Wednesday, January 26, 2011

And it passed in a blur of frenzied fun

As if the races this past weekend were not enough to keep us busy, we were staying at the beach cottages at Del Mar aboard Camp Pendleton and they are literally right on the beach. When we arrived Friday, the kids wanted to go down to the water but what I didn't expect was them wanting to actually put their bathing suits on and actually go IN the water. It's freaking January! Even with the nice weather, I doubt the water was warm enough for this:

But they didn't seem to care and the sound of their giggles over the crashing waves is enough to make this Mommy smile, even if it ended with whining and teeth chattering as we made our way back to the cottage as the sun set:

Part of the appeal of the race at Legoland Saturday was that all participants got free admission after the race. Of course we have season passes but it didn't stop us from going for a couple of hours to hit up some of the kids favorite rides and attractions. The bonus was that since Joe was down here on vacation and not work, he got to go with us:

By this point, you would think the kids would be exhausted, which is true. However, the lure of the beach was just too much to pass up so the kids went in the water again late Saturday afternoon and then went rock climbing on the jetty before we headed out for dinner:

The only negative to the trip happened on Saturday night when Jake fell out of bed and cut his eye on the dresser on his way down to the hard tile floor where he landed with a thud. Um, yeah he cried a little, mommy worried a little and he is now sporting this battle scar:

Overall it was an action-packed, fun-filled weekend at the beach and with this little taste, I cannot wait to go again when the weather is even warmer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All in the family

Some things get so built up, they can never live up to your expectations and then there are those that just totally, completely exceed whatever expectations you had. Our experience with the kids first race this past Saturday was thankfully the later. I was really worried as we went to bed on Friday night and Jadyn said, "You know when you asked me if I wanted to sign up for the race? I think I meant to say no".

Here we are Saturday in our "corral" waiting to go to the start line:

At the start line:

I decided that since Jadyn seemed to have some reservation about the event, Daddy would make a better race companion for her. I think that was the right call. Look how happy she is:

It was pretty cool to get to run through an amusement park but all the Legos and attractions were somewhat of a blur as Jake never really slowed in pace. It made me the ideal companion for him because I really had to work to keep up with him. At this point, as we approached the finish line, I was a little surprised that he ran the full mile at such a consistent speed:

And as we passed Cruz on the sideline (who I cannot thank enough for being our personal photographer for the event), Jake glanced back and did this:

A few minutes later, here come Joe and Jadyn:

To the finish line:

Posing with their medals after the race:

No wonder I was so out of breath at the end. Turns out Jake ran a 9 minute mile:

And Jadyn only stopped to walk a couple of times and then went right back to it:

The kids were both SO excited about their race experience. Jake immediately wanted to know when their was another race for him to do. Both kids proudly wore their race shirts to school on Monday and brought their numbers and medals to school to show all their friends. I think it sets a really good example about staying active, being healthy and having fun.

And does it look like these boys are having fun? Because the next day, Cruz and Joe ran the Carlsbad Half Marathon with picture perfect weather. Here they are with only 0.2 to go:

And here they are after the race sporting their medals and yes, Cruz wore all that Steeler gear to support his team who of course went on later that day to win the AFC championship and will now play MY TEAM, the Green Bay Packers in the Super Bowl. It is so ON! But back to the boys accomplishment. They ran the half in 2:25. Not bad at all. I am so proud:

I was really on the fence about committing to running my first 5K but it looks like it will be all in the family because this weekend definitely got me pumped. I am signing up for the Palm Springs 5K, which will take place on February 13th. And I can't wait to have the smiling faces of my hubby and kids to greet me when I cross that finish line.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Carrying on the tradition of dentist and ducks

Tuesday the kids had dentists appointments. The only way to get them to be seen within a reasonable time frame of their last visit was to have Jake miss school since we visit the pediatric dentist down the hill. So with the continuation of the gorgeous weather, I decided to make a day of it and treat the kids to Civic Center Park after their appointments. This is exactly what we have done after their dental appointments in the past. (see link for some cute comparison pictures and here for more pictures from this park)

For homework the next day, Jake had to write about a special day. Here is what he wrote, "We went to the park. First we went to feed the ducks. Next we walked to the playground. Then we ride are bikes. Last we played on the stage. We had fun." Grammatical errors aside, I don't think I could have summed it up any better.

Sunbathing turtles:







With the ducks, turtles, playground and trails for bike riding, it never ceases to amaze me that the kids favorite attraction at this particular park is the giant amphitheater. They love running around it.


