Thursday, June 23, 2011

Soccer Camp 2011

Our church sponsors a soccer camp each summer and Rylan went for the second time this year. It runs for a half an hour each morning for one week and the coach, Mr. Steve Long is funny, energetic, and great with the kids. Rylan had a few rough days at camp and a few great days. It was neat to see his coordination and attention span improving as well as his kicking and ball handling skills.

Not sure about giving me a smile. He did ask me to cheer for him, which I did whole-heartedly and loudly. I have a feeling I will be a great embarrassment to him in the not so distant future and he will most definitely NOT want me to cheer for him. I decided to make the most of my opportunity to show my proud parent spirit!

This was the best shot I could get of the Clarke men. Sorry to Charlton for making you squint in the bright light and catching you with your eyes closed.

I got a few really fun action shots.

Coach Long asked Rylan and his friend Dain to be his partners in a chasing game on the last day of camp.

Love that smile!

The camp was next to a really big playground, so we often stayed later for some time on the teeter-totter, swings, and slides.

This little gal is already practicing for next year! Coach Long is very thoughtful about including the younger sibs even though she isn't technically old enough to be an official camper.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My 2 1/2 year old

On May 24, Caroline turned 2 2/1 years old. The last few months, her independence and energy levels have skyrocketed. Most of the time I feel like she is at least one step ahead of me. She is always wiggling, squirming, jumping, scheming, and bouncing her way through life. I grew up loving horses in Kentucky, so forgive me if this illustration doesn't make sense to you. As we were walking into the grocery last week, I was trying to hold Caroline's hand. Trying, because she was pulling against me, skipping and hopping, and tossing her hair. I felt like a plodding lead pony escorting a spirited 2-year old filly on the racetrack. This may sound even more corny, but I think God gave me that picture of her to help me love her better and appreciate her boundless energy. Her energy levels way outlast mine most days and I often find myself frustrated and exhausted just trying to get her dressed or fed when she is literally bouncing off the furniture. It helps me to corral her more gently and appreciate her zest for life. It will be fun to see how God uses that energetic personality for good as she grows older.

We had a big setback with potty-training about 5-6 weeks in. All of the sudden, she gave up trying to pee in the potty and just had accidents in her pants, or on the floor, or the side arm of the couch (she is a climber, remember). She is super fast at undressing herself, so I guess she just figured it was less of an interruption in her play to pee on the spot and then whip the wet clothes off. Thankfully, she has stayed consistent with going #2 in the potty. Much easier to clean up wet than poopy clothes. I have had to start duct-taping her diapers because she will get out of her bed at naps and bedtime, take the diapers off, climb her dresser, change into underwear, and then wet the bed! I am glad she likes wearing her underwear, but would like to master dryness in the daytime before we tackle night time. I had to bring the little portable potty back to the living room, start setting the timer again to take her to the potty, and brought back the jelly bean rewards. I was really hoping to have her reliably trained by the time we traveled to KY at the end of June, but it is not looking so good right now. I know we will get there eventually, but it sure is frustrating to take such a giant step backwards.

Caroline is a great sleeper, going from 8pm-~7am and taking a 2-3 hour nap in the afternoons. She loves her big girl bed, but sometimes takes a while to unwind and fall asleep at night. When I check on her one last time before I go to bed, I sometimes find surprises. One night she drug her laundry basket out of her closet, on top of her bed and filled it with toys and books. If I lay out her clothes on her dresser for the next day, she will try to change into them.

We have been enjoying pool time lately and Caroline has taken to the water like a fish, aside from the one awful "chuking" incident! She will put her face in the water, wiggle her body and attempt to dive although she can't get her entire self submerged. Even when she goes under accidentally or seems to be coughing up a lot of water, I have never seen her get scared or discouraged enough to want to get out.

Caroline alternates between being shy with strangers and very outgoing with people she recognizes. She knows her favorite teachers from MOPS and church and will smile and greet them with lots of excitement. We have had a few playdates with little girls close in age and she will call out their names and wave when we see them again. So cute!

She knows how to melt her daddy's heart by giving smooches and saying in her high-pitched voice, "Kissy, kissy," Her vocabulary is growing daily and sometimes I hear her repeat phrases that Rylan says. She is very independent and wants to do lots of things by herself, like getting dressed, putting shoes on, and buckling her car seat.

Some things Caroline hates: thunder; any other really loud noise like the food processor; holding still; having Daddy leave for work... I have seen her get really frustrated when she can't make a toy work the way she wants and she can be whiny and demanding when she wants something and I won't give it to her. Overall, she is a pretty happy girl and doesn't stay upset for long unless something is really wrong.

Some of Caroline's favorite things: singing, her pretty white church sandals (she would wear them everywhere and anywhere); sparkly things; necklaces; pancakes and waffles; catching and playing with ladybugs; climbing anything; Jesse from Toy Story, Rapunzel, princesses in general, Tinkerbell, Dora, Diego; fruit snacks (crazy about them); drinking anything out of Mommy's cup; playing with any of brother's toys; hot showers after swimming; riding her tricycle; playing puzzle game on Daddy's iPad; her brother (most of the time); juice boxes...

So, here is a little snapshot of my girl at 2 1/2. I know I won't remember these little details of her life and personality later, so I am glad they are written down. I am so thankful for my joyful, sassy, beautiful, and healthy girl!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rylan's new ride

By the time Rylan figured out how to pedal his trycicle, he had practically outgrown it. We really wanted to give him an opportunity to learn how to ride a big-boy bike and build his confidence on it while the weather was nice this summer. Charlton and Rylan had a guys-only outing on Monday where they stuffed themselves on a seafood platter at Red Robin (inspired by their new favorite show "Swamp People"). Afterwords, they picked out this beauty of a ride.

He was going so fast, he just about rode out of my picture. I love the smile on his face.

Concentrating really hard on pedaling. The training wheels allow the bike to tilt a little from side to side, which has been kind of scary for Rylan. He still isn't convinced the bike won't completely tip over, and doesn't want us to take our hands off him. I am sure he will get more comfortable with time and practice. Meanwhile, Rylan was happy to officially give his tricycle to Caroline, who was thrilled. I'll have to get some pics of her next. She doesn't pedal yet, but can move those legs and propel herself with no problems.
We are busy with soccer camp every morning this week and have enjoyed some pool time, too.
I have to share this crazy story today. We saw our favorite nurse practitioner, "R" at the pool and enjoyed chatting. She asked Caroline how she was doing and my little girl surprised me by making a pitiful face and announcing "I'm sick." I just laughed, because Rylan is usually my hypochondriac and loves to tell people he is sick when he is perfectly fine. Caroline had been a little less active in the pool that morning, but otherwise had no symptoms. "R" told me things are not as busy at the pediatrician's office after a late strep season had ended, although there was a fever virus going around. I said I didn't think we had a single visit since our well-child appointments last fall and was so glad for healthy kids. Well.... guess who went home, took a 3 hour nap and woke up with a 101.7 fever? Next time I will remember my nurse superstitions and bite my tongue! And maybe I will actually listen to my little girl. It seems she knows what she is talking about.

Mmm, S'mores

Charlton planned a camp-out for the kids on Saturday night. I got called in to work and was so disappointed not to be able to share the fun. Charlton got a bunch of great pictures on his phone, but I only managed one before I had to rush out the door. They built a fire in the fire pit, roasted hot dogs, and ate s'mores. After a few hours, Caroline crashed in her own bed and Rylan and Daddy ended up in sleeping bags on the living room floor. Even though they didn't stay outside all night, I think this picture shows they had a wonderful time and Rylan loved his s'more!
It brought back so many wonderful memories of my childhood seeing my kids playing with their horses in our backyard. Both toes and hooves are enjoying the green grass while it lasts.

"Will you please help me clean up the legos," I asked Caroline tonight. She replied, very sweetly,

"You help yourself, Mommy!"

Monday, June 6, 2011

It was a great day for the pool....

Finally, we had a day warm enough to enjoy the outdoor pool. After a long day of driving and hiking, we grabbed our swimming gear and headed for a day of sun and splashing.
We had a wondeful time for the first 20 minutes. Both kids gradually made their way to the deeper area of the kid's pool and seemed very comfortable in the water. Caroline is very adventurous in the water as in every other area of her life and she has already started putting her face in the water. I stay really close to grab her in case she gets too deep, but she always bobs up and down with a smile on her face even if there is some sputtering and coughing.
At one point, she coughed especially hard and I noticed a pinkish tint to the water in front of her. Then another gag, and the cloud grew larger with some definite particles. I recognized the blueberries we had eaten for breakfast now floating in the pool water.
The nice lady dangling her legs on the side of the pool exited in record time. I grabbed my daughter and shame-faced, notified the lifeguard of our unfortunate upset stomach in the pool. The head lifeguard, an older man, was hardly sympathetic as he gave a big groan, blasted his whistle and evacuated the entire pool. At 11:00 in the morning. On a Saturday. At least a hundred people derailed in their enjoyment of family time at the pool. For an entire hour.
Caroline, for the record, was absolutely fine. It was not a stomach bug. As I have suspected for quite some time, she has inherited the hyper-active Monroe woman gag reflex. I have a feeling we have not experienced the last of it.
I gathered our things, trying to sneak out with a shred of my dignity intact. Rylan, the newscaster, was making the rounds up and down our row of chairs. "My sister just puked in the pool! Can you believe that? Now they have to clean out all the blueberries."
We may never be able to go back to the pool again. If we do next month, I will be cutting and dyeing my hair and we will all be wearing new bathing suits. And Caroline will be wearing some gigantic water wings to keep her head a foot above that water.

My favorite place

I love Rocky Mountain National Park. Any season of the year, it is always different and so beautiful. I was solo parenting again this past weekend and decided to take the kids up and just play and enjoy the spring scenery.

We had a nice time, although the drive always seems longer then I remember, especially on the trip home. Caroline turned into a mountain goat and gave me heart palpitations every few minutes with her exploits. We had lots of screaming fits as I had to drag her off granite rocks at least a dozen feet of the ground. She had no fear! At one point some hikers were staring at me as if I was torturing my screaming child. I had to explain she was mad because I wouldn't let her climb the steep rocks as high as she wanted. Rylan has much more endurance hiking, but he is terrified of bees or any winged insect that even remotely resembled a bee, so that was a bit of an issue.

All in all, we had a good day and I felt successful in that none of my children fell in the freezing cold creek, or fell off a huge granite rock. Oh how your expectations change when you have kids.

There was still plenty of snow and ice on Bear Lake at 9,000 feet.

Rylan striking a surfer-like pose. I think he was standing on at least a foot and a half of packed snow!

The kids loved crossing this log bridge. There was only a dry stream bed underneath, so no worries for mama. They both loved throwing rocks in the real stream.

Bethany and I hiked this same trail (to Cub Lake) in February and it was covered by feet of snow. We were at fairly low altitude, so no more snow here like there was at Bear Lake.

The best part of hiking was eating a picnic on the rocks.

We were all exhausted after our day of fresh air and sunshine in the mountains.

Memorial Day

We had a really nice Memorial Day weekend, with some warm, but windy weather. Charlton had a class all day Friday and Saturday and I had to work Monday night, but we squeezed a cookout and some relaxing time in between.

My cute cowgirl! Rylan refused to look at the camera, so I couldn't get a picture of both my kids in their patriotic clothes on Sunday mornings. I made this dress for Caroline last summer, purposely a size larger so she could wear it this year. When I put it on, I was amazed. I knew this girl had grown taller, but she had almost grown out of the dress! I tied the shoulder straps as loosely as possible and it was modest enough to wear to church, but my goodness!

We ate our first sweet corn of the season. The kids had fun helping me shuck the ears. Caroline wanted to taste hers fresh from the cob!

Yumm! You want some too?

Rylan loved corn on the cob when he was Caroline's age. He wasn't as much of a fan this year, but maybe it will grow on him. I know we will be eating lots more this summer.