Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jewel of the Desert - 49 Palms Oasis

So you might recall that earlier in the month before the craziness of Easter and birthdays took over my blog that we had been going on a lot of hikes up in Joshua Tree National Park. Well better late than never I would be remiss not to share the highlights from some of these trips.

First up - 49 Palms Oasis, which we hiked on Sunday April 5th. This is the only trail where Joe was able to accompany us, along with Scottie and Ali and I was more than happy to have the extra adults on hand because this turned out to be a fairly strenuous trail - 1.5 miles up to an elevation of 300 feet and down into the canyon where the oasis lies. The kids, Jadyn especially, had to be carried a good portion of the trail. The really cool thing was that at the peak, you can overlook all of Twentynine Palms and with the use of the zoom on our camera, we were able to locate our house.

Here we are at the top:

And the view of our house through the zoom on our camera:

Once you descend, you are welcomed with the 49 Palms Oasis, which is a beautiful sight offering the shade of palm trees, large cool boulders to rest on and the faint sound of water trickling down the stream. For those of you who have never visited the desert, this may not seem like such a big deal but running water and shade is a definite rarity around this parts.

After the descend, the infamous 49 Palms Oasis:

Enjoying the shade of the oasis:

Wildflowers in bloom:

A peek-a-boo view of the city from the oasis:

Then comes the hard part - you have to go back up and down the same trail you just took to get there and boy, was that tough.

Getting ready to climb back up and over:

We were all exhausted by the time we made it back to car. Well, except for the kids who had hitched rides on the shoulders, backs and hips of the four of us all the way back. But I have to say it was one of the best trails we have done in the park so in the end, it was all very much worth the effort.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Our Trip to the Magic Kingdom

I was so excited about taking the kids to Disneyland. It made me nostalgic. I grew up going to Disneyland about once a year, every summer when my cousins came to visit California from Texas. I have fond memories of those trips, being with family and all the fun rides. We have waited to take our kids to Disneyland until they were old enough to appreciate it and boy was it worth the wait.

And waiting is a big part of going to a major theme park. We arrived at 9:20 am and then proceeded to wait in line to pay for parking, wait in line to park, wait in line to go down the elevator from the parking structure, wait in line for the tram, wait in line to buy tickets, wait in line to get our bags searched and wait in line to get into the park. By the time we made it inside it was almost 11 am. Ridiculous!

Unfortunately, I do not have as many pictures as one might expect from me because juggling two preschool-aged kids by myself at an amusement park was a challenge in and of itself. Although Jadyn was already grumpy by the time we entered the park, I did purchase the picture that was taken of Jake and I at the entrance since I knew it would probably be the only decent picture where I was included.

I have to say what an awesome experience it is to go to Disneyland on your birthday. Jake was treated like royalty. They gave him a button that said "Happy birthday Jake" and every Disneyland employee, not to mention several other guests would give Jake special attention and birthday wishes. At first he was super shy about strangers greeting him by name but by midday he was used to it and politely answered thank you to all the "Happy Birthdays".

Now here is the crazy part. I really wanted to make the most of our trip so I pushed through the kids cranky/tired period in the late afternoon and was rewarded with a huge second wind from both of them in the early evening. Therefore after arriving in the park at 11 am, we didn't leave until 8:30pm. Can you believe that? We managed to go on a total of 13 rides, two of which were repeats of favorites. But I will get to that in a second. It was a fun and exhausting day.

The great thing about taking younger kids to Disneyland is that you get to experience it all over again through the eyes of a child. While waiting in line for the newly revamped Little Nemo submarine, Jake kept asking how we were going to dive underwater and not get wet and they were almost speechless with all all the sea life we saw and how "deep" underwater we went. At that age, you buy into the fantasy, too young to realize you can look up and see that you are really only 2 inches below the water the entire time. They loved it.

No surprise, Jake's favorites rides were those that revolved around transportation, most notably Autopia where you get to drive a car, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin and the Disneyland Railroad.

