Aug 29, 2014

Our newest thing: gymnastics

The week before we went to the beach -- so, late June -- the boys attended their first gymnastics class. They're now a couple of months into once-a-week classes, and they LOVE them.

I took these pictures during their second or third class, I think, and Nick had already learned how to pop up into a handstand. Not perfect form, but at least he was up there.

Nathaniel and Jake are still working on it. Which is totally fine.

When I registered our boys, all of a sudden they had enough to form an all-boys 5:30 class on Mondays, which is great.

I mean, if you'd ASKED me if I felt good about a coach who was wearing an orthopaedic boot, I might have said "No" -- but you didn't ask.

The kids rotate around to different stations during the hour, all under close supervision.

They're in a Trampoline & Tumbling class, so they do a LOT of trampoline work -- which is their favorite.

It's funny how something like just jumping in one spot with your hands over your head can be so hard on a trampoline.

Once they've done that correctly enough times in a row, they start tucking their knees and doing toe-touches, then going right back to the hands-above-heads jumping form in between.

It's exhausting to watch. They reward themselves by taking a massive leap onto the cushy mats on the sides.

When they don't get it exactly right, one of the coaches -- okay, the one who isn't wearing THE BOOT -- hops on the trampoline and shows them how it's done.

And then they try again, with varying degrees of success.

Toward the end of class, they usually move over to the foam pit.

THE FOAM PIT. It's the kids' favorite part of the entire hour.

On this day, they were holding foam blocks up high and practicing falling back into the pit with their hands held in perfect form over their heads.

They couldn't look backward as they fell, and they couldn't let go of their blocks.

They did well -- well enough to move on, at any rate! -- and then they were able to get to The Real Fun: free-styling into the foam pit.

They love to be as daring as possible, without getting into trouble with their coaches.

Quite frankly, I'm not even sure what the rules ARE. So far they haven't broken any, which is good.

They end each class with a group prayer, and each week the coaches ask one of the kids to volunteer to lead it.

From what I can tell way up in the Parent Gallery, sometimes they get a volunteer and sometimes they don't. Ha!

Last Monday, Jake volunteered, which I thought was adorable. I asked him what he prayed, and he said, "Low-ered, thank you fow-uh this day."

I asked, "Was that it?" And he said, "Yes, everyone sat there for a minute with their eyes still closed, and then finally Coach said, 'Amen,' and I wealized I forgot that paht."

No matter. Everyone gets a hug at the end anyway.

Not entirely sure how long this gymnastics thing will last, but for now it's pretty darn adorable.

Aug 27, 2014

Turkey & Swiss Sandwich Bake

This is the last of the recipes from our 2014 Beach Trip, but I'm actually going to post one more after this one -- from 2013 -- just because I was able to find it. But this one, this was a big hit with the whole family, and Kim said she sometimes even packs this in her kids' lunchboxes when they have leftovers.

She made one with tomatoes and one without -- and she also does a "pizza version" of it.

Turkey & Swiss Sandwich Bake 

2 cans crescent rolls
cooking spray
thinly sliced turkey
sliced Swiss cheese
sliced tomatoes
bacon, fried or microwaved

Spray the bottom of a 9x13 dish with cooking spray. Roll one can of crescent rolls out in the bottom of the pan. Press dough out to cover bottom of pan.
Layer in your filling... turkey, cheese, bacon.* No amounts, just add how much you like, according to Kim. (For the record, I am a woman of exact amounts. This kind of recipe is strictly for DAREDEVIL COOKS, in my opinion.)

Spread the other can of crescent rolls out over the top. 

In a bowl, beat one egg with a splash of water, and pour it over the top of the casserole, then tilt the pan to spread it around evenly.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until golden, then cut into squares to serve.

* Kim offered several alternative fillings that she makes at her house:

Croque Monsieur: ham, Swiss, tomatoes
Pizza: mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian seasoning (NO EGG on top)
Club Sandwich: ham, turkey, provolone, bacon
Ham & Cheese: ham, cheese, honey mustard (NO EGG on top)

Aug 25, 2014

'Hot Summer Nights' at ArcLight

If you live in Birmingham, you have simply GOT to try to attend an ArcLight Stories event sometime. The next one will be Saturday, Sept. 6 at Urban Standard on 2nd Ave. North.

I've been wanting to go for what seems like forever, but it's just never worked out. Until their August event, which coincided with several Internet friends being in from out of town. Laura McClellan drove down from Nashville with Amanda Bast, who had flown in from CANADA. I met them, Erin Moon and Jamie Golden on the Thursday night prior to ArcLight for some good barbecue -- only to find out they had run out of pork about two plates before they made it to our order.

So even though we made merciless fun of them for that, we ended up having a fabulous meal and a great time. No surprise there. 

The next night, I met them at Urban Standard (coincidentally, home to my favorite grilled-cheese sandwich in the city) for ArcLight. Actually, Amanda had flown home earlier in the afternoon, but we had a new addition to the group ... Jessie Buttram!

She's SO cute. She's @jbuttwhatwhat on twitter, and she was there as one of the Storytellers. Also a new addition that night? Elizabeth Hyndman (in the green shirt). (I love how my platform sandals made me look miles taller than everyone else in this picture. THAT'S A FIRST.)

ArcLight is an evening of storytelling, and each night has a theme. That night's theme was "Hot Summer Nights." It's never literal, but the stories are able to be tied into the theme in some way. Jamie opened up the night with a story, and even though I've heard it several times before, it retained its charm.

Jamie KILLED it. The room was rolling with laughter the entire time she was on stage.

I don't remember everyone's names, but they were great. This guy told a story about being in a bike accident while he lived in D.C.

He was a gifted Storyteller, too.

Then Carrie Hill told her story, which was a real HUMDINGER. I don't know Carrie personally, but she's friends with a local artist I really like, Sarah Miller.

Sarah and I have become friends through Twitter, and I was lucky enough to get to meet her at ArcLight, too!

Next up was a guy who's actually a coach at Nathaniel's middle school. His story was straight out of the TV show The Middle. I laughed all the way through it ... he cracked me up. What's not to love about non-athletic middle-school girls trying out for cross-country, throwing up all the way along the route because they can't hack it?

And then it was time for Jessica's story. She shared with us the story of the labor and delivery of one of her kids, and it was terrific.

If you can't tell, she's a natural.

She had everyone eating out of the palm of her hand.

Following Jessie was a guy who told a story about lifeguarding. In a surprising turn of events, just before he went on stage, he asked my name. I told him, and he ended up weaving it in to part of the story.

At that point in the evening, the sun had long since gone to bed, and we were getting ready for the last Storyteller.

The creator of ArcLight, Taylor Robinson, got up and said a few introductory words about the closing story and thanked the night's sponsors.

And then the night's final Storyteller took the mike.

He told the most amazingly beautiful story about his grandparents' marriage and the letters he'd found that they'd written each other during The Great War.

I could've listened to his story for the rest of the weekend!

Urban Standard was PACKED OUT for that night's ArcLight ... I don't know why that one in particular was so popular, but it was standing-room only.

Hope to see you at the next one!

Jamie made some cake pops for Elizabeth and Laura, who are known as "the coffee shoppers." I thought they were so cute, I had to get a picture of them.

Have you visited Jamie's cakepop site yet? No? Well, you're just nuts, then. She makes the most delicious, adorable cakepops, and she will ship them right to your door except during the hottest summer months.

Anyway, Laura and Elizabeth were totally smitten with theirs.

Katy McKay, a Twitter friend I got to meet that night for the first time, posted this beautiful picture of downtown Birmingham right after ArcLight. I love my city.

Get yourself to ArcLight if there's any chance at all that you can. You'll love it. I'm just SURE of it.

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