Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sweet Dreams!

With all this swimming, Andrew has gone back to taking naps. In preparation for his nap, he gets 1 book (which he puts under his pillow) and 1 "friend" (aka stuffed animal) to sleep with. I went in to check on him, and this is what I found.

Its Not the Size That Matters!

Josh and I have decided that we are going to give all of Andrew's toys to Ainsley and all of Ainsley's toys to Andrew. It never ceases to amaze me how Andrew loves to play with all of Ainsley's toys. Take this little kiddie pool. Andrew was the first one in and had a ball! Who needs swim lessons or a diving board. Just give the kids 6 inches of water in a tiny little pool and they are happy, happy, happy!
We did bring out some bathtub toys to make the pool experience a bit more exciting. I think they paled in comparison to how easy it was to get in and out of the pool. Both Andrew and Ainsley found that to be the best part. In and out, in and out! No need for ladders or steps in this pool.
The amazing thing to me was that both kids fit comfortably in the pool at the same time! They sat and splashed, stood and splashed, fell down and splashed...splashing was quite a hit. This was a valuable lesson for me. I have a tendency to forget just how simple minded our sweet angles are. They do not need a big pool with fancy equipment to have a marvelous time. A simple blow up pool in the back yard is a treat!
Andrew is so proud of himself. He has learned how to pump his legs and swing himself! I think he has Josh or me or both come outside daily so he can show us. For him, it is a new and exciting adventure each day. He can get himself going pretty high...thus relieving Josh and I of our swing pushing duties. Occasionally Andrew does revert back and want someone to push him! I forget he is not as big as he sometimes thinks he is!

Ainsley also enjoys playing out on the back patio. She has begun riding the big kids bikes and driving the big kids cars. Heaven help us all when she can actually get out on the open road. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy!

A New Found Freedom!

Off to the pool. What is summer vacation without a few hundred trips to the pool? It is safe to say that the Shields' children have taken to the water like a fish to the sea! Ainsley even got in on the action. She is not a complete fan of the life jackets, but she tolerates them just fine.
Andrew took swim lessons! A lady, who lives here locally, takes residence at the park pool all summer and gives swim lessons. She has been doing this since the early 70's! Her name is Ms. Kathy and Andrew loves her. I have not heard him this excited about something. I think he told everyone he knows that he was in swim lessons. He took them with a buddy of his and the 2 of them had Ms. Kathy all to themselves!
They took their lessons for 1 week. We lived at the pool that week, soaking up the sun and learning to swim. The boys floated (with big Santa Clause bellies), learned the crawl stroke (with big ice cream scoop arms), and learned the back stroke (with tickle tickle, airplane, and then soldier arms). I had to learn the lingo Ms. Kathy used so I could help reinforce the moves when we were done!
Here is the superman glide which led to big kicks and ice cream scoop arms! Andrew informed me that in this picture his legs should not be out of the water. "You should kick with your feet, Mama, not your knees!"
Here is a demonstration of the back stroke. To get the concept across to the boys, she had them do tickle tickle arms (hands up under their arm pits), airplane arms (arms straight out from their sides), and then soldier arms (arms down by their sides). In this picture Andrew is going from soldier to tickle tickle. Certainly not the most conventional terminology, but it works. I love it! Safe to say, Andrew was sad when our week of lessons was over, but we still get to see Ms. Kathy when we go swimming, so that kind of makes up for it!

Ms. Kathy's big goal was to teach the boys to swim and then roll to their backs and float. If they were to get tired while swimming in water where they could not touch, this is a strategy that let's them back float and rest before going back to their active swimming. Andrew caught on for the most part, but wanted to put his feet down instead of float.

The most exciting part of the swim lesson came the new found confidence Andrew gained from he experience. His first big task was to go off the diving board. The park pool does not allow kids to go off the diving board in a life jacket, nor can a parent be there to catch them. It needs to be all them! Andrew took his first jump with Daddy waiting by the ladder if the need for assistance should arise. He LOVED it and the rest was history. Other than having to take a break due to sheer fatigue, Andrew would camp out in the deep end enjoying the diving board all day!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Girl With NO Fear!

Ainsley is quite the daredevil. It is interesting to compare her personality with that of her brother. Andrew is more reserved when it comes to trying new things and certainly has to think about something before just jumping into it! Ainsley, on the other hand, is not so reserved. She is fearless, uninhibited, and quite ready to try something new!

Her newest accomplishments are in the realm of climbing. Ainsley's smallest climbing quests are the living room furniture. She struggles with all her might to get up the front of the couch or the big leather chair and then sits so proudly like the Queen of Sheba on her thrown. Ainsley has ventured to try climbing the glider and its gliding ottoman, but they have bucked her off a time or two, thus sending her to try a different climbing piece of furniture.

Here are some of her largest climbing quests! Ainsley can climb, all on her own, up the ladder to the playhouse on top of our backyard adventure. Once up there, she does a fancy dance, aka stomping her feet and circling around, before positioning herself to slide down and start all over again.
The most unbelievable (to me that is) daredevil feat is seen here. She goes down the slide at the park pool all by herself! (Let me insert here that she does wear a life jacket at all times while on the slide!) Now, contrary to the picture here, she does need some assistance climbing the slide ladder, but I promised Susan I would not publish the pictures of her taking Ainsley to the top! :)
Once up, she sits and whooshes down the slide, completely on her own!!! even with the water at the top spraying her little face, she thinks its great. Here she in in mid whoosh!
Once out the bottom, she skates along the top of the water to be met by her Daddy! Even with a face full of water, her grin shines through brightly! Notice her brother in the orange trunks watching and cheering along side her!