Here is Jake after receiving his license to drive the cars:

Concentrating so hard so he didn't "crash":

Loving every minute of his chance to drive:

After a driver's switch, it was Jadyn's turn:

Jadyn's favorite rides were the Mad Tea Party and It's a Small World. She loved the teacups so much that I had to listen to her whine and cry "teaaaacupssss" for 20 minutes after our ride was over. If you guessed that we went on that ride in the afternoon, you would be correct.

Here are the kids on It's A Small World:

A quick shot before the teacups starting spinning:

Getting dizzy on the teacups:

Does Jadyn look like I may have been spinning the cup a tad too much:

So what is my favorite ride? Pirates of the Caribbean. We went on in twice and I was so glad the kids were not afraid, although the first time through Jake did ask if the pirates were shooting at us. Coincidentally, although Pirates has always been a favorite ride of mine, I am not a huge fan of the movie franchise, although I thought it was pretty clever when they infused the original movie with scenes straight from the classic ride such as this:

On every ride, the three of us got to sit together. While in Toon Town, Jadyn asked to go on Gadget's Go Coaster. She was so proud of the fact that she was tall enough to ride it. Jake on the other hand had reservations so I promised to hold him tight during the ride. That was until I found out they only seat two across, so Jake and Jadyn had to sit together one row behind me. Jake had asked me in line if I planned on screaming, as he saw that was the norm from the other riders. I told him I probably would. Well I wish I could have timed the picture right but I will have to rely on memory to remember the scared look on Jake's face when I turned around to find him screaming as we went down and twisted around the track. When we got off however, his only response was that he thought the ride was cool. Jadyn, of course loved it as well.
Can you see the apprehension on Jake's face before the ride began?:

And a few other favorite rides included Dumbo:

Casey Jr's train:

King Arthur's carousel:

You might be surprised to find that I have no pictures of the kids with the characters. Well that has a twofold reason. For one, the kids would have been afraid. They may be willing to take on roller coasters but Goofy? No way. Second of all, I would have loved to get a picture of Jadyn with the Disney princesses (which I think she would have been okay with since they don't wear a costume head) but unfortunately they treat character greetings like a ride now and I wasn't willing to wait upwards of an hour just to take a picture. We were having too much fun on the rides! I did get this classically "Disney" picture of the kids in front of Cinderella's castle:

So that is my novel recap of our day at the Magic Kingdom. It was fun, it was exhausting but most importantly it was a birthday to remember.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Good and Bad of Being a Coach

The bad: While our team was up to bat, I was doing duties as first base coach and Jake was on second base. I yelled to him to be ready to run to third and he yells back to me, "Mom, can we watch Speed Racer after the game?" I just had to laugh before responding to him that we could talk about it later.

The good: After the game one of the little girls on the team N'Taiya spotted me loading up our car. She called out to me "Coach" and then ran over and gave me a hug. Need I say more?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Striking Success

Here is the invitation for Jake's Star Wars themed bowling party:

Here is the (almost) birthday boy getting ready to throw the ball down the lane:

The yummy cupcakes:

This is one of my favorite pictures. Jake with his buddy Josh from school:

Jake with his gal pal Kalista. They have become quite chummy this spring.

I dare anyone to get a better picture of five 4-5 year old boys. Here is Jake with his cousin Ethan on one side and his pals from school on the other:

Jadyn with her cousin Madison:

Mommy with the birthday boy:

Jadyn with Jake's best friend from school Gavin. Have I mentioned that Jadyn has a little crush on him?

Right before singing happy birthday:

Jake, while everyone was singing. When he is nervous about being the center of attention, this is the look he gets and then he searches me out with his eyes. I never want to forget that feeling of knowing that even with a glance and smile, I can provide comfort to him when he is uneasy (and sorry for being so sappy but I cannot believe my baby boy is going to be FIVE this week!):

Opening presents:

Very excited about his gifts:

They had his name up at the bowling alley along with another child who was celebrating their birthday that day. Unfortunately, I did not realize Jake's eyes were closed in this shot until we got home. He got a kick out of it though:

Back at home, he took his new GeoTrax pieces and immediately built a new track. It is amazing to me that he can create these layouts all by himself now. I guess it is just further proof that he is getting big:

I have to give a special thanks to Scottie and Ali for helping us organize and set up the party, as well at Joe and Scottie for working the lanes the entire party to make sure the kids got the most enjoyment out of bowling. Everyone had a great time and Jake had an absolute blast. Now we are off to Disneyland for the date of his actual birthday, which is actually a strategic move because both the kids will be free (Jake because it is birthday and Jadyn because she is not yet three). Since the kids really don't understand what Disneyland is yet, I think I am way more excited than they are. I haven't been in over 10 years and cannot wait to re-experience rides like "It's a Small World" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" through the eyes of my children. And of course there will probably be a massive picture overload upon our return so be prepared!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Magoomba Monday #5

Things have been crazy around the Funny Nose household, pretty much as expected.

1) Jake started playing t-ball last week. Because his team got a late start, we packed in 3 practices last week in preparation for opening ceremonies and his first game this last Saturday. But you haven't even heard the best part yet. His team manager needed some assistance and due to my increasingly unhealthy need to have as much information as possible, what started out as an innocent offer to help turned in to me becoming the assistant coach. What's even better is because of the limited free time his team manager has, I have already attended a coaches meeting, picked up and distributed uniforms and fund raising materials, copied and passed out the schedule and snack roster and had the responsibility of managing in his absence at the game tonight.

Now some of you may be surprised to hear this, but despite having kids of my own and loving them dearly, I am not exactly a "kid" person so being put in charge of 10 rambunctious 5-7 year olds is not exactly my idea of fun. And still some others of you may be surprised because I doubt I come across as the athletic type and I am really not. However, growing up I did play both soccer and softball so I am not completely ill-equipped for such a task. Despite the amount of work I have had to put in, I do find myself enjoying being involved and volunteering my time. It's nice when you can see that you have made a difference.

Here is Jake with a few of his teammates before opening ceremonies. I just thought all the kids looked adorable in their uniforms:

Here is all the pomp and circumstance of a Little League opening ceremonies. Jake and his team had their hats over their hearts and then Jake quickly covered his ears because he thought they were going to fire off the gun, which they didn't:

Jake and "Coach Jenn" after our first game. I have had to teach Jake that he can question Mommy why but not "Coach Jenn". He then asked if I was done being coach for the day and when I said yes he asked why:

2) We had Jake's 5th birthday yesterday at the bowling alley. It was a striking success. All the kids had a blast bowling and it was really nice having it somewhere where the entertainment was included. I got really antsy yesterday morning because I felt like I didn't have enough to do. Basically I just showed up and decorated the tables that were already set up. It was super stress free. It also just so happens that the mom of a friend of Jake's from school is a pastry chef, so I asked her to design and make cupcakes to fit in with our Star Wars theme and they turned out really cool, not to mention delicious. Definitely not South Beach friendly but I had to have one for myself. This is just a preview of the pics and tales from Jake's party. I will have a separate blog post later this week with much, much more!

The family before heading over to the bowling alley:

3) Jadyn has been acting like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute she is this super sweet preschooler singing songs, making jokes, telling me she loves me and just generally being cute. The next minute she is clingy and whiny and purposely defiant for no apparent reason. I think part of the problem is the nap/no nap issue stemming from no longer having the paci. I also think it is partly just a normal developmental stage.

4) I feel like I am never going to catch up! I still have so many stories and pictures to share on my blog but with t-ball now taking up 3 days a week for the next 2 months, I feel like I am never going to have the time. I figure its better to have blogging material and no time to blog then the other way around.

5) Spring was really weird again this year. It went from cold and windy, to warm and windy to just plain old hot. I know we may not have seen the end of the mild temperatures (at least I hope not) but having the temps in the 90s this weekend was yet another reminder that summer is just around the corner.

Hope everyone else is enjoying their spring as well.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bunny Ears Revisited

Almost a year old in 2007:

Almost 2 years old in 2008:

Almost 3 years in 2009: