Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So much to be thankful for

I have so much to be thankful for this year - my wonderful and hardworking husband who was very fortunate to be able to transition from one job to another so seamlessly, two beautiful children I adore, tons of family and friends near and far, the opportunity to live in a house that I have enjoyed turning into our new home and good health.

In addition to being thankful for all these things year round, on Thanksgiving Day I was also thankful for the chance to host my first holiday, which I thoroughly enjoyed doing. I was thankful that since the holiday is so food-centric and my cooking skills are somewhat lacking that I have a tried and true friend in Rose who essentially prepared 90% of the dishes while I watched, learned and attempted to help. I was thankful to have our friend Tara in our home with her parents and husband Cruz while she was on R&R from her tour in Afghanistan. I was thankful that Joe's parents, grandparents and sister and family were all willing to drive out to our part of the desert so we could celebrate the holiday in our new home. And I was especially thankful that (for the most part) nobody was sick.

A peek at one of the two adult tables:

Close-up of the place cards (it wasn't that fancy or formal of a dinner, I just wanted to make it look festive:

Turkeys for all the little turkeys:

And the little turkeys enjoying their meal:

An attempt to get all the Funny Noses together for a picture:

Our little family of Funny Noses:

The Funny Nose kids:

In the midst of getting everything done, there were a few things I forgot, like having everyone say what they were thankful for and the craisins for the salad but overall I would have to say that Thanksgiving was a huge success.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Magoomba Monday

I will have a Thanksgiving post with pictures ready for tomorrow but for today, it's time for some randomness I like to call magoomba!

1) Last week was just a little crazy. I was getting ready to host my first Thanksgiving dinner, the kids were off from school, the weather outside was frightfully cold and we got our backyard patio and sidewalk concrete put in. The kids are so thankful to have somewhere to play other than the dirt, that even though the high yesterday was 45 degrees, they bundled up and went outside armed with sidewalk chalk and their scooters. I can't wait until we can do the rest of the hardscape.

2) Biopsy results for Nago's tumor was both good and bad news. The bad news is that it was cancerous - a nerve sheath tumor. The good news is that he was able to excise the tumor with clean margins and there is no signs of metastasis. If we were exclusively trying to prolong her life then we would pursue radiation, chemotherapy and/or amputation of her limb since recurrence is common. However, since both because of her age and our philosophy about pets, Nago's quality of life is our priority so we are just going to take a wait and see approach and watch for symptoms that it may be coming back. Otherwise, she is recovering from her surgery very well and is eager to get back to her neighborhood walks.

3) As many of you know Joe, I and the kids are all HUGE Harry Potter fans and we have seen all the movies (multiple times). Even though the series has progressively gotten a little darker, the kids were both very eager to see the new movie SO, we decided to take them with us Saturday to see Deathly Hallows Part 1. Yes we got a few odd looks and the ticket taker automatically assumed we were there to see Tangled (which Jadyn and I would like to eventually see). That said however, both Jake and Jadyn sat through the entire 2 1/2 hour movie, loved it and couldn't believe their was still going to be another one. As long as they enjoy it and it doesn't frighten them, I really don't see a problem with seeing a movie like this as a family but I have to admit, I was a little surprised they both did so well watching such a long movie in the theater.

4) Did I mention how cold it has been?

5) Twilight Eclipse comes out on DVD Saturday and I could actually care less. I mean I still want to get it and watch it again if your looking for a gift idea for me but really the obsession has waned. I love, love, love the books but I am disappointed in the movie franchise. I still can't believe they are making Breaking Dawn into two books. Not deserving at all! And if anyone is looking for the next great YA series in the same vein of Twilight or Hunger Games, I just read a great review about a book called Matched by Ally Condie. This one is also on my Christmas wish list.

6) The day after Thanksgiving I took down all my fall decorations and got all the indoor Christmas decorations and tree up. I love transforming the house like that in one day.

7) Seriously? If it's going to be this cold, I would prefer it just get it over with and snow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Ninja Turtles Bid Adieu

This past weekend was all about soccer as both the kids had their last games of the season and team parties to celebrate. It was also my worst nightmare come true as it was the first time all season that Jake and Jadyn's games were scheduled at the same time at opposite ends of the complex.

I thought I had it all worked out and then at the last minute Joe got called into work, not to mention that the weather turned wintery almost over night. It was cold and windy. Joe said I looked like I was dressed for snow but you know what? At least I was comfortable out there on the field.

So why was this my worst nightmare? I mean I missed both the kids games the weekend I went to Vegas. But this was their last game and so far neither child had scored a goal all season. I was really worried that I was going to miss Jake finally score a goal (although I had prepared him not to be upset if he didn't because he had a great season defending his teams goal and I am sure because of him, numerous goals by the other team were prevented.) So does anybody want to guess if either child scored a goal and whether I was there to witness it??????

If you guessed that Jadyn scored a goal and that yes, I did indeed miss seeing it for myself then you guessed right. She was on fire for the last game. It's like she finally got what soccer was all about. That I did get to see during my time watching her game. I just didn't actually get to see her score. Despite that, I am super proud of her. She really surprised me and has already told me she wants to play again next year. And at her pizza party after the soccer game, she was on cloud 9 because after seeing Jake get awarded several trophies, she finally had a trophy all her own:

On Sunday, Jake's team had a wonderful end of season party at the bowling alley and it was a lot of fun for everyone. I have really enjoyed having Jake on this particular team. Sometimes you really bond with the kids and their parents and this was certainly the case this year. I also really, really liked his coaches. Therefore we are really going to miss seeing everyone from week to week. Here is Jake enjoying the bowling with a few of his teammates:

And the best I could get of him being awarded his trophy:

With the cold weather moving in, the season could not have ended at a more perfect time. As I have mentioned before, I am glad to have our weeknights and Saturdays back to ourselves for now (at least until baseball season starts in March) but the kids had so much playing soccer, this ending is definitely bittersweet.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Thankful Tree

I am not a super crafty person but I like trying to do seasonal or holiday crafts with the kids when I can find ones that are fairly simple so I was really excited when my friend Lindsay posted a link on Facebook to this Saving Simple blog. There are a ton of great ideas and most of them really are simple.

And as I have mentioned I love Thanksgiving but hate how it gets overshadowed by Christmas so when I saw the entry for the "I'm Thankful Tree" I jumped at the chance to get into the spirit of giving thanks. This is a truly great way to count your blessings and we really do have so many!
Here is our tree after the first night:

I have allowed the kids to give thanks for some things that are more on the materialistic side. I think it is totally fair that they want to be thankful for things like Nascar, Santa and the elves that make cool toys. But the sweetest moments have come when Jadyn said she was thankful for not only our pets, but all the animals across the world and Jake said he was thankful to have healthy food to eat. The other items on our tree of thanks so far include good health, Daddy's job, our new house, family, grandparents, kids and holidays. I just can't wait to see what they come up with next.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Where I go for great holiday cards

I have been a loyal customer of Shutterfly for all my photo card and photo book needs for quite some time. They have an amazing selection of products, good deals and quick turn-around time. I also find their website to be easy to navigate, which can be a huge plus for those who are not quite as computer savvy.

In recent years, the designs they have offered for the holidays have become quite contemporary and chic. The color combinations they use in many of their designs are fresh and unique. I also like that many of the cards display the year on the design, a choice we have used for the last 2 years as well. And I love the flat stationary cards printed on cardstock. They have also added folded cards and even options to add a family newsletter to your holiday greeting. How cool is that?

Although I am not going to show you the card we chose for this year, I will share this one, which was a close runner-up to give you an idea of what they have to offer:

As if I wasn't already sold on using Shutterfly already, they have sweetened the deal even more this year so look for my tie-in on Facebook if you also have a blog. Happy creating!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Show me the Mommy with a holiday photo sneak peek

As I mentioned we went to the preserve this past weekend to take family photos for our holiday cards. These two pictures will not be on the card but I thought it would be fun to share a sneak peek of our photo shoot, especially since it's been a really, really long time since I truly liked a picture of myself:

It is a gorgeous time of year for the preserve. The leaves have not quite turned all the fall colors yet and the infusion of greens and yellows are magnificent. And of course my little Funny Noses can be pretty cute too:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Magoomba (not Monday)

So this post didn't happen on Monday and let me tell you why. Because germs invaded the Funny Nose household last week. Jake woke up in the middle of the night way back last Sunday with the tell-tale cough of a barking seal. During the day he was fine. No symptoms and no fever so I sent him to school. This continued until Wednesday morning when on top of a horrible night up coughing, he woke up with a fever. I took him the doctor expecting a diagnosis of croup and a prescription of steroids and instead was surprised with a diagnosis of bronchitis and prescription of antibiotics.

So one can look at it two ways - cup half full would be we had a 4 day weekend with no obligations (no school, no soccer) so we were able to relax and recoup. Cup half empty would be that we essentially had to waste 4 days of glorious weather in which I had grand plans of going for a hike up in the national park, visiting the zoo and taking advantage of Knott's Berry Farms Salute to Veterans where we can visit the park for dirt cheap. And of course no surprise Jadyn woke up on Friday morning sick and didn't really start feeling better until Tuesday (hence my lack of blogging).

I was able to get some stuff done however. I went shopping on Saturday and got a lot of wardrobe updating out of the way. I made a lot of progress in the way of planning for our big Thanksgiving Day feast next week AND despite still not operating at 100%, we were able to visit the preserve and have our family photos taken for our holiday cards. So my "to do" list got significantly smaller.

Joe also had a productive weekend as he got a new table saw (used, but new to him) and built cabinets for the garage. See how much the kids loved being set in them when he was finished? (he still wants to add doors):

But all that hard work and taking care of sick kids can take a toll. That is why its a good thing to have someone to snuggle up with when you take a snooze on the couch:

When Jake returned to school on Monday, he had a big week ahead of him as it was his week to be the VIP student. Here he is with the poster he completed over the weekend that is all about him. No real surprises but in case you can't read the poster -
Favorite food: General Tsao's chicken, favorite color: orange, what he wants to be when he grows up: pit crew chief. The only surprise to me was his favorite book: SkippyJon Jones Lost in Spice. I guess I just got a good idea for a stocking stuffer!

And since I am writing my magoomba post on Wednesday night I can let everyone know that Nago's surgery went very well. The mass was very close to a muscle and major blood vessel but he was able to get it all and although she has to wear the cone of shame, she is recouping fairly well. I can't say the same for Friday who is very freaked out by Nago's E-collar and keeps puffing out and hissing every time he sees her.Now we just have to wait for the results of the biopsy.

This weekend marks the end of soccer season and then we have the whole week of Thanksgiving off of school. Maybe I can squeeze in some of the activities we missed over the long Veterans Day weekend. I would just be thankful if I don't get sick next. I already spent last Thanksgiving praying to the porcelain god and seeing as how we are hosting the holiday this year, that would not work out very well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Show me the Mommy - Workout Edition

I just could not have brought everything together more perfect than this if I had planned it (me plan? wink wink).

Here is me prior to my walk/run this morning taken with Joe's camera phone (phone photo Friday anyone?) I have been taking Nago (the subject of my last post) with me for a short warm-up around the block and then dropping her off before the bulk of my walk/run.

I am so beyond ecstatic that the weather has finally cooled down enough for me to go on walk/runs outside in our neighborhood. I love it. I look forward to it. It is invigorating. I took my phone with me this morning so I could take some pictures during my workout.

We have A LOT OF quail around here. And I mean A LOT. One of the retired neighbors puts out seed for them but they cross the street from the field across the way to get there. So someone made a sign to help people be more aware. I thought it was so cute!

One thing I really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about our new neighborhood is that we have a quite a few mature trees. I can actually see the change of the seasons. You have no idea how rare this is when you live in the desert.

Here is the hill I walk up to get my blood pumping. I can't even imagine running up this hill.

View from the top. Our house is quite a ways up this hill so don't think I walked all that way.

More typical desert views while on the run portion of my workout.

I wish I could have captured the essence of landscape I encounter better than I did, but I guess this is better than nothing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Funny Nose Furbabies

Just in case anyone was wondering how Jazz and Friday were getting along:

Last year around this time, I wrote a post about our first baby, our beloved dog Utah who we recently had to put down. And although she may not get mentioned as much and although she may not be "Ms Personality", our other dog Nago has been an integral part of this family since we adopted her at Christmastime 1999 while stationed in Okinawa Japan. This December Nago will turn 12 years old.

Nago has been through a lot in her life. She was obviously abused and/or abandoned when we first saw her at the animal shelter. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs and cats get left on the island when a military family cannot afford to take their pet home to the states with them (although it has been 11 years since we were there and hopefully that has changed). Joe and I were toying around with the idea of getting a second dog as a playmate for Utah but we ultimately left the shelter that day deciding that we would wait until we got back home. I then found out through a friend that the shelter was so overcrowded, they were going to have to euthanize a bunch of the dogs and cats on Christmas Eve. I called just to make sure that the cute one year old black lab we saw had been adopted for surely she had, but to my despair she was still there and scheduled to be put down the following day. I called Joe at work sobbing to him, "We have to save her! It's the only thing I want for Christmas". Being a) a newlywed and b) a complete sucker when I cry, Joe gave in and we adopted her.

But it wasn't that simple. For weeks Utah and Nago actually fought with each other, trying to determine who would be the alpha dog between the two. We almost had to take her back to the shelter but while waiting for a foster home, the two dogs finally worked things out and became friendly with each other.

She had such issues, there were several times when she would sneak out the front door of our apartment and take off down the stairs and out on the street. Joe had to chase her down through the town of Kin with Okinawa nationals staring at him in curiosity. I am sure to them watching a young American Marine trying to catch a dog that didn't want to be caught was pretty funny and on one particular occasion, Joe was extremely close to giving up and just letting her go.

To top things off, when we took her to the vet we found out she had heartworm. The treatment was not only expensive but not an easy thing for her or us to go through. We had been warned that once they gave her the medicine to kill the worms, we would have to keep her calm and quiet for weeks because if all the worms died and dislodged from her heart at the same time, she could have a massive heart attack and die. Nice. Have you ever tried to keep a 1 year old labrador retriever calm and quiet? She even started to figure out that we were sneaking sedatives in her treats and started spitting them out. Ultimately however, we made it through.

To this day, after giving her nothing but love for the last 11 years, Nago is still scared of certain noises. She freaks out whenever we take out a suitcase to leave for the weekend and when we take her to the vet, she barks so incessantly I have started requesting a muzzle for her while we are there. I shudder to think what she went through before we adopted her. Yes she may have been overshadowed by all of Utah's adorable quirks, but Nago is a survivor. She has been a loving and deserving companion.

How cute is Jake (at 17 months) climbing all over the dog? Nago has always been great with the kids:

So again, why I am telling you all this? Well Nago has a mass on her hind leg that I first noticed back around the 4th of July. We had it checked out and a fine needle aspirate came back negative and although they could not guarantee that this meant no cancer, because of her advanced age we decided to wait. However, over the last few months the mass has continued to grow and so next Wednesday she will go in for surgery to have it removed and biopsied. Hopefully it can be removed with clean margins, the biopsy comes back negative and she recovers nicely. If we don't get good news, we have already decided we would not pursue more aggressive treatment like chemo, radiation or amputation. We have to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

And so I thought with her 12th birthday approaching, (which is pretty darn amazing for a large breed dog that has been through as much as she has), that it seemed fitting to celebrate her life and the good fortune we have had to have her in our life as our companion for the last 11 years. She may come across as scary when she continuously barks so loud, but to us she will always be our sweet Nago.

Deck the Halls

Sure. With Boughs of Holly? No thank you. Not just yet anyway.

I went shopping on Sunday and realized this is probably the last time I will be able to go shopping on a weekend without it being CRAZY busy with holiday shoppers.

Don't get me wrong, I like to plan ahead. My goal is always to have my holiday shopping done by the weekend after Thanksgiving. It allows me to spend the holidays actually enjoying them instead of stressing out and running around like a mad woman (although I am pretty sure I do that too regardless). So I don't really mind that stores put out their Christmas decorations and such right after Halloween or in some cases, even in conjunction with Halloween. What I do have a problem with is the Christmas stuff taking over the store and already hearing "Deck the Halls" and "Jingle Bells" playing repeatedly over the store's PA system when it is THE FIRST WEEK IN NOVEMBER.

For starters, it makes Christmas lose it's specialness if by the time Christmas comes around you are just plain sick of all the red and green, the santas, the reindeer, candy canes and carols. One month is plenty of time to "get into the spirit of the season".

Second of all, what about Thanksgiving? It gets totally overlooked. And for me, it happens to be my favorite holiday. It's the one holiday that isn't overly commercialized. It's about family, food and giving thanks. No candy, no toys, no colored eggs. Just being thankful and spending time with family eating really good food. I love the colors of Thanksgiving, harvest and fall. Simple, natural, classic. But it gets no respect. It's like we go straight from ghosts and goblins and get straight onto Santa's Sleigh. I protest!

So while some people may have already put up their tree (and to each their own), I spent the last week taking down the scary black cat and Jack o'laterns and replacing them with pilgrims and turkeys. So yes I decked my halls, but the boughs of holly will just have to wait their turn.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Magoomba Monday

Last week was crazy busy. First of all, it is never a good thing to start the week off the day after Halloween when the kids didn't get enough sleep and ate way too much candy.

1) So for those of you who don't already know, Joe works for a contract on the Marine Corps base. Well the contract he was working on came to a close and his company was unable to reabsorb him elsewhere. Fortunately, he was able to get on another contract (doing virtually the same thing) with another company. So while we were bummed he was not able to stay with the same company (and will especially miss some of the awesome people he worked with), we are extremely fortunate that in today's economy he was able to find something else without skipping beat.

2) My point of telling you about Joe's job is that for the last two weeks he has been in Scottsdale Arizona doing indoc and training with the new company and last Monday, I needed to drive him to the airport in Palm Springs. So after school pick-ups and ballet, we all drove down there and after dropping Joe off, we stayed in the area for dinner. Now Ruby's (a casual 50's style diner) is one of my all-time favorite restaurants (as I may have mentioned once, twice or a hundred times). The kids happen to love it too since they get to build and decorate paper cars and watch trains, cars and/or cartoons from decades past. So we decided to hit up one of the Ruby's I have never been too - right in old town Palm Springs, which is the tourist part of town. We don't go out to eat that often but we go to Ruby's often enough that Jadyn has the slogan memorized and sings, "Let's shooby dooby down to Ruby's!" when we ask the kids if they want to eat there. Here are the kids in front of the Sonny Bono statue in the Mercado plaza where the Ruby's is located. I think I am going to make it one of my goals in life to eat at all of their locations (I have currently eaten at 21 of their 42 restaurants).

3) Okay, so my point in telling you about dinner Monday was that the kids had yet another later than usual night. Tuesday was our regularly scheduled programming of school and soccer. Wednesday after school the kids got their hair cuts and we visited friends in 29 Palms afterwards (plus had to watch the copy of Toy Story 3 I had to run out and get the day before - BEST MOVIE EVER!).

4) Thursday we had yet another random evening activity as Jake's school held their annual fall festival. All the proceeds go directly to the respective grades to pay for supplies and field trips. All of the "carnival games" were super cheesy but Jake and Jadyn had an absolute blast.

5) Friday after school, it was back down to Palm Springs to pick up Joe and of course we had to go back to Ruby's again since Joe didn't get to go with us Monday.

6) Saturday, Grandma and Grandpa Fenenoz as well as the kids great grandparents Anita and Ken came to watch both the kids soccer games and stayed for lunch afterwards. The kids and I then rushed off to a birthday party. Needless to say, by this time we all could use the extra hour of sleep that night and the rest of the weekend we took it easy.

7) Although I did go do some shopping on Sunday but I have more to say about this in another post.

8) Also, I have really been wanting to write about how my fitness goals are progressing (or not). Since I have not gotten around to that, check out my interview on the 500 Miles challenge.

Hope everyone has a productive and fabulous week and don't forget to thank a Veteran.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Spook-tacular Weekend

I think the general sentiment amongst my friends with kids the same age as Jake and Jadyn is that this is a super fun age for holidays. They really "get" that something special is happening and they get so excited about it, which is why this whole past weekend was jammed packed with anticipation and fun. My only complaint is that I wish our community would spread things out a little - there was literally too many activities to choose from!

Friday was Jadyn's preschool party at school. After 2 years with Jake and now the second and final year with Jadyn, every event at her preschool this year is going to be a little bittersweet because it will be the last for us - I have spent the last 4 years making goodies and volunteering for the class parties and once they get to elementary school, the holidays just are not quite the same. Jake's school barely even acknowledged Halloween. At any rate, here is kitty Jadyn with a few of her friends from school:

Friday evening Jake had soccer practice but we were still able to make it over to the community's annual Flashlight scramble. I think this is such a cool and unique event. They scatter candy and treats all over the ball field and promptly at 7 p.m. they turn off all the lights and the kids use their flashlights to hunt for candy. The kids loved it. It goes by super fast. We were back in the car to go home at 7:08 p.m.

Here they are before the start of the scramble (courtesy of my phone camera):

Saturday the kids had soccer games but Jake's coach had the wonderful idea of getting into the team spirit since it was Halloween weekend so all the boys put temporary color in their hair and some of them even had their faces painted. It was a good way to stay in high spirits too because their game was at 8 a.m. and the weather had turned quite chilly and windy. Initially Jake was relunctant to let me put green in his hair, but he eventually embraced it.

With teammate Zach:

I must be feeling particularly nostalgic right now because like with Jadyn's preschool, I have mixed feelings about the kids soccer season coming to an end. Yes I am ready for a break from the 3 hours of a week of sitting on the field during practices and having every Saturday committed to games. But at the same time we have made some wonderful friends and enjoyed the season so much, I know I will be sad when they play their last game in 2 weeks.

Sunday Joe made chili and the Beyer family came over for dinner before heading out to their church's Harvest Festival for some fun games. We then went trick-or-treating around the neighboring development before heading home to have a few trick-or-treaters ourselves. I honestly think having someone ring OUR doorbell might have been the highlight of the night for Jake and Jadyn. We never had anyone come to our door at the old house so this was definitely something new. Scottie and Ali came over to see all the kids in their costumes and the kids put on quite a little show while I tried to take some pictures. I have to mention that Gavin's homemade robot costume won two local contests.

In the church parking lot:

Daddy and Jadyn enjoying the festivities:

The boys:

Trick or treating (seriously it takes a lot to scare my kids):

Back at home putting on a show:

In front of the house (our Jack O' lanterns made it through the week):

So in closing, Halloween weekend was a blast. Jadyn in particular was so over the top excited about dressing up and trick-or-treating this year, it really was the cutest thing. Now it's time to get ready for Thanksgiving, which happens to be my favorite holiday, not to mention that since we are in the new house we are starting a new tradition this year - we are hosting Joe's family Thanksgiving gathering. I guess I better get to work.