Friday, March 26, 2010

So what about Jake?

Well first of all, Jake and I finally had an opportunity to go on a date last Friday and spend some much needed quality time together. I took him to get his hair cut and then we went bowling. It was so much fun and I believe a new Mommy/son tradition has begun!

Monday, Jake had an awards assembly at school for second trimester and I am so proud to to report that he received an award for outstanding achievement in creative writing. It was pretty funny because as soon as his teacher started talking about the student with a passion for cars and race tracks, I thought she must be talking about Jake. But to find out he actually wrote about them? Pretty cool. Yes, I am one proud mommy.

Note to self, never again agree to take a picture in front of the fireplace unless it has just just been cleaned:

Finally, spring wouldn't be spring without baseball and Jake's new team started practices last week. The truly awesome thing about this season is that the league finally decided to hold practices and games at the very under-utilized Knott Sky Park, the very park that is a 5 minute walk from our house. It's been kind of nice not to have to drive so far to get some place and we can just stroll right over there in the nice spring weather. Now if I can just convince my allergies to calm down, we would be good to go. Here is Jake and BFF Sam before the start of practice Thursday:

And so Jake is doing good and we are staying busy enjoying spring and all the flurry of activity it brings.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Getting Rid of Sugar Bugs

So everyone knows how apprehensive I was about Jadyn going to the dentist to have her cavities filled. Part of that apprehension comes from my own dislike of the dentist. I had to have my first cavity filled at the age of 21 and nearly hyperventilated when it was time to get the numbing shot.

The other reason for my worry is because, although I don't think I've talked about it very extensively on my blog, I had been going through a really rough stage with Jadyn. She had been challenging me at every turn. I could say the sky is blue and she would argue that it was red. She would say she wanted toast for breakfast and then cry uncontrollably because she really wanted yogurt. She wanted to wear sundresses every day, even though it was only 50 degrees out. I would try to compromise by suggesting leggings and a sweater to go with it and she would protest stating that then she wouldn't look pretty. She defied me every chance she got. She whined and complained about everything, especially in the car where she knew I was trapped and could do little to appease her. If she could drive me this crazy on any given day of the week, how was it going to be taking her to the dentist to do something even I would cry about if I could?

Well the world works in mysterious ways and just when I was fearing the worst and not knowing how much more I could take, Jadyn surprised me. I am not saying she wasn't nervous or that she didn't complain or cry but it was manageable and we made it through. The staff at the pediatric dentist really know what they are doing. First they put really cool zebra striped sunglasses on her to help with the glare. Then they applied the magic jelly to numb the area for the fairies to come put her mouth to sleep (she never even saw the needle). When it was time to actually take the sugar bugs away, I'll admit that she did cry. Unfortunately there is no way to explain away the unnerving sound of the drill but the staff talked her through it the whole time and the dentist got the cavity filled in lightning quick speed. The trip was finished off with princess stickers and the chance to pick something from the treasure chest - a pinkie ring with a dolphin.

But is was the rest of the morning and afternoon that Jadyn really blew me away. Since we were in "civilization" I was hoping to run some errands while down there and Jadyn was both patient and helpful while we shopped at Kohl's, Joanna's Crafts AND Sam's Club. We capped off the day with frozen yogurt (Jadyn's new favorite) and a very un-whiny drive home. For some reason this day seemed to be a turning point in Jadyn's development AND our previous tumultuous relationship.

You see I read these series of developmental books and they give a title description of each age and this year for Jadyn it was "Your 3-year-old. Friend or Enemy". And that is exactly how I have felt for the last several months. That she is either Mommy's best friend wanting to cuddle with me and play with me and help me around the house but then her alter ego would emerge at the drop of a hat and no matter what tactic I employed, she was defiant and whiny and wanting to challenge me at every turn. We were enemies budding heads constantly.

Of course, in reality the change did not happen overnight with one magical trip to the dentist but I swear it seems in the last several weeks, there has been a dramatic shift to where it seems like 90% of the time, Jadyn is Mommy's best friend. And every day I find more fun things to do with her, things that Jake was never that into and things that I know were favorites of mine as a young girl as well. One day last week, she sat and colored for hours, meticulously picking color schemes for numerous puppies and princesses. I'll admit to having sat down and colored right along with her. It was so much fun. Then the other night she wanted me to paint her nails and I lost track of how many thanks yous and hugs I got for making her fingers and toes so sparkly and pretty. And the fact she seems to actual enjoy shopping with me? Major bonus. I can finally see all the advantages of having a girly-girl in the house.

And even though we seem to have worked through the bumps of this developmental phase, I would not kid myself to believe that it will all be smooth sailing from here. In fact, I fear that part of the reason Jadyn and I clash so much is because we are so alike. I seriously dread the teenage years with her. But for now, I am happy with where we are at and where we are going because in 2 months Jadyn will be turning four and you know what the title description is for that age? "Your 4 year old. Wild and Wonderful". I can't wait.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Princess and the Pony

Over a year and half ago we went to the county fair and on the way there all Jadyn could talk about was how much she wanted to ride a pony. If anyone recalls that post, when we got there and the nice gentleman actually put her on the pony, this is what happened:

So it was with great skepticism that I took the kids to the visiting petting zoo a few weeks ago. It wasn't that I didn't think they would enjoy seeing, petting and feeding the various animals that the zoo had because I knew they would:

But I wasn't so sure about Jadyn's confident pleas that she really, really, really wanted to ride the pony. Sure, she LOVES animals - amongst her favorite toys are her interactive pet panda, pig and kitty. She picks out books about animals at the library and counts Diego as one of her favorite shows. She has even started proclaiming that she wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up so she can help sick animals get better. She wants all of her charity money to go to our local animal shelter. And just like her mom, if she had it her way our house would be filled with rescued puppies and kitties. But how would she react to actually being set on a pony and taken for a ride?

So yeah, as you can see it went really well and she loved it. And of course now on top of kitties and puppies and guinea pigs and fish, she also wants a pony. She seemed satisfied however, with the idea that she would be able to ride a pony again. And this time I'll know its going to be a big hit.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Luck of the Irish

As you may already know, I love getting into the spirit of holidays. I know that most of the pressure to do this is brought on by commercialism but despite knowing this, I buy into it anyway. It's fun and makes for cute pictures of the kids in coordinating outfits (again something I am into, like I need to tell anyone that). So anyway, Joe is part Irish from his mom's side of the family so that is my excuse.

If you haven't already heard from Facebook, Twitter or other method of communication, Jake got sick AGAIN this week, this time with strep throat, poor guy. He is feeling better and back at school today but on St. Patty's Day he was home from school. Joe stayed home with him so I could still take Jadyn to Toddler Time at the library where in addition to our normal songs and stories, she got to decorate a shamrock cookie. Of course, she loved it.

So anyway, here are the pictures we took before heading to the library. Sometimes I look at photos and I REALLY notice my droopy eyelid as in the case with these pictures. I wish I could say I am over it but when I see pictures like this, it really gets me down. I look SO sleepy and asymmetrical but I made a promise I wouldn't stop taking pictures of me with the kids because I am self-conscious(pity party over, I know things could be worse).

And Jadyn enjoying her cookie

I am going to try and get caught up on my blog before the end of the weekend. I am getting dangerously behind. Eek!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Prima Ballerina

Although Jadyn is loving her tumbling class, she was still showing interest in taking an actual dance class. I was hesitant because we tried a dance camp over the summer and she was too shy to participate but then again this was before preschool and tumbling. Therefore, we decided to try again and this time, it went much, much better. Because of her age, the class is called creative movement but I would more accurately label it pre-ballet and I love, love, love the way instructor teaches them ballet in such creative ways such as having them put on butterfly wings and flutter around or giving them each a baby doll and having them cradle and rock them to sleep. Jadyn loves it, especially the part where she gets to dress up like a ballerina.

So the plan was to have her choose between tumbling and dance but she is pretty adamant that she wants to do both. Therefore, after careful consideration we decided to let her do both classes through the spring but once summer comes, she will need to make a choice which one she likes better. I know what my choice would be but I really want it to be up to her. For now we have one busy, happy active little girl.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I have so many posts I want to write. I want to tell everyone about Jadyn's trip to the dentist and what a wonderful day we had afterwards. I want to tell everyone about Jadyn's new dance class. I want to post pictures about our recent trip to the visiting pet zoo and how Jadyn finally rode a pony. I want to show everyone Jadyn's new look before we go out. I just shared Jadyn's preschool pictures. Are we sensing a theme here? Jadyn, Jadyn, Jadyn. And Jadyn.

Where is Jake in all of this? Well for the most part he is at school. At least for 27 hours during the week he is. And then he gets home and does his hour of video game time, homework and/or reading if he has any and then an hour or so of playtime before its dinner, bath, books and bed.

So it would make sense that I would have more blogging material about Jadyn. Not only do we spend more time alone together but it seems the younger the child, the more quickly they develop and change. So while Jake is learning new things and doing well his first year at public school, there just isn't as much to report on him.

But for me, it's more than that. Although Jake still loves to cuddle with his mommy and we enjoy a lot of family time together on the weekends, I am struggling with the lack of quality one-on-one time I get with him.

From the time Jadyn was born, I have set aside time to go on "dates" with Jake. At first it was story time at the library and then it was a monthly movie and lunch at McDonalds. This is something I still could do with him but most of the time Jadyn wants to come too and frankly, Jake wants her there too since they are such good playmates. What fun is the Playland at McDonald's without little sister there too? Last month, I tried to plan a date to go bowling alone with him and I thought he understood when I explained it was just going to be him and I but before I could even turn around he had run to tell Jadyn that we were all going bowling. At least now I know not to say anything to him until we are in the car on our way.

I also used to set aside special time with him when Jadyn napped - we would build new train tracks, Legos or a marble race design, or I would sit down and race him at Mario Kart. We can still do these things together but there is no guarantee that Jadyn won't want to be right there with us, since for the most part she no longer naps.

I am in the process of planning a Mommy/son date with Jake and with baseball starting next week, that is something else we can do together (since I normally help coach or team mom). I also know that although things may seem uneven now, it all works out in the end. I mean Jake got to be alone with me for 2 years before Jadyn came along and before I know it, they will both be in school all day, which will actually make it easier to take one of out of school for special occasions. It's not like Jake seems bothered by the lack of one-on-one time we get - it is more an issue that I am dealing with.

Ironically, since starting this post, Jake got ill and I had to keep him out of school for two days. While he was recovering on Tuesday and Jadyn was at preschool, we got to spend some quality one-on-one time together at home. Funny how things tend to work themselves. Just sorry he had to puke his guts out for a day to make it happen.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jadyn's First School Pictures

Came out really cute considering they are school pictures. Too bad the company who took them are charging an arm and leg for them. Grrrr.

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's Been Awhile

It's been awhile since I posted any pictures of Jazz. She is such a great cat. She sleeps with Jadyn every night and is my saving grace for getting Jadyn in her own bed. Some nights at bedtime she is literally laying on Jadyn's bed waiting for her. On this particular day, I was going through the kids closets and drawers to get rid of stuff that no longer fits and Jazz decided to make herself right at home:

I love the quirky and finicky habits pets create. Jazz's other favorite place to sleep? On the hood of my Chevy Tahoe, especially right after I have driven it. I think she likes the heat. And she is very picky about fresh water, although I don't consider toilet water to be fresh, she seems to prefer it over sharing with the dogs. She will meow crazily at the bathroom door after we shower because she wants in to lick the pools of water in the tub.

And speaking of pets, I wanted to answer a few questions that arose from my post yesterday about allowances and chores. When I said their are tasks that are expected of my kids they mostly related to cleaning up after themselves as I am a NEAT freak. So when they take off their shoes, they have to put them in their shoe bins, when they get dressed they have to put their clothes in the hamper and if they bring toys into the living room, they can only be playing with one thing at a time. So say for example, Jadyn is playing with her princess and castle and wants to start building with Legos. She would have to clean up the princesses and then get out the Legos. And nothing gets left out in the living room at night. If they build or play with something in their rooms and want to leave it out, fine. But my living room has to be tidy by bedtime.

As for chores that 3 and 5 years old can do, here is a short list. Many of them relate to caring for our pets and some of them create more work for me but I figure it will pay off in the long run when they really can do it by themselves:

Feed the dogs dinner
Make sure Jazz has food and fresh water
Brush the dogs
Help give dogs a bath
Pick up the dog poop in the yard (with pooper scooper)
Help water the plants (if and when we have any that are alive)
Help wash the cars
Set the table for dinner
Help prepare meals
Put recyclables in the bin outside.
Sort laundry (good for learning colors - whites, mediums, darks, etc)
Help load and unload dishwasher
Help put away groceries

If you have your 5 and under children do chores I don't have listed, I would love to get more ideas.

As for the piggy banks, they are actually called The Money Savvy Pig and can be purchased at the Money Saving Generation by clicking this link.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Money Savvy Piggy Bank

Coincidently it was a little less than a year ago that I first brought up the subject of giving the kids an allowance in a blog post about their willingness to do chores. While I think it has helped both Jake and Jadyn start to learn about money, our system really needed to be tweaked.

For starters, we stopped giving them an allowance for doing chores. The kids both have tasks that are expected of them as members of our household. They are not rewarded for doing these tasks. They do, however, receive an allowance and conversely, we would never take away their allowance as a punishment. The problem is that Jake in particular was not learning or grasping the concept of saving for something special - if we were at a store, he would spend his allowance whether he had $10 or only $1 and the only reason he ever accumulated any money was because we hadn't been to the store in awhile.

Enter the Money Savvy piggy bank, which comes complete with four dividers - a slot for spending, a slot of saving, a slot for donating and a slot for investing. I wasn't so sure that they were old enough but the instructions that came with the bank say it is for kids age 4 and up. I explained to Jake and Jadyn that they would get $4 a week, $1 for each compartment and I explained what each compartment is for - money to spend on everyday things, money to save for something special, money to donate to a charity of their choosing and money to invest for their college education.

Now a couple of caveats - for starters $4 is quite a substantial allowance for a 3 and 5 year old, but it made sense to choose a number that was equally divisible by four and in reality they only have full control over how they spend $2 of those dollars a week. Also, while the concept is meant for them to save for something big like a new bike or a car when they turn 16, I would just really like to see Jake in particular choose a toy or game he really wants and then work toward that goal. While he is still free to spend his $1 a week, hopefully he will eventually see that by adding his spend and save money together, he can reach his goal twice as quickly.

And I have to say, the banks were a big hit and it was so cute to watch the kids put their first 16 coins in the slots. Then to top it off, they dumped the money from their old piggy banks out and I told them they could put those coins wherever they wanted - and both put quite a bit in the donate compartment and talked about how they wanted to help people and animals in need.

Here they are posing with their new piggy banks:

Some people may think this all seems awfully complex for such a young age and I had my doubts but the reality is that the kids see me paying for everything with a plastic card and think I can just go to the "money store" as they call it and get more whenever I feel like it. Maybe that's my fault. I haven't always been the smartest with money and I do consider shopping one of my favorite pasttimes. I just really want to try and get this right and after seeing both a mix of what I think and hope was comprehension and excitement on their faces today, I think the money savvy pig might be the right answer for us.

Lessons and More Smiles from the Land of Legos

It's never my intention to ignore my blog for a week. At least not usually. But sometimes you just have one of those weeks where every day gets away from you and poof! Before you know it you've gone a week without blogging. So... to pick up where I left off.....

We had a great time at the beach in Carlsbad and I had an amazing birthday but in between that I also took the kids back to Legoland. When we went last time and met up with Laura, we just ran out of time to do and see everything we wanted to and since I could upgrade our admissions from that day to a season pass for the cost of a second day, I figured with all the traveling Joe does to the area we could definitely get our money's worth. So we are now proud season pass holders for Legoland. Since it was just the kids and I and we had just been recently, I didn't take too many pictures but I did want to share a few shots, where again the kids were giggling and smiling from all the fun they were having:

So first, we were the passengers on that boat and it turns out that you get much more wet being shot at on the boat then on the shore. I swear someone saw me on the boat and thought, "There is a mom who looks like she doesn't want to get her hair wet" and they shot water at me to the point that when we got off the ride, I looked I had gotten thrown in a swimming pool. Anyway, this was our revenge:

Shooting water at the passengers on the boat, safely from shore:

See, they were having so much fun that when I told them to look scared that they were being eaten by a shark, this is the best they could muster:

This was a really cool attraction where you jumped on the sensor pads and it made the musical instruments play. Jadyn particularly had fun jumping and giggling to her hearts content:

I didn't take any pictures of it, but another attraction we missed last time was the "Block of Fame" where they have recreated the busts of several historical figures and pop icons made entirely of Legos. As we walked it, I pointed out several presidents as well as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.

Well the following week Jake was doing his homework from the days he missed the previous week, which happened to have been President's Day week. Naturally he had a homework sheet where he had to cut and paste the pictures of three presidents with their correct names. I hunkered down, assuming he would need help, when he correctly placed George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and our current president, Barrack Obama's pictures with their names. I asked him how he knew that, wondering if they talked much about it in class and he said, " No Mom. I learned it from Legoland!"

So there you have it folks. Taking your kids out of school to go to an amusement park can be both educational and fun. And I will never again assume the kids are not paying attention to what I am trying to show them.