Friday, October 29, 2010

Show Me the Mommy - Halloween Edition

Mamma and baby kitty:

Before school this morning. Jadyn had a Halloween party at preschool. Jake isn't allowed to wear his Halloween costume to school so he is just in his festive skeleton t-shirt. Seriously love this pic of my guys but wish they would stop growing so fast!

Monday, October 25, 2010

I couldn't have planned it any better

As any parent knows, kids go through various obsessions. Sometimes you can pinpoint what brought about the obsession and sometimes it just seems to appear out of thin air. Well lately Jake has become obsessed with skeletons and bones. Before school started we even took a trip to the library to further explore the subject because he was asking so many questions.

Therefore, it seemed rather fitting when their Aunt Leigh sent them both skeleton t-shirts for Halloween this year. And since I knew we would be carving pumpkins this weekend, I had them wear their new -t-shirts because as we all know I like to coordinate for any and all potential photo ops. But I had completely forgotten that I purchased a Mr. Potato Head Skeleton pumpkin decorating kit so the coordination got taken to a whole new level.

Even better? The kids really got into the poses. It was one of those moments that was so much fun. I did't have to bribe or plead with them to take pictures. They were coming up with stuff on their own and I just snapped away. Toward the end they were giggling so hard, they couldn't make the mean and scary faces that they were trying to accomplish. (also check out Joe's handy man work as he installed a gas log set in the fireplace for easy and mess-free fires all winter long!)

Carving pumpkins is a lot of work and 99.9% of that work falls on us as parents. My kids at least have no desire to touch the guts of the pumpkins (my job) and of course they are too young to actually do any of the carving (Joe's job). But seeing their excitement when we light the candles inside the jack-o-laterns, not to mention the great fun we had taking pictures with them made it all worth it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Show Me the Mommy - Two for the price of one!

When I had my first blogfriend meetup with Laura and her family at Legoland last January, we decided that we frequent the area often enough that it would be worth getting season passes. I never would have been able to guess a) just how often we would use the passes. I believe to date we have been at least 8 times now and b) that having the said season passes would lead to an opportunity for a second blogfriend meetup.

Even though I was able to meet 10 more of my online friends during our weekend trip to Vegas recently, their were still several ladies that I was very disappointed would not be able to attend and Mel was among that list. So when she mentioned that she was taking her girls to Legoland during their vacation to San Diego, I jumped at the change to meet up with her. I was even more super excited because for Mel, this would be her first ever blogfriend meetup. I had to represent for all the awesome Mommies in our group.

Thanks to Jake for taking this picture of us with my big ole camera in the rain:

And although it presented some challenges, it didn't even matter that it pretty much rained the entire day (so much for showing Mel good ole sunny California). It was so worth it to get to spend some time getting to know Mel in person. By this point it is no surprise to me that she is exactly as advertised by her blog and conversing online - quick-witted and smart, warm and friendly and passionate about her family. And her girls - just as cute in person as they are in all the photos, even more so because I got to see them interact.

And it took very little time at all before Analese made quick friends with both Jake and Jadyn and little Mariele (which I now know how to pronounce correctly) was right there trying to get in the action. Unfortunately, she didn't make it into any of the pictures.

I love how Analese seems a little unsure about this ride at first:

But it wasn't long before all three were giggling and smiling:

Posing in front of the Lego pumpkin patch:

The kids didn't seem to care about the weather. They had a blast together. So much so that we had barely made it out to the car when Jake and Jadyn asked when they would get to see their new friends again. It may be awhile but I am so thankful that we had this opportunity. Not only were Mel and her girls super fun to hang out with, I got to be the lucky one to prove that they really do exist in real life.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Zoom Action

During the fall, so much of our time is spent at the soccer fields, whether it be for practices or games. Saturdays are definitely dominated by the kids soccer game schedules. So this past weekend I put on the zoom lens for some close-up shots of the Funny Nose kids in action.

And thanks to this guy (our close family friend Cruz who came to watch the kids' games)

Jadyn played the most aggressive she has all season. Not only did she have some great saves while playing goalie, she actually kicked the ball on the field too. Check her out doing this fancy reversal move:

I am so proud of the improvement she has made so far this season:

Afraid of a bigger boy from the opposite team trying to kick a goal? Not my girl:

Now Jake has never had an issue with being aggressive but going into the next age division and playing with all boys this year in a new town, well let's just say it took him awhile to get his footing. He is turning out to be one heck of a defender:

His famous slide tackle, which is quite effective when used correctly but some games I swear he spends more time on the ground than he does anything else. His knees have permanent grass stains:

But when the offense is off trying to score goals for his team, never fear! Jake is still defending his territory, even if in a way that is completely unrelated to the game of soccer. He is definitely ALL boy:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Destination Fall - Pumpkin Patch

Visiting the pumpkin patch is one of my favorite fall activities. It's one of the kids favorites too but not because of the pumpkins, even though they do have fun carving the ones we eventually pick out. For them, the definition of a pumpkin patch also includes pony rides, petting zoos, bounce houses, inflatable obstacle courses, quad rides, corn field mazes and finally traipsing through an actual pumpkin patch.

Unfortunately what has always been one of my favorite photo ops usually yields less than the spectacular results I would like. For starters, it is always still in the 90's when we go, hardly "fall-like" weather. With the bright sun and two kids who really want to be doing anything but posing with pumpkins, it makes it hard to get the perfect shot (oh and throw in there my less than stellar photography skills).

This year, I tried to be much more relaxed about the whole thing. I didn't dress the kids up in coordinating orange and black outfits or spend mass amounts of time trying to bribe them into cooperating for the perfect smile. We just had fun, took some pictures and created some great family memories along the way. Just don't tell Joe. With his allergies acting up and these sorts of things already not being top on his list, I am sure he would use other adjectives to describe the outing but he really was a good sport most of the time and the kids couldn't stopping talking about it on the way home.

One of the highlights from our visit was the upgraded corn field maze, which they made both more challenging and entertaining by adding 4 stamping stations hidden throughout the maze. If you found two of the stations and stamped your card you won a necklace, if you found all 4 stations you won two necklaces. Well this kind of game was right up Jake's alley and he was unwilling to give up until he had achieved the ultimate victory, even though my feet were aching and at one point we stumbled across the exit and deposited Jadyn with Daddy as she was quite over it by that point. Therefore, I got some quality bonding time with my favorite little problem solver and we emerged victorious!

This "photo op" had the sun right in their poor little faces, which doesn't lend to a very good result:

But after waiting for the sun to start setting, we were able to come back and get a few better shots:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Viva Las Vegas

The really great part of being with so many amazing ladies is that it really wouldn't have mattered where we met up - we could have been camping out in the middle of nowhere and I would have still had the time of my life. And I had the advantage of having been to Vegas multiple times so I really wouldn't have cared if we ever left our hotel room, except for that there were people who had traveled much farther than me and several of the girls had never been to Vegas. I thought it was important that they get the chance to experience some of what Sin City has to offer.

I could easily sum up this post by stating that we ate, drank, talked and laughed and then ate, drank, talked and laughed some more but we all know I much more long-winded then that.

Friday night highlight - Casual late night dining at In-N-Out. I relish the opportunity to introduce anyone to double-doubles and animal style fries! Since Laura went to college and lived in Cali, she is quite familiar, which is why she requested that it be our first stop after leaving the airport. Bridget, Beth and Lindsay however, were all introduced and I believe equally impressed. Desi - you don't know what you are missing!

Saturday highlight - we rented a cabana at the hotel pool, which was luxurious and relaxing and ironic because none of us ever set so much as a pinkie toe in the pool the whole day. And since there wasn't going to be any drama between us ladies, mother nature had to provide us some with a late afternoon thunderstorm that sent dirt in our drinks and the curtains to then be promptly shut. We holed it up in there to wait out the storm, which was fine by us because we were able to continue our theme of eating, drinking, talking and laughing.

Saturday night highlight - Rita gained us VIP access to Tao nightclub in the Venetian. At first I felt horribly out of my element. My only reprieve was how entertaining it was to people watch but eventually I just settled in, had a few drinks, swayed to the beat and despite the cigar smoke and loud music was still able to continue the theme of drinking, talking and laughing with the girls (eating had been provided earlier at Lotus of Siam, quite simply the best Thai food I have ever had).

Sunday highlight - After a wonderfully delicious brunch at Bouchon and the necessary first good-byes of Julie and Heidi heading home, a group of us did a walking tour of Vegas heading through the Wynn/Encore, Fashion Show Mall, Cesar's, Mirage and my favorite Bellagio.

The girls in front of the Mirage:

The ceiling in the main lobby of the Bellagio:

Outside the Bellagio watching the fountain show. Coincidentally this photo looks like a scene from the movie Oceans 11, which is kind of ironic being that there were 11 girls on this trip. Is that a stretch?

Paris as seen from Bellagio:

Vegas can be pretty random, like a guy on a street corner holding a snake and accepting donations from those who are brave enough to try it on like a personal shawl. I loved that it was Beth (whose hubby is apparently scared of snakes) who rose to the occasion:

Sunday night we ate dinner at Aqua Knox. It is quite simply the fanciest place I have ever dined. The food was good (I had an amazing caprese salad, grilled prawns and way too much Pinot Grigio). I purposely sat next to Rita, who I knew would help me decipher the menu and never once made me feel uncomfortable for not being familiar with such fancy fare:

Since it was our last night, at dinner Lindsay asked if there was anything else that anybody really wanted to do and the consensus besides sleep was that a few of the girls wanted to do a little gambling. I was disappointed not to have gotten more pictures of the group so before we parted ways, we had our hilarious photo session on the doughnut (thanks for taking all the pictures Tenaya). Afterwards, I went with Bridget and Lindsay to Casino Royale, one of the few remaining dives on the strip and quite frankly the best place to gamble cheap. Lindsay graciously let me accompany her at the black jack table because much to the chagrin of the rest of my family I actually don't really like to gamble. I truly enjoyed the one-on-one time with Lindsay and sitting at the table in the casino seemed a fitting way to end the weekend because it is so "essential" Vegas. And it gave me something more to say than we ate, drank, laughed and talked even though that was the majority of the trip. But honestly, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

To read some more retellings and thoughts from Vegas, here are few more of the girls recaps:

Crawford House

The M&M Show + H

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

May 06 Mommy Blogger Convention

There were exactly two times during our trip to Vegas when all 11 girls were together - Saturday night dinner at Lotus of Siam (which by the way was the most A-M-A-Z-I-N-G Thai food ever) and Sunday brunch at Bouchon located in the Venetian where we stayed. This photo (taken by the staff of the hotel with Laura's camera and editing skills) is from Sunday brunch.

I had a wonderful time getting to know all of these ladies in person. Some of the girls I felt like I already knew pretty well through BabyCenter, blogs, various social networking sites and forums while a few of the girls I knew much less about but was still super excited to get to know better. Our time together only magnified my admiration for these amazing ladies and helped deepen our bond. It is an experience that I will never forget and cannot wait to get to do again.

Now for my personal thoughts on each of these amazing ladies:

Laura obviously I have met before but as funny as this sounds she is somebody I not only admire but I look up to her. She always has such fantastic ideas I find myself following in her footsteps (like with starting my blog). And when she sets her mind to something, she never does anything halfway and she always sees it to the end. I fully believe that if she had not put herself out there to meet so many of her internet friends, we would not have ended up having this trip in the first place. I consider her the pioneer.

Rita is the one you want to take to the party with you. Heck, Rita is the party. She is so fun and full of life. But she also wears her heart on her sleeve and I love that about her. She has a passion for life that is evident in every thing she does and feels things intensely. I could listen to her talk poetically about food and never get bored. One can only imagine what it is like when she talks about her family and life. I am also very thankful that Rita brought her best friend Tenaya who was also very high-energy and super fun to get to know.

Joanna is so incredibly smart and her stories are just as witty and entertaining in person as they are on her blog. Joanna and I are food sisters. Along with Beth, we were considered the “picky” ones out of the group and out of sheer coincidence, we ordered the same exact dishes for all of our major meals. The other thing about Joanna is that I think we can both talk about our kids forever when we are together and I think a lot of that stems from the fact that I think if I were to combine both of my kids into one, the result would pretty much be her son Michael. Out of everyone, I think I got to know Joanna the best and I am so very thankful for that opportunity. She was an early arrival on Friday, not only my roommate but my bunkmate, and she was able to stay through until Monday morning. We also tended to want to do the same activities.

Lindsay is so sweet and considerate of everyone and you immediately feel comfortable around her, like you could talk to her about anything. I loved the way she thought of things I wouldn’t have considered on the trip, always had suggestions or solutions, wasn’t afraid to speak her mind or do what was for the good of the group. I can see why she was labeled the “cheerleader” on last year’s trip.

I didn’t get to spend quite as much time with the other girls so even though I may not have as much to say about them, that does not mean I was not equally impressed.

Bridget is one of the most stylish people I have ever met. She is also one of the most determined and brave. Her manner of storytelling is so wonderfully amusing and genuine, I think she could be a best-selling author or the host of her own late night talk show.

Beth is incredibly down to earth and has such a kindness about her. It is very easy to fall into conversation with her. But she also has a bold side that was both surprising and admirable. Did you see her holding the snake?

Heidi has so much spunk and her style fits her personality perfectly. With someone who is so comfortable with themselves, I have no doubt she is going to make a great counselor.

Desi was exactly the way she comes across in her blog. She is funny and vivacious and passionate about her career. I probably could have talked her ears off about animals and her career all day.

Having not known as much about her before hand, I loved getting to hear Julie’s story firsthand. She is incredibly intelligent, well-spoken and driven in that she knows what she wants.

And now for a few more group photos....

Friday night at Firefly:

Sunday during our walking tour of Vegas. This was taken in the botanical gardens at the Bellagio:

After dinner at AquaKnox on Sunday night, these were taken outside our hotel room floor's lobby atop what was affectionately nicknamed "the doughnut" I don't think I can remember the last time I giggled so hard and so long as when we were taking these pictures:

Can you guess whose foot is whose?

But wait! There is more. So stay tuned for our blogger meetup part 2. And for friends and family who read only my blog, here are some photos and synopsis of the trip from some of the other ladies.