Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jake Version 4.5

As I alluded to a few weeks ago, Jake is very competitive in nature. He loves to play games and he loves to win. Teaching him to be a good sport is an ongoing process with him but part of the problem is that he is so good at just about everything he tries and if its something he is maybe not so good at, he is extremely hard on himself. The teacher even pointed out once about his lack of enthusiasm for coloring and that it most likely comes from this need to be a perfect. She has seen it before and has found that most kids grow to like coloring pictures once they can better stay within the lines. Like with Jadyn's story telling, I have no idea where Jake would get his perfectionist tendencies (as I look away, darting my eyes unassumingly). It has even started to affect his appearance. Today, when I was trying to put his shoes on he warned me not to mess up his hair. On Christmas Eve when I gave him a casual t-shirt and jeans to wear just for the ride over to Joe's family he announced to me that the outfit was not perfect to wear to Grandma and Grandpa's. Seriously, it is funny but I hope he learns to cut himself some slack!

On the other end of the spectrum, Jake is a very generous and thoughtful young boy. He almost always shares and loves to look out for his sister. At his school holiday party they were each given two sugar cookies to decorate and eat. When one of the Mommy volunteers noticed that Jake's second cookie had been decorated but not eaten she asked him why. He replied that he was saving it for his sister. The teacher then offered Jake a third cookie to make and save for Jadyn so he could still enjoy his two but he was insistent that the cookie in question was especially for Jadyn. He does little things like that all the time.

As you all know, I work from home on the computer and although I try to give the kids undivided attention when they need something, occasionally they have to be told to wait while I finish something up. I might say something like "Let me finish this one report" or "Mommy needs to finish correcting this file". You never realize how much kids catch on to this until one day, Jake was messing around on the computer when I asked him to do something. He swiveled toward me in the computer chair and said, "Hold on Mom, I am correcting my file". I just about died of laughter.

Jake has also been experiencing the ups and downs of having friends. He tells me that his best friend is Adan but his favorite friend at school is Gavin. However a few months ago I was telling Jake something he did not want to hear when he responded to me by saying that I was not his friend anymore. I tried to ask him where he had heard that or who had said that to him (although I had my suspicions) but he wouldn't say. Over the next few days, I caught him saying it to his sister as well when they were fighting over a toy or she was not following his directions as he wished. At that point I sat him down and we had a long discussion about how hurtful such a thing is to say and he very tearfully admitted that another classmate at school had said it to him after they had gotten in a disagreement at school. After talking to the teacher, it turns out that this classmate, who is also friends with both Jake and Gavin had been feeling a little left out because apparently Jake and Gavin have formed such a special bond. It broke my heart when I realized how much it had hurt Jake to have it said to him and I also felt for the classmate who was feeling excluded. I guess I need to grow a thicker skin because I am sure these types of things are bound to happen through the years.

Jake has also been role playing, first with his friends at school and now with Jadyn at home. It's the age old game of good guys versus bad guys only Jake calls them mad guys. "We have to get the mad guys!" he will yell. This has of course rubbed off on Jadyn and now neither really seem to understand the difference between the words. The other day Nago ate a piece of Jake's breakfast that he had left out on the table and Jadyn yelled at her, "That's a mad Nago!"

I realize Jake may be a little bit late on this but he has finally started to question the universe. Why, why oh why. Why do the leaves fall from the trees in the Fall? Why is the sky blue? Why do we get boogers in our nose? He also questions my authority and I have to walk a fine line with that one. I don't want to always just say, "Because I said so". Therefore I try to give him an explanation when it is something he may not know the reasoning behind. On the other hand when he knows exactly why I am telling him no or asking him to stop a particular behavior, I have to put on my discipline hat. For example he knows he gets to play his video game during Jadyn's nap. When he asks if he can play it at other times and I tell him no, he might respond by asking, "Why Mom?" This is when I firmly inform him that he knows why and if he asks again he will lose hs privilege for the day.

For those that are not into bodily functions, you may not appreciate this one but it seems to get a good laugh out of those I have told in person. Jake has become obsessed with telling us what he is eliminating when he goes to the bathroom. He will go "stinky" as we call it and then say, "Oh, that was the toast I ate for breakfast" or "That was the turkey sandwich I had for lunch". As well, he is obsessed with the cleanliness of his behind, even though he still is very reluctant to wipe himself, he constantly questions whether or not I did a good enough job. If he REALLY does not believe me he will waddle into our bedroom, pants still around his ankles and bend over to check in our full length closeted mirrors. It's pretty funny but at the same time, I don't know what ever gave him reason to doubt my thoroughness. If he is really going to be THAT obsessive, clearly it is time he start taking care of it himself.

With soccer over for the season and t-ball still months off, Jake has been spending much of his free time building and making up games (and then getting frustrated, even putting hands on hips and huffing when Jadyn fails to follow the rules). While he used to have to ask for help in constructing a train track, he now relishes in the design process. He is becoming more interested in playing with Legos and Lincoln Logs and things of that nature as well. His capabilities never fail to astound me. Of course his "race cars" are still his favorite toy and he has endlessly been talking about getting trick tracks for Christmas. So here is a video with the various track sets he received for Christmas in action. I don't believe Joe had to help him much in completing the design and honestly I don't know if I could help if I wanted to. The toys boys play with seem to get rather complex with age. I think I might be in trouble.

Even as Jake grows and matures, there is one thing about his personality that has remained constant. He is very loving. He loves to snuggle and when Jadyn gets hurt, he is always quick to try and cheer her up with a hug and some tickling. Of course, sometimes that is to ensure he is not blamed for whatever the reason is that made her cry in the first place and that is where you have to watch out for Jake - he can be a little manipulative at times. Still you have to give him credit for trying and a majority of the time his intentions are good.

Here are a few pics I have failed to share in the last few months, the first of him receiving his medal at the end of soccer season and the second from our traditional leaf collecting excursion in the fall followed lastly with a classic example of him being a doting big brother:

So that's a look at Jake Version 4.5. He is a competitor and strives for perfection. He is inventive, thoughtful and loving but most importantly, he is our growing boy.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jadyn Version 2.5

As implied around Halloween, Jadyn is our little drama queen. Everything that happens, whether she is bursting with joy or crying over spilt milk is reacted to in the most dramatic of ways. And she is such a talker. Sometimes I cannot believe the words that come out of her mouth. She is quite a character and I could easily see her jockeying for the coveted title of class clown. She is always doing silly things like putting bowls on her head or stickers on her forehead and then exclaiming, "I'm so funny!"

A great example of her dramatics came last week when the kids were both sick. No doubt that Jadyn had come down with a little bit of a cold but as per usual, it was nothing compared to the high temps and croupy cough that Jake was producing. Of course, nowadays they make medicine so dang yummy, the kids are practically begging for it and Jadyn was getting tired of seeing Jake get the tasty cherry flavored chewable Tylenol when she did not need it. She came up to me and with the most pathetic voice she could muster told me, "Mommy, I'm sick. I am so hot. I need medicine to make me feel better" and I kid you not as she was telling me this she actually raised her hand to her forehead. Scarlett O'Hara has nothing on this.

Jadyn is also very social, although I would be hard pressed to leave her with anyone but family or my friend Danielle, when I am around she is very outgoing with other kids and very friendly to strangers when we are out shopping. The best is when someone asks her what her name is and she answers "Jadyn2". No one ever understands what she is saying and we always end up explaining that she is telling them both her name and age together. We tried to get Jadyn to understand but sometimes there is no reasoning with her so for now she is Jadyn2.

She loves to put the word "But" in front of everything she says. If she asks for a cookie and I tell her no, she will start off with "But I want it". When I tell her no again she ups the ante by saying, "But I need it". If I tell her no a third time, which is rare because at this point I have usually threatened her with time out she would respond, "But I REALLY REALLY need it!". She also tells stories that involves long run-on sentences (I wonder where she gets that from? LOL!). A typical story might go something like this, " So I woke up on Wednesday but it was really really early but I woke up anyway but I was tired." She also likes to get out her books and "read" them to herself by making up stories. These stories always start with "Once upon a time". I honestly don't even know where she got that from in the first place as I don't recall it being in any of her favorite books or shows.

Jadyn is definitely going to be a story teller and she has the imagination to go with it. She tells us about dinosaurs chasing her (sometimes this is Jake trying to scare her on all fours making menacing faces and growling) but other times it comes out of nowhere. She loves to imitate Diego and finds reasons to go and "rescue" everything around the house. And also thanks to Dora and Diego everything has a family and they are always lost. "This baby apple misses his Mommy and Daddy. We have to find them" and then her eyes get all wide and she sprints off to search for them.

Besides talking up a storm, Jadyn loves to sing, not only her ABC's repeatedly but other songs as well. She also likes to have singing conversations with me where she will sing statements and requests like "I want chocolate milk" or "Where is my bear?" and she expects that I sing back my response. Joe particularly gets a kick out of this. One thing she finally mastered is her tricycle. For the longest time she could pedal but she could not steer. Now she can get going and actually get around. We have also replaced the baby swings on our playset with the swings it originally came with as Jake was ready to graduate to swinging on his own. While Jadyn still cannot swing herself, I am quite proud that she can sit and hold on to be pushed in a big kid swing and it is a favorite activity of hers when we are outdoors.

Awhile back I had mentioned how great Jadyn was doing at storytime at the library, which we try to attend on Fridays while Jake is at school. She eagerly gets in front of the group every week and shares her item brought from home representing the letter of the week and she loves, loves, loves the songs she has learned from the wonderful librarian. Here is a video clip taken back in October of her singing her favorite of these songs:

And here are a few pictures from the past couple months that really represent Jadyn version 2.5 but for whatever reason I had not shared before now:

And even though she would not cooperate for the actual picture, I had to share this very typical shot of Jadyn playing dress-up. She also loves to wear Mommy and Daddy's shoes and sport Jake's baseball hat and soccer medal as well. She comes up with some crazy combos!

Finally, something Jadyn just recently became interested in is how things are made and who makes them. We will be in Wal-Mart where she will repeatedly ask how various items are made, sometimes the same item over and over again. I try to oblige her but usually end up just giving a stock answer about it being made in a factory by people. If we are at the grocery store and she starts this line of questioning about apples for example, I might just simply say that it was made by nature.

Well the other day while stalling at bedtime she asked who made her to which I replied Mommy and Daddy. She then asked who made Mommy and Daddy to which I replied her respective Grandmas and Grandpas. She then asked me a question I was not prepared to answer - How did Mommy and Daddy make me? Trust me, I came up with something but seriously - I thought I had awhile yet to go before I would be discussing the birds and the bees.
So that's a look at Jadyn version 2.5. She is dramatic, inquisitive and quirky but most importantly, she is our little girl.

Happy Blogiversary

It was one year ago today that I decided to start this blog in an attempt to streamline the many places I was updating friends and family and journaling my adventures as a wife and mother as well as the kids development. This year has been one wild ride as I not only continued to witness tremendous growth of my children, but through this blog I also learned a lot about myself and made some friends I might not have otherwise gotten to know so well. I could not imagine this last year without it all.

I went back through and found a couple of my favorite posts from the last year and you know what I discovered? The posts I hold closest to my heart are the ones where I admit how hard it is to be a mother, some of the mistakes I have made on my journey and how flawed and imperfect I can sometimes be. And you know what? It doesn't matter. Because I know in my heart that when the kids are older and they look back at those posts, as well as everything else I blogged about in the last year they will know me for who I am. They will derive strength from my honesty and they will know that it is okay to not always be the best at everything you do, as long as you give it your all. They will know how much I care and how hard I try. They will know how much fun we have as a family and how much joy they bring me, and most importantly, they will know that they are loved - that I will always love them with every fiber of my being.

I knew This Day Would Come

Back to Reality

We've Come A Long Way Baby

And for my final posts of 2008, I am going back to my roots. Things have been so hectic with all the activities and holidays we encountered this fall that I have a notebook full of notes jotting down silly things the kids said and all the fun new things are doing. So I will be contributing two posts - one detailing the happenings of each of the kids that may have gotten missed in the last several months.

But just because 2008 is coming to a close and my blogiversary will have come and gone, does not mean the end of this blog but instead a beginning. The beginning of a new year, new goals, new challenges and new milestones. And I can think of no better way to document it all then right here.

Here's hoping everyone has a safe and fun time ringing in the New Year and may 2009 bring you joy and happiness.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Under the Wire: Santa's Hat Revisited

I am kind of cheating here because even though it is technically no longer 2008, I kind of forgot to post the pictures I took of the kids wearing the Santa Hat around Christmas time. Oops! Good thing I can back-date a post. This was one of the first posts I did on my blog last year, comparing pictures I had taken particularly of Jadyn each year wearing the Santa Hat but I have a few now of Jake as well.

6 months:
At 1 1/2 years:
Currently at 2 1/2 years:

And Jake from last year and currently. I think I posted some pics of him with the Santa hat in our Christmas card recap earlier in December:

Last year:

This year:

Sunday, December 28, 2008

After the Storm

So you may recall me posting about the calm before the storm both figuratively and literally. Obviously, I was quite surprised that we got the snow storm quite literally and have also spent quite a bit of time blogging about the historic event. But what about the figurative storm? You know, the one that had Joe out of town and the kids and I insanely busy for the entire week and half prior to Christmas? Well it all worked out quite well actually. We were slowed down only slightly by the cold and snow, which turned out to be a good thing. I have already covered all 3 holiday parties, including our visit with Santa.

Joe arrived home on Friday the 19th and the whole family was awakened quite early (think 4:30am) the following morning as it became apparent that both kids had caught the cold I had been battling all week. Despite this fact, both kids were in rather good spirits when my Mom and her husband George arrived later than day and we had a very nice, relaxing weekend. With Joe at Pendleton at the beginning of the week and the kids feeling better, I decided to take my Mom and George down the hill to civilization where we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Ruby's (one of my favorite restaurants), a tour of the zoo and miniature train at the Living Desert and a quick drive through Candy Cane Lane (an entire neighborhood all decked out in lights and displays) before heading home. Here is a picture of the kids with Grandma Kelly and Grandpa George followed by a shot of them watching the Africa wild dog who hysterically kept running hot laps right in front of the viewing glass.

On Tuesday, Jadyn had her modeling debut as a friend had asked me if she could model the hair bows she is now selling. Unfortunately, Jadyn was not in the most photogenic mood but we did get a couple good shots of her. For those interested you can go to Details Photography and look at the Kiddos section of the gallery. Jadyn's pictures will be toward the bottom of that collection.

Wednesday was Christmas Eve and between Joe's absence and the kids being sick, we still had not decorated and baked sugar cookies so that was the priority of the morning before heading off to the big dinner at Joe's family. The kids really enjoy this tradition, even if it does get a little messy to the say the least. Here are a few pics of the kids enjoying themselves. I can't believe how long Jadyn's hair is getting!

Christmas Eve was a lot of fun but unfortunately with all the chaos that includes 18 adults and 9 children, it was very hard to get pictures. One thing that did become quite clear is that both Jake and Jadyn are quite enamored with their youngest cousin, Lilly who is now 9 months old:

And I had to least try to get a picture with all the grandkids:

Here is Jake and Jadyn opening gifts. Jake was so excited to get the trick tracks for his Hot Wheels that he had been asking for:

I love how non-fat I look in this picture with Jake:

Christmas morning had to be the best as both kids understand that Santa came to visit. They were so excited and quite pleased with all their loot, as was I. Joe surprised me with a double band ring from Nelle and Lizzy with the kids name inscribed on them AND a new LG Env2 phone so I can more easily text and receive email alerts (which will actually help with work a lot because I won't constantly have to worry if I have work being sent to me when I am away from home).

So even though another wonderful holiday season is coming to a close and things are slowing down for us, we have still have New Year's to celebrate as well as my impending blogiversary on December 30th. This means I still have several posts up my sleeve, which I want to crank out before putting this year's blog into print form; something I am very excited about. The storm may be over so to speak, but the fun and memories never end.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Candids

While we had several activities earlier in the week as well, including a visit from my Mom and George and our big Christmas Eve dinner with all of Joe's family, for now I am going to share just a few photos from Christmas Day:

Here are the kids upon discovering the playhouse Santa had left for them in the garage. It was too cold to be outside!

Jake opening a truck that stores all of his Nascar vehicles. Notice Jadyn's dollhouse in the background:

Jadyn and I being silly. She concentrated so hard when she opened her gifts, she never once looked up for me to take a good photo:

Our family all dressed up and ready to head over to my Aunt's house to celebrate with my side of the family:

And a Christmas edition of a Funny Nose Knows:

Jadyn has not gotten over her aversion to long car trips. When she is not sleeping, she is much harder to keep entertained than Jake was at the same age. Awhile ago when she was being particularly whiny on a car ride I explained to her that she was not tired or hungry. She was just bored. So today, she came up to me while I was finishing up some work on the computer and said, "Mommy, I am a bored!". Apparently, she wanted someone to play with her dollhouse with her. Of course, I obliged.

Jake announced today at dinner that if he ate all of his soup and raviolis that it would make his teeth shiny and white. I am not sure what gave him the idea that eating that kind of food was good for your smile, but it certainly put one on our face. Kids say the darnedest things!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I Still Believe

Last year, Jake became interested in the movie "The Polar Express". With the combination of a train, Christmas and Santa that are all central to the story, this should come as no surprise. While Jadyn and I were at the library for story time a couple weeks back, I decided to check out the book so I could read it to the kids along with their other holiday-themed books.

To my surprise when I got to the last line of the book, I found myself crying. I found this odd. It isn't a particularly sad book but as the weeks progressed I found this not to be an isolated incident. It turns out I simply cannot make it through the Polar Express without getting weepy and I really had to think about the reason why. This is the conclusion I came up with:

The Polar Express is about the magic of Christmas. It revolves around the innocence of children and the way that innocence allows their imagination to soar, to dream up far away places and magical creatures and beings. The movie expands on that theme to include the true spirit of Christmas as they show children's innate goodness; their willingness to share and help each other even without their parents hovering over them demanding they do the right thing. No, they do it on their own out of the goodness of their own heart.

One of the many great advantages to having children comes during the holidays when you get to relive the magic of Christmas and the conclusion I came to, the reason for the crying is that I want to hold onto that innocence for as long as possible, not only for my kids but for myself as their mom. Preparing for Santa's visit carries so many fun traditions. And so if someone rang that bell for me, I think I would be able to hear it. I don't want it to ever fade. Because in my own way I have found that I still truly believe. I believe in the magic of Christmas.

And so in addition to our new tradition of watching the Polar Express on the day before Christmas Eve I also wanted to share another tradition for those that wish to keep tabs on Santa as he makes his worldwide visit to all the good little boys and girls all over the world. You and your kids can track Santa's progress and watch video clips of him visiting far away places on the NORAD website at Jake got a real kick out of this last year and he is eagerly awaiting to the do the same today.

And for all my friends and family near and far, I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas! Safe travels and may you too find that you can still hear the sweet sound of the bell and join in the magic of the Christmas season.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In the Middle of the Storm

On Wednesday when the snow came, Jake's school was not only canceled, but Santa's visit to our play group had to be rescheduled as well. I had already had to cancel and reschedule the kids dentist appointment on Tuesday because the weather had closed down our main escape route to civilization. What was supposed to be a very hectic week was also becoming rather complicated. Luckily, everything worked out.

We were still able to make it to the first holiday gathering of the week for Jadyn's Kindermusik class. We stayed home on Wednesday and played in the snow, which here in 29 Palms had all but melted by the following afternoon. Thursday we ventured out to see Santa. Then on Friday as I drove Jake to school in the neighboring town, we were surprised to find several inches of snow still blanketing everything, including the parking lot, which means I had to drive in snow for the VERY first time. LOL! After Jake's class party,we went to have lunch at my friend Danielle's house where she not only still had snow, but the perfect slope in her backyard to enjoy some sledding. It was so much nicer than the week prior when the kids had to wait in line to sled. If only I knew we would have all this snow at our disposal not even a week later. I don't think I would want to live somewhere where it snowed the majority of the winter but after this week, I sure wouldn't mind if it came out this way a little more often.

Pictures of us before and during the Kindermusik party:

With Santa on Thursday - Jake asked for Hot Wheels Trick Tracks and Jadyn would not go near him without me there as well. She finally admitted to wanting a castle with little people and tables:

Jake's somewhat smaller than normal class singing jingle bells at the conclusion of their holiday party:

And afterwards sledding with their friends Adan and Adalia. Oh yeah, and I wasn't going to miss out on the fun either:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let It Snow

I was really going to attempt to make this a Wordless Wednesday, but atlas I could not contain myself from commenting. We got snow! And lots of it. Jake's school was canceled - our first ever snow day. I took the kids outside immediately after realizing that the steady rain had turned into huge flakes of snow and then again after lunch when we had a decent coating on the ground. The only problem was every time I turned around, Jadyn was eating the snow off any available surface. I also realized I have no knowledge of the proper mechanics for building a snowman but Jake and I did our best. You can see we had to scrape all the snow off the dirt around the entire radius of where our lil guy ended up. Oh, and the dogs loved it too. They stayed out there with us the whole time. It was so much fun. The only thing missing was Joe. He always seems to be gone when cool stuff like this happens. What can you do?

Our winter wonderland:

Here is Jake trying to catch a snowflake on his tongue. The idea came courtsey a Charlie Brown Christmas:

Jadyn's reaction to the snow:

Snowy Utah:

Snowy Nago:

Jadyn eating the snow:

And again:

And again:

And Again:

Ice skating in the driveway:

Getting ready to throw some snowballs:

Taking a pic of me in the snow via self-timer:

Making footprints in the snow:

Jake with our snowman: