Saturday, May 31, 2008

Two years ago today

Jadyn Ashley entered this world and entered our hearts.

I remember when my water broke ON my due date. I told Joe, "I think I am going to like this baby, she is right on time!" Of course, what I didn't know was that my labor and delivery would actually take longer than it did with Jake and her birthday would therefore end up being the following morning. What I also remember (besides the broken air conditioning in L&D in 100+ degree weather) was how taken I was with her the moment she came out and they set her on my belly. I also remember that one of the first things I did once Joe had gone home to check on Jake and the parade of nurses and doctors were done in the room was dress my little girl up in pink and purple because after having a boy for the last 2 years, I was having trouble grasping the concept of her being my daughter.

And now here she is turning two - my baby no more but definitely my daughter. What I love most about Jadyn is probably also what drives me the most crazy - the stubbornness of wanting something her way, the independent spirit that won't allow you to help her until she has exhausted all possibilities of doing it herself, that spitfire attitude that often erupts in full blown temper tantrums. I love her hugs and kisses, quick but fierce and repeated often. The way she turns every statement into a song, mothers her babies and stuffed animals, looks up to and mimics her big brother with a love that can only come from siblings and makes silly faces or does silly dances just to try and get you to laugh. And how infectious her smile is with a crinkled nose and a glimmer in her eye that can melt your heart every time.

When children turn one you often look back on the year and reflect on how much they have grown physically and how much they have changed developmentally - milestones like crawling, walking, first teeth and solid foods come to mind.When children turn two you look back on the year and reflect on how much they have learned and how much their little personalities have blossomed into their own unique self. Jadyn knows her shapes, is starting to learn colors and letters and can count to 10 in both English and Spanish. She knows the words and sings many classic childhood songs and some offbeat ones she learned from Kindermusik too. She loves to dance, she loves to color and she LOVES Dora the Explorer and Care Bears. She could eat rice, pasta, yogurt and fruit all day never missing meat, veggies or bread and in another life she must have been a fish because she loves the water - whether is is bath time or pool time. She speaks in full sentences and can tell you who her friends are at school. She knows what she wants, when she wants it and she will let everyone know if she does not get it. That's my girl - my drama queen, my sweetpea, my daughter.

And so on this day, the second birthday of my second child, I celebrate everything that Jadyn has become and everything that is still to come. The twos do have there unique challenges (although I personally do not like the term terrible) but they also have there unique rewards and I know Jadyn will embrace both with the headstrong attitude and girly-girl charm that is uniquely hers. Happy Birthday Jadyn!

At the hospital in her pink and purple:

Five days old (one of my favorite newborn pics):
On her first birthday:

A couple weeks ago (love this photo, had not found a reason to share it yet):

Outside before Jake's promotion ceremony:

Friday, May 30, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance Part II

Jake's preschool had a promotion/graduation ceremony to mark the end of the school year today. I have to give credit to his two teachers and assistant for having more patience than I can ever hope for in getting 35 three and four year olds to pull off such a wonderfully entertaining assembly. I am such the proud parent watching Jake sing and dance front and center for all the kids families, not even realizing where or even if we were in the audience until he was called to receive his certificate. In that regard he has grown leaps and bounds over the last year. Joe thinks preschool ceremonies are silly. He thought it even more silly when he saw some parents arrive with flowers and balloons for the "graduates". Maybe it is a little silly but it is also about the cutest thing I have ever witnessed.

Here they are singing one of five songs they performed to show off all they have learned this year (Jake is in the front row, not on stage with brown shorts and a blue polo):

Here they are marching in to place. You can see Jake with his hat on. It's about to fall forward and cover his eyes:
Here is Jake after receiving his certificate. They had all the kids practice standing on the X and smiling so parents could take pictures:
Photo op after the ceremony:
Celebrating with lil sis:
Posing with his teachers, Miss Tami and Miss Tammie:
With Mommy:
School is out for summer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fun with the Camera Phone

When we were down at Pendleton a couple of weeks ago, we took the kids to Chuck E. Cheese after dinner to expend some energy before heading back to the hotel. While Jake was in heaven jumping from one game to the next, Jadyn found this to be the most exciting toy:

Yep, that's right folks: Our sweet little girl just because the cutest piece of liter in an empty trash receptacle. Sanitary? Probably not. Cute as can be? You be the judge. And not a bad quality pic for a camera phone. Courtesy of Daddy.

Also recently taken off the camera phone, these video clips: The first of Jadyn dancing to a toy in the aisles of Target late one night after attending a birthday party and the second of the kids locking themselves in a animal cage on a trip to Petsmart. Glad we finally downloaded these gems from the phone!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Bubble Bath

Jadyn got an early birthday gift this week when I presented her with a new baby doll. This particular doll serves a greater purpose as it drinks and wets and will hopefully aid in the potty training process. The other great thing about this baby is that it can get wet and therefore makes a great bathtime partner. Here is Jadyn with her baby after bathtime in matching hooded duckie towels:

And here is Jake enjoying a favorite pasttime in the bath - BUBBLES - only now instead of me providing them, I found a machine that does it for me:
Okay so this has nothing to do with bathtime but the kids decided the laundry basket would make a good vehicle, especially when Daddy give thems a ride: (Note this is after dinner but before bath as Jadyn's face is stained in spaghetti sauce)

Pomp and Circumstance Part I

Jadyn had her last day of school at the YMCA Friday, which concluded with a small award ceremony and potluck brunch. Jadyn received a certificate for completing the year of "Playtime with Baby" and awards for learning her colors, shapes and counting to 10. I think her teacher was a little generous with the colors but we'll take it anyway:
For those actually moving into kindergarten next year, they actually have a graduation and therefore have little caps and gowns for them to wear, which were available for us to use to take pictures. Although Jadyn would have nothing to do with it, I did get a couple pictures of Jake:

Here is the only one of Jadyn donning cap but not the gown. You can tell I had to snap the picture before she tore the hat off her head:
Here the kids are with their teacher, Ms. Monique who will be moving back to Texas in a couple of weeks when her husband retires from the Marine Corps. She has been the kids YMCA teacher for the last 2 years and will be deeply missed:
Jake and Jadyn enjoying a snack:
After Jadyn took a nap, I took a couple more pictures of her with her award:
And I have to tell you the other day I was thumbing through sundresses at Targe' when Jake insisted I get this dress for Jadyn. I thought it was so cute of him to pick it out for her that I just HAD to buy it, even though she really did not need anymore summer dresses:
Jake has school all this next week in preparation for his assembly/graduation at preschool Friday. While he will not be graduating, he will participate in the ceremony and has already given me a preview of at least one of the songs we will be hearing. Thus, stay tuned for pomp and circumstance Part II later this week.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Birthday Tradition

Monday I took Jadyn to get her 2 year pictures taken at Sears. Thanks to my new Smile Saver card I pay no sitting fee, get a free 8x10 and buy one get one free portrait sheets. Therefore, since I just gotten a ton of pictures at Easter, I ordered very lightly and spent only $12 still managing to get 5 sheets of pictures. Of course that could have something to do with the fact that I was not entirely pleased with the results of the photo session. After getting such wonderful shots at Easter, my expectations were quite high of course. But I specifically told the photographer that it was most important to get a picture of Jadyn with the oversized number 2, as I have pictures of Jake with the number of his birthday at 1, 2 and 3. While she told me she got the shot and we then moved on to another outfit and pose, when I went to view the pictures I was a little disappointed with the birthday shot. Joe thinks I am being too critical and he is probably right. Since I didn't purchase the CD, the only method I have of sharing the pictures is via the link from the Sears website here - they are a little small but you can get a pretty good idea. And I will then take this time to gratuitously share the birthday pics of past years:

I decided that the tradition needed an endpoint so since Jake had pictures taken at school and will ever year from now on, I did not take him for professional birthday pictures. Jadyn will thus have professional birthday pictures one last year on or around her third birthday and then move on to school pictures when she starts preschool that next fall. This plan can easily fall under the category of my need to plan WAY TOO FAR AHEAD into the future. LOL!

Pattern Emerging

For the last 5 out of 6 nights now Jadyn has been sleeping in her bed the entire night. The only difference in the one night that she did come into bed with us (at 3am) was that Daddy had put her to bed instead of Mommy. I know I should knock on wood but maybe getting her back into her bed full-time won't be so hard after all. Jake however, is a different story. The only downfall to her sleeping in her bed all night is that she wakes up promptly at 6:30am whereas when she visits us at night she will then usually sleep in until 7:30am. I tried bringing her into our bed when she wakes up at 6:30am but she is bright eyed and bushy tailed. And to update everyone on one of my Mother's Day resolutions, the pacifier has been restricted to bedtime and long car rides only. We make her leave it on the bed or in the car before getting down, which seems to work well. The few times she has spotted one around the house she grabs it and then it is a struggle to take away but otherwise it seems to be out of sight out of mind. In a couple more months the binky fairy will be visiting to take her pacifiers to newborn babies in need of them. I think she is smart enough to comprehend this method.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Funny Nose Knows

#7 Hard Work

Jake is so used to hearing me say I am working when I am on the computer that when he had a small accident the other day and I asked him why he did not go potty on the toilet he replied, "But Mom I was working on the computer trying to find the Backyardians Road Race game!" I could do nothing but laugh and honestly he has had maybe 3 accidents total since being potty trained last November so I really cannot complain. He was working after all.

#8 When she is Really Mad

So you know how sometimes you don't realize you say something until you hear your child repeat it. Well I still don't think I tell the kids I am mad. In fact I am pretty sure I am careful to avoid that word using upset, sad or frustrated instead. No matter where it came from, one of Jadyn's new favorite phrases is "I am really mad" when something does not go her way. Sometimes she will say she is REALLY REALLY mad. The other day I was reorganizing her room and I tried to combine her Dora toys with Jake's Diego toys (which Jadyn likes to play with). She told me they don't go in there and removed all of them. So I got a separate basket and put the Diego toys in there but apparently that was still not acceptable. She came out of her room and exclaimed that she was really really mad. When I went back in her room the basket was empty and the Diego toys were strewn all over her room. I guess she was not approving of the change in location.

#9 Ad Campaigns

We all know how much Jake loves Nascar and he watches the races weekly on TV. That also means he hones in on the commercials involving Nascar drivers, which seem to be numerous since the brands sponsor their cars with huge logos all over them. One commercial that has been on a lot lately is Carl Edwards, #99 advertising Claritin. Well Friday we are at Wal-Mart when Jake spots a display of Prilosec with a picture of Jeff Burton and the #31 car to which he exclaimed "I want to be Claritin Clear." Joe and I almost fell over laughing because although he had the wrong product, Jake was rattling off the ad slogan for Claritin from the commercial with Carl Edwards.

#10 To be a Gracious Loser

One thing we have been doing a lot lately is playing board games. Jake got Chutes and Ladders from Santa and the kids got Candyland from the Easter bunny. I have very fond memories of playing both games growing up. Well the first time we tried to play Chutes and Ladders, it did not go so well. Besides the numbers going right to left and then left to right, Jake also seemed to have trouble with the concept of getting sent up the ladders but down the chutes. When I won the game, he cried and cried and acted like a very poor loser. I took the opportunity to explain how sometimes we win and sometimes we lose but we have to accept both and the game is still fun to play no matter who wins. Candyland seems to be easier for him but he likes to play both games now, lately on a daily basis. Whenever he wants to play he will say, "Mom (or Dad) I will be so happy if you beat me!" It's as if he has to remind us that if we agree to play he will be a gracious loser should he not win.

On a side note and going back to his love of Nascar, one of Jake's favorite drivers is Kasey Kahne. Well the other day while we were playing Candyland, Jake drew the candy cane and yelled, "Mom, I got the Kasey Kahne!". Talk about obsession.

#11 How to Do it All by Himself

I know Jake is way late on this one but he has suddenly decided that he wants to do everything by himself. If you try to go into the bathroom when he is doing his business he will say, "No Mom, boys do it by themselves" and he is FINALLY showing interest in dressing and undressing himself with no help. If you try to help he says, "I do it by myself". This was something I should have encouraged a long time ago as Jadyn is already wanting to do things for herself but Jake has been happy to have me, if not insist that I do things for him. I guess it probably has something to do with him being my first child.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Looking Ahead to Fall

One of the things I like about my online community of friends is that unlike most of my friends and family in real life (and this is no offense), they too think about and plan way ahead in the future. Monday was the last day of Kindermusik for both the kids. Here they are in their last classes playing under and on top of the parachute:

Next week Jadyn will have her awards ceremony marking the end of the school year at the YMCA and the following week, Jake's preschool will have a graduation ceremony as well. While I try to keep things "light" during the summer, we will be doing swim lessons again, as well as remaining active in our playgroup. However, there are many decisions to be made for the coming Fall. As you may recall, Jake is in preschool the next town over because he was not fully potty trained at the beginning of the school year. Since he has been fully potty trained since November, I am seriously considering sending him to the preschool here in town, within walking distance from our home. While I love everything about his current school, it is very hard to justify driving there 3 days a week (which is how often the 4 year olds attend), especially when a) the price of gas keeps rising and b)it significantly eats time for me to do other activities and errands while he is at school. So long story short we are going for an orientation at the local preschool very soon. Assuming we decide to move him there, Jake will probably have to start school in August, since those doing the summer program have priority over everyone else and it is pretty competitive to get into this school. Jadyn will then most likely move up to the 2-3 year old class at the YMCA, "Tiny Tots" and attend on the days Jake is at school - Monday, Wednesday, Friday. That is assuming they hire a teacher to replace the one leaving and that I like what the new teacher chooses to do with the program. Furthermore, other decisions will have to made as well. Jake is eligible and very eager to play sports this year with soccer starting in September. Since I really don't want to overextend their structured activities, he will most likely not attend Kindermusik next year. And Jadyn will most likely only continue with music class if the time of the class works out, which would basically have to be after Tiny Tots on a day Jake is at school. Wednesdays we still have play group, only Jake will be in school on this day now so it will just be Jadyn and I most weeks AND depending on the time of the play date, I might have to leave early to pick up Jake from school. Are you still with me?

I am sure everything will fall into place - and the good news is that it looks like the kids and I will have Tuesdays and Thursdays to ourselves, which I think will be a perfect balance for our week. Now would anybody be surprised if I said I was already thinking about next Christmas or where Jake will attend kindergarten in 2009?

***ETA - Before I had a chance to publish this post we already went for orientation at the local preschool and although there were several things I prefer at his current school, there was nothing that should prevent me from sending him to this school, which have I mentioned is walking distance to and from the house. Jake is #2 on the waiting list and should have no problem getting in and just to be safe, I put Jadyn on the waiting list for 2009 (LOL!). Jake was ready to stay there today and a litte disappointed when I told him he couldn't but I guess that is a good sign that he will adjust to the change just fine. Now if somebody can just help me adjust, not only to changes like this but to the fact that my babies are not babies any more. Sniff-Sniff!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Spoonful of Sugar

Helps the medicine go down or so the song says. Well today poor Jake had had the hiccups for at least an hour when he asked me for medicine to make them go bye-bye. When I told him there was no medicine for hiccups, he then prompted me to go the store to get more. So it occurred to me that some people swear by a teaspoon of sugar. When I presented it to him, he gave me an odd look and then took a little taste with his tongue, to which he responded with a wide eyed grin, "Yummy" he said enthusiastically. I then explained that he needed to take down the entire spoonful if we had any hopes of it actually working (as opposed to just having him hopped up on sugar). He complied and attempted to swallow the entire teaspoon full, however it was quite the task and in the process he started laughing at which time little puffs of not yet wet sugar started spewing out his mouth. Of course this made him and me by extension laugh even harder, which resulted in more puffs of dry sugar dust. In the end, he swallowed the sugar and we had both had a good laugh, the kind that makes the corner of your mouth continue to curl up in delight long past the moment itself.

And by the way, Jake has not hiccuped since.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Xtreme Sports, Xtreme Trouble (The Lost Post)

After Jake's birthday, I hardly had time to catch my breathe. There were SO many photos and stories I wanted to share about his special week. In the midst of all this, not to mention the additional 2 birthday parties that following week, I completely forgot to post about our outing that following Saturday - April 26th. The Marine Corps base was hosting an open gate event where motorcycle riders from the X Games came to perform stunts, both street and dirt. We thought Jake (as well as big kid Joe) would get a kick out of watching the riders do tricks on their bikes, so we went for a couple hours that morning. Some of the things that can do on a bike are pretty incredible:

And Jake, as well as Joe, Jadyn and myself for that matter really enjoyed the show:

But here is the kicker. Jake has been riding his bike a lot lately and he got a Spiderman scooter for his birthday as well. At the park in Joshua Tree there is a skateboard park next door and he continually asks to take his bike or scooter in there to do tricks of his own. So maybe taking him to watch Xtreme sports was not such a good idea after all as he decided to take matters into his own hands. Remember the obstacle course I built for them during the cold winter months? Well, Jake found a new use for it:

Please don't judge me in that I chose to grab the camera and record him in the act rather than scolding him.
Xtreme sports? I think we may be in Xtreme trouble with our little daredevil.

Back to Reality

And this is our reality; two kids who think this is what it means to go to bed, that OUR bed is their bed. LOL! But we addressed this topic already.

The fact of the matter is that I know I am a good mother to my children but I don't feel I have been the BEST mother to them lately. And some of my favorite posts from fellow mommy bloggers have been those that are most candid. The ones that don't try to paint everything as being happy and perfect all the time. For me, it has been more of an adjustment going back to working from home than I probably realized because even though it is now much easier to find the time to work (kids play together and independently and are on a much more consistent sleep schedule), I have been taking advantage. I have not been spending as much quality time with the kids when we are at home. Trying to get my migraines under control, I started taking the Topamax which did seem to help but gave me too many side effects including irritability that I know affected my disposition with the kids when patience is already a precious commodity. I have been lax about keeping to our routines, which has affected the kids behavior and then to make matters worse, I have not been consistent with discipline. So, I am making some Mother's Day resolutions to take the time to get back on track, spend quality time with the kids doing activities that they enjoy at home but need my supervision or assistance to do and ensuring that I have no regrets. Because they grow so fast and I want to know I spent as much time witnessing that growth, helping to shape the people they will become in the most positive of ways. I know I do that now - we all have moments of insecurity about our parenting. But I don't think that is what this is about. This is a realization that just because they can play independently for long periods of time does not mean they don't crave and need me to be right there with them. And I can think of no better place I would rather be.

So here are my Mother's Day resolutions:

1) Computer time (work related or other) is restricted to before the kids wake up, nap time and after they go to bed or designated times when Joe is home to watch them.

2) Follow our routine to include educational activities, arts/crafts time and outside time every day, especially days without structured activities like school or play dates.

3) Work on having both kids fall asleep on their own in their own beds at a reasonable bedtime.

4) Work on weaning Jadyn off the pacifier.

5) Reread 1-2-3 Magic and consistently apply to both kids for discipline.

6) After a morning cartoon while I shower, the TV is off for a majority of the day. Jake has his video game time during Jadyn's afternoon nap and Joe and I can watch our shows after the kids are in bed. After all, that's what TiVo is for. LOL!

I will be sure to keep everyone updated on my resolutions.

And speaking of Mother's Day, here are some pics from this weekend. It is final really hot here so Joe blew up the kiddie pool and the kids had a blast filling it up and splashing around. Joe helped with my Sunday chores, including going grocery shopping with both kids (brave) and then made his yummy chicken fajitas for dinner. He also got a super cute Mother's Day card that the kids colored. All in all a very nice day.

This was Jadyn on Saturday night wearing Daddy's shoes. She really is quite the ham. I could see her being the class clown when she gets older. She is always making silly faces and trying to get us to laugh:

Filling up the kiddie pool (we might be putting up the big pool this next weekend):

And after dinner Joe got this shot with me and the kids, ON THE FIRST TRY if you can believe it. I am always telling the kids I want to get the perfect picture and they are getting to the point of cooperating more willing, realizing it will make the process quicker but now after we take a picture they ask, "Perfect?". Jake has been doing it for awhile now but after taking so many pictures in Carlsbad last week, now Jadyn is saying it too - pretty funny.
I hope all the mommies reading this also had a very nice Mother's Day. My recent revelations made it all the more special as I love being a mom more than anything else in the world.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mach Go! Go! Go!

The wait is finally over. Speed Racer hit theaters this weekend and Jake and I waited in line (if you can believe that in our small community, an indication it will have huge box office numbers I am sure) to see it this afternoon. Coming in at a whooping 2 hours and 15 minutes and with a PG rating, I was a little unsure how Jake would do but the fast paced racing and cool effects were enough to keep entertained throughout waning only on 2 occasions of dialogue thick lulls. For me, it was about what I expected - more violent than I would have liked and a little heavy on the cheese factor, but watching Jake's face light up and the little grunts he made as the cars crashed into each other - well as the Mastercard commercial would say - priceless.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Escape from the Desert

Since most of Joe's work team and the corporate office are located out of Camp Pendleton, he will occasionally get sent there on business. When possible, I like to take the kids down there for a few days and enjoy a little mini-vacation down by the beach of North San Diego County, where we were once lucky enough to be stationed but of course never fully took advantage.

The last several times we were down that way, we went to Sea World (a personal fav of mine) but this trip I was going to take the kids to the zoo. That was until in the darkness of our hotel room we slept in until 9am. Not exactly the early start I had envisioned. So instead, we went to the beach for awhile and when the kids got tired and hungry, we jumped over to Ruby's Diner for lunch. It's a perfect location - turkey burgers for me and a train that goes around the diner to entertain the kids. And it just happens to be located at the outlet mall so after lunch we hit up a couple stores before heading over to Flower Fields, a local attraction in Carlsbad. The ranch contains over 50 acres of colorful blooms covering the hillside overlooking the pacific ocean and it just happened to be closing for the season on May 11th. Back in the day, I actually worked off the exit to Flower Fields, was able to witness it's beautiful display daily for a full season but never actually went to explore the grounds in person. With little expectation other than to see a bunch of pretty flowers, our impromptu visit was the highlight of our trip. They had a hedge maze made from Sweet Peas, a rose garden, a Santa Village playground and a passport game whereby the kids collected stamps at various stations throughout the grounds - something Jake enjoyed searching for quite a bit. Today, before leaving to come home we went back to the beach and although it was too chilly to be in the water, the kids enjoyed attempts to build sandcastles and running away from the waves. It was a nice little getaway but honestly, it is this time of year where here in the desert we have the envious warm weather (before it gets unbearably hot) so it is nice to be back home in our shorts and tank tops with plentiful sunshine.

Here is Jadyn the first day at the beach. Jake was so busy running away from the waves that I didn't get very many pictures of him that first day:

Here the kids are upon entering Flower Fields, smelling the pretty blooms:
And here they are actually obliging me by hamming it up as flowers:
The view ascending the hill:
The view going up the hill:

Up close:

Jake climbing the mushroom at the entrance of Santa's Village:
Peeking out the windows of one of the miniature play houses in the village
Posing for an almost perfect picture at the photo pavilion at the bottom of the hill:
The 2nd day at the beach, Jake was much more eager to pose for the camera:

Jadyn watching the birds in the distance:
Time to go. It's chilly here at the beach!