Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Now this is Random

The absence from my blog over the last several days is twofold. For one, we have been getting back into the groove of school with the addition of evening soccer practices and increased tempos for both Joe and I at work. Two, other than that there is not much to report. We didn't do much over the weekend because we wanted to all have to chance to just kind of hang out, although on Saturday the kids and I did go to a really fun birthday party at the home of some close friends.

However, having said that, I have been meaning to mention a few random things.

A few weeks ago Joe and I were having a conversation about what movies and TV programs are acceptable for the kids to watch. Let's just say that Joe is a little more lax in this department. Well, leave it to "Ms. Ears" to have somehow honed in on the conversation. A few days later, Joe and the kids were watching Billy the Exterminator and Jadyn asked Joe, "Daddy, is this show appropriate for children?"

And in a related note, Billy the Exterminator is now the kids newest favorite show.

But influence is a two-way street. Awhile ago I mentioned that the kids have really been getting into top 40 music and we had recently acquired the first of what I fear will be many Kids Bop CDs. The kids will beg and beg and beg for us to put it on in the car so we can all rock out.

Well guess who (and its not me) now regularly pops in the kids CD to listen to their version of Taio Cruz's Dynamite without being asked by the kids?

And finally, you have to love the way kids minds work. I regularly talk to the kids about leaving lights on and wasting electricity. Well, a few weeks ago we were at my in-laws house and Jake was flipping the lights over the stairs on and off when Jadyn scolded him by saying, "Stop it Jake! You are wasting lightricity!".

Oh, and I wanted to clarify, for whatever it may be worth. Jadyn does have 30 kids in her class for kindergarten. The average allowable class size for the district is 31 for her grade. This is not ideal to me AT ALL. However, on the plus side, because she has a disabled student in her class, the teacher does have an instructional aide and that can make a huge difference.

That's all for now and I suspect it may be all you hear from me this week, in which case - Have a nice long Labor Day Weekend!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Entertainment Meme

I FINALLY watched the last few movies nominated for an Academy Award. It used to be my goal to watch all the movies before the Oscars but that was a) before having kids and b) before they changed the field from 5 to 10 nominees. Now here it is the end of August and I have just now finally watched all 10 films. Here is my own personal subjective order to which I would rank the movies:

1. The Social Network - still my favorite movie of the year.
2. The King's Speech - and no doubt that Colin Firth deserved his Best Actor nod.
3. Black Swan
4. 127 Hours
5. The Kids are Alright
6.The Fighter
7. Toy Story 3
8. Inception
9. Winter's Bone - not a fan of the movie but loved Jennifer Lawrence. No doubt she will make a great Katniss in the Hunger Games movies
10. True Grit - not a fan of westerns, but my issues with this movie went further than that. Still Haylee Steinfield did an amazing job with great support from Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. I would have given Haylee the best supporting actress award.

Two movies I would recommend, not only because they are good but their recognition for acting was well deserved - Blue Valentine with Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams and The Town with Ben Affleck and Jeremy Renner.

Please feel free to chime in with your opinions.

Friday, August 26, 2011

That's Just How We Roll

So the kids are adjusting to getting up every morning and being at school. The kids also have soccer practice in the evenings. The result of course is that the kids are little more tired than normal. This is to be expected. But to top it all off, after a fairly mild summer (for us), the temps have been in the 100's this week, as in 107 when I picked up Jake from school at 3pm and still 98 when we left his soccer practice at 7pm.

Soooo, despite the fact that we should have been sticking to our bedtime routine, relaxing and making sure the kids were in bed on time, if not early, we decided to do something totally wild and crazy and spontaneous. We went for an evening swim. Yes, we are such rule breakers. That's just how we roll.

Forgive my ill-fitting bathing suit:

But, oh did it feel oh so good. I'll let you know if it was worth it when I see how tired the kids are this afternoon.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

And it finally hits me

How big and grown up and independent the kids are becoming.

I have to admit to feeling a little heartless that I wasn't more emotional about Jadyn starting Kindergarten yesterday. Then last night at dinner, BOTH kids requested that I drive through the drop off lane and let them out instead of walking them to their classrooms for their second day of school. Now for Jake this is no surprise but for Jadyn? Well it took me a little off guard. Jake had already been instructed to walk with Jadyn through the entrance to the school and to her playground area (the kindergartners are mostly segregated from the rest of the school) before preceding to drop off his backpack and play on his playground and I knew I could trust him to see that Jadyn got where she needed to go. But as I gave them hugs and watched them get out of the car and start walking, I saw that they were holding hands. It was so precious and for me such a proud moment that Jake would take his job so seriously. I whipped out my phone and took a picture through my front windshield. It was the best I could do to preserve the memory:

However, I must also confess that I am not so naive to think that Jake and Jadyn will always be this close. Of course I hope they will but I know that over the years their dynamic with each other may shift and change. I am prepared for this possibility. I know that my brother and I played very well together as kids but were pretty much nonstop at each other's throats from Jr High through high school. Maybe Jake and Jadyn will be different. After all they are big brother/little sister instead of big sister/little brother but no matter what happens I will take comfort in knowing that through our young adulthood and on, my brother Tony and I have remained fairly close. And in the end, I have that same hope for my kids.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to and First Day of School

Last night we had a back to school night so everyone could find out who their teachers were, meet them and see their classrooms. I was thankful for this opportunity as last year they only did it for those starting Kindergarten.

Here are Jake and Jadyn before leaving for the event:

And with Mommy who can't believe I now have a 2nd grader and Kindergartner, although I am incredibly excited to finally have them both at the same school:

In front the of the school marquee:

Checking out her desk. Her teacher gave each of the students a lei and had the classroom decorated in a tropical/island/sea creature theme :

I loved this area for reading:

I really like Jadyn's teacher. She has a few classmates that she already knows from preschool and other activities. I was not happy to learn that they already have 30 kids enrolled in her class and the other 2 classes are near this same capacity. I don't know how much higher the class size can get, but I have a feeling they are going to have to make some changes when the final class sizes are assessed at the 10 day mark. This worries me because I don't want Jadyn to get comfortable and then have her schedule. classroom or teacher disrupted but I am going to try and not worry and see what happens.

We then visited Jake's classroom. I also really like his teacher. He has a few friends from his class last year and the teacher had him do a treasure hunt to help familiarize himself with the room. Here he is at his desk. I love this picture!

This morning we got up and went through the morning routine with no problems. I really think that Jadyn being in preschool the last 2 years made the transition to this school year pretty seamless.

Here they are ready for the their first day of school. Jadyn insisted on wearing her lei and wanted to know how her teacher knew to give her a pink one that matched her first day of school outfit perfectly:

I dropped Jake off on his playground. He really wanted to find his friends so I was lucky to even get a hug. Then I took Jadyn to her playground. She was a little timid at first but by the time the bell rang and she went to line up with the teacher, we hugged and that was it. No wavering or signs of being nervous. And I wasn't too emotional about it, just more proud of my little girl and kind of reflective of how big she has gotten.

Bye Jadyn! Have a great first day of school. Actually, I know you will:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And so it begins

As of tomorrow, I will officially have TWO school-aged children.

Many of friends have been writing about the emotional aspect of having their child start kindergarten and trust me I get it. However, in many cases for them it is the their first child and maybe even their only child (or maybe even twins) so it is all very new. But for me, I have already been through this with Jake when he started kindergarten and not to take away from the hugeness of this experience or milestone for Jadyn but I guess it makes me at least less anxious about it. I am emotional in the sense that it strikes me how fast time has gone by. How it seems like just yesterday I was holding this beautiful baby girl in my arms and waiting for her first smile and now I am getting ready to send this spunky little 5-year old to elementary school.

While Jake gets to be the one to experience everything first, Jadyn is the one to experience everything last and that can be emotional as a mom as well. I remember being particularly emotional when she weaned from nursing but most of those lasts were celebrations as infanthood was not particularly my favorite stage. Yeah, no more diapers. Yeah, no more middle of the night wakings. Yeah, no more gross baby food.

While this milestone is a little more bittersweet, I think it makes a difference that Jadyn was never really babied just because she was the youngest in the family. I think it makes a difference that I know how ready she is and how well she will do both academically and socially. I think it makes a difference that my relationship with Jadyn works much better when we get breaks from each other. I think we are all ready.

And speaking of ready, I feel kind of jipped in the school shopping department (one of my favorite things ever!). California school are not allowed to require supplies as they provide everything the students need with exception of a backpack. Most schools, grades or teachers will have a suggested donation list of supplies and so I picked a few items off of those lists to donate to each of the kids classrooms. Then, to top it off, it will stay warm here usually through October, so while I do start stocking up on jeans and sweaters when they go on sale, the kids will mostly be in their spring/summer clothes for the first few months of school. This means the only real back to school shopping I get to do are shoes, socks, underwear, new toothbrushes and the aforementioned backpacks and lunch bags. I love the way Jake and Jadyn's choices are a clear reflection of what they are most interested in right now:

Only after I made these purchases did I find out that Jadyn's Kindergarten teachers have requested that students DO NOT bring backpacks to school. Urgh! I know they probably have a good reason but really? It was like the one thing I was able to get her.

Anyway, with summertime (for us) officially over and school starting tomorrow, I wanted to give a final tally of how we did on our summer fun to-do list. I am pretty proud of all that we accomplished in the "fun" department:

- swim in our pool as much as possible DONE
- go to the spa pools DONE
- swim lessons DONE, DONE and DONE
- go to the beach DONE
- go to the river with Kuma DONE
- attend a baseball game DONE
- stay in a hotel DONE
- go to the library to check out books and participate in the summer reading program DONE
- read books DONE
- go the park (Sunburst, Community, Knott Sky) DONE
- See Cars 2 and the final Harry Potter film in the theater DONE
- concert in the park DONE
- play hide and seek DONE
- play with bubbles DONE
- play with the water table - missed this one
- watch all the Star Wars movies again for family movie night(s) DONE
- play board games more often - not as good with this one
- have friends over to play and spend the night DONE
- see fireworks DONE
- BBQ as much as possible - not as good with this one
- visit the kittens at the shelter DONE and DONE

And here is a glance at our Fall schedule:

Monday - school for Jake and Jadyn, Jadyn soccer
Tuesday - school for Jake and Jadyn, Jake soccer
Wednesday - school for Jake and Jadyn, Jadyn soccer
Thursday - school for Jake and Jadyn, Jadyn ballet (starting Sept 8th), Jake soccer
Friday - school for Jake and Jadyn, family movie night
Saturday - soccer games for Jake and Jadyn (starting Sept 1oth)
Sunday - RELAX, catch up

I can't wait to get started on our Fall Fun to-do list and the personal projects I have planned with the extra time I will have when the kids are in school. I love summer, but what I love about back to school and fall is the sense of order to it. This is usually my most productive time of year. For me, I make more changes now then with New Year's resolutions. And so it begins.....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Falling out of Summer

Last year around this time I could not wait for school to start. I needed the kids to have that structure. I needed to have us all back into a routine. This year I did much better in keeping enough structure in our summer that I didn't feel that same urge. Although I am excited for school to start and all that it means with Jadyn entering Kindergarten, we really used up our summer to the very end.

On Friday, the kids went to get back to school haircuts. We were then able to have a lunch play date with the Niles family and go to the shelter to visit and play with the kittens. You may recall, we did these very same things all on the Friday before school started last year and ended up bringing this little guy home:

That's right, although he does not have an exact birthday, Friday is now 1 year old.

Friday night we went to the drive-in with Cruz and Tara to see Captain America and Crazy, Stupid Love. First of all, let me just say that going to the drive-in is nostalgia at its finest and it becomes such an occasion compared to if we just went to a regular theater. We outfitted the back of the Tahoe with blankets and pillows, got the kids in their PJs, picked out snacks and grabbed a pizza on the way AND even better, we got to bring Kuma with us. I think he would much rather lay down in the open air with his people then be a kennel for 4+ hours while we go to the movies.

Anyway, we had a good time. Captain America left much to be desired but Crazy, Stupid Love, which I had really wanted to see was even better than I expected and it is not strictly a chick flick either because Joe and Cruz were laughing quite a bit. I highly recommend it.

Saturday was Joe and I's 13th wedding anniversary. I could get very mushy with how I feel about having spent the last 15 years with Joe, 13 of them as his wife but suffice to say, I am very, very lucky to have found my "game changer". I can't imagine my life without him. And to celebrate we went to his parents house where I was able to get some alone time to do some shopping and get my hair done and then Joe and I went out to dinner. I cannot thank Grandpa and Grandma Funny Nose enough, not only for watching the kids but for watching Kuma as well.

Photo courtesy of Jake:

Speaking of which, Kuma is almost 8 months now. He loves to play fetch with soccer balls over any other type or size of ball. Look how much he has grown:

When we got back from dinner, Aunt Leigh had stopped by to let Jake and Jadyn play with their cousins Aidan and Lilly. Doesn't this look like one happy bunch? (And notice the preview of Jadyn's shorter hair style):

And so that pretty much officially ends our summer. The first day of school is not until Wednesday but we are trying to take it easy, get everything ready and get back on the schedule necessary to make the transition as easy as possible. But when you fall out of one season, it sometimes means you have to stumble into the next, and so we will just have to see how it goes. However, when it comes to this summer? No regrets.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From the beach to the river

Wednesday of our mini-vacation we decided to forgo a return trip to the beach and head home. We took the kids to John's Incredible Pizza for lunch and to play some games (it's like a Chuck E. Cheese but bigger and nicer).

Thursday morning we woke up bright and early to pick Kuma up from the petsitter and then headed out to the river. But wait. Before you think, oh no. Not other post about another river trip. This one was different. Instead of heading to Big River south of Parker where we usually launch, we went toward Needles south of Laughlin where Joe's parents and his dad's cousin, wife and friends had been all week and met up with them. We drove the boat down into Topock Gorge to a place called Devil's Elbow at the north end of Havasu.

The rock formations and cliffs that form this stretch of the river make for gorgeous scenery and bring back fond memories of my first river trips with my best friend Lisa growing up. We found a lovely stretch of beach to day camp that provided the open water on one side and a sort of pond on the other side. The kids had a blast as the water off from the main strip was warmer and they spend a good deal of time trying to catch little fish with nothing but a sand sifter and a bucket. Kuma kept busy running up and down the beach trying to catch birds. Neither the kids nor the puppy were successful but it didn't take away from the fun of the day.

It was nice to have a chance to go to this part of the river. However, we were reminded of why we usually stay away from busier and bigger parts of the river like this - because the bigger boats create some pretty big waves that our little boat then has to get over. Jake particularly didn't seem to care for this aspect and I have to say it is not my favorite either. Luckily, with it being a random Thursday it only occurred a handful of times and it was worth getting to spend the time with family at such a beautiful strip of the river.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Beach Day

While Joe would be perfectly happy spending all of our free time during the summer at the river, I need to go to the beach at least once. I love, love, love the beach. Yes we lived there for 3 years and I never fully took advantage but nothing can beat the sound of waves crashing on the shore, the smell of the ocean air or the feeling of fine cool sand under your feet. The problem with the beach (and I felt this way when we lived there too) is that it doesn't quite get as warm as I prefer as often as I prefer. However, when you are looking for a reprieve from the sometimes stifling summer heat of the desert, sometimes an overcast day at the beach can be a welcome change.And that is exactly how we spent our Wednesday. (yes I doctored the blue sky in the above picture. I couldn't help myself)

Every year the kids grow more and more fearless of the water, tackling the waves and venturing further and further out into the water. It always strikes me, the indication that my babies are growing up.

They started off running from the water on the shore:

But that quickly progressed as they adjusted to the ocean water:

And as they got braver and braver and deeper and deeper:

They inevitably crashed with a wave or two:

But they got right back up with a smile on their face and kept going, eventually to pose for these pictures:

Even after they had enough of the water, we stayed and played in the sand, all four of us building (or at least attempting to) a sandcastle. It was very relaxing and much enjoyed family time.

And what better way to wash away the extra sand then going for a swim in the hotel pool after spending hours at the beach?

We capped off the day with dinner at one of my favorite restaurants that we haven't been to in ages, The Old Spaghetti Factory. The food was delicious and Jake surprised me by eating some of a plain salad (yes, Jake ate a vegetable besides carrots) and gobbling up their famous spumoni ice cream for dessert. The perfect end to a great day. I only wish we had gotten down to the beach more than once this summer.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Our Maybe Too Ambitious First Day of Mini-Vacation

After a very kickback weekend spent almost entirely at home, Monday morning we set off toward the beach for a mini-vacation. The first stop was taking Kuma to the pet sitters for the first time. It was hard to leave him but I know he will have a great time playing with the other dogs.

We then drove to Santa Ana and took the kids to the Discovery Science Center. I took the kids to this museum last summer and it was a huge hit. However, they have a lot of temporary exhibits and I have to say, a lot of the displays that made Jake in particular want to go back this year had changed (think marble runs and ball mazes). And the museum was busy. But still, the kids had fun.

After grabbing a late lunch and throwing in some back to school shopping, we headed over to Angel stadium to catch a game. This was one of the things that was on our summer fun to do list and I really, really wanted to go since we were going to be in the area. And again, while we still had fun, by the time the game started, the kids were pretty wiped out and there was no way they were going to make it through the whole game. Our plans for the day may have been just a little too ambitious.

I guess its a good thing that the only item on our agenda for the next day was to spend some time relaxing and playing in the water at the beach.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Another fun-filled action packed summer day

After the last day of swim lessons, we headed down to the local children's museum in the low desert. This was a top item on Jadyn's summer to-do list because they have so many pretend play stations. We invited Kimberly and her mom Jackie because they had never been before.

First stop was the rope maze, which all the kids enjoyed:

Jake then moved onto the ball roller coaster:

He could probably spend all day there so we left him there while taking the girls to be veterinaries:

Go grocery shopping:

Make their own pizzas:

Play dress up in a variety of adult costumes and uniforms:

And paint a VW bug that has who knows how many coats of paint on it from being painted over and over again.

Then Jake decided he wanted to go grocery shopping, so we headed over to that section of the museum again where I learned that Jake really enjoys being a cashier. Maybe a future vocation?

After leaving the museum we came home for a brief rest before heading back out for Jake's soccer practice. We then went to check out race night at our newly reopened ABA sponsered BMX track. For those that don't know, my brother was BIG into BMX racing as a kid and I took a brief turn at it myself (hard to believe I know). Anyway, the kids enjoyed watching the race as I took a trip down memory lane.

After leaving, it was decided that Joe and Jadyn wanted ice cream at home and Jake and I opted for frozen yogurt so I got the very rare opportunity to spend some quality time along with him while we sat on the outside patio enjoying our treat. The perfect way to end such a fun-filled day.

This week we are vacation down by the beach for a few days. We are also going to do some more fun stuff, which should basically complete our summer to-do list. I can't believe the kids start school in just over a week!