Friday, July 30, 2010

VB (part 5of 5) - The Beach

The girls loved the beach so much. Splashing in the waves was their favorite. They would run and squeal while jumping over the waves as they came crashing in. The last morning we played with another family that was also there for the same conference. They had twin 4 year old girls. A lady near by asked if I had 2 sets of twins daughters. Oh my, that would be crazy!
Charly enjoyed the beach sand, but not so much the water. It took forever to get her to actually put her feet down into the water. She enjoyed chilling in the tent so much more.Lucy loved every minute of the beach. Although, at one point, Leland and Lucy came screaming hysterically towards us. Sobbing very badly and creating a huge scene. I thought maybe one of them had been stung by a jellyfish or something serious, by the way they were acting. We finally figured out that Lucy had dropped her goggles into the water while passing them to Leland and were now swept out to see. Based on their reactions to the situation, other possible scenarios was a shark biting off their arm. Seriously hysterical. All for a pair of dollar store goggles being swallowed by the deep dark ocean.Leland overcame a lot of fears at the hotel pool, even eventually jumping off the side of the pool and off the diving board. She also would swim across the pool without holding onto Chuck. All of this was with her life jacket on. Maybe next year we will actually go to a pool more than 3 times during the summer and take swim lessons.During nap time, I enjoyed 2 hours of reading my book undisturbed while lying on the beach. Thanks to my cute hubby for staying in the hotel room with all three sleeping girls, it was fabulous.

VB (part 4 of 5) - Cavalier Hotel

We stayed in the Cavalier Hotel when we were in Virginia Beach. The tower we stayed in was oceanfront, just off the boardwalk. This is the view from the top of the hotel.

The historic part of the hotel is called the "hotel on the hill". It was pretty, but it was obvious that it is only opened for the summer months and not kept in the best condition in the open common areas. The girls loved the big rocking chairs to rock their "babies". Click on the picture and you can see the big 'L' with the girls so excited to standby by their letter.When the storm happened on the first night, our room flooded with the rain (the carpet was wet, but no visible water) since we were on the first floor. We chose not to change rooms, since I discovered that being on the first floor was fabulous. Our room was in the best location - with the sliding door right out to the pool, no balcony, and the closest room to the walkway to the beach. But the wet floors just made it musty, so we requested a fan to dry out the floor and blow out the smell.

Charly loved the fan. She was hilarious.

Virginia Beach - Part 3 of 5 Dinner

We decided to go out to dinner for the "experience" and not just the food. So we scoured the coupon books and decided on a teppanyaki style Japanese Steakhouse. Leland LOVED it. Lucy, not so much. Charly is happy anywhere as long as she's sitting next to mom.
Leland tried using chopsticks, ate sushi, and all the other food put in front of her. She was a delight.

Lucy was a bit skeptical to begin with, then when the fire came and the cook joked that it burned her eyebrows, she lost it and never recovered. She ate nothing.

You can see at the end, Leland's excitement and Lucy's skepticism.

Charly enjoyed the attention from everyone around her. A table next to us full of girls celebrating a friend getting married, burst into laughter as they watched Charly take her chewed up chicken and try to feed it to me. At least she likes to share, but I'm not a fan of chewed up food.
Our dinner was delicious and it was a fun splurge for our family vacation.

Virginia Beach - Part 2 of 5 Family Biking

Chuck had the idea to ride a surrey, or family bike, along the boardwalk. He took a few hours break from his meetings so we could do it. We all had so much fun. Charly enjoyed it a lot more than we thought she would. She would just squeal in joy when we started going fast.
It was a lot more work for Chuck and I than we thought it would be. We took lots of breaks along the way to see the sculptures (and rest our legs). The girls favorite was Neptune or as they called him King Triton, Ariel's father.

Virginia Beach - Part 1 of 5

The whole family was able to go to Virgina Beach for a long weekend. Chuck had a conference with work in an oceanfront hotel, so of course, the girls and I loved to tag along.

The first day was rough, though.

Lucy got carsick during the drive down - throwing up twice. Once in a Taco Bell bathroom and second in the car. Luckily, we stopped at a Wawa gas station where the employee pulled out a hose for us in the parking lot and we were able to hose down the blanket and towels that she caught it in.

Chuck had to go right into meetings when we got there. After eating lunch and getting into our room. We put on bathing suits to swim in the pool. Before we made it to the pool it started thundering. Then the rain and lightning came. There was no way I could keep the girls cooped up in the hotel room, so I let them go out and jump in the massive puddles that had formed. There was some confusion with our room and check-in date when we first go to the hotel, so we had been moved into a first floor room that is usually reserved for handicap guests. It turned out to be the best! Charlotte was able to nap in the room, while we played right outside on the sidewalk, with no balcony to make me nervous about. (My kids are the same age Chuck was when he fell off a 4th story balcony. I have a right to be paranoid!)

Back to the puddle jumping. It was so much fun! It was thundering and lightning. We would try to point out the lightning and then count till the thunder came. I think you only play this game as a kid in the South during the awesome summer thunderstorms. I'm sure everyone watching us from the balconies thought I was a crazy mother out there with my kids running around in our bathing suits. When we went inside to get ready to meet Chuck for dinner, the storm started to get worse. I turned on the TV to find out there was a tornado warning and a tornado had touched down not too far from our hotel. Nice.

The power went off and on a few times. Our room had water seeping in onto the carpet. The ceiling was leaking in Chuck's meeting. Not the best beach weather, but we had fun making the most of it.

The next morning, it was really windy. I took the girls to the beach in the morning. I think they would have lasted longer, but I could not handle the sand whipping against my legs with the 18mph winds.
(Note: I only had my phone to take pictures with when Chuck wasn't with us.)
We went to the pool for a few minutes before deciding that we needed something indoors until the weather was a little better. I decided to take the girls to Portsmouth. We went to a small children's museum called Andalo's Clubhouse. The big museum is under major renovation, so they have this small place to visit during the renovation. Charly is starting to have more fun at these type of places. I think she really enjoyed it since strollers were not allowed inside (since it was so small) and she had more freedom to crawl around. She's finally getting heavy to carry (a whopping 18 lbs now).

After the museum, we drove down by the water and checked out some of the big ships. It reminded me of when we lived in San Diego and made me really miss it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Yesterday, I had a particularly hard day with my kids. One of those sobbing-on-the-phone-so-hard-that-my-husband-could-not-even-understand-what-I-was-saying days. One of those embarrassing, drag your children out of the grocery store while they are screaming days. Leaving all of your much needed groceries in the cart in the middle of an aisle.

My sister sent me the video below this morning. I know I am not the only one who has those hard days. I know that our Father in Heaven wants us to succeed as mothers. I know that He will help us when we ask for it. I know that my life as a mother will not be without trials, but I know I need to remember to ask my Heavenly Father for help through prayer. For the big and little things.

To all those mothers and mothers-to-be.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nana's Visit while Ashley goes to Girls Camp

My mom came and stayed with our girls for a few days, so that I could go to Girls Camp with the Young Women (ages 12-18 yrs old) from church. My assignment at church is working with these great girls. This camp was just our ward (or congregation) so it was a small group and not really "camp". We stayed in a beach house in Virginia Beach went fishing, kayaking, body boarding, and had lots of fun. More about that when I get all the pictures together.

I originally was planning to go for only two nights, but it turned into all 4 nights. My mom was so wonderful to stay longer, so I could be a part of this great activity. I was able to have fun because I knew that my girls were having fun with Nana. She took them to the mall, story time, Chick-fil-A, and spoiled them just as Nana's should. Aunt Zebra (my Aunt Barbara) came over for a night to help out too. Thanks so much. It was wonderful.

This week we found out that my mom has caught whooping cough. Those who choose not immunize, I'm sending her to your house. It's not fun. Get your kids (and yourself) immunized. It 's going around right now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Little Sister

My little sister, Layni, came to play for a week. She is 7yrs old and is just a ball full of energy.

Our list of activities:
  • Childrens' Museum
  • Chick-fil-A dress like a cow, eat for free (twice!)
  • Riding bikes in the sprinkler
  • Fountains at Stony Point
  • Gelato at the Farmers Market
  • Maymont Nature Center, Gardens, and Farm
  • Lowes Build and Grow
  • Mall play area
My dad asked me if we always do these kinds of things everyday or if it just because we had a visitor. He was worried she was going to be so bored when she went back home. Luckily, she also gets a week at Suzanne's and Christine's each before the end of the summer.

My camera is broken and I'm waiting for it to be repaired, so all I have is my camera phone which is driving me crazy.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leland's Solo

In church on July 4th, Leland sang a solo of "My Country 'tis of Thee" during the main sacrament service (about 150 people). She did a fabulous job. I am so amazed at her willingness to do such things. The couple who was in charge of putting together a July 4th sacrament service had heard that Leland had sung "Proud to be an American" at a patriotic event before, so they asked if we thought she would be wiling to sing it in church. When I asked Leland if she wanted to sing, she was very excited. We decided to have her sing the 1st and 4th verses of "My Country 'tis of Thee" which is one of the church hymns. I kept asking her if she was nervous about singing in front of a lot of people and her reply was "the more people that are watching me the more excited I am about it." She is alive on stage and loves to perform.

This video is Leland practicing on Sunday morning. I love having a piano in our home even if it only gets played by visitors. Thanks go out to Sister Henrie for accompanying Leland.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

July 4th

On Fourth of July weekend, we went to a Richmond Kickers soccer game. They had bounce houses and a giant slip-n-slide set up for the pre-game party. The girls had a lot of fun. Since Leland had attended a soccer clinic of theirs in the spring she enjoyed finding her coaches on the field and getting autographs after the game.
On Sunday night, I took the 2 big girls to watch fireworks. We went to Dogwood Dell which was ridiculously packed with people. It took me forever to find parking and I was about to give up when I found a great spot that was only about a 10 minute walk to where we wanted to be.

The girls did well considering the long wait, the heat, and the fact that I forget our water bottles in the car. We could hear (but not see) the music performances that were going on in the amphitheater, so the girls enjoyed singing along to all the patriotic songs they know.
When the fireworks show finally started, Lucy was not a fan of the loud sounds, but soon started to really enjoy it. I was really glad that I took the girls, I love fireworks shows so much and this one was fabulous. Not as patriotic feeling as watching them over VMI or on the US Capitol lawn, but still great. It's one of those things that as a parent are sometimes not easy to do, but the memory makes all the trouble worth it.

The finale.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Boat

With 1500 pictures to sort through. Finding the best was a hard task. Check out Suzanne's favorites too.
I love the the top right (above) picture of Leland with no hands. We were going so slow at that moment, she quickly held on tight. I also love the bottom right picture - Leah pointing to Afton while showing "slow down".Afton wins best hair award.
These kids are all so stinkin' cute.Todd had the best wipeouts.My awesome hubby.
I love the facial expressions. (Click to enlarge)
Just a reminder. 34. not 16.

Smith Mountain Lake

We couldn't figure out what to call our family reunion since we all have different last names (Chuck and Todd want to start calling it the Donna Party, after my mother's first name and with the intended sound similarity to the Donner Party.) To me it didn't even seem like it could be called a "reunion" since we all talk to each other almost every day. But, this is our 2nd summer at Smith Mountain Lake together, so now it's a tradition. Next year there will be t-shirts.

The house is awesome with our own little beach.
All 9 grandkids.Lots of playing, cuddling, laughing, and of course haircuts. I gave 3. I'm not really good at it, just the only one brave enough I guess. Noah is the cutest to watch while he feeds Charly.
Catching some fish. Leah and Nicholas were the most interested in fishing. Chuck even helped Leah catch a fish in the net luring it with corn and marshmallow peeps. Leah kept asking if she could eat some of the peeps, even after they had been sitting in the lake water. Gross!
Fun with sparklers.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chuck's Letter to Lowe's

When I signed the girls up for the Lowe's Build and Grow project for tomorrow, there was a short survey. The last question was: What is ONE thing Lowe's could do to make the Build and Grow clinic experience better for you and your child?

Chuck took over the computer when I asked what I should include. This was his response:

We love the Build & Grow Clinics! My father is a general contractor, and when I was a kid, he always shopped at Home Depot, so I always thought I would be a Home Depot man. When I got married, my wife heard about the B&G clinics and we went to one. Since then, I have divorced Home Depot and married Lowe's! The B&G clinics are why I don't even look at the Home Depot advertisements in the paper. (Yes, they do a clinic too, but only once a month!)

We have now completed nearly 2 dozen B&G clinics at 4 different stores. I have even learned how to use a sewing machine because my wife waits too long to sew the badges onto my daughter's aprons (and my Lowe's baseball cap for me... yes, that's right, the dad's want our stinkin' badges too!)

The B&G clinics are the sole reason that I have become a die hard Lowe's fan. The B&G clinics are why I chose Jimmie Johnson as my favorite NASCAR driver. The B&G clinics have given me great daddy-daughter times with my girls. The B&G clinics have made my daughters love working with their hands and building stuff themselves rather than just buying toys.

REGARDING PROJECTS: I am the father of three daughters, so you would think their favorites would be the necklace holder or something really girly. Nope! My girly girls love to do the fun boats, cars, and helicopters that they can play with. They do use the necklace holder they built and love to show it to people, but they didn't mention it when I asked them what their favorites were. I will say, though, that they really don't like the "game" style projects, such as the baseball game, or basketball game. That type of game stays fun for only a short period of time. But the love the "vehicle" type - cars, helicopter, boats, etc.

REGARDING LOCATION IN THE STORE: We much prefer when they are done in the store's training room rather than out in the middle of the store. We have seen stores that do it in the middle of the store's shopping aisles, which is okay, but not as good. One store we went to did it on wood picnic tables out in front of the store, which was absolutely nerve-wracking because of the cars nearby. It was not a safe situation, so we never returned to a B&G clinic at that store.

REGARDING WORK TABLES: Although being out front was unsafe, that store did something we really liked. The solid wood picnic stables were much easier to do the project upon than the folding tables at other stores. You need something solid for a child to hammer upon, or else the project just bounces around and the nails don't go in. At the stores with the plastic folding tables, we always end up sitting on the floor hammering on our projects.

ON TIMING: Don't change the times. Saturday mornings are great!During the week is too difficult. Sundays are church days, so don't even think about doing them on Sundays.

ON CHARGING FOR B&G: I would not support the idea of charging a fee to attend the actual B&G clinics. While I, myself, may choose to pay the small fee to attend a few, you would end up losing money from me for two reasons:
(1) Every time I go to a B&G, my loyalty to Lowe's makes me spend money. I never (NEVER!) leave the store after a B&G clinic without making a purchase. I guarantee, that you make money on me every time I attend a B&G clinic.
(2) I have told tons of friends about the cool, FREE B&G clinics. I have taken them. I have told them how the B&G clinics are the sole reason I have become a fan of Jimmie Johnson and only shop at Lowe's for my home improvement needs. If you charge, I will not be you walking and talking billboard anymore. (But I will probably still shop there, just not as loyally.)

ON HOW YOU CAN MAKE MONEY OFF OF THE B&G: Sell the kid-sized hammers right there at the B&G. Roll in a moving display case with the hammers and other kid-friendly tools. I would buy them all up! But I wouldn't necessarily chase around the store to find them. I think the idea of selling past B&G projects as kits is a GREAT idea! I have missed clinics due to vacation or other conflicts and always feel bummed out to have missed good ones. I would buy the old projects, so long as they were about $5. BUT!!!! Just because I support allowing me to purchase the PAST project kits, I would not support charging me to attend the WEEKLY clinics. The current project of the day, should be free on Saturday morning to those that attend. But, if you miss it, you can buy it for $4.99.

Ideally, the Build & Grow clinics would take place inside the store, someplace away from the aisles, but with solid firm tables to hammer upon. Ideally, I would have the opportunity to buy the old kits for $3-$5. Finally... Ideally, Jimmie Johnson would be in attendance at every clinic I attended!

Keep up the good work Lowe's (or as my daughters call the store --- Jimmie's House!)
Just gotta love my husband and his gift of gab.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday Charly

It was so fun to be with family for Charly's 1st birthday. Recreating last year's cousins picture.I made a strawberry flower cake for her. After she blew out her candle all the kids started requesting to lick the candle. Unfortunately there was only 1, so the birthday girl got the privilege.She, of course, enjoyed her cake.

17lbs - still a tiny little babe
crawling, but no walking, not even standing

Today we had an evaluation for her gross motor and language skills. Right now, they do not feel she needs physical therapy, but if in a month or two she is still not standing we may consider it. Her language, or lack of variety of babble sounds, is a concern. We don't feel her hearing is a factor, she's just on an 8-month old level as far as the type of sounds she makes. She makes the most noise with an opened book in front of her. She flips the pages and 'reads'.I stopped nursing a few weeks ago and she has yet to drink more than 2 oz of any type of liquid during the day. No matter what type of cup or what is in it. She seems to like straws the best. She'll blow bubbles, then drinks. She eats like a champ despite having no teeth.

She folds her arms to pray, waves, gives kisses, claps. Her tongue is ALWAYS hanging out. Everyone, even strangers, comment on her crazy tongue. She loves to dump out everything in the kids cabinet. Adores her daddy and loves to play with him. She gets so excited when he comes home or walks in the room. Me, she just gets mad when I leave the room or put her down on the floor.

She is such a joy to have in our family. I love watching her play and interact with her sisters and daddy. I can truly see her love for them. As much as I complain about her always wanting me to hold her, I love to cuddle with her. She sticks her two fingers in her mouth and will just cuddle right up into my neck. I know there will be a day when she won't want to sit in my lap constantly to cuddle, so I need to enjoy why it lasts.