Monday, June 23, 2008

From the Kids

As I was cleaning out the the kids backpacks from the last day of school, I came across some really sweet assignments that they had. The first one was an assignment that Jessica had. It was called "My Parent for President." She chose Jason. The teacher sent home a hat and a camera. Jessica was supposed to take a picture of Jason wearing the hat doing something he likes to do. She wanted to get a picture of him on a motorcycle. The only problem was that she didn't tell us this until dinner time! She jumped in the car and went out to the ranch. It was already getting dark and his bike was toward the back of our storage container, so he hopped on Austin's bike! I think it made for a cute picture.

The next part was writing an ad for his campaign! It was cute! If you can't read it is says, " The next Candidate for President should be Jason Rickards. He would be a good president because he is fair, kind, and understanding. He can solve any of your problems. He is capable of anything! He would be good for our community and our country.


Austin had a friendship assignment at school. He did a handout on the recipe for friendship and had to write down things about three of his friends. He chose Me, Jason and Wesley-in that order! It was a proud moment for me. :-) I'm glad I am one of Austin's friends as well as his mom. He had to write a thank you card to one of his friends and he chose Jason. It was a really sweet card. When he saw it, he got all teary eyed. It meant a lot to him. It says, " I love you J. Thanks for being my dad."

The last one is a Father's Day card from Lauren. I had to scan it in two parts because it was too big for my scanner. The cards reads, " Dear Jason, I like when you take me to go swimming at grandma's house. You are the best step dad in the world. Love, Lauren."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Okay, so I know I am a little late with this post, but I have been trying to get all my projects done while I am down to one kid! The kids come home on Saturday and I can't wait to see them!

This is a subject that my I have such strong emotions about, that I am not sure I will be able to do it justice in words. I feel so incredibly lucky to have Jason in my life and for the father that he is. He was born to be a dad. It is one of the things he does best and he has many talents.

We started dating when the kids were really young. They took to each other right away. I just started laughing to myself remembering those

days! Lauren was 3 and was still throwing tantrums from time to time if she didn't' get what she wanted. I remembering Jason looking at me in disbelief and asking, "Why is she doing that?" Or after lunch when Jessica was missing her front teeth and tried to eat her sandwich using her side and back teeth, "How does that happen? Most of her sandwich is on her face!" Haha! I'm laughing still. Ahh, his rookie days...

Now, as the kids were planning to go on a hiking trip, Jason said, "Lauren will make it about 10 min and then she'll be too tired and want to be carried." We were out one afternoon and called to check on the kids. The babysitter said Jessica was fighting with Lauren. "Did she have a snack when she got home? She probably just needs to eat. She gets a little grumpy when she is hungry.

"When we talked about getting married, he told me that he knew that when he married me, he would be marrying the kids too. When we were looking at rings, he used to look at the ones with three stones to represent the three kids. The thought he put into that, made me love him even more. I thought that it was fitting that he proposed to me in front of the kids on Christmas morning.
He always has their best interest in mind. He was an assistant coach on Austin's baseball team for two years. During soccer season, he spent countless Saturdays at the soccer field, cheering on the girls. He is always thinking of ways to help them improve or practice their game.
He loves motorcycles. Our first Christmas while we were dating, he bought the kids quads, so they could enjoy the sport with him. He wanted to be able to spend more time together. It is something that we have all grown to love as a family and has helped us all stay close to each other. "The family that plays together, stays together." We have so much fun together.

He is involved with their academics and helps them set goals for improvement. At night, he helps them study and has been known to sit through an entire princess book, read out loud by Lauren. All of the kids teachers know him and occasionally he will email them to check on their progress. He goes to every Back to School Night, Parent/Teacher Conference, Open House and Winter Programs. He even comes to the Awards Assemblies when he can get away from work.

He turns into pappa bear if someone hurts the one of the kids. He is very protective of them. He is always thinking of them and wanting them to be happy, but the parent in him knows that some lessons in life are hard. He misses them terribly when they are gone and complains that the house just seems so empty without them.

When Ashlyn was born, he cried. After we brought her home, he said he just wanted to call everyone he knew and tell them how amazing it is to have a baby, but then he realized they already knew. If he was ever having a tough day, he would just take her into our room and lay on the bed with her. He said it always put things into perspective and made him feel peaceful.

For the first three weeks after she was born, Jason worked from home. It was so wonderful for all of us to have him around. We took turns feeding her at night and he never complained. I think he looked forward to it. He has always been so good with her. He is a natural father.
To me, it is not always the grand gestures that makes someone a hero. Sometimes, it is the small and often unnoticed acts that makes a person a hero to me. Jason is such an example to me. He is so selfless and loves unconditionally. I am so proud of the father that he is and the father that he doesn't have to be.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Millerton Lake

On Saturday we went to Millterton Lake with the McCauley's (Aaron and Haley) and the Bohn's. We had so much fun! I missed the kids though. It was fun to watch the kids and swim in the lake. Tyler got up on the wake board and went forever!!! It was so cool! I'm excited for Austin to come home. I know he really wanted to try to wake board after learning to snow board last winter.

They had this really cool surf board thing! It looks like a surf board, but you use a rope to get up. The idea is that you ride the wake just off the back of the boat. Haley went first and I was so impressed! She is such a rock star! It is so funny to me to see her be so awesome at all that stuff because she is so sweet. You should see her wake board! She is awesome!

Ashlyn wasn't so sure about her life jacket at first. In fact she was pretty annoyed with it! :-) She loves the water though! As soon as she got wet, she forgot all about it. She was a trooper and so darn cute! We took about a million pictures! Seriously, we took over 200 pictures while we were out there. A lot of them were pictures of us trying to surf and trying to capture the perfect wipe out in a picture! We have a few videos but I don't know how to put them on here. As usual, you can see more pictures on the Rickards Family Photos link. Just click on the Millerton Lake folder.

It was a great day! We didn't get off the lake until almost 9! We stopped and got pizza on the way back into town. I am so grateful to have such good friends!
(Maren, Clara, Haley and baby Peyton in the blanket.)

Millerton Lake

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Bahamas

Jason and I love to travel! We get travel deals every week that come to our email and we are always trying to plan a trip somewhere. The trips don't always happen, but it is fun to think about and see if we could make it work. I've realized how short life is and you never really know when your time is up. I've really started to treasure the moments more than ever before. I want to fill my life with more memories and less things.

So, with the kids having a trip planned to visit their dad in Arizona the day after school was out, we started looking a little more seriously at taking a vacation. We found the perfect deal at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas! We had looked there before when I was pregnant, but just couldn't make it work. We were so excited! Two of our couple friends were able to go, but they had to come back 2 days before us.

My mom said she would watch Ashlyn for us. School was out on Friday. We got all packed up to leave on Saturday morning. My mom came over to get Ashlyn Saturday morning and both Jason and I cried as we said goodbye to her. We have never left her before. We had to drive to LA to meet Travis with the kids, so we decided to fly from there. We had some time before our flight left, so we cruised around LA and went to the beach in Santa Monica. It felt so weird to be kid free!

Luckily we got to the airport early because my passport was still issued to Tara Wilson! I hadn't even thought about it. They sent us to someone else who was able to help us. I had my old drivers license buried in my wallet! Yeah! Did you know they are now charging to check luggage?! I was able to get the guy to wave the fee for us. Jason teased me for flirting, but said I was forgiven because it saved us $50 bucks! I love being a woman! ;-)

We arrived in the Bahamas Sunday morning and checked into the Royal Towers at the Atlantis. It was beautiful! We met up with Matt and Margaret and Mike and Angie to go snorkeling. We took a boat out to a coral reef. We bought some fish food and the fish came by the dozens! I have never been surrounded my more fish! It was crazy! Every once in a while we would see jelly fish! They were hard to see, but when I wasn't being scared that I would get stung, they were quite peaceful to watch.

The next day, we took a taxi into town to do a little shopping before we went golfing. Our friends bought a few things for their kids and we found our picture frame. (We collect picture frames from each place we travel too.)
Jason bought me golf clubs and lessons a few years ago for Christmas. I went to two lessons, but then we just got busy and then it was summer time... you know how it goes. I hadn't touched a club since. I was really excited to have a reason to start practicing again. We went to a par 3 course here in town a couple of times before we went on our trip so I could feel like I kind of knew what I was doing when we got there!

The golf course on the island was amazing! Some of the holes were right next to the ocean! The views were incredible and the company was fantastic! I think the guys enjoyed playing with their wives. It was the first time I had done 18 holes. I always thought golf was a leisure game, but I was kind of tired after about 10 holes! The sun set as we finished our last hole. It was beautiful!

I have a new hobby! I really want to start golfing more. I think we are going to try to get the girls together out on the golf course a couple of times a month while the guys are at work. So fun!

Tuesday morning our friends had to go back home. We had so much fun hanging out with them!

Jason and I spent the rest of the day exploring the Resort. It was so big! I still don't think I saw all of it. It would be an awesome place to bring your kids on a family vacation, although it would cost you a small fortune to feed them! (Think Disneyland food prices times 3!) The resort takes up almost all of Paradise Island. There are several different hotels that are connect with walkways and indoor shopping and restaurants. Outside, there is a HUGE water park. They had water slides and tube rides and our favorite- the lazy river. I think Mike would have been happy if we never removed him from it! They had one ride that had a clear tunnel that went through a shark aquarium! It was really cool!

I don't think I could count the number of pools and water features. They had aquariums everywhere! Indoors and out. From our balcony window, we watched them feed the sharks and sting rays! The Resort had their own beaches and lagoons. Jason and I were walking along and came across this scene. It looked too much like a postcard not to take a picture!

The next day, I'm not sure if we were acting like newlyweds or sleep deprived parents, but we didn't leave our room until 1pm! It was the best! We scheduled time on the tennis court, but by the time we got over there, we decided we were too hot and the "lazy river" was calling us! We spent the better part of the day hanging out at the water park.

Every time we saw kids, we would think of Austin, Jessica and Lauren and how much they would love the water slides. There were a few babies playing in the pools with their parents and it made us miss Bun. (Ashlyn's nickname, Bunny, shortened.) As much as we missed the kids, it was so good to just spend time with just the two of us.
We will miss strolling along the marina shops, being silly late at night on the beach with Matt and Margaret, Mike always wanting to get back in the lazy river, all of Angie's stylish resort wear, and Margaret being true to the mother in her and taking care of all of us. Thanks for the memories! We love you guys! As usual, to see more pictures, click on the link below to the Rickards Family Photos. This place was so cool!

Bahamas Pictures

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Jessica's 9th Birthday Party

Jessica's birthday is July 1st, but we celebrated her birthday on June 4th because we will be at Whiskeytown on her birthday. We had a swim party at Grandma's house with her friends.
These are her two best friends
I'm so proud of Jessica. She is growing up so quickly. She loves animals and anything she can mother. She is SO smart! It always amazes me when I sit down and have a conversation with her, just how mature she is.
I love you Jessica! Our family would not be complete without you!
(To see more pictures, go to Rickards Family Photos)

Friday, June 6, 2008

School Awards

School is finally out! The kids had their awards assembly on Thursday. Jessica received the BEAR (Be Excited About Reading) award for her class. It is given to students who had read a certain number of books in a given time period. Jessica has always been an excellent reader! She loves to read and has incredible tone and voice inflection when she reads out loud. I think that is where she got her huge vocabulary.

Austin received three awards... I'm not sure what I think about all this. (Read My Momma Bear Moment) He was given straight As which put him on the Principals Honor Roll. He was also given an award for Outstanding Academic Achievement in Science and he was given the BEAR Award for Reading.

All this from a teacher who was "disappointed in his grades". I want to be so excited for him because I know he worked really hard, but I think he could have worked harder in some areas. I don't want him to think he doesn't have to put 100% effort into his school work and still be rewarded. I am proud of him for how much he has grown this year. He has become so much more responsible and has learned some really good study habits. I'm torn on how I feel...

Jason made him a deal last semester. He told Austin, if he got straight As, he would buy him a new motorcycle. Austin had outgrown his old one and wasn't enjoying riding as much because of it. Jason really hoped he would get the grades because he enjoyed riding with Austin. Last quarter he didn't quite make the the grades. He did make the Honor Roll though. Jason spent a lot of Saturdays a little bummed when Austin didn't want to go out the Ranch with him to ride.

When Austin found out he got straight As, he called Jason from his cell phone at recess! He was so excited! Jason called me and told me the good news and then asked what I thought. I didn't know. I know he tried really hard and I know he feels like he earned it. I'm not sure he didn't earn it. At progress report time, I wasn't sure if he could pull it off... He was close though. Jason really wanted to get him the bike, so we decided he earned the grades. :-) I don't have a picture of his new bike yet, but here is one of him on his old bike.