Thursday, February 28, 2008

Stylin

You would think being so isolated out here in the desert and with the extremes in the weather, that there would be a lot activities and places to go indoors with your kids. Not the case. Thank goodness for our playgroup. We meet every Wednesday and while it started in the summer and fall with play dates meeting at the park, as the weather cooled down and the winds kicked up, we had to get a little more creative. So recently we have been having themed play dates at various moms houses. You may recall that I had hosted a pre-Valentine Day party and last week someone hosted an awesone pajama party. Well this week the theme was "Dress to Impress Red Carpet Style". The idea was to have the kids wear their favorite funky, stylish, trendy type outfit, walk the red carpet (or blanket, you get the idea) and have everyone vote on the best dressed. It was really fun seeing all the kids decked out. Here are Jake and Jadyn before leaving to go to the playdate. I felt the sunglasses were a must:

It was much easier to dress Jadyn than Jake, especially since the weather ended up in the 70's that day. I originally had a cool flannel and matching baseball hat picked out for him but he would have been burning up. Instead we opted for his funky pineapple pants, as we call them. With Jadyn, it was a no-brainer. She has tons of cute dressy clothes, but this outfit is a favorite of mine. And although it really does not matter and all the kids looked super cute, Jadyn just happened to win first prize. That's my girl!!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A little bit of history

Our town is pretty small. The first time we were stationed here, we got a Denney's. Joe and I swore the town was going to throw a parade it was such a big deal. Most people who are military do not like it out here. They do not understand why we would purposely stay in such a small isolated desert community and I admit, I once felt that way too. I did not understand why so many Marines chose to retire out here. However, besides the obvious allure of low living costs and little traffic, the desert can be beautiful and every once in awhile you stumble upon a little known fact that reminds you that that this place has a rich history all of it's own.


The weather has been beautiful. With the kids feeling better it could not have been a better day to take them to the park and let them run around and it just so happens that they just built a brand new playground within walking distance of our house. So I threw some supplies in a backpack, put Jake on his bike and Jadyn and I walked while Jake rode his bike over to the new park. Of course this is a part of this trek that happens upon a dirt trail, during which time I have to carry Jake's bike but it was worth it. The playground is gorgeous. The kids had a blast. And I had a chance to read the dedication of the park located on a rock. It turns out that Knott Sky Park (the park has always been there, just the playground is new) used to be Knott Sky Ranch, owned by the very same Knott Family that founded Knott's Berry Farm. Their son loved the desert so much, they had a motel and landing strip so they could fly into the desert and entertain guests. I thought that was an interesting tidbit of information. Here are some pics from the park:



Taking a break after arriving at the park:


















































Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Obsession

Awhile back when were potty training Jake I had to order some additional race cars directly from the Nascar website. It seems that Jake had already aquired all the ones available at our local Wal-Mart and Target and were using them as rewards when he sucessfully filled his sticker chart. Well flash forward to this week when we recieved a Nascar catalog in the mail. To have seen the look on Jake's face one might have thought it was Christmas morning. So today, he asks to look at the catalog and immediately turns to the page with the 1:64 scale diecasts.


I go about my business and return to find this:


Apparently, he wanted to make it very clear to me exactly which race cars he STILL does not have and mind you - it is VERY few. On the other hand, Jake has also created a great and very inexpensive matching game.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Barking seals and rocking unicorns

It has been a somewhat eventful weekend - but that is not always a good thing. Friday we drove down to Oceanside (south of Pendleton) because Joe's immediate supervisor had a BBQ for his training team. I could not believe how nervous I was to meet his "coworkers". I have met his immediate supervisor before but this event included his big boss, and his boss's boss, not to mention all the trainers who mostly work together every day down at Pendleton while Joe is all by his lonesome up here. Except for drive (3 hours in the rain) we had a really good time. All of his coworkers and bosses are super nice (and all former Marines themselves) and the kids had a blast with their kids. Of course, our kids were the youngest and at one point when I went to go check on Jake who was watching about 5 other kids (all between 5-8) play video games, I found he had been banished from the bed for jumping on it and messing up the covers. The kids asked me if Jake was my child and how old he was. I replied that he was only 3 and they said he had told them he was 5. I guess he wanted to fit in. LOL!

On the way home we made a few stops (as we usually do when in civilization) including Toys R Us because I needed to return something. Well it turns out, you really cannot go in a toy store with a dad and two kids and come out empty handed. Jadyn found this adorable plush rocking unicorn and I sat her on it to see how she liked it. After playing and rocking on it for SEVERAL minutes, I told her it was time to go find Joe and Jake (who were looking at race cars, of course) and she proceeded to drag the unicorn along with her. So, we ended up getting that for her, a new hot wheel track for Jake and we even managed to sneek in a small easter gift and one of Jake's birthday presents too. Quite the shopping exerpience!


Saturday was uneventful enough until Jake woke up after only being in bed for an hour with the tell-tale cough of a barking seal. Sure enough, out of nowhere it seems, Jake has croup. We had a VERY rough night. The stridor alone was enough to make me cry and I came very close to throwing him in the car and taking him to the ER. But, we have a rescue inhaler that his doc has prescribed last spring when we were trying to determine if he had asthma or not so Joe helped calm him down and adminster that, as well as fetching both humidifiers from the garage and a dose of Tylenol as he was burning up. He was able to sleep okay after that but of course I did not sleep so well, constantly waking to check on him. He woke this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed but hoarse as ever and exclaimed, "Mamma it's morning. I am sick - I so hot and it is is hard to talk". Jadyn, who was sound asleep in her crib through all of this, never heard Jake coughing so when he woke from his nap this afternoon he started with the barking cough again. I was in the other room folding laundry, but I could hear that every time he coughed, Jadyn would laugh. We are not talking giggle but full blown laughing. Seems she thought he sounded funny and was doing it intentionally, which was pretty cute. She soon seemed to realize however, that he was sick and started asking him if he was okay. Luckily, the cough seems to subside once he has been up for a little while. Now it is just a matter of whether Jadyn will get sick too.


In the meantime, here is a picture of Jadyn on her new "horsey". We have not tried to explain to her yet that it is actually a unicorn:




I also had to share this picture of the kids that Joe took while I was out getting my license renewed on my birthday. I came home and found them sitting like this on the couch together watching an episode of Go Diego Go and eating their afternoon snack:
I had a really nice quiet birthday by the way. We ordered pizza from a great New York style place in town and Joe got me a bouquet of stargazer lillies and my favorite ice cream (Ben and Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk) instead of the requiste cake. I have not splurged on such decadent fare since going on the South Beach diet last October (from which I have lost 15 pounds, pat myself on the back). I guess now that I have finally admitted my victory, I am going to be held accountable to keep the weight off. LOL!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Toddler transitions

Recently I have written a lot about Jake growing up too quickly. Now it's Jadyn's turn. Yesterday I was going through pictures on the computer to order hard copies. I have not done this since April and ended up ordering 1700+ photos (and yes I know how excessive that sounds). Anyway, my point is that I was looking at pictures of Jadyn around the time of her first birthday and realized how much she has changed in the last 6-8 months. Back then she still looked so much like a baby and now I have this very opininated toddler on my hands who is doing and saying new things every day. It's been awhile since I have written about Jadyn from a developmental perspective so I thought I would take the time to do so.


Jadyn has really been into looking at and reading books and coloring lately. This coupled with her YMCA class has provided a perfect opportunity to start introducing her to shapes, colors, numbers and letters. She now knows all of her shapes (sometimes confusing oval and circle), she can count to 11 and she can sing the ABC song. She seems to be having a harder time with her colors (everything is green or yellow) but she is making progress and just the fact that she is open to learning is enough for me right now.


