There are times that you capture a picture that is just perfect and it has nothing to do with the way it looks and everything to do with the feelings it evokes. This is that picture for me. Ryan is filled with absolute joy, extreme pride and unconditional love. All reasons why I admire him so much and love him so deeply. Lauren is beaming with pure excitement, abandoned innocence and a zest for life that radiates from this shot into my soul. All attributes that I hope to mimic in my own life. I see a parent allowing his child to fly – to sore – never taking his eyes from her, never giving her any doubts that she won’t succeed, and never leaving her side in case she needs to be caught. I see a child so trusting in her father, with an unharnessed belief that anything is possible. I’m sure to most this is just a snapshot of a father and daughter who are enjoying each other. To me, it reflects my two sweet loves perfectly…in an amazing moment that fills my heart completely.
When we made this trip two years ago, Lauren was only 2 1/2 and had yet to watch a movie. We bought her Finding Nemo and thought she would get such a kick out of watching it on the way to the beach…to the ocean. About 30 minutes into our 15 hour drive, we turned on the DVD. Just a few minutes later, LP very adamantly stated to turn off the movie, she didn’t want to watch it. Tears filled her eyes. Apparently the stingray jokingly covering up the baby fish was too much for Lauren. She thought they were hurt and wanted nothing more to do with this movie. She wouldn’t even watch it again until a year later. Lesson learned; never let LP watch a movie for the first time on her own. So, the journey continued and I spent most of the trip in the backseat with Lauren. It was a trip where she was sick with fever and woke up a few nights screaming, inconsolable. Despite these few setbacks, we did have a wonderful time watching Lauren explore the beach, taking SO many pictures, (click here to look at them; Florida 2009) and vowed to do it again. However, with us building the house the following spring and summer, we didn’t go last year.
With a new sense of excitement and expectation, we started the trip this year with the car loaded down with movies, books, colors, games on the IPAD and plenty of snacks. The long trip ahead of us didn’t seem as daunting with a healthy girl who only napped once but remained in good spirits despite being restricted to her car seat. On the way there, she was content with the hotel pools, loved getting to share our bed, and despite my total phobia of hotels she thoroughly enjoyed the our journey to the beach. Once we got there, she couldn’t get enough of the beach. We didn’t set foot in any of the many pools at the condo. Lauren couldn’t wait to feel her toes in the warm sand, her feet, her legs, her arms, her crest! She made sand angles, challenged crashing waves far taller than her to knock her down, made sand castles, buried herself in the soft moist sand, caught “sea creatures,” hunted for shells and soaked in the sun all day – every day – until it was time to return home. I have no doubt she could have stayed another week. Her excited was infectious, her enthusiasm exhausting, and the memories we created unforgettable. She’s already asked when we’re going back. If I thought I took a lot of pictures two years ago, the amount of pictures I took this year could only be described as insane and I didn’t do a very good job of editing through them. To see far too many photos of our trip to the beach this year, click here.
Lauren woke us this morning, the morning we are leaving for Florida, by sing this. We’re finally off to the beach and Lauren’s excitement is definitely contagious!
We celebrated at Mayfest with the usual activities: listening to music, dancing in the streets, eating fried food, gobbling down dip ‘n dots before they melted and then strolling through the many vendor booths to enjoy their talent. However, this year held an unexpected experience for Lauren. She helped one of the artists paint! At first she was a little tentative, however it didn’t take long for her to beam with pride as she saw how she could help change the painting on the huge canvas before her. Check out a few more pictures of us at Mayfest 2011, click here.
Hailey joined our family as Ryan and I started our lives together in Arkansas in our first house. At first she slept in the kitchen but soon became a fixture in our bed at night. That’s where she slept for the next 13 years, until we moved here. Hailey is turning 14 years old and what once was a bed that she jumped up onto easily and then flew half way across the room as she jumped off was now too difficult to maneuver. As we moved everything into this house, Hailey quickly took refugee in the corner of our closet, feeling safe and comfortable, and has stayed there since, claiming the spot as her very own. I must admit, I enjoy the freedom to toss and turn as I see fit in the middle of the night, not having her lying at my feet or on my legs, however, there are times I feel so removed from her. She no longer even joins me on the sofa in the evening, preferring her bed in the other part of the house…it’s a little sad. This past year has definitely been filled with ups and down, making it that much more important to celebrate Hailey today. A part of me is fearful that this might just be her last birthday with us considering all the health problems she’s encountered over the past 6 months. So when we realized that we’d actually be traveling on her birthday, we had no other option then to celebrate a few days early! Lauren longed to play with her. I longed to hold her in my arms. We both got a little bit of each. We love you, Hailey. Happy 14t birthday! To see some photos, click here.
Lately Lauren has really been interested in hearing new jokes. I have never been one to care to retain a joke after hearing it so I’ve been little help. Ryan had a couple to share but couldn’t provide much support for her new craft either. Luckily between the Laughy Taffy candies that she received for Easter and her GoGurt, she’s collected quite a few jokes in her repertoire. However, she isn’t solely relying on memory and has come up with a pair of her own. So far, these are the two that she’s made up herself:
“What kind of boo doesn’t scare people?”
“How does one elephant tell if another elephant is feeling good or bad?”
“They twist their trunks together and then he “nose”.”
Not too shabby…far better than anything I could ever dream up!
With each passing month, it seems like we have more and more to do and less time to accomplish a “photo shoot”. Today I grabbed my camera on the way to enjoy the tire swing. These photos will have to do for this month. The purpose to our monthly pictures was to help tell a story of who Lauren is. I think these photos represent her love of nature, her zest for adventure, and her beautiful spirit perfectly. Check them out, click here.
Lauren had such a good time today on her last day of school. They ran, crawled, jumped, kicked, rolled, and laughed. I’m going to have to watch this one, however. It seems maybe she inherited my competitive nature. On the way home, she said, “Mom, I won every single race!” To see more photos, click here.
As the weather warms, all Lauren can think about is getting to swim in the neighborhood pool. She talked about swimming so fondly, I decided to not wait until summer to start lessons this year. The plan was to finish up in time for us to take off on vacation and then return and have the rest of the summer to practice in our pool here. The morning of her first class Lauren was so excited. She woke up and picked out which suit she wanted to wear, completely dismissing the fact that she had to first go to school in regular attire. She’s enjoyed each lesson, got to float in a canoe in the pool, and finished her final lesson with two new ribbons, validating her improvement and extending her excitement for swimming. She also declared that she’s “ready for lessons with just me and the teacher” so she can “learn even more!” I’m certain we will have a full summer of fun in the sun at the pool! To see a video of Lauren at swim lessons, click here. For a few pictures of LP, click here.
There is not much that gives me more joy than watching Lauren dancing and twirling, flipping and kicking around the house to all kinds of music. She really lets the melody of a song move her. She has the ability to gracefully glide across the floor or speed it up and shake it out wildly. However, when it comes to performing a dance that’s not an impromptu interpretation of whatever tune is playing, she’s quite serious. The girls were absolutely beautiful all dressed up and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little sad by the fact that Lauren has decided dancing in a class “just isn’t my thing.” But as long as we can still boogie down at home, I’m happy! Check out pictures from Lauren’s first dance dress rehearsal and recital…and maybe her last, click here.
Lauren discovered a zillion tadpoles outside today and was not in the least bit intimidated by these slimy little creatures. She has studied the frog’s life cycle at school and informed me that a tadpole with legs is called either a froglet or a tadlet…she couldn’t quite remember which was correct. Either way, I learned something new today. To see Lauren enjoying more outside adventures, click here.