Thursday, July 28, 2011

More Magoomba

- We have one more session of swim lessons to go this season but Jake was finally able to master the backstroke and will be moving up to the next level. So instead of being a Stingray with Jadyn, he will now be a Dolphin, learning to dive and swimming in the deep water. He really worked hard and they really made him earn it and I am super proud of him. I would never expect Jadyn to be ready to move up this year, as this is her first season as a Stingray, but she also gives every lesson her all and has made major improvements in all the necessary skills.
Here is Jake jumping in the deep end on life jacket day, which most kids hate. However since my kids have grown up wearing life jackets in the boat, they love life jacket day:

- Yesterday was the wrap-up party for the summer reading program. Over the last 6 weeks, both Jake and Jadyn read (or were read to in Jadyn's case) 7 1/2 hours, completing all 5 steps of the reward program. At the party yesterday, they had a drawing and Jadyn won a felt bunny basket that she had been admiring since she first saw the prizes for the program. Jake didn't win the Nerf gun he was in the drawing for, but took it very well. We then had cupcakes and celebrated all the reading we have done this summer. I have no doubt I will be able to keep them reading, although maybe not at the same pace, for the remaining 3 weeks until school starts.

- Yesterday was also monumental because we finally went to see the last installment in the Harry Potter movie franchise. Over the last week both Joe and I re-read Deathly Hallows and I am just in awe of how well done all the movies have been. They really did the book series justice, which is a pretty amazing feat (take note Twilight because you have failed where they definitely have succeeded). And just when you think a movie like this is too complex or dark for a 5-year-old to really "get", Jadyn in her usual dramatic fashion yelled out to the screen "not cool!" during a scene where it looked liked evil was going to overcome Harry, Hermione and Ron and then toward to the end when the tides started to turn (I will leave at that so I am not spoiling it for anyone) she yelled out, "I like it!".

- Another more recent development has been the kids interest in listening to top 40 music, especially Jadyn. Her favorite song is "1983" by the Neon Trees and she screams out the chorus when it comes on the radio. Because of that, this last spring the Easter bunny brought her a Kids Bop CD and the kids and I have been rocking out to it on the VERY short drive to swim lessons each morning. Their favorite song is "Dynamite" originally done by Taio Cruz. Here they are putting their hand in the air like they just don't care "like it's dynamite!"

- next week things start to get really busy as both kids will still have swim lessons Mon-Thurs AND they are starting soccer practice in the evenings. I finally got the schedule I dreaded - Jadyn's practices are Monday and Wednesday and Jake's are Tuesday and Thursday so this soccer mom will be at the field 4 evenings a week, plus Saturdays once the season starts in September.

And in between all that we are just trying to squeeze the most out of summer, striking a balance between fun outings, lots of time in the water and relaxing as a family at home. Because to me, that is what summer is all about.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Magoomba Monday

So in between our disastrous and successful trip to the river, we have had a lot of the same this summer. And I mean that in a good way. Every day usually includes having friends over or going to someones house for a play date. Last week we started the second session of swim lessons so that has been keeping us busy as well. Finally, summer is also the time to get all those routine doctor appointments out of the way. So let me start this Magoomba with a bit of a health update on the kids:

Jake went for his 7 year well child visit. He weighs 48 pounds (10-15th percentile) and is 46 inches tall (also 10-15 percentile). Everything else was good with exception of his vision in his left eye still being much weaker than the right SO back to the eye doctor we went for a new prescription and another round of daily patching the good eye in order to strengthen the weak one. Good thing he likes Harry Potter and thinks glasses are cool.

Unrelated to his yearly checkup, last week Jake ended up with a double ear infection. I was really surprised and actually thought when he started complaining about his ear hurting that he had swimmer's ear from being in the water so much. I was surprised because 1) he almost never complains of pain with his ear infections and 2) they almost always follow a pretty bad cold. This one just didn't follow the normal MO.

Jadyn went for her 5 year well child visit. She weighs 39 pounds (50th percentile) and is 43 1/2 inches tall (75th percentile). With less than 3 inches separating them, I am starting to see why I get asked if they are twins. Other than that, Jadyn was healthy and got the all clear to start Kindergarten.

And just for comparison sake, Kuma is now 7 months old. We weighed him yesterday and he has officially passed both kids as he came in at 49 pounds. I am really curious how big he will be fully grown (my guess is around 70 pounds).