She also really likes to sing and do finger plays, which is a welcome change since Jake never willingly did these at this age (although now he loves them too). Some of her favorites are the Wheels on the Bus and Happy if you Know it and the lesser known Turtle Song. She also sings and participates very well in her new Kindermusik class (which is for ages 18 months to 3 years old). She also really stepped up the pretend play and loves to play mommy to her babies and bears - I have caught her trying to feed them real food and juice from her sippy cups and putting them to sleep and then telling Joe, Jake and I "Shhh! Baby is sleeping". She has also becoming increasingly fixated on anything Dora the Explorer and Care Bears. In addition to her green good luck "bear bear", which has been a lovey for many moons now, she now also has to have a Dora blanket to go to sleep too. When we put an episdode of Dora on for her she screams, "Dora! Dora and Boots" and she will watch it intently and yell out the answers while on their adventure together. Finally, in her effort to keep up with Jake, Jadyn has been relentlessly trying to jump off the ground with both feet. Although on rare occasion she actually accomplished this, most often times she falls short but it is the cutest thing to watch her try and as she does so she strains her voice and says, "I'm jumping!"


What really blows me away however, is how much she is talking and not just words but whole phrases. Some that come to mind are, "That's silly", "I can't reach", "I'm hungry", "No take a nap", "Give me five", "The sun is in my eyes" (she is going to have sensitive eyes like me and now has sunglasses to wear for car rides) and the INFAMOUS, "Let me do it!". This is yet another thing that blows me away - the fact that she wants to do everything by herself. Jake was happy to let me baby him and even to this day would prefer me to help dress him and feed him, but not Jadyn. She wants to do everything by herself without help, even things she just simply never could accomplish like putting on her shoes and tying them.


Meanwhile, ever since we got back from Big Bear, Jadyn has not been sleeping so well. She seems to want Joe or I to stay in the room until she is 100% asleep and has been waking once per night, taking upwards of 1 1/2 hours to fall back asleep and then waking up earlier than normal to boot. At first we thought she had a caught a little cold. We pondered if she could be teething or constipated. We wondered if maybe having her in bed with us over last weekend had affected her sleep. In the end, we still do not know what is going through her little mind, but we decided that whatever it was, it was affecting both our sleep and hers and we had already been gearing up to convert her crib to a toddler day bed soon anyway seeing as how we have already had one isolated incident of her climbing out her crib. So, we could be making things worse but we decided to go for it and coverted her crib yesterday. So far so good. She slept in her new bed at naptime and fell asleep at night with no more help than she had been requiring. She woke in the middle of the night and was awake for about 45 minutes but because of the conversion, I was able to lie next to her and help her back to sleep. She climbed out from her bed this morning at 7:15am (which is sleeping in for her), came running out her room and exclaimed, "I'm awake!". So today I am going to consult my favorite child sleep book and see what they recommend to help with the transition and hopefully we will continue to make progress on the sleep front.


Last week, we had another milestone when Jadyn went poopy on the potty for the first time. This is a pretty big achievement in this house, especially since Jake just accomplished this feat a couple of months ago. We have been trying to take advantage of all the time and attention spent during Jake's potty training to at least get Jadyn used to the idea of sitting on the potty. She has happened to pee-pee a couple of times, usually first thing in the morning and before bath in the evening. Well on this particular evening, she wanted to sit on the big potty after Jake did and we had success! Despite making a huge deal about it, we have not had an encore performance but that is okay. Right now our goal is to get her used to the idea so she does not end up afraid like Jake was. I am thinking I can probably get her potty trained over the summer when we are home and not scurrying from one activity to another - plus with the warm weather, we can let her run around with little or no clothes.

Here is typical Jadyn - sunglasses on her head, sticker on her clothes from being good in class and getting ready to play with chalk. My sassy lil girl...............
Still a Daddy's girl and not quite ready for bed:


If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!!

