Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bachelor Vent

This is brewing inside for almost 2 weeks and now that has all been confirmed I just cannot hold back anymore so two things: 1) If you don't watch the reality show the Bachelor (particularly the last two seasons) the following will not make sense. I will understand if you skip the post altogether and 2) If you don't want to hear any spoilers about what is about to go down on the finale and after shows this Monday and Tuesday, don't read the following post.

I know that reality shows are HEAVILY edited and to some extent scripted. Deanna was never my favorite on Brad's season but after she was rejected, I was curious to see her journey on the Bachelorette. Jason was my #1 favorite out of the 25 contenders from the very first night and I felt very letdown when I found out 2 weeks in advance that she was going to choose Jesse instead but I also felt like he was dodging a bullet because Deanna was simply not right for him. I admit to being a little disappointed in Jason's character when he then chose to be the next bachelor but I couldn't help but watch in his quest to find true love. It hasn't been the most exciting season to watch and YES, Jason is a little bit of a manwhore with his constant groping and kissing but I felt he handled himself well when it came time to let girls go. He was honest and gentle about it.

As per usual, my impatience got the best of me and I started frequenting some spoiler sites to see who the seasoned sluethers had pegged as his final one and I was not surprised to find out who it would be. The producers were definitely editing this season to appear to be a true love story. You could see the chemistry between Jason and his chosen one and the finale that airs Monday night will show that love story. But all is not what it seems.

I am not naive. I know how many of these couples break up within weeks or months of the after show and that is fine with me but the trainwreck that is about to unfold on Monday night has turned this show into nothing more than a bad episode of Jerry Springer. I have lost any and all remaining respect I had for Jason and I will not watch this show again, EVEN though they are trying to pull people back by having one of the last girls to be let go become the next bachelorette and she is someone I liked very much on this season. I only hope she has time to rethink her decision after she sees what a jerk Jason turned out to be and that she mistakenly fell in love with him under such unrealistic circumstances.

Will this Monday's finale break rating records for a once failing franchise? NO doubt. But if this is what the producers think their viewing audience wants, I think they are sadly mistaken and I for one am finally putting my foot down and walking away for good from a show I have watched faithfully season after season. It's sick and pathetic and I am embarrassed to have hung on for this long. Part of my reason for this blog post is to keep me honest so I don't change my mind after I have had a chance to calm down.

So if you watch the finale Monday remember - all is not what it seems. Stay tuned for the after show to see the trainwreck and remember you heard it hear first, that is assuming you don't search for spoilers or read a little blog written by Reality Steve. I personally am glad I have some time to digest what is about to happen. This would not have been a pleasant surprise had I chosen not to spoil it for myself ahead of time.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Practice and Qualifying Birthday - The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

So after our day at the racetrack we took advantage of being so close to one of my favorite restaurants and went to Old Spaghetti Factory for a fabulous birthday dinner. Not only is the food delicious and the service superb, but you get an entire meal including salad, bread, drink and desert for about $10 per person. My personal recommendation - Mizithra ala Homer with Brown Butter (rich goat cheese sauteed in brown butter over spaghetti noodles, yum-yum!).
Here is a picture of ALL of us outside the restaurant after dinner. It is my favorite picture of the entire day:


We then hopped over to Ontario Mills Mall to get some kitchen supplies from Bed, Bath and Beyond and some lotions for me from Bath and Body Works, and let the kids (the men included) check out the Lego Store, which is super cool. Seriously, could this day get any better?

With all of us utterly exhausted, the drivers all grabbed coffee at the local gas station before hitting the freeway only to find traffic stopped due an accident on the side of the road. No sooner had the traffic picked up when we saw a little old model Honda CRV blow past us going at least 85-90 miles an hour. He was being impatient and weaving in out of traffic to pass cars. Joe had barely uttered the comment about how he was going to cause an accident when the CRV started to fishtail, hitting another vehicle and sending it across lanes, smashing into the center divider and then rolling before ending up on its side in the middle of the freeway. We went an entire day at the speedway without seeing a crash and then witness one right in front of us on the way home! At one point I wasn't sure if any of the vehicles involved might end up hitting us but we were lucky and managed to roll passed the scene as flames sprung up from the car on its side.

Everything after that was pretty much a blur. I remember Joe throwing our car into park and yelling for me to call 911 as he ran out of the car. I remember telling him not to do anything stupid and him reminding me that their was someone in that car. As I dialed 911, Joe, Scottie and Andres (both of whom were driving behind us at the time of the accident) as well as a couple other good Samaritans yelled to the woman in the car. Joe kicked the flames away from her vehicle and luckily someone had a fire extinguisher to put out the remaining flames. Miraculously the lady was able to get out of her vehicle on her own and seemed to have only suffered minor scrapes and cuts. Unfortunately, the man who caused the accident and his passenger, ran from their vehicle into a field beside the freeway and were nowhere to be found. Their car had no license plates. A third vehicle and driver sustained minimal damage and no injuries. I couldn't believe everyone pretty much walked away from such a horrific crash but more over, I was so proud of Joe for not even thinking twice before attempting to help. Actually, I was proud of all three of them - Joe, Scottie and Andres. They will claim they didn't end up doing much to help but I really don't think that is the point. Their willingness to help is what matters.

I was glad that everyone was pretty much okay from the accident and although I doubt it, I hope they find the people responsible for causing it. It was a very surreal way to end such a wonderful day. I think we all drove the rest of the way home in a daze (not to mention at least 10 mph slower than we would have normally). So there you have it folks. My birthday - the good, the bad and the ugly. But that's not all. Even after such an eventful day, we still had a party to come as well.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Practice and Qualifying Birthday - The Good

And no, the title does not mean to imply that I or anyone for that matter needs to practice or qualify for a birthday. Especially when you get to my age. What it does mean is that on Friday, the day of my actual birthday, we decided to take a trip to Fontana to watch the practice and qualifying for NASCAR's Auto Club 500. If you recall, last year we did the same thing in Vegas and had an absolute blast. This year was no exception. To add to the excitement, we had company, as both Scottie and Ali and the Castillo Clan decided to join us.

For those who have never experienced it, I wish I could properly describe the feeling upon seeing and hearing the roar of a stock car as it whizzes by you at 180+ miles per hour. It is such a rush. Jake, not surprisingly wanted his ear plugs in before even entering the grandstands and upon first walking in, he did complain that it was still too loud. But once we got up in the stands a little further, he became adjusted to the noise and broke out in his ear to ear grin as he started to recognize some of his favorite drivers and cars from the races he watches on TV.

Then of course we walked the booths and found several of the 09 diecast cars Jake does not already have, as well as a girly NASCAR t-shirt for me. Jake was also able to repeat his experience from last year, as he raced a remote control Dale Jr. 88, competing against other racers. Unfortunately, unlike last year he did not win but he still had a lot of fun.

I cannot say Jadyn was really into the scene. She refused to wear earplugs and cuddled with us while in the grandstands. By the time we went back in to watch the qualifying, she had fallen asleep and this is her DURING the qualifying. I can't quite fathom how she managed to sleep through all the noise, but she did:

Here are some of the other better pictures from our day at the racetrack. Jake posing with his earplugs:

Scottie and Ali:

The girls with the beautiful snow-capped mountains beyond the racetrack as our backdrop:

The Fenenoz Family with the Castillo Clan in the grandstands - that is Andres and Danielle with their children Adalia and Adan:

He may not look like he is having fun but that was only because he was concentrating so hard:

During our lunch break, the kids were having fun in the grass. This is when Jadyn was falling asleep so unfortunately she missed out on the fun:

Never miss a chance to pose up close with a NASCAR race car:

Not the best picture, but I couldn't forgo including the infamous Dale Jr.

Tony Stewart in his new Office Depot #14 car:

The fastest car of the day, #48 Jimmie Johnson who qualified at a whooping 183+ miles:

View of the track:

This was such an eventful day that I have to break the blog posts up into two parts as that night had it's share of excitement as well. I wish I could say it was all fun but as you will soon find out, the evening took quite a dramatic turn so stayed tuned.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Funny Nose Knows

#31 The Facts of Life

It took awhile for the kids to start questioning where the cat was when we finally made the decision to put Smokey down in October of 2007 but eventually Jake saw a picture of her and inquired as to why she no longer seemed to be around. I tried to simplify things, being that he was only 3 years old at the time and basically said something to the effect that she was far far away up in the sky in heaven and that she would not be coming back. He seemed satisfied by this answer. Well, the other day we were watching the slide show of pictures that comes up on the computer and a picture of Jake and Smokey popped up. Jake's eyes lit up and he exclaimed, "That's the cat that is in outer space!". I looked at him, a little confused at first and said, What? Where did you say the cat was?". He confidently replied that she was in outer space. It took me a minute but I finally realized that when I had tried to explain what had happened to Smokey, that this is what Jake had taken away from our conversation. That Smokey was in outer space. Let's face it, you have to laugh at the way little kids minds work.

#32 Gender

The other day I was videotaping Jadyn opening her Valentine package from Grandma and Grandpa so I could send it to my Mom. As she was pulling out her little goodies I made little comments about her treasures. Well as she was opening a pack of stickers I said, "Oh Boy! Look at that" to which Jadyn replied, "I am not a boy. I am a girl." And you know what, she is absolutely right.

#33 How to Celebrate

While at my age I normally do not make a big deal about my birthday (who really wants to get older?), we normally have a quiet special dinner or maybe a small get-together with family. However, when I turned the big 3-0, we had just recently moved here to 29 Palms and I was 7 months pregnant with Jake so we really didn't commemorate the milestone. Therefore this year I am turning 35 and to top things off, Joe is getting ready to spend 2 solid weeks on the east coast for work SO I decided to give in and really celebrate my birthday. I won't go into details about our plans for this weekend because that would spoil the fun of blogging about it next week BUT I did want to warn and apologize in advance because the next several blog posts are most likely going to be a little me-centric and I feel a little indulgent about it. But just a little. Not enough to stop me. So sorry in advance!

#34 How to Get Too Big Too Fast

On my recently mentioned shopping trip, I bought some spring/summer clothing for both the kids and quickly realized how fast they are growing. Jake can no longer wear toddler sizes. I have to shop for him in the Boys department (sniff, sniff) and to my surprise, Jadyn needed certain pieces of clothing in a size 4T. I had them both get the scale and Jake is weighing in at 39 pounds and Jadyn is 29 pounds. When did they get so big????

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Winter Beach

While there are obvious benefits to going to the beach in the summer (warm weather, splashing in the water, soaking up the sun) I happen to be one of those people who will pretty much take any opportunity presented to spend a day by the ocean. So when Joe announced he had to make a day trip to Pendleton last Thursday, I jumped at the chance for the kids and I to tag along.

Save for the almost 3 hour drive down there, I could not have been more happy that we decided to go. There is something so revitalizing about the beach - the cool breeze, the sound of waves crashing on the shore, the smell of the salty water and sandy shores. And the benefit of going to a private military beach on a winter day is that we pretty much had the entire beach all to ourselves. The kids and I walked out the rock jetties, searched for seashells, attempted to build a sandcastle and horsed around on the playground that is situated RIGHT on the beach. It was pretty much the perfect way to spend an early afternoon.

We then got to see a taste of what Daddy does when he is at work, getting a grand tour of one of the Command Operational Centers that he trains and troubleshoots the Marines on which, by the way, was pretty interesting. On the way home we grabbed lunch at In-N-Out and made some shopping stops to start on the kids spring/summer wardrobes, finishing off the evening with our favorite pizzas from Round Table. It was an impromptu, fun-filled and exhausting day.

Every time we go to the Pendleton area (north San Diego County for those not familiar) I long to be able to move back down there. I think of how little I really seized the opportunity of being within walking distance of the beach for 3 years. Of course then I had a almost full-time job in addition to trying to finish my Bachelor's degree and coordinating the Key Volunteers for Joe's unit from 9/11 through their deployment during the initial Operation Iraqi Freedom. Needless to say I was busy and had a lot on my mind. But I often daydream of what it would be like now, to be able to take the kids to the beach on a whim and all the fun family oriented activities their are in the area. Of course I forget the fact that when we lived there, I was always cold, missing the true heat of a summer inland and dreading the almost constant cloud cover that accompanies living so close to the shore. More importantly, the cost of living and traffic in that area is beyond ridiculous.

So I guess we kind of have the best of both worlds. We live somewhere that is affordable and has very little traffic and I more than have my wish of warm summers (115 degrees can be a little excessive, LOL!). But when we want to get away we can. We are within a 2 hour drive of most of our family and in the same time frame can be playing in the snow of the mountains or running along the sandy shores of the beach. We can take the boat out to the river or go to various amusement parks and zoos. I just hope that when I look back at this time, I will have no regrets and feel that I seized every opportunity to do fun and exciting things, sharing them with my husband and kids.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My Funny Valentines

While Valentine's Day was technically on Saturday, due to the long President's Day Weekend, all the kids Valentine celebrations took place on Wednesday the 11th. First we attended Jake's preschool party and I was FINALLY able to successfully stay and help out and see what Jake is like at school. He didn't clam up, refuse to participate or try to cling to me and even better, Jadyn was treated like a celebrity by all of Jake's classmates. It was a lot of fun.

Here is Jake with one of his best friends from school, Gavin:

And here is Jake passing out his Valentines. Notice Jadyn in the background sitting nicely in the circle and engaging in conversation with a fellow classmate of Jake's. She is SO going to be ready for preschool next year:

We then rushed home for lunch and Jadyn's nap so we could make it to our playgroup's Valentine exchange and party. By the end of the day the kids had so many Valentine Day cards, treats and goodies, you could easily compare their loot to Trick or Treating on Halloween and we were exhausted. Here is Jadyn at the playgroup party:

And back at home, showing off their loot:

Jadyn however, was not too tired to clown around with stickers she received from Grandma and Grandpa:

And after bath time, Daddy had no trouble riling the kids back up when they each took turns in the time honored classic "blanket swing"

Yes, Joe and the kids are definitely my funny Valentines!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Day in Palm Springs

With my 35th (gulp) birthday approaching and the variety of health-related issues I have been having, my doctor decided it wouldn't be a bad idea for me to get my first mammogram. I have to admit, even if it was routine, I was a little nervous how uncomfortable it would be and that they would possibly find something, so I dragged Joe and the kids down to Palm Springs with me. However, there was no need for them to sit in a dreary waiting room while I had the test done, so Joe found a beautiful park right across the street and entertained them there while I was at my appointment. It was definitely the right decision as I was there for nearly 2 hours.

I am happy to report that everything came back fine and it was not nearly as scary or uncomfortable as I thought it would be. Moreover, the kids had a blast at the park and enjoyed temps nearing 80 degrees if you can believe it. Here are a few pics:

Jake on the bridge of the playground:

I love this one. Not just because Jadyn is smiling naturally but because of the beautiful desert landscape surrounding her. This was the Wellness Park across from the hospital. It even had a meditation center. It was so peaceful:

I realize they should have been wearing helmets, ESPECIALLY if Jake was going to be doing tricks like this. Unfortunately, we brought the bikes but forgot the helmets at home:

Jadyn has really taken to riding her tricycle. She may be getting a bike with training wheels for her third birthday:

And so that was our day. Leave it to us Funny Noses to make an event out of an appointment for a mammogram!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Guess Who Has Class Pictures Today?

That's right. Jake. Who is all of his 4 1/2 years has had maybe one or two scrapes and bruises on his face - a pretty small number for such an active little boy. That all changed however, when in a moment of over-excitement Saturday he tripped running into the living room and caught the corner of his eye on a side table. Here is the result right after it occurred:

And now 3 days later a very obvious multi hued black eye:

The good news is that it "might" not be so noticeable in the pictures. Here is a preview of how he looks when he smiles. Not to bad. At least I can only hope.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Welcome Surprise

I have been very eager and yet at the same time very reluctant to write the following post as I did not want to jinx anything.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Jadyn has been showing interest in going potty on the toilet and although the number of times she was actually going potty was very few, I did not want to discourage her interest so we broke down and bought a box of feel and learn pull ups so she could pull them off and on herself. Once she finally started going on the potty, things started to escalate in a positive direction fairly quickly as she was going on her own without a struggle quite often and before long was even keeping her pull-up dry. However, because she was still technically in a diaper she seemed perfectly satisfied to go "stinky" in her pants as opposed to the potty and that is where I made the best decision I could have possible made - I switched her to big girl underwear and let her go poopy in there a couple of times - not pleasant for anyone involved but it was worth it because I can now report that we have a fully potty trained little girl.

And despite my apprehension to keep her in underwear for all the driving around we do, I stuck to it in order to avoid confusion and to my surprise she has had little to no accidents while we are out and about including our 3 weekly trips to take Jake to school in the neighboring city and several trips to "civilization" including a 2 1/2 hour drive to the aforementioned birthday party. Of course, we have to travel with her little potty and pull over several times but at least she is telling us when she has to go. And she does not seem to have any fears of going in public places either so I feel very, very fortunate on all fronts of the potty training. I also have to say that after all the battles we went through with Jake resulting in his not being potty trained until 3 1/2, I feel we kind of deserved a break with Jadyn so to the powers that be - I thank thee.

We are now almost diaper free with Jadyn only wearing a pull-up to bed at night and even that I could see changing rapidly as there has been many a day that she wakes up dry. It is hard for me to fathom not having any diapers in the house and no longer having to change them. Yesterday, I removed the changing pad and diaper changing station attached to her dresser combo and replaced them with a cute display of all her Care Bears. It felt like such a huge milestone. My little girl is growing up so quickly!

Monday, February 2, 2009

It Can't Be

It can't be February already. Where did the time go? While we have not been on any epic adventures of late, we have been very busy and having lots of fun. Whether it's a girls night out, an evening with friends over for dinner or a birthday party, it seems we have something on the calendar more days then not. Add our regular routine and work and before you know it when I finally have time to blog, all I really want to do is veg in front of the TV or curl up with a good book!

Three weekends ago Joe and I were finally able to go out for our anniversary dinner. Yep, you heard that right and no you are not mistaken. Our anniversary was back in August and we just finally had the chance to celebrate. However, it was well worth the wait. We had an absolutely fabulous dinner at the fondue restaurant the Melting Pot while the kids enjoyed an evening with Grandpa Bob and Grandma Anne, not to mention their Aunt Leigh, Uncle Aaron and cousins Aidan and Lilly. A good time was had by all.

Two weekends ago we went to a first birthday party for Jaxon, the son of family friends. The party, which had a barnyard theme was complete with a traveling petting zoo. Although Jake took awhile to come out of his shell once we arrived, Jadyn dove right in and loved the chance to pet the rabbits, goats, sheep and ducks. There was even a chicken that let you pick him up and hold him!

This past weekend we went to the drive-in Friday night and saw not one but two great family flicks - Bolt and Bedtime Stories and I got pretty nostalgic as the kids fell asleep during the second feature all cuddled up in the blankets with the hatch to the Tahoe open. It was a fun night, albeit a little chilly. Sunday we were invited to Scottie and Ali's place to enjoy the Super Bowl and dinner. Neither failed to disappoint as the game turned out to be quite exciting and the food was excellent as well.

I have news concerning both the kids as well but I am going to save those for separate posts. Until then here is a cute picture of them cuddled up together in the morning after I had gotten out of bed. Moments like this make all the chaos worth it.