This past spring, there were a lot of family friendly movies that came out and we saw many of them in the theater. The exception to that was Rango. Well, we just saw it recently as it came out on DVD. While the kids didn't love it, they did enjoy it. However, I just didn't get it AT ALL. Not my kind of kid movie for sure. And if you have seen it, can anyone back me up on the weirdness or inappropriateness of Rango's Barbie companion at the beginning of the movie?

Still have not seen the newest Harry Potter (and don't even get me started on how impatient I am getting to finally go see it or why I haven't) but Friday night we hit up the drive in. Yes, our community still has a drive-in. Jake really wanted to see Transformers 3. I mean what with the military vehicles and planes and the new Nascar Autobots, we knew it was going to be right up his alley, so even though it wasn't very high on my priority list of movies, we decided to go see it. When the weather is right (not too hot, not too cold), the drive-in is a really novel way to see a movie. We invited Cruz and Tara and they show up with this chair:

Remember Jadyn's ridiculous Easter dress? Well I have named this the ridiculous chair. Cruz claims it is so big so you have enough room for all the drinks and snacks you need to sit through an entire game without getting up but seriously? This thing is HUGE! The kids had fun taking it over for awhile:

As of today, school will start in 30 days. We have made good progress on our summer to do list but still have a lot we want to do so we better get to it because summer is going to be over before we know it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Phone Photo Friday

I think I have mentioned that I haven't been lugging my camera around everywhere we go - just trying to live in the moment a little more and even though it takes horrible pictures 99.9% of the time, I do always have my phone in case their is a moment that just has to be captured.

Such as this; Jake and Kuma passed out together on the way home from the river. As you can tell, from the chocolate smudges on Jake's face, he had a treat before taking a snooze:

What summer would ever be complete without late evening after dinner outings for frozen yogurt? We finally got Jake on board (he still doesn't like ice cream)! This was the evening I was along with the kids when Joe was still in Seal Beach for work:

And finally, yesterday I took the kids to the Summer Reading Program at the local library, which has really served its purpose of keeping the kids reading over the summer. Well this week they had a magician show - a guy by the name of Joel Ward who has appeared on the Tonight Show among other engagements. He was really entertaining but I couldn't get over how he not only resembled Neil Patrick Harris (and even made a Doogie Howser joke at some point) but even his mannerisms reminded me of NPH. The kids REALLY enjoyed the show. Here he is with a friend of Jadyn's who was lucky enough to be a volunteer on stage:

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Snuggles and struggles

I love the summer but sometimes being a stay-at-home mom and therefore getting little break from being around the kids, yeah we have our bad days. The other day they were bickering, not listening and not taking no for an answer and I had to be firm with them, to which of course I got responses about how I am a mean mommy and I yell too much. I know it's normal but it doesn't make it anymore fun. The following morning, I was able to witness this:

Although obviously already awake, Jake will still a little groggy one morning and just kind of chillin on the couch. He was then joined by Jadyn, who obviously still a little groggy herself, snuggled up right next to him for some brother/sister cuddle time. It was just one of the sweetest moments for me as a mom to witness their love for each other - how much Jadyn looks up to her big brother and how much Jake wants to take care of his little sister. And I love that they still fight over who gets to snuggle with me sometimes too.

I guess my point is that the snuggles definitely outweigh the struggles.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Now that's more like it

A day trip to the river that went the way it was supposed to. I am feeling slightly guilty for all the extra pictures of Kuma but it was for all intensive purposes, his first real trip to the river since we had so many problems with the boat last week. And major kudos to Joe who worked 6 very full days this last week and still managed to have all the problems with the boat (including new tires for the trailer) fixed and ready to go for our Sunday trip. And now for the picture overload:

We arrived at our sandbar to find it already completely underwater. Here is Kuma checking it out:

And Jake doing the same:

Kuma would run until it got too deep, swim, turn around and then hop back to us while scooping water in his mouth. It was pretty entertaining to watch him navigate the waters:

Arriving at the cove, always our second stop:

Here he is chilling on the boat once we arrived at the cove:

But then he made a friend at the cove who ironically was a 4 year old chocolate lab named Jake. They had fun swimming after sticks together:

Jake using his life jacket to chill in the water:

Jadyn swimming the cove with the help of a flotation device:

Mommy taking a dip with the kids:

At a certain part of the day, the "cove" becomes THE place to be:

And that is when we head out in the boat in the opposite direction to more tranquil and desolate areas of the river:

A day at the river definitely wore out Kuma:

And Jadyn still has not outgrown her ability to fall asleep on the boat:

But for Jake, it's all about the windblown look of his hair at the end of the day. I love it:

It was exactly the kind of day we had hoped to have last week and hope to have more of before summer's end.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It just wasn't our day

So Sunday we are FINALLY taking the boat out for a day trip to the river. Joe and I both spent a lot of Saturday making preparations, him cleaning the boat, me getting all of our stuff together. We should have known we were in for "one of those days" when we stopped at the grocery store for ice only to realize that the plug for the cooler was missing. So, we had to head back home and after not being able to find the plug, had to transfer everything over to another cooler. Not the worst thing in the world right?

We drive the 2 hours to the river, launch the boat and within minutes Joe notices it is overheating. He kills the engine, starts looking around as we float back down to the park where we launched and he discovers that the water is not making it to the engine to cool it down. After trying to fix it while in the water, we determine that we are going to have to pull the boat out, drive in to town and get the necessary parts and go from there. So poor Joe is in the parking lot of McDonalds, trying to fix the boat in 110 degree heat with the Tahoe running since Kuma was with us while I occupied the kids with the indoor playground and happy meals.

Try #2, we think the problem with the boat is fixed, head back to the park and launch the boat for the second time. All seems well momentarily but then it starts to overheat again. At this point we have no choice but to give up and pull the boat out for the day. Needless to say, the kids were disappointed and Joe was beyond frustrated.

The good news is that we let the kids and Kuma play on the shore for awhile and they truly did have a blast. Sure it's not the same as cruising in the boat and going to our favorite locations but they had fun. The other good news is that Kuma not only loved the water, which we had no doubt he would, but he did great on the boat for the brief time it was on - not scared of the noise at all. I can't wait to take him back and let him run around the sandbar and cove where we usually hang out.

Here is Kuma on the boat with his life jacket. He can swim of course, but we just wanted to be extra careful:

Kuma and I splashing around on the shore:

The other good news, and I am not usually the one to look at the glass as half full, is that we have been going to the river for quite some time now as a family and this is the first time something like this has happened. And after talking it over with his dad, Joe figured out the problem, which has to do with our move to Yucca Valley and it being colder so the freeze plugs activated, preventing the water from cooling down the engine (I hope I explained that right). So, at least now we know what is wrong and I have no doubt Joe will have the boat up and running in no time.

But wait, our trip wasn't over yet as we still had the drive home and we still had one more snag to hit before making it home as about halfway through the drive, a tire blew out on the trailer and did so with so much force it knocked out a light and mangled the license plate. So poor Joe is now back out in 100+ degree heat on the side of the road changing a tire. Man what a day!

I tried to break the tension on the remaining ride home by looking over at Joe and saying, "Hey remember that time we went to the river and the boat wouldn't work and the tire blew out in the tire" but yeah, he wasn't ready to see the humor in it just yet. However, we are ALL quite ready to go back and make a more successful trip to the river soon. Very, very soon.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Family, Reunions and Celebrations

For some reason I forgot to blog about the family reunion we attended for Joe's side of the family several weeks ago. It was HUGE! I was expecting to see mostly distant cousins, family I have met before but that we don't see very often. Instead we found ourselves among family that even Joe's parents and Grandmother had never met. It was truly monumental and bigger than I ever could have imagined. We had great conversation and great food and the kids had a super fun time playing bocce ball. Note the tables behind the kids. There were at least 4 other tables filled with family around the corner.

Then last weekend, we went to Joe's parents house to celebrate his mom's birthday, which was the week prior and his sister Leigh's birthday was on that actual day. It wasn't until I saw the cake that I realized Joe's dad had also decided to celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day, which we had not gotten together for so basically all the adults there that day were being celebrated for one reason or another. And yet, to no one's surprise it was the kids who had the most fun playing with their cousins on a slip-and-slide, hitting the baseball around and having BOTH cake and sno-cones for dessert. It was a fun-filled family day.

My mom and her husband George came to visit the day after the 4th of July. On Tuesday we met them at Ruby's for lunch and that night we introduced them to the brutal game of Uno Attack, which ironically enough Jake and Jadyn like playing and are pretty good at as far as strategy. This is especially true of Jake, who after stating that he "had a plan" stunned us all when he was able to go out in a stealth move and racking up enough points to almost win the game with just that one round. On Wednesday, we went to the spa pools. I took this picture of my mom with not only her grandkids Jake and Jadyn but her new grand-dog Kuma, who totally cooperated for the picture on Thursday before she left:

Another thing to love about the summer - a chance to see and spend time with family who we otherwise don't get to see very often.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lots of splishing and a splashing

Despite the fact that we STILL have yet to make to the river this summer (and we are finally going this weekend, yeah), the kids have spent more time in the water than any summer before.

Mornings for the last 2 weeks have included swim lessons. Unfortunately, Jake missed moving up from the Stingrays to the Dolphins by two skills (out of a list of about 15). I am confident that by the end of the second set of lessons starting later this month, he will be able to pass. Jadyn, being her first year in Stingrays has really improved her forward stroke and continues to impress me with her fearlessness of the water.

Pretty much every afternoon has also included a second activity involving water. Case in point, last week for example:

Monday afternoon - Rose and the boys came to visit and all the kids went swimming in our pool.

Tuesday afternoon - we attended a playdate at the Niles house where the kids played on a slip-n-slide. While Jadyn still just runs across it, Jake started going on his knees and then finally really full out sliding on it. They love it:

Wednesday afternoon - playdate at his baseball coach's house where they again went swimming in their pool

Thursday - only day they were not in water a second time. Instead we went to the library summer reading program where they had a presentation by the owner of sled dogs who races the Iditarod. We got to pet a couple husky pups and the kids got to stand on a sled that was used in the movie Ironwill. And come to think of it, the kids may have gone swimming in our pool for awhile before dinner.

Friday - no swim lessons, but we headed over to Sunburst to enjoy the splash park. More water fun!

Yes, I think we are taking full advantage of the summer and finding more and more fun ways to keep cool in the heat.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

That's what I am talking about!

We had a great 4th of July full of fun, friends and (good) food. We had a small BBQ at the house that included the Niles family, our neighbors and Cruz and Tara. The kids had a blast, starting off with a marathon session in the pool that lasted at least 2 hours, if not more. After Joe's famous all American dinner of chicken, beef and veggie kabobs and twice baked potatoes, the kids had sno-cones while the adults dined on my favorite no-bake cheesecake recipe decorated with strawberries and blueberries (sort of) in the shape of an American flag.

Finally it was time to congregate on the front driveway where just like last year we had a fabulous view of the city's firework show just 2 blocks south at the high school. The kids all sat in the back of Cruz's truck and every time one of the really big or particularly cool fireworks would go off Jake and Sam would say, "That's what I am talking about!" Sure, it got a little annoying after awhile, but it was still pretty amusing.

At one point towards the end of the show Jadyn asked when it was going to be over. Then the grand finale started and it was truly spectacular. When it was all said and done, Jadyn looked at me said, "That's it?" disappointed that it was over. This is a perfect example of the fickle pickle personality that Jadyn possesses. It gave everyone a good chuckle.

So by this point everyone was pretty wiped out and the kids were all up past their bedtime after a long day of activity. And yet, we had one more surprise. Sparkles! Yes they are technically illegal in our city as our all fireworks except the sanctioned show but I couldn't pass up the chance to let the kids run around with sparkles, tracing circles and their names in the dark night sky. All the kids were running around the backyard with their sparkles when Jadyn's sparkle burnt out while she was clear at the far end of the yard, away from the back patio where we all were. Not at all afraid but always willing to aim for the dramatic, she waved her burnt out sparkler and shouted, "Ahhh, I don't know where I am!" as she continued to run and find her way back to us. It was the perfect way to end a very nice day.

I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do for this type of occasion. I am really trying to "be in the moment" a little bit more and I definitely succeeded at this task yesterday. But still I love seeing my kids all dressed up and smiling in their red, white and blue:

Show me the Mommy 4th of July style:

The kids with their sno-cones in the trampoline:

Playing with the sparklers:

Every year, I mention that 4th of July is a special and emotional holiday for me as it was my dad's favorite and the last thing we did as a family before he passed away several days later was go and watch the fireworks at a local park. It's been 13 years and although I think of him often, he is at the forefront of my mind every time I see a firework and yesterday was no exception.

As the evening winded down and we said our good-byes, I failed to notice that Jake had gone inside. When we came in, we found him like this passed out on the couch:

I think that is a good indication of what an activity filled and fun day we had. And trust me, we were right behind him in passing out.