Monday, June 29, 2015

Manta Ray Swim Team ~ Meet #3

Last Thursday, Madilyn had her third City of Phoenix swim meet.  It was a scorcher for us spectators. It was over one-hundred degrees for the entire swim meet.  I have a newly developed appreciation and admiration towards my parents who continually supported me at my swim meets during the heat of the summer.  I guess I am now fully a swimmer's mom!

This week the meet was hosted by Roadrunner Pool.  Madilyn did wonderful!  I cannot believe how confident she is becoming.  She is like a totally different kid in that water.  We are so proud of her. Plus, she is becoming a much stronger swimmer as well.  Here are some of my favorite parts of the swim meet:
  • Watching the swim meet with Aunt Christy and Uncle Brandon.  They were such troopers for staying for the entire meet in the record-breaking heat!
  • Being the swim mom who supplied "treats" to Madi and all of her friends for swimming a good race.  They would all visit me after each race to receive their appropriate reward ~ two fruit snacks.
  • Chuckling at my daughter, who only wore her goggles appropriately fifty percent of her races. The other fifty percent of the time they remained on top of her head.  I think that she just got so anxious about swimming her race that she forgot to place them on her eyes. 
  • Listening to Aiden cheer on his sister during her races.  Every once and a while, they show me how much they love each other.  It was pretty adorable. 
  • And watching the little kids swim butterfly.  Just watching them try to hard to swim a really difficult stroke made me smile.  I love their determination and persistence.  What a great reminder for us adults! 
Madi at swim practice Thursday morning
Warming-up at the swim meet
 Aiden watching the swim meet ...
Swimming the backstroke during the IM Relay event
Swimming the individual freestyle
Swimming the Individual Butterfly
After the meet with her ribbons:
1 ~ Red (2nd Place for Free Relay)
2 ~ White (3rd Place for the two Individual Races)
1 ~ Purple (Participation for the IM Relay)
Thursday, June 25, 2015

Family Time in Loveland, Colorado

Two weekends ago, the Farrell-Landers family took a mini-vacation to Loveland, Colorado, to spend time with family.  It is very strange to believe, but both Josh and I have family in this little northern Colorado city.  This trip was a great opportunity for us to spend time with everyone.

It was a whirlwind of a trip.  We flew into Denver on Friday afternoon (after being stuck on the tarmac for over an hour in Phoenix), rented a car and started our journey up to Loveland.
First stop we made on Friday was to Fairgrounds Park to allow the kids some time to expend some energy. We visited this park the last time we visited Loveland and it is one of the coolest parks we have ever visited.  This park has everything -- age-appropriate playgrounds, covered picnic areas, a splash pad, and a paved trail along the Big Thompson River.  The kids had so much fun while the adults had some time to chat and catch-up.  

After the park, we headed over to my aunt and uncle's home where we would be calling "home" for the next couple of days. (Thank you, Aunt Jerre and Uncle Loren!)  That evening, after dinner, we enjoyed sitting on the deck admiring the beautiful sunset and loving the cooler weather.  

We started day two with a trip to North Lake Park so the kids could play for a bit with their second cousin. After playing a bit on the playground equipment, we walked over to Benson Sculpture Garden.  What a cool place!  After the park, we headed over to Josh's Uncle Doug's place to visit with his side of the family and take a tour of the farm.  Our afternoon was spent trying out a couple of the local Loveland breweries (Verboten and Big Beaver Brewing), while the kids played back at my aunt and uncle's home.  It was a fun-filled day which concluded with another beautiful sunset and conversation on the deck.

On Sunday morning, we visited with Aunt Sue, Uncle David and Michaela at their home on Loveland Lake. After enjoying some donuts and fruit, we were invited to join them for a tour of the lake on their boat.  The kids had never been on a motorboat and really enjoyed the whole experience.  Next time we visit, we may have to actually have to take the tube or skis out on the lake.  Sunday afternoon was spent back at Doug's farm where the Landers family gathered for a family reunion.  The kids had a great time swinging on the tire swing or jumping on the trampoline.  The adults enjoyed chatting and catching up.  It was really great to see Great-Grandpa enjoying his time with four generations of family.

Monday, we departed back to Phoenix, but before we headed to the airport, we decided to visit one last Loveland park, Dwayne Webster Veteran's Park.  The kids loved climbing all over the cannon and playground equipment.  They definitely were not ready to leave.

Although our trip was really short, we enjoyed spending time with our families and the gorgeous weather.  In fact, when Madi exited off of the PHX Sky Train to obtain our car that afternoon, she, literally cried stating it was "TOO HOT!".

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Manta Ray Swim Team ~ Meet #2

Last Thursday night, Madilyn had her second swim meet at Sunnyslope pool.  After the previous week, we talked with Madi all week about her upcoming swim meet.  We continued to remind her that it was going to be at a new pool.  She seemed to understand and was less nervous this time.  We also figured out after a meltdown during swim practice that Madi would rather be the first swimmer in the relay races.  So, Coach Emi told her that she would make sure that she would be the first swimmer for the relays.  It seemed like Madi was fully prepared for the meet.  Just in case, Josh and I had promised a variety of incentives that she could earn if she did really well swimming during the meet.  Our fingers were crossed!

On Thursday evening, Madi and I headed over to the pool early so that we could get seats in the front row.  We wanted to make sure that we could see her swim since this time she was ready to go.  As soon as we got there and set up the chairs, Madi jumped right in the pool with some of her fellow teammates to warm-up for the meet.  A little while later, her coach came over and told Madi that all of the kids were going to all sit together on the other side of the pool as team.  Madi grabbed her towel and followed her coach to the other side to set up towel.  That was the last time that we saw Madi for the night, except after each race so that she could gather the two gummy bears that Mommy promised her for swimming really hard and not touching the lane lines.  And the other time was when she would drop off her race ribbon.  Other than that, Madi hung out with all of her teammates and coaches.  She was such a different girl from what she was the preceding week.  And she earned every incentive that may have been promised to her.  We were *so* proud of her! 

Madi chatting with some of her teammates in the pool
Madi warming up for the meet
Madilyn talking to Coach Emi
Chillin' before the meet ...
Walking with her Coach
Waiting for the first race of the meet ... she looked a little nervous
But Coach Emi was by her side
Having fun!  Smiles!
Cheering on the swimmers with one of the coaches
Our Cheerleader!
Dancing on the side of the pool (Sorry it is so blurry!)
Madi's Race Ribbons
Swimming ~ Individual Breast Stroke
Swimming ~ Freestyle Relay
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Manta Ray Swim Team ~ Meet #1

This summer we enrolled Madilyn on the City of Phoenix's swim team.  Kids five years and older are able to join the swim team if they are able to swim one length (25 yards) of freestyle, which we knew Madilyn was more than capable swimming.

On the first day of swim team practice, Madi was very nervous and in tears before the practice even began.  She clung on to me with a death grip and continued to tell me that she didn't want to do swim team.  Josh and I continued to reassure her that everything was alright, that she was a good swimmer and that she loves swimming.  After all of the kids warmed-up on the deck, the coaches wanted to test of all of the kids to make sure they were able to swim a full twenty-five yard lap.  I told Madi that she needed to swim this lap and we walked over to the line that was forming.  She was still in tears and didn't really want to participate.  I continued to talk to her and showed her some of the smaller swimmers so she knew that she wasn't the only five year old.  I told her if they could do it, so could she.  Slowly, the line inched up and it was Madi's turn.  She had finally calmed down and stopped crying.  The coach talked to her a little and then told her to jump in and swim.  Madi did great!  She swam the entire lap with no problem.

First day of swim team practice
 Swimming a 25 yard lap

Immediately upon exiting the pool, the tears formed again until Emi, her primary coach, led the five and six year olds to grab noodles to use during their own separate practice in the deep end of the pool. After that moment, Madi was a happy little swimmer and was excited to go to swim team practice every morning.  In fact, most mornings, she comes downstairs dressed in her swimming suit all ready to go.  It has been a great learning experience for her.  They have practiced the freestyle and breast strokes.  And she has learned how to dive in at the beginning of a race.

The swim team meets are on Thursday evenings.  Knowing that our child doesn't really like new surrounding and that she gets really nervous before something new, we tried to talk to her all week about the swim meet and what to expect.  Her first meet was on Thursday, June 11th at their home pool, Mountain View.  Madilyn seemed really calm and ready for her first swim meet to begin.  

Before her 1st meet
Enjoying a Popsicle before the meet 

However, when it came time to swim her first event at the meet, Madilyn broke out in tears.  She didn't want anything to do with this new experience.  Josh and I both tried to calm her down, but we were not much help.  She was inconsolable.  Eventually, Madi did swim her first race.  There was another little girl who didn't want to swim either.  This child's mom got in the pool and swam with both Madi and her daughter.  Even at the end of her swim, Madi was still in tears, but she got her first race under her belt.  We figured it could only get better from there, right?  

And, actually, her second and third races, which were individual events, went very well.  Madi even swam one of them without her coach being in the pool.  But by the time we made it to the last event, Madi didn't want to swim the relay race.  Luckily, one of her coach's jumped in the pool with her and instructed her to swim.  

The meet didn't conclude until close to nine o'clock that evening.  It was a really long night.  We were all physically and emotionally tired from the whole thing, except Aiden who just happily watched  "shows" on his tablet and munched on snacks all evening.

One of the coaches asked Madi if she would be a swim practice next week and Madi said, "Yes."  So, I guess we will try this again next week.  Hopefully, now that she knows what to expect, it will go much more smoothly next time.

Madi crying before her first race
Madi's first race on swim team
Madi's second race on swim team
Finally enjoying the evening a little
Madi and all of her 1st meet ribbons
Monday, June 22, 2015


Aiden is a funny, little kid.  Sometimes Josh and I find ourselves laughing out loud at his actions and sayings even when we know that we should not.  We just cannot help it.

Some of you may know that Aiden has a catchphrase.  This started about six months ago and he still responds with it several times a week to certain things people say.  His catchphrase is "Oh, Crackers!"  It originates from one of the cartoons the kids watch called Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  One of the characters from the show, Skully, says this certain phrase as least once every episode.  Aiden has just picked up on this and now responds with it in daily conversation with perfect timing and relevance.

Anyway, this morning, I was telling Aiden about one of the mice that got caught in one of the traps last night in the house. I further explained that it was stinking up my laundry room.  Aiden, without skipping a beat, responded, "Oh, Crackerpoop!"  It caught Josh and I off guard and we both busted up in laughter. Apparently, he is now is modifying his own catchphrase to suit the moment.  I still chuckle a little as I write this little story down.

Another funny story about our son ... about a month ago, Madilyn wanted to wear two mismatched shoes to preschool.  Josh and I were alright with this fashion statement as long as it fit this criteria: the correct shoe had to be on the correct foot and that the selected shoes were of the same category of shoe. So, for example, she couldn't wear two left shoes nor could she wear one sneaker and one flip flop.  Of course, once Madi started to wear her shoes this way, Aiden wanted to as well.  Madi has since stopped this fashion faux pas, but Aiden, to this day, continues to wear mismatched shoes.  His reasoning: so he can wear both of his favorite superheroes at the same time ~ Batman and Spider-man!

Aiden's Mismatched Shoes

Like I said, he is becoming quite the character.  At least, he keeps us entertained when he isn't causing trouble or being rambunctious.  Gotta love him!
Sunday, June 21, 2015

Summer Swim Lessons

For the past three weeks, our kids have been taking swim lessons through the City of Phoenix aquatics department.  The kids have been taking summer swim lessons for the past couple of years. This year, we decided to take lessons at a different city pool, Mountain View, so they could be with some of their preschool friends.  It has been a great experience so far.  On the first day of swim lessons, our kids waited for their class name to be called and they each just walked right up to their instructor to participate in the class.  No tears, no issues.  What a huge change from last year!

Madilyn is in the "Yellow Star" class this summer.  In class, Madi has been working on perfecting her freestyle stroke, learning the backstroke and practicing diving into the pool.  She is doing really well and is one of the youngest in the class.

Aiden is in the "Red Star" class this year.  In this class, they are working on their freestyle stroke, learning how to breathe to the side, diving for things underwater, and diving into the water.  Aiden has only had a couple of "meltdown" days, but for the most part he is a happy swimmer who improves his skills each time he gets in the water.

We have another whole month of swim lessons.  I cannot wait to see how much they improve by the end.

Aiden waiting on the side of the pool for class to start
Ready to jump into the water to his instructor
Showing his streamline pose
Kicking with his head in the water
Smiling during class
Madi practicing her backstroke
Our little swimmer ...
Saturday, June 6, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Fun ~ Beach Time!

On the last day of our California vacation, we decided to spend the day at the beach.   This time we decided to visit Corona del Mar beach near Newport.  What a great beach!  We may have found a new family favorite. The clouds were out for most of the day, so the temperature was a little chilly. But the kids didn't care, they love playing in the sand and collecting shells.  Madi even played in the ocean for a bit until her lips were shivering too much.  Thank you to the Hughes and Barnhart families for joining in the fun!

Memorial Day Weekend Fun ~ Character Time!

When in California, we always try to see as many of my Palmer sisters as we can.  This year, we opted to brunch at Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel.  This is a special restaurant where while you are dining several Disney characters visit with you.  It was fun to watch our kids interact with these new friends.  In the past, they did not particularly enjoy this experience and would shy away from or even cry because of the characters.  Not this time, in fact, our kids loved it.  Each time a Disney character would come visit, the kids would jump out of their chairs so they could get a picture with each of them.  Aiden was really enamored with them this time around, giving them big hugs and high-fives.  Or it could have been all of the cookies and ice cream that he ingested for breakfast! 

The Palmer Gang
Minnie Mouse
Aiden really liked Chip!

Memorial Day Weekend ~ Great-Grandparents!

The next stop on our adventurous, fun-filled Memorial Day weekend, was GG and GP's house.  The kids were so excited to see GG and GP.  They ran right up to their front door, knocking as fast as they could, calling their names.  It was really adorable!  We loved our time with GG and GP.  We really wished they lived closer so we could see them more than a couple of times a year.  

Here are some of the fun activities we enjoyed with them during the weekend.  I hope that we didn't exhaust them too much!
  • We enjoyed lunch out on Friday at Sam Woo's.  
  • We celebrated Shabbat on Friday evening with Kathleen King.  We kibitzed about life, politics, family and day of ole.
  • On Saturday, GG and I took the kids shopping to our favorite stores ... the 99 Cent Store so the kids could pick out some toys to enjoy at the beach on Sunday and The Children's Place for a couple of new outfits.  While the ladies and kids were shopping, Josh and GP hit some golf balls on the driving range.
  • We enjoyed a dinner out at Panini Cafe on Sunday. 
  • On Sunday evening, Josh spent the entire evening teaching GG how to text message on her Samsung Tablet.  He also set up Roku on GP's television so he could watch every season of 24.  The fact that they still want to learn and embrace new technology amazes me.  I hope I am so adaptable when I am eighty-seven.
GP and his Great-Granddaughter
 GP and both of his Grandkids
 GP and his Great-Grandson
 Wow, an eighty-two year generation gap!