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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Abby's Glamping 9th birthday

This month my sweet oldest daughter turned 9.  Only one more year until double digits and halfway through to her probably going off to college. Crazy to think about it that way!  Last week we had her birthday party - summer parties can be lots of fun with all the water activities but we did a pool party last year. This year the theme was glamping. Pinterest was full of cute ideas - I had to greatly restrain myself from trying to do them all and picked my favorite things and tried to keep the rest low key and not work myself up into a Pinterest frenzy. 

Gigi had found these awesome A-frame tent set ups which were perfect for the party! I rearranged the living room and pushed the couches off the side to set up a camp site in the living room. 

 Abby's been asking for a dream catcher for a while and it seemed like the perfect crafty thing for the girls to do during the sleepover.
 It was so interesting to see their different personalities shine through with how they put together their dream catchers. Mostly their patience in how long they wanted to work on it and how much they wanted to add to it before moving onto something else.

 They were really excited to change into their coordinating pajamas. This was my "must-do" in regards to the glamping party because really how cute did these turn out? The girls really seemed to love them as well and didn't waste any time changing into them. My mom again was awesome and embroidered their names on the shorts and I took care of the vinyl on the tank tops.
The girls that came were all from Abby's gymnastics team and of course that meant they were quickly deciding to find poses that practiced their skills. After this they ended up practicing and making up routines on Abby's balance beam, taking turns judging each other - pretty much parroting what they coaches must critic them on! Highly entertaining to listen to as I watched them. 
After a dinner of hot dogs (I mean what else for a glamp out?) the girls settled in to watch a movie. We picked a classic of The Parent Trap (they are at camp and then they go camping in it) and the girls really seemed to enjoy it.
Of course after the movie I played bedtime police and was able to have all the girls to sleep by 11 which I'd say is pretty good for a sleepover. 

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Swimming with Olympian Dara Torres and SwimToday

If you know me, you won't be shocked to here that I've loved all things to do with water since I was young and I have three little waterbugs following in my footsteps. I grew up with love of playing in the pool and enjoyed swim lessons, then went on to join summer swim team, followed by year-round swim team, high school swim team and my first 'real' job was as a lifeguard. Now I'm at the very beginnings possibly starting that cycle with my littles.

All three littles love the pool, we head to the pool at our gym as often as we can and as soon as we go to Gigi and Pop's house they barely get a hello before the kids are pulling on suits and begging a grown up to join them and jump in to the pool in the backyard and we'll be lucky to get them out to eat. For that reason it's very important for my littles to know the rules to follow to follow around the pool and learn how to swim as soon as they can. Drowning is among the leading causes in death for children under 14 right behind car accidents. Learning to swim can greatly reduce this risk.

This past week I had the amazing opportunity to attend an event all about swimming! Momtrends and USA Swimming invited local bloggers to have lunch and learn from 5 time Olympian, Dara Torres and USA Swimming Chief Marketing Officer Matt Farrell all about swimming the #funnestsport.
photo credit: Mario Cantu

Nearly 80% of parents don't think about swimming as a competitive sport for their children once they've checked off the box for swim lesson. Meanwhile parents like Dara Torres (who's 9 year old is following in her footsteps as a swimmer) and myself who experienced swimming as a sport are totally behind it as the #funnestsport. 

Some of the big plus of swim team: 

- It's a sport where everyone participates: no bench warmers!  

- It's a team sport: when you aren't swimming, you are cheering on your friends. Plus there are relays you swim with your teammates as well. 

- Very little equipment is required: swimsuit, swim cap and googles are you are good to go! 

- It's easy to learn 

- Swimming is total body fitness and burns 650 calories an hour! 

- It's a sport for life: once you learn it's something you can do for life. 

- It's closer than you think! More than 60% of families live within 10 minutes of a pool. Swimtoday.org can help you find a swim team near you. 

Bonus: Life skills. Swimming in high school really helped prepared me for mom life. Practice was at 6am (which totally requires a ton of self-motivation to get up and to practice that early!) through the first part of 1st period then we all showered and got ready in the locker room before 2nd period. During the most intense workouts of the season, our time to get ready got shorter and I was a pro at getting ready in under 20 minutes - which comes in handy when you've got a fussy baby or an active toddler! 

After lunch we were able to have a behind the seasons tour of the Phillips 66 National Championship that is happening right in our city! I pass this facility on a daily basis but had never been inside. I was blown away by how amazing the facility is. 
Following the tour, all of the littles got a once in a lifetime opportunity to swim with an Olympic champion. Dara Torres gave all the littles a swim lesson that we won't soon forget. 

For the littlest ones Dara worked on getting them comfortable in the water, kicking and blowing bubbles. One of the biggest hurdles many littles have to overcome when it comes to swimming is putting their face in the water and Dara suggests giving them googles so they are able to see in the water. 

For the bigger ones, Dara gave them tips on turning their head to the side to breathe while swimming instead of popping their head up like a turtle.  

She also showed them her cool bubble ring trick. 

Both my littles would agree that swimming is the #funnestsport. I know they would both jump at the chance to be on a swim team. Micah loved his experience of being a part of the summer swim team for the first time earlier this summer. Since the season has ended he's already asked when he's going to do swim team again. The highlight of the season for him came in the very last meet of the season when he won his heat and got the blue ribbon he'd been dying for all season! It's so great as a mom to see your little one set a goal and achieve it! 

I'm not so sure that as a family we are ready to add yet another year round sport and he's still young that we want him to have lots of different experiences to find his passion. We'll definitely be doing swim team again next summer and I wouldn't be surprised if we do venture into year round swimming in the future. 

Abby loves to swim but she also really loves her gymnastics and she's had to learn to make choices this past year between which sport she wants to pursue. As parents, we continually have to evaluate and make choices as we don't want her to burn out in a sport she loves but also want her to be able to follow her passion. While we made the choice for her not to join the swim team this year, we do still spend time at the pool and she loves to do "lessons" with me and work on her strokes.  I could see her trying swimming in the future if she tires of gymnastics. 

Thanks so much to MomTrends, USA Swimming and SwimToday for such an awesome event that I know we won't forget! 

disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own! Thanks again for unforgettable experience! 

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Micah goes Mutton Bustin

A little over a year ago Micah had a classmate who came in one morning with a big shiny belt buckle that he had won when he participated in mutton bustin in the San Antonio Rodeo. That afternoon when I picked up Micah from preschool, he told me all about it and how he wanted to ride a sheep too! It was too late for the rodeo that year so I just let it drop and thought he'd forget about it. Come the following year, Micah again had another classmate participate (and by the time I thought about the rodeo coming up, sign ups had already passed as they are about 4 months before the rodeo!) and thus Micah was again wanting to try mutton bustin. 
Well only a couple months after the big San Antonio Rodeo is the Helotes Cornyval and PRCA rodeo… which turns out also has Mutton Bustin sign ups. So we went one morning and put his name in the bag for a chance to have a turn. And he got a spot! (Much to Daddy's dismay!) 

I had showed him via youtube what it was all about and prepped him as much as I could that he would in fact fall off the sheep and he just needed to hold on tight as he could. He was a little nervous but mostly just confused by the mouth guard in his mouth it seemed.  
 He was the last one to go - he tried to climb up the fencing to watch those who went before him but I'm not sure how much he could see. At this point my mommy anxiety is going up as kids are of course coming off the dirt crying (but quickly getting over it) and I'm rethinking my decision to let him participate even though he had talked about it for the past year.

 He was lifted up and over into the shoot with the sheep.
 And off they went…
 He tried to hang on but quickly slide back and off to the side of the sheep.

 And onto the ground.
 He like most of the others came out of the arena with a few tears because the helmet (which was a little big on his tiny head) bonked him in the back of the head when he fell. He was over it pretty quickly when he saw he got a trophy and a shirt in his goodie bag for participating.
Since it was a carnival and rodeo, we also took the time to indulge in some carnival food - especially a funnel cake. Then headed back into the rodeo to go watch some of the professional rodeo events. Micah was asking to go home and go to bed a little before his normal bedtime though so we didn't get to stay and watch the bull riding. Which was a bummer. 
Micah has already declared he never wants to do that again. Thank goodness. I'm glad though that I did give him the chance to try it since he had asked for so long to do it.  Next year we'll just go and watch the rodeo and maybe get to stay and watch the bull riding at the end too. 

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Monday, May 11, 2015


Many might shy away from a waterpark with little ones but as a water lover myself, my littles take after me and love the water. As a former lifeguard, I feel comfortable with my littles near water as I've done my best to teach them safety around the water and how to swim (or make sure they are wearing a puddle jumper when near the pool.)  Even without that Schlitterbahn has a fully trained staff of lifeguards on guard at all times just in case. Which is why I'm so excited Schlitterbahn has invited us to come back and play again this summer.

