Friday, April 25, 2008

More Pics from Jake's Special Day

The kids helped make the cupcakes for Jake's school party. Jake liked dumping the ingredients in the bowl but Jadyn enjoyed attempting to stir it. And of course they both enjoyed a few licks off the beaters when I was done mixing the batter too!

Jake getting ready to open gifts from us pretty much the moment Joe stepped in the door after work the evening of his birthday:

Delighting at his new Monopoly Jr. game (it has a race track and car around the outskirts):

Someone recommended this really cool marble race after their son recieved it for Christmas. What an awesome find! I have not seen both kids play contently with the same toy for this long of a stretch in awhile and what is great is that while Joe or I have to build the "track" now, eventually Jake will be able to create his own tracks. Apparently his love of racing is not isolated to cars.

Jadyn and I while Joe grilled chicken for Jake's birthday dinner:

Cake pictures:

I would love to be able to promise you that there will be no more birthday pics for awhile BUT we have two birthday parties to attend this weekend - both Elmo themed and one of them to celebrate cousin Aidan's 2nd birthday. Then of course Jadyn has her big day coming up at the end of May so let the celebrating continue!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

To Be A Fly On The Wall

Apparently I jinxed myself with that post about Jake becoming less of a clingy mamma's boy.

So today was the spring party at Jake's preschool, the last big to-do before graduation in May. Since it was the week of Jake's birthday, I had offered to bake cupcakes to contribute to the party as well as stay and help out with the bird feeders they were painting. So we arrive at school and Jake is playing nicely with all of his friends. At the sound of the bell, he helps do his share of the clean-up and finds his favorite spot on the J of the ABC rug only to be crowded by all of his classmates who all want to be next to Jake aka The Birthday Boy. It was pretty cute. The teacher asked several of the kids to fill out the circle to which they each replied that they wanted to be near Jake. So then the teacher asked Jake if he would move but he was firm on staying on the J so she simply moved on lopsided circle and all. After attendance, Jake was called to the front to receive a special birthday sticker to display on his shirt for the duration of class. He was as proud as a peacock. I was able to witness 1 song and dance - The ABC Disco with Jake singing and shaking around when suddenly something clicked in Jake and it was all over. He came over to where I was sitting off to the side with Jadyn and wanted to sit on my lap, sulked when I told him no and refused to rejoin the circle or continue to participate. We had only been in class for 30 minutes.

Right then and there, I had to make a decision. I could selfishly stay in order to see them sing Happy Birthday to Jake and help pass out the cupcakes I was up late frosting or I could leave, knowing that beyond the few minutes Jake might continue to sulk, it would be far less of a distraction then having Jake whine and cling to me, ruining a chance of him actually enjoying his little school party. So I apologized to his teachers, explained that I felt it best to cut my losses and Jadyn and I left. Of course I was disappointed. In fact it almost made me cry. I just don't understand why Jake does this. It's like he sees me and sees me holding Jadyn and can no longer just go about his business of having fun and socializing with his friends. It is the exact reason I pushed for him to be in preschool this year. Because he was the same way at the parent-child interactive program through the YMCA. I knew he knew his stuff - at home he could sing the songs, name off his colors and shapes, count to 20 and recite his ABCs but during circle time he would just sit like a lump in my lap or take off and play, not wanting to do what the other kids were doing at all. It was frustrating.

I am really trying to look at the bright side and there are several points to make in favor of this: 1) At least he is doing well in school. He listens to his teachers, is learning a ton, making friends and socializing and participating and not at all the shy, timid boy he once was. 2) We had an absolute great birthday party and a wonderful quiet birthday with the 4 of us yesterday and 3) I have managed to stay for his Halloween party without incident and at his Christmas party until the very end when he decided to pull the same stunt and 4) At least I got to see a glimpse of his day that first 30 minutes. Watching everyone dote on him and seeing him sing and dance around with his friends was sheer joy for me as a parent.

But oh, I have said many times before. I wish I could be a fly on the wall of that preschool so I could catch perhaps a little more than a glimpse.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Four years ago today

Robert Jacob entered this world at the Naval Hospital here in 29 Palms. He was a week later than expected weighing in at 6 pounds 10 ounces. It was one of the happiest and most memorable days of my life.

Over the last 4 years I have witnessed Jake go through the normal developmental milestones but the real fun is watching his little personality emerge. And to that end, it has been a big year for our lil man as he started preschool and started to venture away from Mommy for the first time. He has really broken out of his shell - no longer the shy, timid, clingy child, he is very eager to make new friends and be a part of the world around him. I love to see him so passionate about his interests and I love even more that it is not just one particular thing that he is interested in. Jake loves race cars. I think we all know that. But he is also very athletic showing an interest in baseball and soccer. He loves riding his bike and has started to do tricks while riding it. He learns things quickly like his Daddy whether it is using a screwdriver to save his sister when she locks herself in the bathroom or navigate the mouse on the computer, he can watch and repeat almost anything he sees done. And although he is no longer clinging to me in social situations, I also love that at the end of the day, Jake is a cuddler - liking to give and recieve hugs and kisses by the dozen. I love that he is so protective of his little sister and that most of the time he wants her to play with him and wants to share with her. I love the way his eyes sparkle when he smiles. I love that he knows the words to songs simply because they are in the background to video clips of race car crashes. I even love the fact that at such a young age, he has become a backseat driver telling me if I have run a red light or turned the wrong way. I just love the little person he is becoming and I cannot wait to see what comes next.

So here is a photo trip down memory lane of one of my favorite pictures of him as a newborn. Joe took the shot when he was sleeping and he just happened to catch that smile. He was 5 days old.
First birthday:
2nd Birthday (with Jadyn just a month away from being born):
Last year turning 3:
Tonight getting the cupcake and song from Joe, Jadyn and I:

Kids birthdays are a funny thing. They are really just as much a celebration for us as parents as they are for the kids. Afer all, today marks a huge milestone in Joe's and I life too. The day we became parents. And it has been such a huge, wonderful, rewarding and challenging role to take on that of course we would take this moment to look at pictures of the day Jake was born, think on the first moment I held him in my arms, because it was at that very moment that he slipped into my heart. Happy birthday Jake!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Party Day

After putting a tremendous amount of time and energy stressing about the weather, illness, whether Jadyn would nap and other things beyond my control Jake's 4th birthday party at the park was a major success. If I were to have any complaints, I would have to say I only wish I would have gotten more pictures but keeping 12 kids between 3-5 years old entertained is pretty time consuming as it is!!!

After checking out the new playground (which many of his guests had never been to) and racing around the perimeter on bikes and scooters, we descended to the covered picnic area decorated in NASCAR theme complete with a #9 Kasey Kahne cake that the guest of honor picked out himself. We immediately moved from cake and ice cream to opening gifts, during which Jake delighted in new Speed Racer toys, a video game, Thomas train set, remote control monster truck and the game Hungry Hungry Hippos just to name a few. We then moved on to the games, which I had tried to keep with the theme. So first we played Pin the Car on the Race Track, which was a huge hit, followed by hot potato played with plastic race car. Although the parents got a kick out of it and thought the kids did fine, I think they might have needed to be a bit older for that one. We finished off with a race car pinata, which everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy. Jake's cousin Aidan, although one of the younger ones there, definitely won an award for having such an awesome swing. We finished off the party with Jake helping me pass out Pit Crew duffel goody bags and thanking everyone for making Jake's birthday party such a memorable fun-filled afternoon.

Jake with his friend Patryck from school:

With Mommy and a few friends before singing Happy Birthday:
The cake (all the kids wanted a piece with the grass aka more frosting):
Jake trying to blow out the candles:
With a little help from his friend, he finally got the candle out, Yeah!