Such a cute picture if I would not have cut off the very top of her head. She was playing hide and seek with me here:



Another picture with this outfit. She is munching on a leftover candy cane from Christmas:

This is her CHEESE smile in between bites of bananna:


Saturday, February 16, 2008

Start your engines............

This weekend is a national holiday in Jake’s book and not because Monday is President’s Day but because the return of NASCAR kicks off this weekend with the Camping World 300 today and the Daytona 500 tomorrow. Jake is in heaven.

On another note, I forgot to mention that on our trip to Big Bear I forgot to pack pull-up diapers for Jake to wear to bed and although we thought he might be ready to wear underwear to bed, we had been a little reluctant to give it a try. Lo and behold, he did great – dry underwear all weekend and bye-bye diapers. Woo-hoo!

On yet another note, Jake signed his name in my Valentine card ALL BY HIMSELF with only minimal help from Joe on the “K”. That card will be kept in his baby book. What a milestone.

Can I say it enough – they are growing up WAY TOO FAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Love and Candy

I agree with a good friend's sentiments that Valentine's Day is overly-commercialized and no less romantic than any other day. Still, I would like to think that between all the pink and red, the chocolates, candies, character laden Valentines, teddy bears and flowers that there really is a message - that any day is a good day to remind those you care about and love how much they mean to you. And that is the message I tried to explain to Jake as he opened his new Transformer race car and handmade Valentine from Mommy and Daddy. I tried to convey the message the day before while he was eating cupcakes and receiving a goody bag at our playgroup's Valentine's Day party and again the next day when I picked him up from his preschool party where he could barely carry all the loot he came away with. Both Jake and Jadyn made out like bandits reminiscent of trick or treating on Halloween with more candy and trinkets then they know what to do with. But I have to say that I love the cute holiday themed clothing, the crafts, the small tokens - I guess I am saying that although I realize what retailers are doing (ie trying to get us to spend money), I totally buy into it anyway. And for what it is worth, it at least presents a good photo op. LOL!

These are the pics from Wednesday, after returning from our playdate party:









Here is the loot (and this does not include what they got at their school parties the next day). The bear Valentine holder was a craft we did the week before at the playdate I hosted. Of course, the kids did not put them together. In the end, Joe had to help me do them with Crazy Glue.



Valentine's Day morning, here are the kids opening their small gifts - a transformer for Jake (we just watched the movie over the weekend at Big Bear) and a new bear for Jadyn.









Ever since the year we spent in Okinawa and did not go out to dinner on Valentine's Day, it has become tradition for me to cook spaghetti for dinner on Valentine's. So here are the requiste messy spaghetti face pics of the kids:



Sorry for the picture overload. Hope everyone had a nice Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Weird but welcome warm weather

We get back from Big Bear and come home to temps in the 70's. We are talking shorts, sunscreen and water play. Probably will not be around for long so we are enjoying it while we can!

I told the kids not to put any sand in the water table, so they decided to bring the water to the sand. LOL! What can you do?



Monday, February 11, 2008

Big Bear weekend

We just returned from a nice relaxing weekend spent at a cabin in the snowy mountains of Big Bear. The weather was absolutely gorgeous - several feet of snow still on the ground from the last storm yet daytime temps reaching the 50's made it more than comfortable to be out playing in the snow without a heavy coat. The kids had a blast making and throwing snowballs and sledding. Jake, Jadyn and their cousin Aidan all enjoyed several trips down the slopes and Jadyn even decided she wanted to go down by herself backwards, giggling all the way. We spent the evenings cozied up by the fire, watching movies and spending time with Joe's parents and his sister's family and Joe and I took a dip in the hot tub on the back deck overlooking the snow capped forest. It was an amazing time and something we hope to make a yearly tradition. Here are so pics from the weekend:
Here is a pic of cabin where we stayed:

Joe, Jake and Jadyn posing in the front yard of the cabin: Jake kicking the snow so he can make more snowballs:
Giving sis a hug:
Family photo while sledding:
Jadyn and Mommy before going down the slope:
Jake taking control of the reigns:
Jadyn sledding down backwards (Crazy daredevil):
Jake and Jadyn with their cousin Aidan:
Uncle Aaron and Aidan:
Jake playing in the backyard of the cabin:
Jadyn throwing snowballs:

A short video clip of the kids going down the slope. Can you hear the giggling?

video

Friday, February 1, 2008

February is a good month

I love February. It means we are that much closer to spring. We get to celebrate Valentine's Day and all things lovey/dovey and of course, my birthday is in February. Then again, at my age maybe that is not such a good thing but it definitely means that I have to begin my quest to get a REALLY cute picture of the kids in their V-Day outfits, preferably together. No true winners yet but this is what I have so far:







Big Jake/Little Jake

The other day, Jake's teacher asked if it was alright that they call him little Jake. Apparently they got a new student whose name also happens to be Jake. Since neither child has yet to recognize their last names and Jake at least does not even know his full first and middle name (which is Robert Jacob), the teachers were having trouble coming up with an acceptable solution. I guess I better get used to this as Jake is a very popular name. I thought that as long as Jake did not mind, I did not see a problem with calling him little Jake, although I am quite sure at home, if I were try to call him little he would protest. After all he is a big boy now with his big boy underwear at all. And maybe to the outside world, Jake is little. Comparatively speaking he is only in the 15-20 percentiles for both height and weight. To me however, Jake is anything but little - in fact I would have to say that he growing up TOO fast. Lately, he has really been into distinguishing gender and using the proper pronouns, as in "That's hers" or "He/She is tired". In fact, the other day at dinner, Jake proclaimed that we did not match because I was sitting next to him and Joe was sitting next Jadyn. He wanted Mommy and Daddy to switch places so the boys and girls were sitting together. He has also started spelling - mostly his name and anything else requires a lot of help but he actually WANTS to spell words like cat or dog. It's pretty exciting. He wakes up in the morning and asks "What's today?". Sure he wants to learn his days of the week but really he just wants to know what is on the schedule - is it a school day, music class, park, playdate, shopping etc. He is reasoning and thinking ahead. My favorite example is that Jake knows every day once Jadyn goes down for his afternoon nap that he is allowed 30 minutes on the computer to play games or watch race car clips (we already know we have a video game addict on our hands, LOL!). So one day he decides he REALLY wants to get on the computer but mind you it is not even lunch time yet. He goes over to Jadyn, cups her face in his hands and says, "Baby you are tired. You are ready to take a nap so I can get on the computer, alright?". I have never wanted to laugh so hard. Another example is that the kids get something sweet after dinner. Sometimes they get a sugar free Popsicle at the dinner table right afterwards and other times they might get pretzels with a few M&Ms as a bedtime snack but Jake knows that they do not get both. Oh yeah, and to properly tell the story I must add that Jake calls M&Ms "Cs" because they have ABCs on them and don't argue with him that they all have the same ABC on them, he just does not get it. Anyway, so one day they are getting ready to have their bedtime snack and Jake says in a very stern voice, "No Cs, you have popsicle!". I guess he was letting me know that he knew he had already had his dessert for the night. Kids say the darndest things. So without further adieu, here are some recent pics of our lil man:


In his Tony Stewart race car kicking back

Playing his SmartCycle (which he had to have after playing his cousin's all New Year's so we used Christmas money he had recieved). A great way to combine physical activity with educational video games.


Looking cute in his V-Day PJs and eating M&Ms or as he likes to call them "C"s


How cute and grown up does he look in his baseball cap and flannel?


All smiles..........................



And by the way, after realizing that Jake probably should start learning his full name, we started teaching him to say his last name and he picked up like an old pro! Not bad for a Funny Nose.