Saturday, July 16, 2011

Swimming Like a Fish

Just wanted to share some videos from Camden's swim lessons. He started on Monday morning being pried off of me and I left him in the arms of the swim instructor (screaming for his mommy and refusing to go in the water); but he ended the class (eight, 45 minutes sessions) by jumping off the diving board!

The Helicopter People

Swim School Show Off Day - Helicopter People from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Kick One, Kick Two, Kick Three

Swim School Show Off Day - Kick 1, Kick 2... from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Jumping Off the Side

Swim School Show Off Day - Jump from the Side from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Watching "TV" in the Clouds

Swim School Show Off Day - "Watching TV" in the Clouds from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

The Grand Finale (and what to do if you fall in)

Swim School Show Off Day - The Grand Finale from Mandy Jo on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bye Bye Baby

We have arrived at the end of the first year...and I don't know whether my reaction is "whew, glad that's over and that we survived it" or "wait? what? I missed it and can I get a do-over?".

I honestly don't know where the time went. Those first few nights home from the hospital when Alison was up all night, crying for apparently no reason at all and then Camden needed my complete attention all day (yeah, forget the "sleep when the baby sleeps" thing if there's a toddler on the loose) I didn't think I was cut out for two kids. I kept repeating to myself, "God never gives you more than you can handle with His help" - but the truth is, I thought perhaps He'd forgotten to keep up His end of the deal with the help!

Slowly, but surely, we got on the routine I so desperately needed and things started to turn around. I thought perhaps I might actually like this new little being that I had once thought was sent to earth to render me exhausted and frustrated for the rest of my life.

Then all of a sudden I turn around and you're babbling, crawling 45 mph, "walking around" holding on to things, signing up a storm (especially "more" when we're eating dessert), giving your brother a run for his money when he wants to wrestle with you, keeping Millie on her toes (and above the 85 lb mark on the scale) laughing, playing, and sleeping like a champ.

My baby is a baby no more.

I firmly believe God gives us children to teach us - how to be better people and more about our relationship with Him. If I've learned anything from you this year, my sweet, precious little girl, it's that I need to slow down and focus on what's important. No longer will I take the "seasons" for granted and get so caught up in the busyness of life that I miss the life He's longing to give me...and the one He's given me with my children.

Thank you, my little angel, for all you have already taught your mommy. I am so looking forward to all the lessons of life we will learn together. Thank you, God, for allowing me such wonderful children and such a wonderful husband, to take the journey with. Ali-girl: I hope this birthday is only the beginning of another fantastic year ahead! I love you babycakes!!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

First Wish

As I try to figure out how to put into words all of the thoughts I have about how much my life has changed since Camden was born three years ago, words just fail me. Camden Matthew entered this world and our lives haven't been the same. 
I will confess to you, I am just not a "baby" person. Everyone told me, "Oh, that'll change when it's your own kids you're talking about" but honestly, it didn't. Sometimes I feel guilty about it - that perhaps I didn't enjoy all of those infant days because I was longing for the next stage to get here. Even now I watch videos of Camden, and even Alison, from when they were born and I just don't remember them being that small. Maybe it's the fact that you're so caught up in "survival" that it is hard to stop and smell the roses...or perhaps it's that you can't smell the roses for all of the dirty diapers!
But, what I am, is a "toddler" person. I love the stage that Camden is in right now - I love the black and white, logical, common sense he uses in every situation. I love that everything is literal and everything is linear. I love watching him learn - seeing him master new skills, make his own decisions (yes, even if they are different from what I would have decided) and marveling at how he's becoming his own little person - not just a baby that pretty much just eats, sleeps and poops all day (no offense Alison!).
Case in point:
At our house we have a red plastic bucket full of stickers, silly putty, etc. that I use to encourage (okay, bribe) Camden to stay quiet when I am on the phone. It's a simple equation: Mommy's on the phone + you stay quiet for the entire phone call = you get to choose a prize from the bucket. Last week I received a phone call that lasted all of 12 seconds (a wrong number) but still long enough for Camden to remind me that he gets a prize from the red bucket if he's quiet while I'm on the phone. As I attempted to explain to him that this situation didn't warrant a prize, he continued to remind me "that's how it works". Finally, my exasperated response was, "Camden, I just can't get you a prize right now." His reply to that, "Well mommy, if you can't do something you should pray and ask Jesus to help you because my Bible verse says 'I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.(Fa-wip-e-uns 4:13)' I was completely speechless. Not only at the fact that he could apply a verse we'd learned together to a specific situation, but that he was using scripture to "correct" me! :o)
And yes, after praying together, I gave him the stickers.
Camden keeps us on our toes, keeps us laughing, keeps us guessing, and keeps us learning how to love on a level we never understood until he arrived in our lives three years ago. Yes, there are challenges (c'mon, he's a toddler) and there are days that I spend almost his entire nap time researching how to get my license to teach here b/c I don't think I can take another full day at home with him. But more days than not, it's a job that I love and I am grateful to God for assigning him to me. I pray that he will always enjoy learning new things, that he will always make his own decisions, and that he will continue to grow in the wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ. I pray that I will have a child that will always think to share scripture with me when I am "struggling" with an issue. I pray that I can be the mom that God has called me to be and that He will strengthen me and intercede for me when I fail (because I do so on a daily basis). I pray that Ryan and I would together show him what true love looks like - not only the love we have for each other, but the love our Heavenly Father has for us as well. 

