one do you think she will like best?” Too funny!

The Stick Pig

Brayden also participated in a theater camp this summer.  He participated last year too and loved every minute of it.  This year they performed their rendition of “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs” by Jon Scieszka.  If you haven’t read this book to your kids you are missing out. It’s the wolf’s version of the classic tale. Brayden portrayed the Stick House Pig and also narrator #13.  He made sure I never forgot the narrator part. It was adorably cute watching all these 5-7 year olds put on this play. 

My little ham

Brayden is quite the ham (no pun intended) and does quite well getting to and from where he belongs during the shows.  Since I am so busy doing other things for the show (acting, producing, even braiding Dorothy’s hair) he has to take responsibility for himself with minimal help from other grown-ups.  He gets his costume changes done, his mic pack attached, he is always ready for his entrances at the correct places.  I’m proud of my little man.  The only thing that I have to help him with (and he hates) is putting on his makeup.  The eyeliner, mascara, blush and lipstick are a chore to get on him each night. He doesn’t sit very still for the eyeliner, so it tends to get all over his face. I guess if I was a five-year-old boy (or 5 and 11/12 as he tells people) I wouldn’t want to wear it either.

We still have one more weekend left of shows.  So you still have a chance to see Brayden on the stage. If you come, be sure to bring a pencil. After one rehearsal, Brayden asked if pencils would be provided for people who asked for his autograph. 

Lydia with the Wicked Witch (AKA Our really...she is our babysitter, but she isn't wicked!)

Though this is the first time Brayden can remember being in a show, this is actually his second mainstage production.  When he was 10-months-old I was in a production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”  I played Tzeitel, the oldest daughter.  If you aren’t familiar with this classic musical, Tzeitel marries and has a baby.  So when I was cast as Tzeitel, the baby part was taken care of. 

Tzeitel & her baby - June 2006

He is all grown up now.  I can’t believe that was 5 years ago.  I can’t believe he is going to be six at the end of August.  How is this possible? Time has flown. 

This summer has flown by as well.  I’m exhausted.  Even though we are doing things we enjoy, they are still very time consuming and feel like work instead of play.  When “The Wizard of Oz” closes, I will start right up with producing another musical.  And when that one finishes up, school will be starting again.  I’m sad that the summer has seemed to float right by us.  

Fishing with cousin Derrik

Uncle Craig made me kiss my first fish, so naturally Lydia had to kiss one too!

We need to slow down.  We did that during Fourth of July week.  My brother and sister-in-law came up to Indiana to visit.  (So that means I got to snuggle baby Luke again.) We even got to take the kids fishing with my cousin Derrik. And our dear friends visited on the 4th. Check out Lori’s blog for more on that. 

4th of July 2011

Our summer of theater has been fun, but now we are ready to soak up some more of summer while it’s still here.

And here’s my shameless plug: Don’t forget to come see us in “The Wizard of Oz” this coming weekend! Contact me for more information.

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Vacation 2011: Part II

Disney – June 18, 2011

The second half of our trip started out a bit rough.  We headed north for our three hour drive to Orlando right after dinner on Friday evening.  Lydia couldn’t get comfortable, so she started crying in her car seat.  It was my fault dressing her in an adorably cute tutu outfit.  Tutu’s are super cute, but can also be super itchy. You know me: “fashion before comfort”.  Who am I kidding? I’m the one who is always seen in a pair of jeans wearing a t-shirt. 

But I digress, I made Jay pull over in the middle of Florida nowhere so I could try to get Lydia to calm down. I stripped her down, changed her into jammies and then we hit the road again.  She then fell asleep  in 2.2 seconds after we returned to the road.  (Note to self: never again put your daughter in a tutu outfit when you are wanting her to fall asleep in the car. Check.) 

We made it to our hotel late that night.  When we first pulled in the parking lot I thought to myself, “Oh, Priceline, you failed me!”  Let’s just say it didn’t have the best curb appeal.  Once in the complex of the hotel, we were pleasantly surprised.  Our room was clean and stylish.  And there were plenty of kid-friendly activities including an arcade and a water park.  I would recommend any family staying there.  After successfully getting the kids from the car into their hotel beds, Jay and I also hit the hay.

A great day at Disney!

The next morning we woke up and headed to Magic Kingdom ® at Walt Disney World.  The four of us had the best day! Though Father’s Day was the next day, Brayden wanted Daddy to have his present a day early so they could wear their sort of matching “Phineas and Ferb” t-shirts to Disney. 

Sort of matching "Phineas & Ferb" T-shirts

Mommy & Lydia on the tea cups

When we got to Disney it was quite the scorcher.  The water misting fans kept us going throughout the day.  We also made a point to stagger the indoor and outdoor rides.  That way we could get a break from the heat every so often.

It was a hot day!

Besides the heat (which is expected in Florida, especially in the month of June) we couldn’t have asked for a better day.  The longest we waited to get on a ride was probably 10-15 minutes (most of our wait times were only 5), the kids were on their best behavior, and meeting Mickey and the Disney Princesses at the end of the day was special! 

The whole family with Mickey!

Lydia with Sleeping Beauty

The only sad part of the day was when Lydia decided to take a little nap right before we went on the “It’s a Small World” ride.  Jay says she was smart! I disagree. The funny thing about it though is that when we brought Brayden to Disney when he was about the same age as Lydia, he too fell asleep right before getting on this ride.  My parents came with us that time and I remember my Mom being really sad that Brayden was going to miss it.  So I guess, at least in our family, you have to sleep through your first time on “It’s a Small World.” Lydia will catch it on our next go ’round!

Sleeping during the "It's a Small World" ride.

There is something about watching the parade right in front of the castle that gets me everytime.  I always get a little teary eyed thinking that we are so blessed to be able to give our kids these experiences.  We are so blessed to have happy, healthy, beautiful, smart, <insert myriad adjectives here> children.  And we are blessed as a family to get to experience the magic of Disney together.

Watching the parade in front of the castle.

Brayden said his favorite part was the Buzz Lightyear ride.  Which is totally made for the boys (Daddy’s included).  You get to shoot your little laser gun at the targets throughout the ride and it keeps score for you.  Of course, Brayden stomped me on my score. But hey, I was working on shooting the pictures on the camera!  He also liked riding the Big Thunder Mountain rollercoaster.

Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!

We left Magic Kingdom® at a decent hour. We didn’t stay for the fireworks.  We hopefully will someday when the kids are a little older and don’t require a certain bed time in order to have a good next day.  We leisurely left on the ferry and I just remember thinking to myself, “This was a great day!”

Mommy & the kids

The next morning we were up and at ’em again. This time with plans to head to Universal Studios. it was also Father’s Day.  It takes a special kind of Dad to spend his special day at an amusement park!  Brayden & Lydia do have the best dad.  They couldn’t have asked for a better one.

The whole fam at Universal Studios

Happy Father's Day Daddy!

My sister, Mindy, and my oldest niece, Ellie, met us there.  Mindy and I both love Harry Potter.  We went to the traveling “Harry Potter Movie Memorabilia” exhibit together when it was in Chicago.  She and I also went to a midnight showing of the first installment of book 7’s movie together.  So naturally going together to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Islands of Adventure® was a must.  And of course, if we are doing anything that involves Harry Potter we have to wear our Muggle t-shirts!


This was my favorite thing about Universal Studios of course.  The whole area looked just like we had walked into Hogsmeade (for the non-wizarding folk – that’s the little village where the wizards buy wands, sweets and owls.)



Chocolate Frogs

The Harry Potter ride was one of the best I have ever rode, though everyone else thought they were going to be sick from all the motion.

Classic family pic in front of Hogwarts

We decided to grab some lunch at “The Three Broomsticks.”  With our drink of choice being a Butterbeer.  It was better than cream soda with this whip cream topping that had a butterscotch flavor. It was the best! I’ve been craving it since we left.

The "better than cream soda" Butterbeer!

Brayden will tell you that the best part of Universal was Rocky the Fountain, which Daddy didn’t have the presence of mind to record or photograph. Rocky was a talking fountain that told Brayden he’d grant a wish, asked him to recycle a cup someone left lying around, and told him about some “hot babes” standing behind him.

Even though the kids liked the Harry Potter area, they really enjoyed themselves in Seussville.  Brayden also really liked the Superhero and Jurassic Park areas of the park.


Fun day together at Universal Studios

Brayden & cousin Ellie chatting

We ended our best vacation ever with one of the worst vacation days ever. First, we discovered we forgot to return mycbrother’s pack and play, giving us one more thing to haul (and pay for) on the plane ride home. 

Our fun hotel

We had a free day with the flight leaving around 8 p.m. Jay woke up feeling a little bit sick, but it was OK since we decided to visit the hotel’s water park. The water park was great fun, but Jay developed the worst headache ever late morning.

Part of the hotel waterpark

Waterslide with Daddy

He ended up buying some overpriced Tylenol and falling asleep at the table during lunch while the kids and I played in the arcade. Brayden cashed in his tickets and relived my youth by getting a slap bracelet. Jay woke up feeling much better, and we headed to Downtown Disney.

Slap bracelet!

At Downtown Disney, we visited the Lego store (of course), where Brayden spent much of his hard-earned money buying a new Star Wars Lego set and a Harry Potter set.

Brayden buying his lego sets.

Lego puppies

We also had dinner at Planet Hollywood, where I was thrilled to see One-Eyed Willy’s pirate ship from my all-time favorite movie “The Goonies” hanging right above us.

Dinner at Planet Hollywood

"The Goonies" Pirate Ship

From there, we headed to the airport. As Jay was gassing up the rental car to return it, Lydia puked all over herself in the back seat. Luckily, the car stayed clean and we had some spare pajamas. But we had to throw the mostly uncleaned carseat into a garbage bag. By the time we picked it up at baggage claim back home, it stunk to high heaven.

A fun end to our vacation

Shortly after we returned home, we also learned our troubled Jeep (or the “Stupid Jeep” as I call it) was a safety hazard, forcing us to buy a new vehicle.  That’s a whole other story and I hate reliving it, so I won’t.

Fortunately, we didn’t let a rough last day ruin a vacation full of memories.

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Vacation 2011: Part I

Fun, relaxing vacation - 2011

We are still unwinding from our recent vacation.  A vacation that was much needed. We were looking forward to it for quite sometime.  So after my biggest fundraising event of the year at work took place, we were flying to Florida early the next morning.

Meeting baby Luke

The main reason for yet another trip to Florida was to meet my new nephew, Luke.  And that is exactly what we did that first day.  We all got to meet him, kiss and snuggle him.  He is a spittin’ image of my brother.  Which ultimately means he will grow up to look just like my dad.  He is definitely a keeper. 

After meeting my nephew, we all went over to my sister Mindy’s house to swim with my nieces.  A nice, relaxing first day was exactly what we needed.

Beach day!

The next morning we didn’t even pause at the idea of hitting up Fort Myers Beach!  Baby Luke even joined us for his first beach day! The kids couldn’t get enough of the water, sand, and sun.  Of course we applied and reapplied our 50 spf sunblock and we kept baby Luke underneath an umbrella.  He still managed to get his cheeks a little pink though.  But hey, a little vitamin D is good for everyone, right?

Baby Luke and mommy Nicole


Hole in One!

That night we met up with the whole clan and took the kids miniature golfing.  It was such a good time!  Brayden and my niece, Ellie, golfed one hole ahead of us all.  They were our fearless leaders.  On one hole all 4 kids got a hole-in-one!

Brayden, Emmie, Ellie and Lydia

The girls

The next day Jay and I took the kids to the Imaginarium.  It’s basically a children’s museum.  Though they had a good time, it isn’t half as good as the Indianapolis Children’s Museum.  Our favorite parts were the koi pond and the area where the kids could pet the sting rays.  Brayden also got inside this little room with Jay that simulates a hurricane. He though it was “pretty cool.” Though I don’t think his face quite depicted his statement.

No fear, Lydia, petting sting rays

The hurricane simulator

Brayden and Daddy in the hurricane simulator

After the imaginarium we headed back over to my sister’s house to swim and also to have a quadruple birthday party. All four or our kids birthdays are in July and August. We bought a cake, wrote all the kids’ name on it, and sang happy birthday.  They exchanged gifts and ran amok in my sister’s house.  It was a lot of cousinly fun!

Happy birthday to all the kids!

The last day we were in Fort Myers we headed back to the beach.  This time with cousins in tow.  Brayden spent most of his time building sand castles and creating mini pools in which some older boys he met on the beach were dumping little fish into for him.  This day gave me time to catch up with Mindy.  I miss her a ton and love when we get to spend time together.

Beach day with the cousins

That evening before we made our 3 hour drive to the north we met my brother and sister-in-law for a great dinner at Olive Garden.  I got my last few kisses and hugs and snuggles in with handsome baby Luke before we hit the road.

Uncle Carey, Aunt Niki, Luke, Brayden and Lydia

The first half of our vacation was great being able to spend it with some of my family.  I wish we all lived closer.  I swear everytime I see my nieces they seem so much bigger. All four kids had a great time playing together.  They just pick right back up where they left off.  And so do my siblings and I.

Stay tuned for the second half….

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Best Mother-in-Law in the World

Grandma Kenworthy and Lydia at Brayden's tee ball game.

To say my Mother-in-Law, Brenda, is an angel would probably be an understatement.  She is the best! She is someone I strive to be like.  She is kind, loving, and fun.  She always thinks of others before herself even if it might make life harder for herself. 

Brenda decided to start watching the kids for Jay and I one day a week. (This is the first God send moment. To know my kids are home safe with someone we know and trust is the greatest gift someone can give a parent. So thank you, Brenda!)  Thursdays are her day now.  Today was her first Thursday.  And of course in true Lydia fashion, miss sassy was rearing her ugly head.  Brenda said she couldn’t satisfy her for more than 10 minutes at a time today.  Everything she asked her had the response of “no.”  But when asked if she wanted Grandma to go home her response was “yeah.” 

Sassy Lydia

In spite of Lydia’s bad attitude, Brenda was still bound and determined to have a great day with the kids.  So after picking Brayden up from kindergarten she took them to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal.  Here she found herself in the slew of a mess.  Long lines, no where to sit, someone tripping Brayden, and of course still a sassy Lydia.  But they trudged through.  After this she braved a grocery store run to pick up some supplies for dinner.  Yeah, you heard (or read) that right.  My Mother-in-Law went to the store and picked stuff up so she could have a home cooked meal ready on the table when Jay and I got home from work with no intention on staying and enjoying her awesome creation with us.

The menu

She let Brayden prepare the menu and he chose chicken fettucine alfredo, fruit, bicuits, and brownies. And so that is what they made. Brayden wrote out the menu and then they cooked.  When we were eating dinner Jay asked Brayden, “Did Lydia help?” and Brayden’s reply was, “She just made it harder.”  That sounds about right.  Now there is something you must know about Brenda — she is the world’s BEST cook.  Everything she makes is delicious.  I need to know how she made the best chicken fettucine alfredo with no planning, no recipe, and two kids (one who was being difficult).

The picture doesn't do this justice. It was delicious!

Not only did she make dinner, she also gave Lydia a bath and had Brayden shower before I came home.  After his shower, Brayden decided he needed to “dress nice” for dinner so he put on his best plaid outfit.  Just call him Mr. Plaidy McPlaiderston.  He told Brenda that plaid and plaid just had to match. 

Plaid matches plaid, right?

Now having dinner on the table and the kids bathed made for a really easy, relaxing evening.  I didn’t have to do any work. All we had to do was play with the kids and read them a bedtime story. Easy peasy lemon squeezy as Brayden would say.

Brownies decorated by Brayden for Memorial Day

Thank you, Brenda!  You are loved more than you will ever know.  You are a true woman of God that I strive to be like.  You are so much like Mamaw in that regard.  She would have done anything for anyone. And even though we miss her like crazy, it is a blessing to see that her wonderful qualities have been carried on through you.

P.S. Mom – I think you are the greatest Mom in the world too!

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When Good Boys Go Bad

Parenting has its up and downs.  If you were anything like me, I thought taking care of a newborn was a lot of work when Brayden was born.  Then the newborn turns into a toddler and you quickly realize that newborns are a breeze. Toddlers you have to watch every second of the day. They are curious and get into things. They become more daring and start exploring everything.  And of course they talk. And there are many times when the talking is adorable, but sometimes it is just too much.  There is a question every two seconds.  And after months of this it can get a bit tiring.  Thankfully we have grandparents who like having the kids over for a slumber party sans parents.  Along with all those things mentioned, there is the budding personality.  This is so fun to watch develop.  But with the personality also may come sassiness.

Lydia is full of sassy.  (I think we’ve mentioned this a time or two already.) A lot more so than her brother.  But as of late, Brayden has been developing more of this sassiness.  Maybe his sister is rubbing off on him. I wouldn’t say this “kid” stage is harder.  I still vote that toddlers are the most exhausting. (Though I’m sure parents with teenagers will tell me the best is yet to come.) Jay and I are hoping Brayden’s sassiness is nearing the end of its tunnel.

This week we have been reminding Brayden to make good choices instead of bad ones.  We tell him we enjoy “good Brayden” much more than the other side.  The last month has been a struggle for Jay and I.  Brayden has taken on this new form of not listening the first time he is told something.  His teacher has even taken note.  This is completely out of character for him.  Needless to say, our home has consisted of too many “time-outs” to count.

At his tee ball game on Saturday he was even a bit embarrassing.  He has become a ball hog to the point where he will run to the ball wherever it is and wrestle with his teammate to get it.  He also laughed when another kid swung and missed when trying to hit the ball off the tee.

We usually give him one instance of not listening the first time, warn him about it and tell him if it happens again X will happen.  X usually is a special toy being taken away or a 10 minute time-out.  If the occurrence happens again then we make sure we follow through with our threat because what will he learn if we threaten and don’t act on it.  If he gets in trouble close to bed time, he has been losing his privilege to read a bedtime book.  Maybe this makes me a terrible mom to take away reading. This is something he looks forward to each evening.  But my thinking is if he wants to read a book or have one read to him before he goes to sleep that he will start listening to us.

After his last tee ball practice Jay and I told him that he needs to start listening to the “rules”, i.e. letting his teammates have a chance at the ball and listening to his coaches instructions. He was warned that if this happened at his game that he would not be able to have his after-game snack.  He was denied of this on Saturday after his game.  And now the threat of not being able to play in his next game is looming over his head if he has a repeat of his last game.

Having a game taken away will be devastating to him.  But I want him to learn and know that being kind to others is of utmost importance. If he laughs at a player on the other team again, I will take him straight off the field because it is unacceptable in my book.

He’ll learn quickly I’m sure.  He hates when Jay and I are disappointed in his actions. We had a good talk last night, in place of a bedtime book, about choosing to make good decisions.  He was pretty upset last night, so I think his actions are starting to sink in.  I think (hope) we are seeing the light at the end of that tunnel. God speed…or Jay and I might lose our minds.

Post Script: After I wrote this, I learned Brayden had a very excellent day today. He earned a reward at school for collecting enough good behavior stickers, and he was back to his old self in the listening department all day long. It just shows the ups and downs of parenting. Overall, we’re very blessed to have two incredibly well-behaved children. Even this latest phase has been cake compared to what many parents go through, but when you are trying to bring up little ones, every headache can seem like a migraine.

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A Special Mother’s Day

Mother's Day 2011

Mother’s Day was extra special this year. Jay and I dedicated the kids at church. Of course the getting ready for church that morning wasn’t very fun.  I was exhausted from a quick trip to the region to attend a baby shower and to visit my new nephew in the NICU the day before.  That put me back home around 2:30 a.m., but once we arrived at church, it was much better. 

Dedication at Church

Dedicating our children to the church is a public profession that Jay and I as parents will raise our children to know Jesus.  Of course we have been trying to do that since day one with our kids, but it’s always easier when you have a congregation of people that will pray for you and hold you accountable. 

We chose verses for both Brayden and Lydia that we feel will be guiding for their lives.  For Brayden we chose Romans 12: 6-8.

“We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”

We chose this particular verse because he is such a sweet, easy-going boy, who always thinks about other people first. And that is a wonderful gift to have!

Mother's Day fort built by Brayden.

For Mother’s day he said he made a fort in the living room out of blankets just for me.  And then he proceeded to tell me that for Mother’s Day he decided I could sleep with his beloved stuffed dog, Kevin, for the night.  Knowing how important that dog is to him, that was one of the best gifts he could give to me.  It came straight from his heart.  I need to learn a little from my precious five-year-old.

Getting to borrow Kevin for a night was the best gift!

For Lydia we chose the story of Lydia in Acts, which says in part, “She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” (Acts 16:14-15)

Ferns for my Mother's Day gift.

My prayer for our Lydia is that she follows the lead of the Lydia mentioned here in Acts.  She was a worshipper of God. She and her family were baptized and she invited people into her home.  I try to instill in my children the importance of creating a welcoming environment for others to come into our home. I love playing hostess.  The biggest compliment I can get is when others tell me they feel comfortable in my home and that they enjoy coming over.  My prayer for Lydia is that she will too worship God and that her and her family will be followers of Jesus.  I hope she also sees the importance of fellowshipping with others. 

Being able to dedicate the kids on Mother’s Day was a way for me to connect to them as their Mommy.  It’s a day for kids to tell their mothers how much they love them.  But it also made me remember it is a day for me to remember what being a Mommy is all about.  It’s about raising my children in an environment of love.  To constantly show them the unending love the Lord gives all of us.

Being a mom makes me appreciate my mom even more.  I realize the things she must have had to give up for us.  I realize the hard parenting decisions she must have made.  And I understand the unending love she gave and continues to give to us.  I love you, Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

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The Boys of Summer

Brayden's 1st T-Ball Game

Brayden started tee ball this year, and I can’t help but think I’m reliving “A League of Their Own”. We are a bunch of dads who never made it on our own, trying to manage a group of unmanageables. In the movie, it all comes to a head in that scene where Tom Hanks stands at the urinal for an inordinately long amount of time. Madonna gets out a stopwatch and declares, “That was some good peein’.

After the Game

Co-ed five-year-old tee ball is exactly like that. Except the peein’ is never any good. The bathrooms are super far away. The little ones hold it so long they can barely get there in time. You have to loosen their baseball pant strings for them. And you’re never quite sure what to do with the mitt while you’re standing there (my recommendation is to wear it on top of your head like a hat).

First at bat

Brayden has been hyped up to play baseball for more than a year. Last year, he didn’t quite make the age cut-off, but that was fine with us. Of course, in the weeks leading up to the start of the season he had plenty of questions. Questions like, “What about the ghost runners?” And “Will my baseball games have commercials?”

It’s hard to coral that many kiddos, so I’ve helped out by doing a bit of “coaching” for the team, and the Angels’ first game was Saturday.

"Go Angels!!"

The team was huddled up before the game. There are ten kiddos on our team, but only nine had made it to the diamond. The coach figured out who was missing and declared that Ryan wasn’t there yet. Brayden shouted dramatically, “Oh no! We can’t win without Ryan!” It was a funny quote, made even funnier by the fact that 1. Ryan is a little girl that isn’t superbly better than the rest of the players, 2. There’s no scorekeeping in first-year tee ball, so no one wins, and 3. The kids had had two practices at that point, so Brayden probably wouldn’t have known little Ryan from Nolan Ryan.

Brayden making a play

But Ryan finally showed up and the game started. Brayden did very well. There are no outs in beginners tee ball, so even if you get tagged out, you still get to run the bases. Of five or six outs the teams got the entire game, Brayden made at least four of the plays. He tagged two runners out after fielding the ball. In one incredible play (for five-year-olds), he stopped the ball near the pitchers mound, threw the ball accurately to first base (incredible), and the first baseman caught it (even more unbelievable)! It was the top play that night on kindergarten SportsCenter.

Chasing down the runner

On the final batter of the game, Brayden fielded the ball at second base, chased a runner around second, around third, and tagged him out on the way home. He also hit the ball well.

Scoring a run

He was even the last batter one inning, meaning he hit a “home run”, as the last batter gets to clear the bases.

Brayden listening to Daddy who was the third base coach.

For me, one of the best moments came when a little girl on our team made it to third base in the second inning. I was the third base coach and decided to say, “Hey! Your pants are dirty! That means you’re playing hard!” Now, the game was at 8:00 a.m., and you could tell most kids just rolled out of bed to make the start of the game. After the pants comment, the little girl beamed and said proudly, “AND I’m wearing my pajamas under my uniform…with no underwear!”

Brayden and Daddy

Truthfully, Brayden’s team — the Angels — has a good coach, a bunch of supportive, friendly parents, and kids that crack me up. I look forward to a great first season.

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Welcome Baby Luke & Baby Kaden

It was a pretty exciting April to say the least.  Our family was blessed with two beautiful baby boys, both of them deciding to come out and meet us a bit early.  Now they are here and ready to tackle the world!

Handsome Baby Luke

My brother and his wife gave birth to baby Luke on April 12. I haven’t personally met him yet, but via the pictures and videos I have seen, he looks like a handsome little man. My brother and my older sister both live in Florida.  I don’t like the distance between us at all.  Especially now that we are all expanding our families.  My nieces seem to grow up so much in between the times we get to see them.  And sadly, Luke will be two months old by the time we get to meet him.  We have our flights booked for June and we are counting down the days until we can hold handsome baby Luke in our arms.

Precious Baby Kaden

The other early arriver was a little too early!  7 weeks early to be exact.  Precious 5 lbs 4 oz baby Kaden surprised us on April 28.  I have never seen a newborn with so much hair.  I told my sister that if he cooked for 7 more weeks that he would have had hair down to his knees.

On the morning of April 28, I called my sister and said, “You better have this baby before Jay, the kids, and I head to Florida to go meet Luke.”

I promise I didn’t mean that day.  But sure as can be a few hours later she had her first signs of labor.  A few weeks prior to this my sister told me that I was allowed to be in the delivery room when the baby arrived. Now I’m a person that gets completely queasy at the sight of blood or needles or just the thought of blood or needles.  So I told my sister I didn’t think I wanted to be in the room with her.  I think she was a little offended by this.  She was in the delivery room when Brayden and Lydia were born and so I think she expected me to be in the room with her.  Well when the time came to make the decision I did in fact decide to stay. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life.  Seeing my beautiful nephew being born was one of the neatest things I have ever witnessed.  It was truly a blessing to see a new life enter this world.  The sound of his first cry was one of the sweetest sounds I have ever heard. And seeing my sister become a mom herself was a truly rewarding experience.

The new mommy feeding Kaden for the first time.

All these babies are giving me “baby fever.”  I’m ready to have another one of my own to snuggle day in and day out.  Being a parent is the best!  Today my brother said, “Being a Dad is even better than I have ever imagined.” 

Proud Aunt Shayla

Welcome to parenthood, Carey, Nicole, Kelly and Robb!  It truly is better than you can ever imagine.

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He Said/She Said: Pierced Ears Edition

 Parenting is all about give and take and compromise. Well, that and cleaning up vomit. So to capture the negotiation portion of our relationship, Jay and I have decided to introduce a series called “He Said/She Said”, where we will debate a certain parenting topic. Enjoy!

Beautiful Lydia!


She Said:

Jay and I have been debating when Lydia should get her ears pierced for quite sometime now.  I’m ready to let her get them done, but for some reason Jay has been a bit hesitant.  I guess this is the start of all the age old questions of when girls can do this or that, such as shaving their legs, wearing make-up and Heaven forbid — dating.

I was around the age of 2-3 when I had my ears pierced. I actually appreciate my mom getting it done early so I wouldn’t be scared to make the decision on my own.  Who knows, I may not even have my ears pierced today if she didn’t.  And I laugh at the reactions of others about this miniscule, yet exciting event.

Some people think that getting a child’s ears pierced makes a young girl think that nothing is more important than being pretty. Lydia knows that mommy, daddy and big brother Brayden all think she is beautiful.  We let her know quite often.  But we also let her know quite often that she is loved.  I hope as a parent my children know they are loved and appreciated always.  Not only just when they get a good grade, or hit a home run, or look pretty, but always.  I hope they both grow up with confidence in themselves.  And pierced ears shouldn’t be a factor in that, but how we parent them will.

I want to get her ears pierced because she will love it.  When she sits on my lap she points at my earrings and talks about them in her very cute ramblings.  Then she proceeds to get out her clip-on princess earrings from her dress-up box.  So I always ask her if she wants to get her ears pierced and she replies with a “Yeah.”  So I tell her to ask Daddy please. “Daa eee, pease!” He’s since rubbed up to the idea of letting her get them done for her second birthday.  Which is only about 3 1/2 months from now.  That is a scary thought in and of itself.  I can’t believe our little baby is almost two.

So I see this as being the forefront to all the other “when can she” questions.  My guess is that Jay and I will disagree a bit.  But it only makes sense to let the mom make those girl decisions.  Jay has already decided to make boy decisions for Brayden.  He has officially changed the name of Brayden’s private area for him (which I completely disagree with.)  But he argues that he is the one who understands a boy, not me.  (And don’t ask me what daddy told him, you can ask Jay!)

I think my mom did pretty well with the other “when can she” questions.  I shaved my legs in 6th grade.  That was the first year we had to change and take showers in P.E. class and she thought that was a good time to start letting me take on that responsbility.  I will encourage Lydia to wait as long as she can.  Because shaving your legs isn’t fun…it’s a chore! 

I was able to start wearing a little bit of blush and lip gloss in 6th grade as well.  And that was sufficient for me up until around high school when I incorporated a little mascara.  The foundation and cover up stick were added to the line-up in early college when my face decided to take a turn for the worse. Mounting up with a million zits!  And the eye shadow wasn’t worn on my lids until a couple of years ago.  The less make-up the better is my mantra!

And dating…well I don’t really remember an official start.  But I think it was my freshmen year of high school that I remember going on a double date to the movies.  I think my sophomore year of high school I was able to go out with a boy just the two of us.  I’m not sure if my dad had a say so in this.  Or if he did, I didn’t know about it.  I think this one just came up when I asked if it was okay.  Luckily, I was a good kid that didn’t get into trouble so I think my parents trusted me.

And there were quite a few dates, but not many “boyfriends.”  I had way to much going on to have a boyfriend take away any of my free time.  Boys just seemed to get in the way, much like they do now!  I went to Ikea with my best friend, Beth a couple of weekends ago and we had a blast!  I’m sure there would be many more spontaneous Ikea runs if our husbands weren’t involved in our planning.

Hopefully soon Lydia will get her first experience of one of the important days in a girl’s life – the day she gets her ears pierced.  And maybe she can bring her Aunt Sarah along to get her ears pierced too…or Great Grandma!


"Pease Daa eee"


He Said:

I’m not totally opposed to young girls getting their ears pierced. But a lot of women seem to think it’s cute when babies have pierced ears. I just think the look is just a little too “Toddlers and Tiaras” for my taste.
But once a girl has enough hair so that the piercings don’t stick out like a sore lobe, I’m fine with it. Since Lydia has lots of hair, the only question becomes, “What’s the rush?”

The answer outlines a serious difference in opinion between Shayla and me. I happen to think there’s no rush. Lydia isn’t asking for her ears to be pierced. She’s 20 months old. What’s the difference between piercing at 20 months, 24 months, or three years? I sure can’t tell.

Shayla and I have the same discussion around holidays and birthdays. If Shayla sees a cool book or toy or outfit for the kids on December 5, she’s going to buy it and give it to them. Then a week before Christmas we look around a crowded store and ask, “What are we going to get the kids with this last $25?” A week after Christmas, we look around a crowded house and ask, “How do our kids have so much stuff?” That’s not how I was raised. If you’re less than 90 days out from a major gift-getting occasion, don’t expect to get anything.

That rule applies to ear piercing, because it’d be a good gift that doesn’t take up space and is, as Shayla says, a seminal moment in a young girl’s life. And, to me, nothing says “Happy birthday” like getting shot twice in the head with a needle gun. That said, we’re more than 90 days out from her birthday, so technically that rule doesn’t apply. That brings me to my next point:
I’ve never heard a parent say, “You know, my kids didn’t grow up fast enough.” It’s exactly the opposite. We cry when they go off to preschool, but we push them into body art?

Brayden was old enough to play basketball last fall, and he wanted to do it. Basketball! At the age of 5! But at the end of the day, we decided that we’ll have more than a decade of sports ahead. No need to rush. Our kids will have asked for a cell phone by the time they turn 10, but I don’t see the need. Get them one when they’ll actually use it for good — when they need to be picked up from sports practice or when they are learning to drive (in case of emergencies).
My point is, kids will ask for things. They will ask for them earlier than they should have them. We as parents have a job to be reasonable about it.
I don’t want the final say on the girly decisions. Mom and daughter can decide when a girl shaves her legs. I just want to make sure she doesn’t use my razor. They can decide when she wears make-up. As long as she doesn’t look like Lil Kim. And dating…well, I’ll just need five days’ notice to satisfy the gun purchase waiting period.

But when it comes to getting ears pierced, if we don’t have the patience to wait at least until the next birthday rolls around, we probably won’t have the patience for much else, either.


Putting on her earrings


And She Said Again:

Ba ba ba ba ba.  That’s all I heard.  Jay doesn’t know what he is talking about a lot of the time! 

I don’t go around buying lots of stuff before holidays.  I don’t think a new pair of jeans my child desperately needs and can’t wait for another two months without looking like he is wading a river constitutes giving them something too close to a Holiday.  Or let’s say a Christmas coloring book I give to the kids in early December.  If I waited to give them this holiday coloring book on Christmas it would not be used until next Christmas rolled around.  I just keep things in perspective.

And as Jay said, this issue doesn’t even fall in the “90 days until” category.  She is more than 90 days out.  And she does want them done.  Of course, she doesn’t quite understand that they will be poking her but she does want to wear earrings in her ears like mommy.  This is a good time too.  She will get them pierced, bother with them that day since they are still new and then forget they are there, hopefully then not getting an infection. Getting a babies ears pierced is actually pretty smart.  They don’t touch them at all.  I wasn’t ready to pierce her ears as a baby, but now as a toddler I am.

And I’m sure if Daddy hears anymore, “Daa eee, pease” he will be caving real soon!

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Just an everyday car ride conversation…

Being silly at the Museum

This was Brayden & I’s actual conversation in the car this afternoon.  Enjoy!!!

Brayden: Mommy, are the clouds on Earth or in space?

Mommy:  Well, the clouds are in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Brayden: Ok. Well how come we don’t need to wear special suits here on Earth like astronauts have to wear in space.

Mommy:  Because God made Earth special so there could be life on it. It is made just perfect for us that we can breath its air.

Brayden: What about aliens?

Mommy: Well, we aren’t really sure if aliens exist. 

Brayden: Mommy, you know what I was thinking?  We should send robots that can talk up into space to other planets because they don’t need to breath air and they can tell us if there are aliens up there.

Mommy: Brayden, that’s a great idea. That’s very creative.

Brayden: I should blog about that.

Mommy: (Holding back a  laugh) I think you should.

Brayden: Mommy, I have another question.  And this one should be with an exclamation point because I am very curious about it.

Mommy: Okay, go ahead with it.

Brayden: Why do people think that Santa is one of the most special people on Earth.

Mommy:  Well Brayden, why do you think?

Brayden: Because he is magical and brings presents to everyone!

Mommy: Yeah, that is quite a nice thing to do isn’t it? Don’t you think that is special?

Brayden: Yeah, you’re right!  Okay and I am also really curious about another thing then.

Mommy: What is it?

Brayden: Why did God make only one person magical?

Mommy: I don’t know, Brayden.  That’s a good question.

Brayden: And why do we call God God?

Mommy: Because he is the most powerful being. And he has everything in his control.

Brayden: Mommy, this is funny. I am imagining God with lots of hands and he is using a bunch of remote controls to move us around and do things.

Mommy: (Laughing) Even though God is in control, we still get to make our own decisions.  That’s called free will.  We just need to think before we make decisions and try to make the best one.  We need to try to do what God would want us to do.

Brayden: Yeah, I know.  I just thought that God with lots of hands and remote controls was funny!

Stay tuned for Brayden’s blog post about robots that talk that go to space because they don’t have to breath air that report on extraterrestrial sightings! I’m looking forward to this one too!

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