Here we are playing Pin the Car on the Race Track. The track is compliments of my friend Ashley. Jake thought the track itself was a gift, racing his cars around the track the entire day prior to the party.
Here is cousin Aidan whacking the pinata:
We saw this expression many times while opening gifts. He is saying, "Whoa! Cool!"
One of his favorite gifts, a Speed Racer track
With his buddy from playgroup, Andrew:

It was not until I got home and looked at the pictures that I realized Jadyn was not in a single shot. So a little ragged from the long day of play and eating cake, here she is eating the pizza I ordered when we got home, as we were way to exhausted to do anything else for dinner. .

And here is Jake playing Hungry Hungry Hippos (a game my brother Tony and I remember playing as little kids) with his cousins Madison and Ethan after dinner


Take 2 exhausted parents
1 partied out birthday boy and
1 almost napless toddler sister
And what do you get?

A family that was all in bed early sleeping heartily and peacefully after a very successful birthday party

Jake seems to understand that tomorrow is his actual birthday and we will do a cupcake after dinner and have him open his presents from us. I assume it will be a bit easier to get a few more pictures with a little less commotion going on. But today was his party day: Exhausting yes but a lot of fun!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Random Asides

Jake got a Tony Stewart Power Wheel from Santa for Christmas. He LOVED sitting in it and occasionally would take it for a spin around the driveway or up the sidewalk but I don't think he quite got how to turn it and in the end he much prefers his bike. Recently however, he has discovered that his "number race car" as he calls it can go on the dirt and with a wooden ramp to get back up onto the concrete, he can now do laps around the house. He discovered this last Saturday and went around so many times he actually ran the battery out for the first time since he got it. Utah and Jadyn are never far behind him.

Jadyn had gotten a play kitchen from Santa for Christmas and has always played with it frequently. Recently however, she has been "preparing" meals for us, putting pretend food on plates, serving it to us with silverware and even sprinkling imaginary salt and pepper on top. She then will ask if we are thirsty and come back with a cup and refill it for us when we are done. She finishes off our meals with ice cream cones and then takes the dishes to the sink and pretends to wash them. It is all very cute. The other day the kids were eating goldfish crackers for their afternoon snack and I caught Jadyn with them on her play plate using her plastic fork and knife to try and cut them in half. LOL!

In conjunction with this, she has also been playing Mommy to her baby dolls and stuffed animals. For example, she will strap her cabage patch doll into her doll stroller and take her with us when we walk across the street to check the mail. When we were at the toy store last week shopping for a gift for one of the many celebrations coming up, Jadyn took all of the cooing babies off the shelf one by one and was rocking them in their cradles. I could not resist. I often buy Jake an inexpensive hot wheel or Nascar diecast when we are out but there is nothing comparibly cheap that Jadyn likes as well so I got her a talking baby doll. A word of warning: Next time I will be more cautious about what features these talking, crying, cooing baby dolls have. Thankfully this one does have an off switch but when it is on, it senses as soon as you walk near and starts crying until you feed her the bottle or give her the pacifier. It has scared me on more than one occasion. Here is Jadyn being attentive to her lil one:

Yesterday she took her baby with us in the car and I heard her give the baby a hug in the back seat and say "I wuv you". It just melts your heart. She will look at her baby and say things like, "Ah, That's so cute!" It cracks me up. I love that she is doing the whole imitating mommy thing. As long as she does not start copying my fits of rage when I am driving or something else that is less desirable, I think we will be fine.

Last weekend when Joe was out of town, he called to talk to us and we happened to be sitting down to dinner. Here is a picture of Jake talking to Joe on the phone, cracking up as they hiccuped back and forth to each other. Of all the silly things:

Finally, I just have to throw this picture of Jadyn into the mix as she sat in the swing of our backyard the other day. I was playing with the manual settings on the camera so am quite pleased that the picture came out at all but I figure with Jake's birthday this week, we might be seeing a lot more pictures of him then her and I just happen to thing she looks so cute and grown up here:

Friday, April 18, 2008

Trash Truck Part Deux

Look whose getting in on the action. Yes that is Jadyn actually "barking" at the trash truck. Jake's excitement for trash day has not waned and is apparently contagious. In fact, we have been late for school on several occasions waiting for the weekly pick-up.

For those not familiar, about 2 years ago my Mom bought Jake a toy trash truck in the hopes of it helping him overcome his fear. Prior to that, every week would send him into my arms shaking like a leaf at the mere sound of it approaching our street, paralyzing us for a good 20 minutes. It had not only the desired effect but now Jake loves to watch the trash truck every week, kicking dirt and running up and down the fence with the dogs. We often wonder what our trashman thinks of all this. Our neighbors affectionately refer to it as "the show". We assume he gets a pretty big kick out of it and he is so sweet to honk his horn in a symbolic hello.

Friday, April 11, 2008

I knew this day would come

AKA My Sleep Crutch

So you may or may not know but Jake has pretty much co-slept with us in our bed since birth. My well-thought out plan to have him in the bassinet insert of the pack-n-play next to the bed as a newborn pretty much went out the window the first time I fell asleep nursing him. He got so used to be snuggled up next to me that when I did manage to stay awake during one of his marathon feeds, he would protest. As a tired new mom, I would give in. Some would call this "reactive" co-sleeping, which is different than those who consciously choose the family bed. I thought since I had done all the research in my developmental psych class just the semester before I was different but really I wasn't. It just meant that I knew what safety precautions to take.

So with Jadyn I knew better. I knew I would end up with her in our bed and since we did not get Jake transitioned into his big boy well in advance of her birth, I also knew we were going to be pretty crowded. We made due. However, somewhere around 7 months old, I realized Jadyn was not sleeping well in our bed. She was tossing, turning, kicking us in the face, waking for no reason. It just was not working the way it had for Jake. So I did the work to get her adjusted to her crib and then again at 11 months, we did the whole sleep training thing to get her sleeping through the night and viola! A good sleeper emerged. We had sort of done sleep training with Jake, in that he at least starts off in his bed. This ensures an earlier bed time for him (since he no longer naps) and time for me to work after he goes to bed. But he only lasts 2-4 hours and then he ends up back in bed with us for the rest of the night. I know/knew it was probably time to get Jake to sleep through the night in his own bed but the situation seemed to work for us. Everybody was getting a good night sleep (and for me it was the first time in 3 years) and so I continued to put it off. But in the back of my mind I knew.......

I knew that somewhere in the not too distant future, Jadyn would get older and wiser and realize that while she was nestled snuggly in her crib, Mommy, Daddy and Jake were all together in the big bed. And that day came about 3 weeks ago with her newfound mobility to dismount from her toddler bed, open the door to her room and walk into our bedroom in the middle of the night. At first I tried in earnest to take her back to her room and help her back to sleep. After her second trip in the same night to "visit" us, I realized I wasn't really being fair. After all, she can clearly SEE Jake is in bed with us. I cannot punish her because she was my good sleeper. So I caved, picked her up, snuggled her in between me, Jake and Joe and off to dreamland she went. We have been receiving nightly visits ever since - scheduled anywhere from 12am to 4am depending on her mood. In her defense, she is sleeping in much later and I know lack of sleep from the time change was affecting her temperament (already vulnerable from a case of the terrible two's). The best part is when I wake up in the morning and they roll over thinking they are cuddling with me but really it is each other. Hehe!

Joe and I have discussed the situation and have decided that when preschool/YMCA gets out at the end of May we will get both of them in their beds using the Sleep Nanny technique, which is what I have been planning to do with Jake when I was ready. And there is a very key phrase in that sentence - WHEN I AM READY. Because I am fully able to admit that Jake (and now Jadyn) being in bed with us is just us much about me as it is about them. Jake has been co-sleeping with me since birth people! That means for the last 4 years I have had his little body next to me. Joe and I were never cuddly sleepers. This has become my sleep crutch. There have been nights when Jake has still been asleep in his bed at the time I am ready to go to sleep and I cannot fall asleep because I am so used to having him there. I know I am going to miss it. In fact it is such an emotional issue for me that when Joe and I talk about it I usually get weepy. And I have to be 100% committed because once we "sleep train" them there can be no allowances, or at least not for a very long time to avoid any confusion.

I was/am so proud of the progress we made with Jadyn's sleep. I feel like we did things the right way. But one thing I have learned, especially from being on the May 06 birth board on BBC is to be accepting of other parenting styles and choices. After personally experiencing parenting, after personally experiencing how different each child and their needs ares I now know that each family and each baby/child's needs and dynamic is different and what works for one might not for another and to each their own and to that end I have no regrets about co-sleeping with Jake or having a family bed. There were times (think at 21 months when he was still waking to nurse and I was 7 months months pregnant or newborn and toddler fighting over my breast in the darkness of the middle of the night) when it was physically and emotionally draining. But if I could go back and change things I don't know that I would.

I am reminded of the lyrics of a very poignant song by Billy Dean:

So let them be little,
'Cause they're only that way for a while.
Give 'em hope, give them praise,
Give them love every day.
Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle,
Let 'em sleep in the middle,
Oh, but let them be little.

I have always loved that song, but especially because it reminds me that I am not the only parent who has caved and let their kids sleep in bed with them. And although I know it is time for them to be in their own beds, at this very moment I am just going to let them be little.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Funny Nose Knows [#4]

How to open medicine bottles and subsequently REALLY scare Mommy.

Jake recently had a cold and as per usual now has a lingering cough. We have been trying to determine for some time now whether it is allergies, borderline asthma or just his body's way of getting over a cold but the Singular the doctor prescribed for him a couple of allergy seasons ago does seem to help. So I took it out of the cabinet the other night to remind myself to start giving it to him before bed. Flash forward to the next morning when again as per usual we are rushing to get ready for a play date when I tell Jadyn to go to the bathroom to brush her teeth. I follow her in there maybe 30 seconds later to find her fishing pills out of the open bottle. I immediately take the bottle from her, look at her sternly and ask her how many of the chewable cherry flavored pills she ate to which she replies, "uno". Now I really hate to leave everybody in suspense but have I mentioned how much Jadyn loves Dora the Explorer? Or that she is actually learning to speak Spanish from watching the show? So yes, she is counting in Spanish. She also says arriba (up), abajo (down) espera (wait), ayudar me (help me) and of course hola (hello). So anyway, as calmly as possible I ask her, "Did you take dos?". She shakes her head no. "Did you take tres?" She shakes her no. I dump all the pills out and count 23. The prescription was for 30. I know I have given Jake at least 1 the past 3 nights, if not more the last time he was having problems so I figure at this point worst case, she swallowed 4 pills. I call poison control just to confirm and they ensure me that even if she swallowed 4 pills she would be perfectly fine but I still think she was telling the truth when she said she only took one - or should I say uno. You know, if wasn't such a serious situation, I would have laughed. It was so cute to hear her respond like that. And yes, the bottle of pills are now safely back out of reach.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring Splish

Okay so honestly when the kids usually go outside to play with the water table, sprinkler toy or hose we usually just have them go in their clothes, have them get soaking wet, muddy, whatever and then change them but when the temperature reached the 80 degree mark yesterday I saw it as an opportunity to see how the kids summer swimsuits fit and got them all decked out, swim shoes and all to go play outside in the water. You would think with the set up I had concocted that they were at one of those water theme parks. I only got a few pics though. I started to fear the camera was going to get as wet as they were. Jadyn looked so grown up! I even got her hair in a single ponytail for the first time. But it is afterall still early spring, so even with the warm temps, they started shivering and wanted to come inside after while. It was a good preview though.

And on a MUCH lighter note...........

I got my hair cut. Joe said it doesn't look THAT different but to a girl getting 2-3 inches cut off and a bunch of new layers is a big deal. I really needed it. My hair was taking way to much time to do in the morning. This cut is much more "mommy" friendly. I feel kind of funny sharing pics of me and not the kids but what the heck, here it goes:

Before (on Easter):

After (this is what it looks like after my hair stylist does it and excuse the dumb look on my face. Focus on the hair. It occured to me recently, I don't take very good pictures):

And today (after I did it for the first time):

Joining the fight

The following is a blog entry I wrote yesterday and saved as a draft as I pondered whether or not to share it with everyone. As most of you know, I also lost my father to cancer and this year will mark the 10 year anniversary of his passing. I have really been trying to find a way to celebrate his life and join the fight against cancer and I am now more determined than ever not to just talk and think about doing something but really making it a reality. Maybe sharing this, sharing how I feel and sharing how much I want to be involved will keep me accountable in reaching that goal.

Babycenter is among other things, an online community where parents can talk to other parents with children of the same age or with similar interests and concerns. It is through this community that I learned of a little boy who at only 2 months old was diagnosed with cancer. Over the last year or so, I have followed this little boy’s journey as he battled the disease. He fought. He went through so much in his short life and his strength was amazing. It was clear to see that he derived that strength from his parents, Ben and Becky, who were so open and willing to share their journey with so many of us as little Ethan Powell continued to amaze us, beating the odds, continuing to fight and touching our hearts daily. Every day was truly a miracle. It is with great sadness that I learned of his passing on Saturday. My heart goes out to his family, to Ben and Becky who I know will continue to make finding a cure their lifelong passion and to think how many people will be joining the fight with them, as I hope to as well, in the name of Ethan Powell who I may have never met but has touched me deeply and I will never forget. Life is truly precious. My little ones will be getting extra hugs and kisses today, as they should always. They are my light. They are my love. They are my world. Rest in peace little Ethan.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Funny Nose knows [#3]

When he can ride the school bus.

So the other day I am driving Jake to school when we see the bus picking up the neighborhood kids. This would seem like a good thing as Jake and Jadyn LOVE the school bus but it means that once again, I am running late and I can no longer speed (nor should I anyway) since I just recently recieved a speeding ticket. Ah, but I digress. So anyway, Jake tells me he wants to ride the school bus and I tell him I am sorry but he is too little. I then go on to tell him exactly when I think he will be old enough to ride the bus. I guess from now I will need really think about how I answer these questions because flash forward to today when Jake is brushing his teeth getting ready to go to a classmate's birthday party and I ask him how old he is. He replies, "I am 3. On my birthday, I will be 4. When I am 6, I get to ride the school bus!". I just had to laugh that he remembered.

On another note, the birthday party was really fun. It was nice to get to talk to some of the other parents that we usually only see briefly during drop off and pick up and I really got to see which of the kids Jake interacts with the most (helpful since I only want to invite a few of his buddies to his birthday party later this month). Here is a cute picture I got, not with the birthday boy but one of the boys Jake talks about often, Aaron - right before they got their slice of cake:

Like I said before, birthday season has begun!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Let's Play Ball

Monday was the first game of the baseball season for the Los Angeles Angels, the offical team of the Funny Nose clan. Joe likes watching the games on TV. I personally find watching the sport on TV to be pretty boring but Jake seems to get into it. Since we seem to have had a slightly disproportionate number of pictures of Jadyn lately and being that her Angels dress from last year is a little snug, I thought I would share these pictures of Jake swinging away. Thanks to a certain friend's blog entry for reminding me to get into the spirit of the baseball season. One might notice that Jake's bat belongs to another team - The Los Angeles Dodgers. The bat and ball set was a gift from his Great Grandmother for his last birthday. Since they are both soft it is perfect for indoor use. The Dodgers were my Dad's favorite team and I have very fond memories of my father taking my brother and I to games when I was little. Jake saw the stadium from afar on TV last night and said, "That is far away, we have to go there!". I could not agree more. Well maybe not that particular stadium because I believe they were in Minnesota but I would definitely like to make it to a game this year.

Not a bad stance:

He crushed the ball and knocked over a candle. So proud of himself!

Check swing: