Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summer Showers

The first several years we lived out here in the desert, I remember summer thunderstorms occurring rather regularly throughout July and especially August. The kids lOVE playing in the summer rain and its aftermath. This last couple of years it seems like we haven't had as much rain during the summer and what little we have gotten has come much later in the season. I seem to recall Jake being in school already when we got the majority of our summer rainfall last year and then just this last week we had humidity and rain for several days.

On Wednesday, Jadyn had her open house at preschool. We could have skipped it since she loves school and we are plenty familiar with her school, classmates and teacher but after Jake being in school for 2 days and Daddy out of town, let's just be polite and say that Jadyn and I needed to get out of the house and be around other people. My friend Rose whose son Hayden attends the preschool also sensed my need to have some time to myself and offered to take Jadyn for awhile after we were done at the open house. I could lie and say I went home and worked on files or cleaned the house but honestly? I read Mockingjay and took a nap. Anyway, that wasn't the point.

The rain started right as I was picking up Jake from school. When we went to Rose's house to pick up Jadyn, we found the kids playing, running, laughing and jumping in the rain. Jake of course immediately jumped right in the mix. I would love to take credit for some of these action shots but they come courtesy of Rose:

And unfortunately I don't know if we will get anymore thunderstorms for the little bit of summer we have left. In fact, after the few days of humidity and rain we were greeted with unseasonably cool fall-like weather and have spent the last several days with the air OFF and the windows open. Although I doubt we have seen the end of the higher temps yet, it reminds me that there is no better season than fall in the desert as you can actually enjoy being outdoors. I can't wait.

Monday, August 30, 2010

First of First

First of all, I should be fired from my blog for allowing myself to get further and further behind despite the best of intentions. It seems to be yet another recurrent theme amongst my blog friends that it is harder and harder to find time to sit down and blog. And this last week could be proof positive as to why I have had not had time. With Joe traveling, and the kids and I settling into our fall school year routine, not to mention my need to get a copy of Mockingjay the morning it came out and read it in less than 48 hours, the word busy becomes an understatement.

That said Jake started first grade at his new school and for the most part it went pretty smoothly. There were nerves but no tears. He seems to like his class and his teacher. However, it seems that in some ways going from Kindergarten to first grade is a bigger adjustment than preschool to Kindergarten for several reasons. In Kindergarten (at least the school he attended last year) there was a lot of "hand holding". I delivered him straight to his teacher in the morning who in return delivered him straight back to me at pick-up. She was with them at recess and at lunch. Now I drop him off in the pass through lane of the parent parking lot and watch him cross the campus threshold. He goes to recess and lunch with his class but not his teacher and waits in the drop off area until he is released to me by the teacher on duty. There is a lot more independence and responsibility on his part.

He is also adjusting to being in class for 6 hours a day 5 days a week, which is really only an hour longer than his extended day kindergarten but may seem longer because he starts an hour later and sits at a desk for most of the time in the classroom (in Kindergarten they spent a lot of time on an ABC rug similar to preschool). There were a couple of days last week when you could just tell he was fried and it was most apparent on Wednesday when he had a full on meltdown at his friend Gavin's house, something that is completely out of character for him.

The other big adjustment is the workload. He is doing A LOT of writing, which he did very little of last year (in fact, at one point I even questioned it). I don't think he is behind but it will definitely take some getting used to on his part.

And finally, of course he is adjusting to not really knowing any of the kids very well. He has one girl friend from preschool that he knows but nothing like last year when he started off having one of his best buddies Sam in his class. Jake is very social and I know he will make friends soon enough. I am 100% positive that we made the right decision in moving within the boundaries of a better school. I loved his teacher last year, I really did. I just know he will get what he needs here. He already loves math and is reading pretty well. Now it's just time to get his writing up to speed. They actually write in journals every day. I love it!

A few pictures of his first day:

So another first has passed and I will never get used to how fast the time goes. He may be in first grade but he is still my baby boy.

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Friday!

I mean obviously it is not Friday, it is Monday and its the first day back at school for Jake as a first grader at a new school. But I will wait on that so I can share what Jake had to say about his first day back.

Instead, I thought I would show you what happens when I innocently take the kids to go play with the baby kitties at the animal shelter after getting Jake's hair cut for school on Friday.

We end of falling head over heals in love with this 12 week old male and convince Joe via a text photo that we just have to add him to our family. And his name - Friday, not only for the day of the week we got him but also from the movie Hotel for Dogs in which the lead doggy character is also named for the day of the week.

He fits in with our family perfectly - super docile and cuddly. Jazz only hissed the first day and now cleans him like a mother hen. Nago is such a sweetie she just sniffs and wags her tail. So far, so good!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Funny Nose Knows

That this is so wrong but just too funny to pass up.

A couple of weeks ago we watched my friend Rose's house while they were on vacation and the kids joined me a couple of times. Jadyn was delighted to find out that their little pal Gavin has a Woody doll from the Toy Story movies.

So flash forward to last night as we were driving over to Rose's house for dinner and Jadyn tells me, "When we get there I am going to ask Gavin if I can play with his Woody".

Monday, August 16, 2010

Changing Seasons

Piggybacking on the general theme of my blog friends from last week, our summer is winding down and I absolutely cannot believe that it is almost over. I feel like it was just yesterday that I was blogging about all the fun and productive things we were going to do this summer, and you know what? Unlike last year when I got really down on myself for not being productive enough, this year I think our summer struck a pretty good balance.

Although I may not have had time to blog about everything yet we made it to the beach twice and the river three times (with one or two more trips still possible). We did one session of swim lessons, spent one day at the spa pools and dozens of afternoons in our own pool not to mention countless play dates and BBQs with friends that we don't get to see quite as often during the school year because of all of our busy schedules. We also managed to use our passes to go to Legoland an impressive 3 times. In the end however, it was also nice to have plenty of days where we had very little to do except to play, play and play, something Jake and Jadyn do very well together. It has been a fun summer.

And even though I started off slightly more ambitious on the educational front, the one thing we did do continually this summer was READ and I am happy to report that when school starts next week, Jake will have have read a total of 40 books. The other thing I am pleased with is that despite the heat, I managed to get back into a regular routine of working out and have been both running on the treadmill and strength training (gotta love the extra room in our new house). It has been a productive summer.

So now it is time to prepare and look ahead to fall, which promises to also be both busy and fun. Since Jake will be going into first grade he will be in school pretty much full day (9am-3pm) and Jadyn will be in the 4-year-old class at the preschool attending 3 days a week (Mon/Wed/Fri). The really great thing is that I won't be driving all over the place at tons of different times. I can drop Jake off and then drop Jadyn off immediately afterwards and actually have (gasp) some time to myself. I am definitely looking forward to that because our evenings this fall our going to be CRAZY!

Jake and Jadyn are BOTH playing soccer. I was a little hesitant about Jadyn playing because I just didn't know how she would do. I had no doubt that she could do it because she can be quite athletic but she can also be quite stubborn when she doesn't want to do something but she swore up and down that she really, really wanted to play and so far she really seems to like it. Ironically both the kids teams are the same color (green and black) and coincidentally both teams picked the same name - The Ninja Turtles. LOL! Jadyn practices from 5-6 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays and Jake from 6-7pm on Tuesdays and Fridays and no, their practices are NOT at the same location. Because frankly that would be too easy for me.

Now originally I was going to have Jadyn take a break from ballet during soccer season. That was until last week when her teacher approached me about moving Jadyn up from creative movement to pre-ballet because she is doing so well. Moving up to the 4.5-6 year old class means she will get to participate in the winter recital (I secretly squealed picturing Jadyn in her cute little costume). Soo, I am going to break my rule about one activity at a time and let Jadyn continue ballet while she plays soccer because missing 2 months of classes would make it harder for her and the entire class to prepare for the performance. Eventually however, Jadyn is going to have to choose which direction she wants to go - seasonal sports or dance. I think I know which she will choose but really only time will tell. She might surprise us.

All girl playing dress-up:

Ready for her first soccer practice (there is something about the shinguards and cleats that suddenly makes her look so grown up):

So for anyone keeping tabs, this is what our schedule looks like for the next 3 months -

Monday - Jake school, Jadyn school, Jadyn dance
Tuesday - Jake school, Jadyn soccer, Jake soccer
Wednesday - Jake school, Jadyn school. (EVENING OFF)
Thursday - Jake school, Jadyn soccer
Friday- Jake school, Jadyn school, Jake soccer
Saturday - soccer games
Sunday - NOTHING

Throw in there our usual fall traditions of going to the county fair, apple picking, the pumpkin patch, Joe's birthday AND my highly anticipated blog friend weekend in Vegas and there is little doubt this fall is going to be both busy and fun.

We still have one week left of summer vacation and my goal is to squeeze in as much relaxation and fun as possible. We better take advantage of the more relaxed atmosphere of our days because you can feel it in the air - a new season is coming.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Utah November 20, 1998 - August 6, 2010

Last winter I wrote a post about our first baby, Utah. You can refresh your memory about his story here

Well over the last few weeks, Utah continued to take a turn for the worse and he was no longer able to get up on his own and even walking was difficult. We knew it was time. And so it is with great sadness that I took him in today to be put down. I stayed with him the whole time and he went very peacefully. We are blessed to have had 11+ years with him and the fond memories that are shared between a family and a beloved pet. I will never be able to listen to Led Zeppelin's "Dazed and Confused" without thinking of him howling along. At first it will probably make me sad but over time I know it will bring nothing but a smile to my face. RIP Utah.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Entertainment Meme

Because I have a ton I want to say on the subject:

Books: I read throughout the year but when summer comes and I a) have little new TV to watch and b) more leisure time with the kids out of school, I find myself blowing through books. This summer after re-reading Eclipse and the new Stephenie Meyer novella about Bree Tanner, I turned to the Steig Larrson trilogy (Dragon Tattoo, Played with Fire and Hornet's Nest). They were real page turners, although the violence and graphic nature was a little shocking, especially after reading so much YA lately. Still, I really enjoyed them and I loved the character development, imperfect as they were.

I just finished reading Kristen Hannah's The Things We Do For Love and it was also very good, sappy in the tradition of a Nicholas Sparks novel and a little predictable but the relationships that developed out of the storyline were heartbreakingly beautiful. I would really like to read more of her stuff. Now I am just biding my time until August 24th when the MUCH anticipated final book in the Hunger Games series comes out, Mockingjay. I discovered that series the fall the first book came out, so I have definitely paid my dues waiting to see how this story concludes. Feel free to comment, are you Team Peeta or Team Gale?

Movies: And speaking of teams, I haven't watched too many more since I have been spending so much time reading but I never did blog about my thoughts on the third installment of the Twilight movie franchise, Eclipse. Or maybe that was on purpose since when I posted on Facebook how disappointing it was, I got raked over the coals. Apparently THIS is the movie everybody has chosen to like. Now in all fairness, I haven't seen it a second time and I tend to like these movies better the second time when my expectations are not so high but I just felt that while it was not as off track as the original Twilight movie, they could have done SO much better. This was by far the most "filmable" of the books. Instead, I would still say New Moon was the best of the movies and at this point I don't even know if I want to see what they do with a two part Breaking Dawn film.

I also went and saw "The Kids are All Right" and it was exactly "my" kind of movie. I can't say I loved the plot line or how it concluded but I can say that is was poignant, funny and superbly acted. Oh, and it had a really awesome soundtrack too. I highly recommend this movie, especially if you need or want a break from the typical summer blockbusters.

Music: My summer soundtrack is full upbeat alt-indie tracks. I am really, really loving the new Shiny Toy Guns singles' "Le Disko" and "Rainy Monday", The New Politics "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" and Temper Trap's follow single to "Sweet Disposition" entitled "Fader". Sorry folks, but what you won't find on my iPod is Katy Perry's "California Girls" (barf) or anything by either Usher or Taio Cruz. Here's my current fave mixed CD:

Silversun Pickups - The Royal We
The Futureheads - Heartbeat Song and Skip to the End
The Black Keys - Tighten Up
Crash Kings - You Got Me
AFI - Beautiful Thieves
Goralliz - Rhinestone Eyes
Passion Pit - Sleepyhead
Vampire Weekend - Giving up the Gun
Phoenix - Listomania
Band of Skulls - Death by Diamond and Pearls and Light of the Morning
Ring Ring - Sleigh Bells
Neon Trees - Animal
Kaiser Chiefs - Never Miss a Beat
MGMT - Flash Delirium
The Raconteurs - Steady as She Goes

And finally TV: Like I said, I don't watch much during the summer months but Joe is a big fan of Deadliest Catch and over its previous seasons I have watched quite a bit of it with him. I find it fascinating and like so many other people took a special interest in the Cornelius Maria because of the complex relationship between Captain Phil and his sons. I was very saddened when I heard of his passing back in February and have watched this season intently as his journey came to an end. I have to say, they really did a respectable job of putting the footage together all things considering. It was heartbreaking to hear Phil tell his son that he was sorry for not being a better father. Seeing grown men cry? That really gets me. The whole thing was super emotional and sometimes you kind of felt like you were peering into a window in which the curtains really should have been drawn shut. But my understanding was that Phil insisted the crews stay and film It will be interesting to see how everyone is doing, especially his sons, when the new season starts. My heart goes out to the entire crab fishing community for their loss.

AND I finally (apparently along with 4 million others) jumped on the Tosh.O train and have been watching re-runs of past episodes all summer with Joe. This is MY kind of humor - unapologetic and completely politically incorrect. Why people put these videos on the internet in the first place is beyond me but EW's bullseye hit the mark when they said, Who knew the internet could be even funnier on T.V? So so very true.

So that's my entertainment update for the summer. In my next meme installment, I will be giving everyone a health and fitness update. Oh the excitement!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The one day

When we went to stay at the beach a few weeks ago while Joe was there for work, we actually spent one day at the beach. This is one of the posts where I could post some really cute pictures of the kids playing on the beach and one might conclude that a fabulous time was had by all. But that would be deceiving. The kids were grumpy from not getting enough sleep and bickering with each other all morning in the hotel room while I tried to get us ready to go. Then I had to hear the whining because they didn't want to go to beach and then once there, all they wanted to do was climb the rock jetties instead of playing in the sand and in the water.

It was kind of funny though. When we first got there I told Jadyn she looked like a beach bunny with her cover-up and sunglasses on and she proceeded to pose just like a bunny:

And then I bravely gave the camera over to Jake because with Joe at work all day, I wouldn't get to be in any pictures otherwise. Not a bad shot of me, although it would have been nice if Jadyn cooperated.

So after much coaxing, I convince the kids to just stick their feet in the water and run from the waves and after some warming up to it, they are FINALLY having fun at the beach. Imagine that? Then a lifeguard comes and tells me they are having major problems with stingrays on this side of the rock jetties and if we want to "swim" we are going to have to pack up and move because they were stinging people in ankle deep water. So I gather ALL of our stuff and we trudge to a safer area, but not without my back aching from carrying all of our beach gear and a lot of whiny whys and claims of being too tired to walk from the kids.

I have to say, once we made it to the other side of the jetty, it didn't take quite as long to get the kids back in the water and it really was a better location. It is so easy to snap pictures of the kids when they are smiling both naturally and willingly.

Jake got a little braver with the waves then I would have liked:
At one point a wave knocked him down and I had to dart after him. I didn't want it to scare him because I know it scared me when I was a kid. He was no worse for wear and it prompted this new little pose, which he claimed helped him stand up against the waves.

After we left the beach and grabbed lunch, we headed back to the hotel and washed all the sand off in the hotel pool. The kids are pretty much swimming like fish and it is nice to have a deeper pool for them to practice in, although I must say that Miss. Jadyn can be about as stubborn as they come when it comes to taking advice from mommy on her above water stroke. But underwater, they are both swimming the width of the pool with ease. And we couldn't have been at the beach on a better week because every morning we awoke, the sun was already shining, which for that part of the coast is nothing short of a miracle.

And as an footnote, I must mention that on the local news that night one of their lead stories was about how many beachgoers had been stung by stingrays at the beach not too far from where we were. Looks like we dodged a bullet there.