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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Boys

Random pictures of the boys:

Jack sportin' his bright red speedo, given to him by Jessica!

Brian and I having Bahama Bucks, our family's new favorite shaved-ice shoppe

Paw Paw and Jack hanging out

Jack cleaning the pool.  He's a great pool boy!
The three Hargrave men in our house: Brian, Jack, Parker.  It's a good thing that Brian is no longer allergic to Parker because Parker LOVES Brian.  And Brian loves Parker.

We had the top of this tree fall down on our fence.  Jack's trying to chop the rest down with his axe.  

this is what happens to the pool-net pole when Brian Hargrave tries to catch frogs  invading our pool.  I think the frog won this time.
Brian wearing the tie that Arden made for him.  She was VERY proud of her fashion designing.
Jack pretending to be a fire-fighter at the Children's Musuem

Jack's first time on skates.  He mastered skating on carpet.  He has a ways to go before he masters the wooden rink.

Colorado Trip- part deux

Tuesday we started our sight-seeing!  First we headed to Garden of the God, a park with beautiful red rock formations and lots of trails.
Garden of the Gods Park, and you can see Pike's Peak in the background
We left Garden of the Gods and headed to Manitou Springs, a little moutain town close to Pike's Peak.  I love these little towns because they are so Americana.  We walked through the town, ate lunch, and the kids played at this unique park.
it was like a merry-go-round, but funner

a neat disk swing
After that we headed to Pike's Peak to ride a cog train to the top of the mountain.  The train ride was something for Jack since he absolutely loves trains.  Round trip, I think the ride was about two hours.  The train couldn't get all the way to the top that day, because of the snow, but we got about 13,000 feet high.

the train at the bottom of the moutain

Arden and Jack on the train

Jack cheesing for the camera, but he's too busy looking out the window to look at me.  He's sporting his coon-skin cap that we picked up at the Garden of the Gods gift shop.  He needed something to keep his head warm as we made our way into the higher elevation

There's a point on the train ride where the train is completely surrounded by walls of snow.
The neatest part was the changing temperature.  It was in the seventies at the base of the mountain, but 29 degrees at the top!

We weren't quite ready to head home after the train, so we stopped at a nearby cave tour thingamajig.  It turned out that the caves were expensive to tour and looked kind of boring, so we did some of the activities that were featured above the caves.  Halle and I rode a zip-line ride through part of the canyon.  We also did a ropes course.  Ok, Halle did the ropes course; I attempted.  I froze up on the first level and chickened out.  Halle mastered it, and before I knew it she was on a rope out over the canyon!

We wrapped up our day by grabbing Mexican-ish food on the way home.  ;)

It was a great start to our week of touring.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Fourth of July 2015

Independence Day was a different for us this year.  We usually participate in the Prestonwood Forest bicycle parade, but we've since moved from Prestonwood.  So we spent the day at the lake with Mike and Christy!
What a fun-filled day!  We started out early that morning with a boat ride.

it was choppy water and I got splashed a lot

Captain Jack

Captain Arden

she's looking way too old.

she almost looks like a brooding teenager here.

my two pretties

 After the boat trip, the kids jumped in Papa Mike and Gigi's pool while Brian cooked dinner on the outdoor grill.  Papa Mike and Gigi were kind enough to watch the kids and swim with them while I snuck off for a little nap!

Before dinner, all the kids opened their birthday presents from PM and Gigi.  (They'd had Arden and Jack's presents for a while, but hadn't had the opportunity to give them.  Halle's birthday is around the corner, so the 4ofJ was a great day to give them all at once.)
Jack's main present was a fishing pole!
Papa Mike teaching Jack how to cast his pole and reel it back in.   (As I type this Jack is doing the very same thing in our pool.  It is currently his favorite thing to do!)

After dinner we headed back down to the dock to do a little fishing.  This was Jack's first time to fish. All of my kids love fishing, so we had fun!
Arden caught a catfish!
this is Arden's face when the catfish got too close. She likes catching them, but she doesn't like touching them.  I don't blame her.
This is Jack's very first fish!  He ended up catching two fish that evening.  The entire next week, he would tell anyone that would listen, "I got two fishes!"
It got dark while we were fishing that evening, so we watched the lake fireworks right from the dock.  It was perfect because Jack and Arden are both scared of fireworks.  They were far enough away from us that we couldn't hear them, but close enough to see!

Halle continued fishing while watching the fireworks.  
It was such a great day!  The kids were so tired that they both fell asleep as soon as we left Papa Mike and Gigi's driveway.

Colorado Trip- Part 1

We arrived at Sarah and Adam's new house on a Sunday.  We spent the afternoon ooh-ing and ah-ing at the beautiful scenery and their new home.  They have a basement which is very unusual for us Houstonians.  It's like a whole 'nother house under the house.  Amazing!  

Then we started unloading the moving truck.  We four adults unloaded everything.  The trailer and truck were packed full!   Adam used to work for a moving company, so he knew how to work every square inch of space out of the truck.

The change in altitude really affected me.  I felt like I was dying!  Going up and down the stairs with boxes was HARD.  Every few seconds I would get winded.  It was a workout for sure!  I felt liek such a wimp because I would have to sit down every few minutes from being light-headed.  Adam acquired about a million and one moving blankets for all of the big furniture.  Each blanket was tossed into an ever-growing pile which became the playground for the kids.  They played hide-and-seek and jumped into them repeatedly.

S and A had a good time labeling the boxes.  I don't remember them all, but they made me chuckle as I was carrying them.  It was good comedic relief as we were unloading.
this one, for instance, was labeled heavy.  It was about a pound, filled with plastic cups.

The last box.  Hee hee!

the kids also kept themselves entertained by playing outside in the beautiful.   Here Jack is jumping from the steps and Arden is catching him.  

If you know Sarah then you know she LOVES shoes!  I thought I snapped a picture, but I didn't.  She had like ten boxes of shoes!  Each box was categorized and labeled, too!  For example, "Closed-toed flats" or something along those lines.  Lol!  I wish I wore her shoe size so I could share!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Colorado trip- road trip there

Back in May we took a trip to Colorado to help Sarah and Adam move.  It was a fun week!

The first day and a half we caravanned.  Sarah drove her SUV,  Brian drove Adam's truck, towing a U-Haul trailer behind.  Adam drove a very large U-Haul truck.  I mostly sat in the passenger seat of Sarah's car and tried to keep the kids quiet.

We stopped about an hour north of Houston at the Buc-ees.  Mike and Christy surprised Adam and Sarah by being there for a chance to say good-byes and well-wishes.  
Sarah, Christy, Mike, Adam, and Brutus.
The rest of trip didn't go without incident.  In Brian's Brian-ary fashion, he typed up road-trip itineraries for the drive.  Notice I made that word plural.  Yep, he had three itineraries typed up, one for each vehicle in the caravan, all bounded in spiral coverings.  

Our next scheduled stop, after Buc-ees, was a restaurant in Wichita Falls.  It was supposed to be the best restaurant around for miles.  We were to eat there for lunch.  We were already an hour behind schedule because we had a late start getting out the door.  Sarah and I followed behind the Adam and Brian, making turn after turn after turn to get to this restaurant.  After about thirty minutes of maneuvering down side streets in Wichita Falls we come to a bridge that the U-haul truck can't clear!  Up to this point, Sarah and I hadn't really been paying attention as we were following along, mostly because we were busy jabbering; but it turned out that the direct route was closed due to high water.  That's what caused us to take one detour after another, only to end up at a dead end.  Needless to say we threw the itinerary out the window (figuratively speaking of course.)  We ended up eating Wendy's instead.  

Once we hit Amarillo, Brian was getting a bit low on gas.  We were on a freeway going through the city and planned to stop as soon as we got on the other side of town.  Bad move!  After Amarillo there was nothing.  NOTHING!!!!  Not even phone service!  No houses, no towns, nothing but miles and miles of nothing.  
I was getting very very antsy because I knew that Brian would run out of gas soon.  I couldn't pull up Google maps on my phone to see when we'd get to the next town.  I couldn't call Brian to check to see how the gas gauge was doing.  I knew in Amarillo he had about 70 miles until empty, but in my mind that would go a lot faster because of him towing the trailer.  
Maybe I had too much caffeine on the trip, was this was seriously stressing me out.  In my mind, this is how it was going to play out: 
Brian would run out of gas and we'd have to leave him behind to drive 100 miles to the next gas station.  We'd come back hours later, in the middle of the night, to a vandalized U-haul and a missing Brian.  (Obviously I've seen too many scary movies like Children of the Corn and These Hills Have Eyes.)  
I finally got a very weak signal on my phone and was able to pull up GPS for the next gas station.  It was 12 miles away.  We'd already gone about 50 miles.  I was praying, Lord please help us get there!  
Well, we got there alright.  Except it was in one of those towns that you'd miss if you blinked.  And the gas station, with one ratty gas pump, was closed!  The next town was another 15 miles! 

Well, guess what, we MADE it!  Whew!  With like two miles of gas to spare.   

Not much longer after that we started to see dark clouds.  

Out in the distance the clouds were taking on a greenish/yellowish hue.  Tornado for sure.  Then we saw this.
Storm chaser cars.  We passed about five of these cars.  They werestopped along the highway ready to see some action.   Obviously not a good sign.

Not too long afterward we hit a horrible storm.  It was a flash flood and everyone on the road had to pull over.  
If water on road, turn around, don't drown.  Thanks for the words of wisdom.
It only took a few minutes for the road to look like this.  Scary stuff.

We planned to stop at a hotel in Trinidad, Colorado late that night.  After fifteen hours of traveling we were all very tired.  Adam and Brian had to drive the moving trucks through the winding, steep mountains at nighttime in order to get there.   They were both stressed, but they did it!  We made it to the hotel that night and only three hours left to drive the next morning!

We finally made it to beautiful Parker, Colorado!

More Arden-isms

Like most kids, Arden mispronounces words.  Many of her words, though, make more sense than the real ones.

Unicorn- "Unihorn"
Skunk- "Stunk"
Stomach ache or Tummy ache- "Stummy ache"
Pike's Peak (the mountain in Colorado we traveled to the top of) - "Hike's peak"

And as you can tell from the following, she's got a mind of her own.  Sometimes (more times than not) it gets her into trouble.

"Daddy just gets in the pool to relax.  A pool is to swim in.  He can relax in bed."

Very distressed: "I don't like playing with Monster High dolls.  They make me act sassy, and I just can't help it when I start acting sassy!"

"I decided I don't need a husband when I grow up.  I can have kids on my own."

"I feel like I am better than Halle."

"Mommy's a grown-up too, Daddy, so you're not her boss."

"Sometimes I don't like being pretty because it kind of embarrasses me when people tell me all the time."

"Not to hurt your feelings, Mommy, but I just want to be with my friends."

And then there's all the recent baby questions.  Not just your basic where do babies come from questions.  No, this kid has to ask the analytical ones.

"What if God puts a baby in your tummy, but you don't want it?"

"If the doctor takes the baby out of your tummy, then where's your scar?"

"Why is being born a special day if you're already alive in your mommy's belly?"

These analytical questions come right along with questions such as, "Explain how GPS works?" and "How do workers build a road?" and "How can you tell when God made something or when a man made something?" I thoroughly appreciate Arden's loads of questions that she dumps on me, usually while we're riding in the car, but afterward I feel like my head is going to implode.

And then, "Mommy, I'm sure I'm going to have a whole lot more new questions for you on our drive back home."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Life of a Swim Parent

It's swim season, and it's crazy around here.  We have meets every weekend, and some like this past one are three straight days in a row.  Monday-Friday consists of driving your kid(s) everyday to practice.  2 1/2 hours everyday between both girls.

We do love swim meets, we really do.  But......  they also do really suck.  They are long and hot and boring.  For those that have never done swim team, this is a taste of how a typical summer swim meet goes.

Night before: check the website to see what Brian and I are supposed to be volunteering for.  We have to volunteer a certain number of shifts during the season or they cash a hefty volunteer deposit check.   Volunteer positions range anywhere from selling concessions, to ribbon writing, to timing.  The good and easy positions go fast on sign-ups, so sometimes you're stuck with something awful like working the ready bench (aka corralling wet, rowdy unattentive swimmers in an orderly fashion so they are swimming in the right race,in the right lane at the right time.  aka NOT FUN.)

Morning: Wake up at the butt crack of dawn, 5:30 to be exact.  ON a SATURDAY!  That should be illegal.  Don't people remember the Sabbath!  I think it says somewhere in old scriptures "Thou shall sleep until noon on Saturday."

We then hurry up to get as much crap together as possible: goggles, swim caps, towels, water bottles, Gatorades, sunscreen, toys to keep kids entertained, food, camp chairs, wagon to carry all the camp chairs, a twelve foot canopy, sunglasses, kids, more food.  It's practically like we're camping, minus the wonderful night campfires, the open wilderness to let your kids run around like the loons they are, and of course, the s'mores.

It's guaranteed that we are going to forget something.  Usually it's cash for concessions.  We'll address that issue later.

So why don't you pack the night before, you might ask.  Uh huh, doesn't work.

So here we are trying to get out the door and the get car loaded like a game of Tetris, and it's 6:55.  Check in is at 7:00.  Do we make it?  Nope.  We are running behind, stuffing whatever "breakfast" item we can shove into our mouths.  Cold pizza or a spoonful of peanut butter anyone?

Check-in: this is mighty dandy.  We're dragging chairs and wagons, coolers, and toys across a morning dewy grass.  Dewy makes it sound pleasant.  What it really is, is wet, sticky, blades of grass that bog you down while you're trying to drag 100 pounds behind you.  Simultaneously, we're yelling at our girls to hurry up and check in with their coaches.  The weather is nice and cool, but we can't be fooled.  In T minus 90 minutes the blazing sun is in the cloudless sky, beating down on us with no remorse.  We have a 12 foot canopy and chairs that we spend twenty minutes setting up; but it stands lonely as we stand for hours under no shade, doing something like timing.  We become rather jealous and bitter with the swimmers because they get to swim and we don't.  You start to do crazy stuff like try to stand really close to the stranger timing next to you, just to stand in their shadow.  And then get really excited when a swimmer splashes a little too much just so your ankles can feel a little relief.

Meet time: A typical swim meet lasts 5-6 hours.  Sometimes less, but usually longer.  The girls only have 8 events total.  That means in the 6 hours of the meet, and 150+ races, the girls actually only swim for a total of about 5 minutes.  The other times they are usually resting.  This means playing games, eating, playing games, eating, playing on electronics, or at the ready bench waiting to swim.  Jack swims 0 minutes.  That means he has to be entertained for 6 hours.  He does a lot of eating.  He also whines to play with my phone, wants me to carry him, and just outright acts like a three year old.  How dare him. There's usually a playground near by, but that's off limits.  There's a pool to swim in, but that to if off limits.  I do have to say, it probably really sucks for a three year old.  There are usually snow cones at the concessions, but Mom and Dad forgot to pull cash out the ATM.

After the swim meet, usually about 2 pm you are hot and sweaty and tired.  Guess what, you have to take all that s*&* down and haul it back to your 120 degree car and play Tetris all over again.  Except this time we don't care much if we lose the game.  Some kid will just have to have a chair poking them in the head on the way home.  We consider it paybacks for something they did to annoy you at the meet.  Loading the car is usually accompanied by a VERY tired three year old, crying in harmony with a VERY tired six year old.  No worries though, the three year old is usually asleep by the time you pull out of the driveway.  This small act shows me that God really does have mercy.

Your body doens't know quite what to do with itself on the way home.  You've got your face plastered up the AC vent trying to get relief from the smothering heat.  Your body says tired, but your brain says let's party.  After all, you had a cup of coffee, a Diet Coke,   and two Monsters to keep you going.  Because of all the caffeine, you had to use those awful, hot, chlorine smelling, wet bathrooms, that always seem to be out of handsoap or paper towels.

Back home: unload all the stuff and carry forty pounds of dead weight to bed.  You have a huge mental battle with yourself....either clean out all the bags now even though you want a nap, or don't.  The consequence is dealing with a bunch of mildew towels later.  Nap usually wins.

So, do we love swim meets?  YES
Do we hate swim meets?  YES