And I always give you guys the posed pictures but this is how I bribe them to smile, "Give me one perfect picture and then you can do a silly face pose". Well, this is their idea of silly. Daddy is a former Marine. Somehow I don't think Jake's gun obsession is going away anytime soon:


And so it was a wonderful day and it made me miss the days when Jake was not in school full day 5 days a week and we could take off to fun places like this during the week. Not to mention the fact that poor Jadyn just does not have good teeth. She had 2 cavities at her visit last year and now she has 3 more, which means 3 more visits to the dentist in the next couple of months. She seemed to take the news well and we will be working with the dentist on more strict preventive measures. And heck, on the bright side, maybe it just means we will have to go visit the ducks more often too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


As I mentioned late last week we were hit with some incredible January weather - warm and sunny with temperatures into the 70's. It had been far to long since we had hit any trails up in the national park so we headed to Barker Dam. This is one of my favorite trails for two reasons - one because I am always curious how much water has or has not collected there. With all the rain we got around Christmas, I was expecting more then there was. The other reason I like this particular trail is because it has plenty of spots for the kids to break off and go rock scrambling, something they thoroughly enjoy. I definitely plan to do more trails as spring arrives so we can see the wildflowers bloom and of course, do more scrambling like this:





Picture of the water level from the dam:


Thought it was kind of cool to have all this desert landscape and then the snow-capped mountain in the distance:


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


This is really going to be random -

Friday's family movie night we watched Ponyo. It is a highly acclaimed Japanese animation film loosely based on Han's Christain Anderson's Little Mermaid. The kids seemed to enjoy it but I just have to say, I didn't get it. I thought it was really, really weird. The animation was gorgeous though.

Sunday night I went to see Black Swan. It was dark and twisty and completely engrossing and absolutely amazing. I was on the edge of my seat and I totally "got it". I can see why Natalie Portman, as well as the supporting cast is getting such high praise.

Saturday we signed Jake up for baseball. He will be playing machine pitch this year. No more t-ball. He was so nervous about it that he almost didn't want to sign up. But I think he would have regretted it and now he seems pretty excited.

In other Jake news, he has learned all of the first grade sight words at school and is moving on to the 2nd grade words. I just can't believe how well he is reading - and he actually enjoys it. He read "Are you my mother" to us last night at bedtime (one of my FAVORITE childhood books).

Jadyn's winter dance recital had to be canceled. Very, very sad situation but the owner of the studio passed away over the holidays and her family and staff are scrambling to figure everything out. It does appear the studio will remain open but under the circumstances, the recital understandably just wasn't a priority. We will just have to wait for the spring concert instead.

In other Jadyn news, her drawing just amazes me. She is drawing people and animals and she just has a really great imagination. I love it. I will have to take some pictures of her creations so I can share them.

Big fun weekend coming up. We are staying at the beach cottages at Pendleton for the weekend. The kids are doing the Marathon Mile race at Legoland Saturday and then Joe and our friend Cruz are running the Carlsbad Half marathon on Sunday. With all the running I have been trying to do, it seems odd to be the only one not running, although technically I am because I will be running along side Jadyn on Saturday. I should probably consider running more than just that one mile because I have big plans to eat at all my favorite restaurants from when we lived down there - Sonny's Pizza and Pasta is #1 on my list. And the weather should be gorgeous should we actually have any free time to enjoy the beach.

And finally, I miss Nago. I am having a much harder time dealing with her passing then when Utah died. Mostly because Utah's health had been deteriorating for quite some time and I had plenty of time to prepare whereas with Nago it was more of an "all of a sudden" situation. Also, now we don't have any dogs in the house and after 12 years, it just seems odd. But the kitties have been very entertaining and oddly enough their behavior indicates that they too miss Nago's presence. I just keep telling myself that however imperfect, Nago lived a long and happy life.

And what about this weather? It's like spring in January and I plan to show you exactly how we took advantage of it over the MLK weekend. Until then....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


One of the gifts that Jadyn got from Santa for Christmas was a gift certificate to visit Build-A-Bear. I cannot believe with her love of stuffed animals that we had not been before but this last Saturday I took Jadyn to use her certificate and needless to say, she was in heaven.

It really is a super cute idea, even if is a little pricey. You get to pick out which bear or animal you want to make. You get to decide if you want your new friend to have a sound. They had Jadyn kiss the heart and make a wish before putting it inside to be stuffed. Jadyn got to work the pedal, approve of the amount of stuffing for just the right cuddly-ness and watch her get sewn up. Then finally to really ensure it was a unique creation, Jadyn got to dress her new friend up and name it. We left with her new friend, a cardboard house to keep it in and a birth certificate showing that she belonged to Jadyn.

As we left, I asked Jadyn if I could take a picture of her with my camera phone in front of the store, new friend in hand. May I introduce to you "Kitty of Hearts":

After I snapped the picture of Jadyn and showed it to her for approval, she told me that I could show all my friends if I wanted.

This got me thinking. Obviously she was not taking about the friends I see in everyday life, because the only person I see and talk to on a regular basis is Rose and if she was talking about her she would have said that. It was in that moment that I realized, Jadyn knows that I get on the computer and post pictures of her to show to family and friends. She may not completely understand it. She may not be able to differentiate between Facebook, email and my blog but she does "get" it. And suddenly I am starting to "get it" as well.

You see awhile back a couple of my blog friends (most notably LauraC and Joanna) wrote posts about the future of their blogs and how now that the kids were getting older, it might change what they would be willing to share about them. At the time, I thought I understood what they were saying but I wasn't sure that I agreed that it might present a problem. But here Jadyn was, very proud of her new kitty, basically giving me permission and wanting me to share the picture of her. Would she be as willing to give her permission if I was writing about the fit she threw last week or how contrary she can sometimes be?

As if I needed further proof of this concept, Sunday night at bedtime, Jake was showing me how much looser his tooth had gotten and how he really thought it was close to falling out. After giving him hugs and kisses, I was about to walk away when suddenly out of nowhere he tells me, "You can write to all your friends about my loose tooth if you want to". Again, he also seems to "get it". That I am communicating to people on my phone and the computer and that some or most of that communication is related to my kids. Furthermore, here he was also giving me permission to share something exciting that was going on in his life. Would he be upset if he knew that I was also sharing other things that he might not be so proud of?

These moments, seemingly so small and simple to everyone else, including my kids, was a lightbulb for me. I don't know what it means as far as the future of my blog or even my status updates on Facebook. I benefit so much from sharing my life online with my friends and family and my blog is not only my memory book for our family, it is an creative and therapeutic outlet that I am not willing to give up. However, I would be remiss to ignore what the kids revealed to me this weekend, that they do get, at least in part what I am sharing online and that in order to truly consider their feelings, I may just have to start asking for permission. We will just have to wait and see.

Monday, January 10, 2011


First and foremost, I just want to again thank everyone for their kind words on the passing of our beloved Nago. Writing that last blog post was extremely therapeutic for me and although I know that I will still have moments of intense sadness, I feel much, much better having gotten it all out and have chosen to focus on what a long happy life she had and everything we provided for her. We will be adding another dog to our family in the future but as we have some weekend trips planned, it will be at least March before that happens.

Back in early December I reported that Jake had his first loose tooth. Well it has gradually gotten looser and looser until today when Jadyn and I got back from ballet and he was showing us how he could push the tooth with his tongue and you could see it was only hanging on by a thread. Flash forward maybe an hour later when he was doing homework and eating a snack of apple slices and ranch-flavored rice cakes when he spits one of the rice cakes back in the bowl. Joe looked at him surprised and asked him what in the heck he did that for to which Jake explained that their must have been a nut in it because there was piece he couldn't chew.

Sure enough we investigate the bowl with the partially eaten rice cake and find Jake's tooth had fallen out while he was eating. It gave us quite a laugh. He could have swallowed it!

Here is Jake smiling proud minus the tooth:

So of course Jake went to bed tonight, tooth wrapped in a little sandwich bag and tucked safely under his pillow, super excited for his first visit from the tooth fairy. I think the teeth started falling out pretty quickly in succession once that first one goes so I guess I better plan ahead and start keeping some cash around. We wouldn't want the tooth fairy to be unable to pay up.


After making it through surgery and seemingly recovering well, last week it became very clear that something was very wrong with Nago. At first it started off with her refusing to eat all her meals, which is very unusual for her. She was more than willing to accept scraps, so we assumed that maybe we had just spoiled her around the time of her surgery and she was holding out for the good stuff. She had been limping on one of her front paws, so I made an appointment to have it checked out, assuming and hoping it was simply a case of arthritis acting up in the cold weather. But then in the couple of days leading up to her appointment, she had a few of accidents in the house and car and starting walking really funny, as if her back legs were not connected and communicating with the rest of her body.