She's Got The Look!

Ainsley has certainly come into her own and developed quite a little, well actually quite a big, personality! Regardless of what she is doing, she can bring a smile to one's face...most of all her brother! From sucking her thumb (mostly just when she is tired) to telling ghost stories with a flashlight up to her face, she is learning so much and becoming so much fun.
I could certainly come up with commentary for each of these pictures. For instance in the bottom, left corner car picture, I know she is exclaiming, "She said WHAT...Oh no girlfriend!" In the bottom, right picture, I know she is saying, "Peek-a-boo!" But alas, I will spare you the others. You can come up with them on your own. I hope they bring as many giggles to you as they have to us!
Not only is the girl great at making funny faces, she is a pro at making funny noises. Here is here newest. Be sure to turn your volume up to get the full effect of the noise making!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Fat Lady Has Sung!

Well, after several months and several different sports, our adventure with Pee-Wee sports has come to an end. What fun we had. The last sport was baseball. Now, I have to admit...I am not a huge baseball fan. I used to think it was boring to watch. It still is when it is professionals playing on television, but when it is a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds, that puts a whole new spin on the game.
Andrew enjoyed his baseball days. Lots of base running practice; throwing practice; catching grounders, fly balls, and pop-ups practice. Here they are practicing throwing the balls at hull-a-hoops placed at varying heights along the fence.
Then came the games. Putting it all together and actually playing the game! Andrew started in the outfield and boy did he take his job seriously. This boy was ready to catch whatever came his way, or not his way. He ran after just about anything. When it was all said and done, Josh got him squared away about staying in his area, but I bet he ran a mile over that field shagging balls!
Who says you can't crowd the base. This boy was not letting anyone get to 2nd base on his watch! Then it was his turn to bat! This proved no big deal for Andrew. He would get up to bat, hit his home-run, run the bases, and then get back in line where he continued drawing in the dirt!

If he wasn't playing in the dirt, he was yelling at his teammates to, "Run to first, run to second, run to third, run home!" After listening to myself in this next video, I have to admit, I see where he gets it from.

We are now done with sports for the summer! There is a new addition to the Pee-Wee line-up, football starts in the fall. Also in the fall, Andrew is now old enough to start playing city league, so we will look into playing College Station soccer. In the mean time, we will rest and catch our breath with the thought of more good times to come!

Our First Attempt!

College Station certainly has a much more garden friendly growing season. We were a bit caught off gaurd by how early in the year we could plant our garden. Josh has grand plans for multiple beautiful raised beds, but with time running out, we postponed them until next year. The helpful people at our local Lowe's broke the news to us about just how bad the soil is here. After a spray of Round-Up, the grass was dead and ready for the rototiller. That was a chore, but Josh succeeded and we learned just how bad the soil really is. It sure is sandy. I think there once was a lake where our backyard now stands! Anyway, after several weeks of water, weed pulling, and love, the garden has given us some yummy treats: several zucchini, cucumbers, and basil. The tomatoes and cantaloupes are starting their production, and the watermelons are trying...Andrew talks to them all the time and cheers them on to grow. He is most excited about the watermelons...who knows why, but he is!

These pictures were taken about a month and ago as we celebrated our first harvest...I know I'm behind, but better late than never! And Andrew has decide he likes cucumbers...like the one he is holding!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our Little Olympian!

Andrew has been taking gymnastics this past school year at a local gym, Powersports. He started in a recreational class, and then was invited to join a little boys team. Andrew loves it and enjoys getting to run, flip, bounce, and jump! They had their end-of-the-year "mini-Olympics" where they got to showcase their talents. He was the youngest boy there, but made up for it in heart and determination! Sure made his mama and daddy proud! The boys performed on 4 different apparatuses: parallel bars, rings, floor, and vault. Here he is waiting oh-so-patiently for his turn.

Let the games begin! Andrew was the first to go on the first event, parallel bars! Once he figured out all the salutes and ta-da's, he was off to the races...what fun he had!

I truly believe that putting the chalk on his hands in preparation is Andrew's favorite part of the rings. With that said, he also enjoys the flipping around that naturally comes with doing the rings! And I am amazed at how strong he is...he does not get that from his Mama!

The memory card on the camera filled up in the middle of Andrew's floor routine...so sorry! If he practiced this once in our living room, he practiced this no less than 100 times. He was bound and determined to get it just right...just as Coach Geoff taught him to perform it with all the lunges and arm positions put just so! :) I was impressed with how seriously he took all of this.

Andrew finished up with vault. One of these days he will nail the handstand portion. Control is not yet one of his strong suits...but he sure tried! What fun, what fun.

So You Think You Can Dance?

Let me let you in on a glimpse of what I get to witness daily!

Ainsley is getting to be such a big girl...soon to be 14 months. She loves her big brother and he loves her right back. Any new accomplishment, regardless of how trivial or small, she adds to her repertoire, Andrew feels cause for celebration. And what better way to celebrate than to dance. (regardless of the "Footloose" mentality).

I feel certain that they get their moves from their Church of Christ Daddy!