Saturday, August 13, 2011

I just realized Jillian took a few photos with my camera.  (Yep, haven't used the real one in weeks...) and I found this GEM!  My new favorite photo of Grandma and Lyla.

In between our trips the kids were playing out back. Cole was chanting something and dragging Lyla around.  So I crept closer to figure out what he was playing.  Turns out it was "Ring Around the Rosies"!  I quickly grabbed the iphone but I only caught the last of it.  I was so shocked because we only played that a couple of times awhile ago.  However, since I realized he enjoys it, it has become a favorite. It ends up turning into a spinning session with crazy hilarity on the floor and we love it!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Lockport, New York

So we again took separate flights to New York. This time it was because originally Rick was going by himself. Then he was going to bring Lyla, but when the cheapest tickets he could get meant staying 5 days, that was just too long without daddy and Lyla, so Cole and I got tickets too. It was another long day of flying with already tired children but overall it was pleasant.

The very first thing Cole and Lyla did was ride on Great Papa Solotes' tractor. Cole asked to ride it every day and got very adept at it. Lyla even loved to ride it too. So Skip and Papa Solotes would take turns taking the kids for rides.

I was a little concerned with the tight sleeping conditions in George & Yvette's two bedroom home, but it all worked out wonderfully. The kids shared a room with Rick's parents. Cole slept on a twin air mattress on the floor. Lyla had a pack n play. Rick slept on the couch or floor and I slept on another air mattress or couch in the living room. Kaitlyn and Jillian either slept on the air mattress, at a friend's house or Natalie's apartment.

While Rick and I were at the wedding, Cole and Lyla went with the family to a party celebrating a cousin's graduation. They loved it and now Cole gets very excited at the mention of a party. After all, there was a lot to do in their backyard! We later joined them at the festivities.

We went to Darien Lake (an amusement park) one day thanks to Natalie who got free tickets for us from her work. Cole had a terrible allergy attack the night prior and was up until midnight, but we decided to go anyway. He was pretty good considering the circumstances. He rode many rides and enjoyed them but was also very scared in many too...notice the grip he has on Rick's shirt.

He got to ride his very own train! It was man powered so when it would run out of oomph from the initial push they would have to go push him again, but I thought he did great for never having "pedaled" with his hands (wait, or feet for that matter).

There was a mighty breakdown at one point that was finally resolved with daddy beating out little seven or eight year olds to win a cookie monster. Cole went on to ride the bumper carswith Cookie Monster. He did really well for never having driven by himself or pushed a pedal to drive!

All I have to say is "Thank Goodness for Cookie Monster!" I think he just needed a lovey and we hadn't brought his blanket. Since coming home he hasn't been all that thrilled with him other than to sing "C is for Cookie" and push a magnet shaped "C" into his mouth. Lyla finds him adorable and cuddles and lays with him, but calls him "Elmo" no matter how many times I correct her.

Cole got to see a Thomas & Friends show while Rick and I went on a roller coaster. He even participated which was rather shocking to me. (He is behind the "INA" sign.)

And even as tired as he was he wanted to ride motorcycles. I could tell he was afraid, but he held on and didn't get upset. That was a huge leap for him.

Little Princess was such a trooper too. She loved all the things to see and enjoyed the rides right along with Cole. 

It was so great to spend time with the family and enjoy some cooler weather. Although it was unusually hot for Western NY, it was cooler than Texas. We'll take 85 - 90 degrees any day! Cole and Lyla really enjoyed playing in the shaded yard, going for walks with Grandma, playing in the water or going to the playground.

I would often find Cole talking with Great Grandma Solotes in the kitchen. He would go on and on and on. It was sooo sweet. There is a little TV in the kitchen and they would watch it together and talk about it. Or she would ask him lots of questions and he would give her the most detailed answers. Lyla captured Great Papa Solotes' heart right away. Of course he also bribed her with M&M's to sit with him. After that she would always want to sit with him in hopes of getting some chocolate.

We also visited Lake Ontario and went swimming at a friend's home where the girls surprised Cole with some Thomas toys and swimming trunks. You can see from his face he was delighted.

We were able to do so much, but at the same time have such a relaxed and lazy vacation.Okay, at least I was lazy. With so much help around I totally chilled. It was awesome.