When I think about Schlitterbahn, most of my memories are of all the thrill rides I went down with my youth group on a retreat where we spent a day having fun. I was really pleasantly surprised to see how family friendly to the little guys Schlitterbahn really is.  In addition to the big slides there are many areas with shallow water and small slides perfect for the little ones. In fact Abby and Micah didn't want to leave these areas last time we were there! Their favorite was the pirate ship in Kinderhaven in Blastenhoff - which was perfect as they could play under grandparent supervision while Beau and I went to ride the Dragon Blaster! (That's another tip - bring extra adults so you can split up and ride the big rides that the little ones can't do while someone still has an eye on the little ones!) 

In addition to play areas for the little guys - the best thing that I think really makes Schlitterbahn family friendly? You can bring your own ice chest into the park - pack it full of belly filling, healthy (or unhealthy - your choice!) food so when that question "can I have a snack" comes along you don't have to worry about where you'll get food, how much it will cost but you have all your littles favorites right there waiting for you on a picnic table. I know my littles get super hungry playing in the water and having a cooler packed of food beats having to find some place to stand in line every time they get hungry!

Now I can't wait to go back and see if the big two are ready to venture out of the little areas and try some of the bigger slides with me this year! This is totally going on this year's summer bucket list! We've got a busy summer lined up with Micah doing swim team and baseball, Abby has gymnastics practice most days of the week and I think all of our weekends between now and August have something booked on them so I'm so thrilled we have Schlitterbahn in our backyard for a day trip to have some fun! 

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Lucy's Doggie Daycare

Life wasn't crazy enough with three littles that last summer we added not one but two puppies to the mix. Sadness over losing our elderly dog, missing having a furry member of the family - especially for the littles that hadn't ever known not having a dog as part of our family and the fact that my babies aren't babies anymore lead to planning for one dog and another joining our family by showing up pretty much on our doorstep. One small lap dog like I've always wanted and another big dog for my husband who much prefers the bigger breeds.
While there are days that I definitely wouldn't recommend getting two puppies at nearly the same time, they've been quite the pair and are starting to settle down a tad as they are one and almost 1. They are definitely spoiled and treasured members of our family. I have even started pondering and worrying about who is going to take care of them if we travel during the holidays months away! We don't have any summer plans that will take us away from them but I know if we did I'd be trying to set up plans for them with someone to watch them or a place for them to stay where they would be happy while we were away. 

Last week I was invited to take a tour of Lucy's Doggie Daycare and see what all they could offer the furry members of the family and bathe the pups in their tubs. Lucy's provides daycare as well as boarding and grooming. The pups have two playtime sessions with a nap in the middle during the day. They have an inside shaded area along with an outside area that includes a pool. During the summer there are also large fans going to cool them off.  The play area is divided so there is a section for large dogs and a smaller one for small dogs. Both areas have at least one attendant out there with the dogs keeping an eye on all the pups. If you are ever curious what your pup is up to - you can view them over the webcams they have set up. (There are a few blind spots - like most of the outside of the small dog section - so if you can't spot your baby check back again as they are probably just hiding) 
Inside is where all the dog runs are. Each dog has their picture and all important care information on a sheet on a clipboard outside their run. Inside there beds and blankets for them and you can bring their own bedding, blankets if they are more comfortable with those. For the pups that are nervous about the daycare area (or if they not fixed), there are several single outside dog runs that they take turns in so they get time to play as well. Everything was clean and all the pups looked happy.
For the pups who are at daycare or boarding, you can add a bath or groom on so they are all fresh and clean when you pick them up (they will be done with play time after that so they stay clean until they are picked up.)  

Or you can choose to use the self-serve dog washing tubs and wash your pups at Lucy's and leave the mess for the staff to clean up instead of having to clean it up in your own house. The tubs raise and lower with a remote so no heavy lifting or hurting your back and knees bending over the tub or putting a heavy pup in the tub. Everything is provided for you - shampoo, conditioner, towels, ear cleaner and brushes. Oh and treats to reward your pup for behaving! You can also choose to add on a nail trim while you are there - which was fabulous because my fur babies are the biggest wimps when it comes to nail clipping. Seriously Rhett will start crying before you even get near his nail when I do it at home. At Lucy's though, it was over and done with without any puppies crying - though Diesel did try to run away from them and hide behind me.  

During the summer I really don't mind washing the pups at home because I can wash them outside in a baby pool and there isn't too much mess to clean up after but during the winter it's too cold to bathe them outside so I might consider using the self-service washing at that point and leave the mess for some else to clean up - and take advantage of the nail trims at the same time. 
 The tubs are plenty big enough even for the biggest of pups. Diesel had plenty of growing room in the big tub and he's already over 100lbs!
It was so nice to come home with clean puppies! 

Either baths were exhausting or they got so bored because I wouldn't let them go play in the backyard and get muddy because both puppies were total bums the rest of the day! But hey they still smell nice and clean! 

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