Happy Birthday little man! You are my "first wish!"

You Are My I Love You
Author: Maryann K Cusimano
I am your parent you are my child
I am your quiet place, you are my wild
I am your calm face, you are my giggle
I am your wait, you are my wiggle
I am your audience, you are my clown
I am your London Bridge, you are my falling down
I am your Carrot Sticks, you are my licorice
I am your dandelion, you are my first wish
I am your water wings, you are my deep
I am your open arms, you are my running leap
I am your way home, you are my new path
I am your dry towel, you are my wet bath
I am your dinner you are my chocolate cake
I am your bedtime, you are my wide awake
I am your finish line, you are my race
I am your praying hands, you are my saving grace
I am your favorite book, you are my new lines
I am your nightlight, you are my sunshine
I am your lullaby, you are my peek-a-boo
I am your kiss goodnight, you are my I love you.

Friday, January 28, 2011


For those of you that know me well (okay, you don't have to know me that well to know this) you know I am a planner. I love to have things mapped out...whether its a route to a destination or a time line for preparing for something...I have to have a plan. I like for others whose plans affect my plans to make me aware of their plans so that I can plan accordingly. I am also that person that freaks out when plans change and I don't know about it early enough to plan an alternate plan. Blame it on the first-born, type A, anal retentive personality...but I am what I am.

However, I had a realization today. Let me back up and give you some insight on to how this realization occurred. Here's a typical, pretty much daily conversation between Camden and myself:

Me: Good morning, sunshine Camden!
C: Good morning, sunshine Mommy! What are we going to do first today?

Me: We're going to eat breakfast.
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: We're going to get dressed for our day.
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: We're going to (insert activity) - paint, play fire trucks, run errands, go to school, etc.
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: We're going to (insert another activity)
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: We're going to have lunch.
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: We're going to watch a show, then you're going to take a nap.
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: We're going to (insert another activity)
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: I am going to strap you in a chair and force you to not speak for 2 hours.
C: What are we going to do after that?

Me: Why do you always have to know what is going on?

This is where my "ah ha moment" occurs. It's because you are my son and you are becoming just like me. And...I have to do something about this before it gets out of control!

I mean really? Is this what I sound like? Not that I think I can (or want to) do much about it - after 34 years of being like doesn't look hopeful for things to change. But hopefully I have realized it early enough to steer Camden clear of the hyper-planning path he was headed down.

So now, when I get the dreaded, "What are we going to do after that" question, my answer to him is, "I don't know, we'll have to wait and see..." Although, if he's asking about anything in the next 48-72 hours, trust me, I have it all planned out.

Friday, December 24, 2010

25 Days of Christmas - Day #24

Today was my kind of day. For those of you familiar with the five love primary language is "quality time" and I'm fairly certain that if I had to choose a second language, it would also be "quality time". :o)

This morning we literally did nothing. We drank coffee (Camden included...he prefers it black but I was sharing mine so he had to deal with a little half and half in it), we played games, we watched it rain, we prepped a baked strawberry french toast dish to have tomorrow morning for breakfast...but mostly we just enjoyed being together without a "to do" list in sight. Yes, we still ran a load of laundry and lugged out the suitcases to pack for our trip to NC tomorrow, but mostly we just enjoyed being in our jammies all (as Camden put it) nice and comfy and laughed the morning away.

This morning was not without it's "toddler moments" but it also held the moment when Camden just snuggled up next to me on the sofa and out of the blue said, "mom, you're the best mom". It's moments like these when I am reminded that all of the dinner prepping, potty training, laundry folding, discipline giving, manners teaching, etc, etc, is totally worth it. Being a parent is the most physically, mentally, and emotionally draining thing I have ever done in my life...but it's also the most rewarding thing as well. I have more than an occasional moment when I love my kids but I don't like them very much...but today was not one of those days (well, except during the Christmas Eve service when Camden must have thought I was a jungle gym because he climbed all over me the entire service!).

Tonight after the Christmas Eve service we had a birthday party for Jesus. We've been talking for weeks about how Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birthday and a couple of days ago Camden asked what kind of cake we were having. I'd never really thought about having an actual party, but it seemed like a great idea so we went with it.

We had a yellow cake with milk chocolate frosting (my favorite) but, according to Camden, it wasn't really a birthday cake without sprinkles so we had those too. After singing happy birthday to Jesus, Camden blew out the candle and we each enjoyed a slice (okay, two slices) of cake. (Camden even made sure that Jesus was part of the action...see his Little People Nativity Jesus hanging out next to the cake?) :o)

I then read the Christmas story from Camden's toddler Bible and we talked specifically about the significance of the gifts that the wise men brought - you should hear Camden pronounce frankincense! We are really trying to make it a point to explain that the gifts we open are to celebrate Jesus' birthday - that He loves us so much that He wants us to have the gifts instead of Him and that we can be reminded of His love toward us every time we look at the gift we received.

Back in 2001 when Ryan and I celebrated our first "married" Christmas we started the tradition of giving each other an ornament every year. We expanded that tradition to Camden in 2008 and to Alison this year. So tonight at Jesus' birthday party, we each opened our ornament for this year.

We really enjoyed having a party and I'm thinking this may become a tradition in our house. We're busy now packing the last few items in our suitcases during commercial breaks of our favorite Christmas movies. We hope that each one of you has a very Merry Christmas and we pray God's blessings on you in the year ahead!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

25 Days of Christmas - Day #23

Today we finished up a last few tasks before Ryan has the day off tomorrow and we spend the whole day in our jammies just enjoying being together.

This morning we completed our task of choosing some toys to give to other boys and girls that don't have any or many toys. At first Camden seemed to finally grasp the concept, but after his first two choices of things to give away were Alison's toys, we had to back up and talk about it a little more. He finally caught on and we ended up with a brown paper grocery sack packed full of toys to give away.

Later in the day we delivered some homemade goodies to our neighbors and a few of our friends. We then enjoyed donning our Santa hats and walking around the neighborhood to deliver our reindeer cookies...
Tonight we picked up Ryan from work and drove over to Highland Park to look at all the Christmas Lights. Impressive...both the houses and the lights.

We're getting very excited about Christmas...and of course, the airplane ride on Saturday to see Oma, Papa, Granna, all the Aunts and Uncles and the ever growing list of cousins!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

25 Days of Christmas - Day #22

Today was cookie decorating day at our house! Camden had a few friends over and they each decorated an "ornament" cookie.

Let's get this party started!

Camden chose a bell for his ornament.

Such concentration!!!

Camden really liked the chocolate sprinkles.
I didn't have the heart to tell him his cookie looked like it'd been pooped on by a mouse!

We had a lot of fun and Millie enjoyed cleaning up the floor when we were done.