And of course Rick had to eat at all the old stomping grounds. We even stopped at a the classic "Reids" for lunch and ice cream with the kids.

Overall, it was fabulous and it felt like leaving home again when it came time to actually go home. The only regret was we didn't make it to Rochester or Palmyra. Just not enough time in five days for all that we would want to do there. Hopefully it isn't another three years before we are able to return and see the Solotes clan!

And THANK YOU to Jillian for the majority of these pictures. Once again, I was a total slacker with the camera.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lake Hamlin, Michigan

Okay, time to catch up on the fun month we have had starting with our trip to Michigan.  Rick and Cole flew together and Lyla and I took a separate flight. It was the only way we could use our frequent flier miles to go.  Lyla was a nightmare on the first flight but an angel after that. I have to say that the Chicago Children's Museum inside the airport really, REALLY helped to make the trip pleasant and keep Lyla very entertained.  Overall, the kids were pretty good travelers and Lyla was even better on the way back.

I have to say that I was very poor at taking any pictures at all while we were there.  I took a few but I should have taken so many more. It was a beautiful week on the Lake with family.  I was just too busy relaxing and enjoying the grandparents around to realize that I would want these pictures!  Oh well.  Here are some highlights though...

Cole played on this tractor multiple times.  You can see it was definitely a thrill.

Cole and Lyla adored playing in the sand and in the water. Lyla is a little daredevil and kept trying to get you to let go of her. She would just step right in. That's fine on the beach area but by the cabins it is the dock. They would both lay in the sand, grab water in their buckets and pour it on the sand, dig it up and start all over again.

Grandpa Poling brought a fishing pole and a tractor for Cole to play with and boy did he love them both. At any given time you could see Cole outside driving the tractor through the dirt. He loved to roll it down the sidewalk until it hit the grass too.

We took a trip to the sand dunes on the side of the lake one day with the kids. Shockingly Cole wasn't afraid to climb it with Grandma Poling. (He usually is afraid of heights.) Even better was rolling down it again, and again, and again with daddy!

Cole can't even open his eyes when asked to smile for the camera. The combination of uncontrollable laughter, sand and sun didn't make it easy! Playing in the sand and in the dirt with his tractor might be some of the rare occasions that Cole didn't mind being dirty. I love this picture because the dirt is so out of character for him. However, the cupcake mouth is totally Cole. He loves cake!

Lyla on the other hand thinks dirt is her best friend. She bathes in the stuff. In fact, she thought she would try eating it too.

Hmmm...yeah, that didn't work out like she thought.

Although we were there for July 4th, we didn't play with them for days later. Cole really loves sparklers as we play with them at home, but the "Pop-its" were new and boy did he love throwing those at our feet! I totally lost track of time and he was up until almost 11:30pm! I had forgotten that dark doesn't even come until about 10pm there. That was hard for him the first night to get used to going to bed before the sun went down.

Ludington is a great place for young families to vacation. The beach off Lake Michigan is so clean - no rocks or dirt or anything. I think they comb through it every night. There is a beautiful lighthouse to walk to and a fun park right on the beach. We went there a couple of times and played on the swings, slides and in the sand.

Oh, and doesn't Rick look like a movie star or something here. Have to say I enjoy having the casual and scruffy Rick on our vacations! (Um, even though I think those were Yvonne's sunglasses. Hahah!)

We also went to a park on another end of Lake Michigan where most of the boat docks are and the steamboat to cross the Lake. This was an amazing playground - the largest and coolest I have ever seen. Rick and I loved playing on it. Lyla thought she was so cool running around on it with the big kids. Cole somehow forgot his fear of heights and tall slides in the chaos and enjoyed every second. The "bumpy" slide was definitely his favorite.

We also enjoyed the soft, green grass to play in. I miss soft grass. :-(

There was a little kiddie playground too. I took Lyla there and behold, she decided that steps were for sliding down (which I quickly put an end too) and slides were for climbing. Frankly, it shocked me. The girl is crazy.

It was a lovely trip and we can't wait to do it all again. We were home maybe four days when Rick up and found cheap tickets for us to go to Buffalo, New York to attend a friend's wedding, see his grandparents and spend time with his family that was visiting there too. We had not been there with the kids ever so we were very excited but details of that adventure to come in the next post.

Here's a video of Cole and Daddy on the dunes.