Friday, as we entered the waiting room at the vet, she hobbled in and plopped herself down on the floor without making a sound. My heart sank, realizing that something was really very wrong because she normally yaps and whines the whole time we are there.

The vet, who is a family friend, gave Nago a very thorough exam before confirming my fears with his suspicions that something was wrong neurologically. She may have suffered a stroke or there may have been additional tumors affecting nerve function. Unfortunately without driving several hours to the nearest specialist with an MRI, there is no way to know for sure but as I have stated before, because of her age, we would not pursue any aggressive treatment for her so it was a moot point. I called and talked to Joe briefly, but I already knew he would agree with me. Not being able to properly walk around and no longer showing interest in simple things like eating, Nago's quality of life had greatly diminished. It was time to say our good-byes and put her down. She went peacefully with me holding and petting her, just as I had done for Utah only 5 months earlier.

And I am going to feel guilty for saying this and I will be crying as I write this, but I have not particularly enjoyed being a dog owner for the last year. It has not been easy watching them, as their health deteriorates, as they no longer can do the things they used to do, the things you want them to be able to do and that they themselves want to do. It has been hard to make medical decisions concerning their care and worry about doing what is best for them, not wanting to be selfish by hanging on for too long but hating the thought of having to let go.

Although I am sad, I know that for both dogs we did the best we could. I think we made the right decision at the right time for both of them. I am so thankful that they both got to live long and happy lives as a part of our family. I often think about that for Nago especially, as if we would not have adopted her when we did, her life would have been cut very short because of the circumstances. They were both an integral part of our family and they will be missed.

On Friday, after returning from the vet, informing both the kids that Nago had died and feeling the emptiness of our house, now dogless for the first time in 12 years, I posted about it on Facebook and I have to say the response I got has left me overwhelmed and touched. Thirty-five different people have commented, from people who knew Nago when we got her in Okinawa, to people who were around her at Pendleton in her heyday, family, friends local to us now and some who never met her but know the sadness of losing a pet. I think my Aunt Sue summed it best when she commented, "Don't you LOVE how we all understand this wasn't "just" a pet. Our animals are loved and treasured and a part of our families. Just like a child can never be replaced...that part of your heart will always belong to Nago." I don;t think I could have said it better myself.

Rest in peace Sweet Nago. You will always have a special place in our heart.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Let It Snow!

I wish we got snow here. We were predicted to get up to 6 inches Sunday into Monday but it peetered out. We actually got to see snow fall but nothing that stuck. Oh well. Guess that makes it all the better that over winter vacation we went up the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway so we could play in the 2 feet of snow they have in the forest at the top of the mountain. The kids enjoyed it but had enough after only being in the snow for less than an hour. Still totally worth it though. It was a fun day.

Here we are waiting for our tram to go up:

The kids were very excited:

View of the desert below:

View of the mountain station above. What a difference a 2 1/2 mile ascend can make!:

Jake and Jadyn on the only sled run that Jake did. After he crashed into another kid, he wouldn't try again:

And speaking of crashing, I won't post all the outtake photos here that I did on Facebook but we went with Cruz and his mother and niece who were visiting from Texas. We all tried to sled and failed miserably - crash and burn for me, Cruz and his niece. Then his mom goes and shows us all up with a perfectly executed run. It was classic.

Mommy and Jadyn sledding:

Jake stole this snowball off the head of an abandoned snowman:

Jake's favorite snowy activity - snowball fights:

And Jake's favorite target that day - our good friend Cruz:

If you don't recall, Jadyn's favorite snowtime activity is eating it:

Daddy's gloves were water resistant, and therefore much warmer:

My lil snow angel making a snow angel:

My Show me the Mommy for this fine Friday. I hate how I look in most hats but I think this picture came out pretty good:

Right before we left, the kids had me snap a picture of them in front of the old tram cars they had decorated outside the station. I know how this ages me, but whenever we come to the tramway I am always reminded of that cheesy plotline on the original Beverly Hills 90210 where Dylan goes after his father's killers. Somehow they end up in Palm Springs on the tram and the "bad guys" hang him out the tram car on their way up. I realize how random that is but I know I am not alone because Joe mentioned it that day too, which really put a smile on my face.

Then again, a fun family outing like this generally puts a smile on my face anyway.