Thursday, September 29, 2011

County Fair

The biggest difference that has occurred since we first started taking the kids to the annual county fair 4 years ago (starting in 2007 and missing 2009) is the focus. For the first 3 years the focus was on looking at the farm animals, the miniature train, the garden and flower pavilion and letting the kids run around. Now while we still do all of those things, the focus is on rides, rides, rides!

It is for that reason that we took advantage of McDonald's Wednesdays where admission and a wristband for unlimited rides is only $20, not to mention a portion of the proceeds going to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Win-Win.

However, we started our day off with the educational part of the fair and on top of getting to see and pet various farm animals and their babies, they have an interactive area where the kids got to really see where our food comes from. They planted "seeds", milked a "cow", gathered eggs from a hen coop, picked vegetables and fruit and were given "money" for their work, which they then got to use to go "shopping" at a grocery store where all of these products are available and made into the food we eat. They loved it!

Mama with her two baby goats:

Jake "milking" the cow. Jadyn said it was disgusting:

Picking fruit:

Grocery shopping with their "earnings":

Other educational exhibits included the Kids America Science building and Jurassic Planet with the mechanical dinosaurs:

But what they really loved were the rides. Jadyn is the little thrill seeker, not shying away from any of the fast, high or dizzy-inducing rides she was tall enough to ride. Jake did some of these rides as well but favored the fun house/obstacle course type rides.

I was very saddened to learn that after 45 years, the yellow no-lane giant slide that I remember going down as a child had been retired last year. At least the kids and I had been on it before as it was very nostalgic for me. They did however, have a new "Euro" style giant slide that was pretty fun. I think you can tell by our hair that we were going pretty fast:

Not a fan of the Ferris wheel but atlas, I had the extra wristband to accompany the kids on the rides requiring an adult be with them:

The day was not perfect. It was pretty hot. We got separated at one point when I mistakenly thought Jake said they were going to get a drink when what he actually said was that they were going to the trains (I blame old age). Jadyn and I were left without my phone, water or snacks as Joe and Jake had them in the backpack. All ended well when were finally reunited, albeit a little cranky from the misunderstanding.

We ended the day with dinner at Ruby's and the fond memories of another fun-filled family day. Not to mention this picture of Farmer Jake with his 1st prize winning cow Jadyn.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Not Wasting Any Time

Last night at dinner, the family brainstormed our Fall fun to-do list. On in included the usual suspects of our favorite fall activities:

- visit the pumpkin patch
- apple picking in Oak Glen (had a late freeze last winter, might be tricky)
- county fair
- visit someplace with the changing colors/falling leaves/leave collecting
- nature walk at the preserve
- hike/scramble at least 2 of our usual and one new trail up in the national park
- visit Civic Center park in Palm Desert
- help the kids to finally learn how to ride their bikes without training wheels
- watch a local high school football game
- carve pumpkins
- flashlight scramble Halloween weekend

And to make sure we get everything on our list done, we are wasting no time as we let the kids take a mental health day from school and our headed to the county fair - much less crowded and cheaper than a weekend and I know they will learn more with everything they see and do at the fair then they would at that one day at school. So off we go!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Play Dates for Everyone

When your weekdays are busy, your weekends become a little more low key. Friday night we were all so tired we didn't even have a movie night, opting catch up on some DVRed shows instead (right now the whole family is watching Top Shot).

Saturday morning the kids had soccer games at the same time. I joked that I could really use Hermione's time turner so I could be in two places at once because I hate missing the chance to watch the kids play. At any rate, I watched Jadyn's first half where she really shone at goalie and then headed over to Jake's game. He has already scored one goal and scored another while I was there, not to mention taking a ball to the gut in an amazing save during his time as goalie.

Saturday night we went to a movie in the park to see "Mars Needs Moms" with a friend and her two girls. It was really fun.

Sunday, Jake had his friend Kyle over, then the neighbor Adrianna came over to play with both kids and THEN, we had the neighbors over for dinner. They have a Doberman that is about 2 months older than Kuma and the two dogs have been caught digging under the fence trying to get to each other. We have taken them for walks together and they seem to get along so we decided to have Duke over for a play date. The dogs had a blast. They ran and played like only puppies can and thoroughly wore each other. They are a good match as far as energy level.

So here they are after wearing each other down. See those tongues? Kuma is now 9 months old and about 60 pounds. His growth should be starting to slow down and his head and paws are in proportion with each other, which is another sign that while he is not completely full grown, he is pretty close. It's amazing how quickly they change and grow over that first year:

So this weekend, we all got to have play dates - even the dog!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Going, going, gone

I think we discovered Jadyn's loose tooth on Tuesday or Wednesday. She was SO excited. Her best friend from school Riley has already lost teeth and Jake has been working on losing another one over the last couple of weeks. However, it was precisely BECAUSE Jake is just now losing teeth and that both kids didn't get their first baby teeth until 10 or 11 months that I had been telling Jadyn it would probably be another year before she started losing her teeth. Well on this one, I was wrong.

And Jadyn was determined. She put so much focus and energy into wiggling the tooth with her fingers and tongue that lo and behold on Friday, while she was outside in the yard playing with Riley, the darn thing fell out.

She came running inside hysterical because her mouth was bleeding a little. I don't think Jake's have bled because he just waits until they are hanging on by a thread and they are pretty much already out by the time they are 100% free. An apple slice sealed the deal for Jadyn's tooth. Her friend Riley kept trying to reassure her that a little blood was normal. Once Jadyn calmed down, she was pretty excited, although later that day she did mention "missing her loose tooth".

We tucked the said tooth under her pillow at bedtime and she excitedly woke the next morning to find the tooth fairy had left her three dollar bills, a special payout because it was her first lost tooth.

If I were into betting, I would wager that this tooth was a fluke and she won't lose anymore for awhile. Then again you can already see the new tooth cropping up behind where the old one was and it's not like I haven't obviously been wrong before so we shall see.

Meanwhile, we have given the tooth fairy special instructions to be prepared since it would appear that she will be making visits to both children concurrently. It could get quite expensive.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things I love Right Now

1. Walking Kuma every morning in the cooler crisper weather.

2. Coming home from walking Kuma and having Jake make Joe and I's bed just to be nice (sweetest thing ever!).

3) The 90 minute Gentle Flow Yoga class I found on Thursday mornings.

4) Really good book to movie adaptations - Everyone must read The Help and then go see the movie.

5) Fall TV - to include Vampire Diaries, Grey's Anatomy, Glee, The New Girl (best new show!), How I Met your Mother and Amazing Race.

6) New YA dystopian series - Divergent is the best one since Hunger Games. Also, finding older and new dystopian novels/series to read since I clearly like the genre (about to read The Maze Runner and the Suzanne Collins recommended 11th Plague).

7) Not having to go in for jury duty

8) Finding out Jadyn has her first loose tooth when Jake barely lost his first one last spring and has only lost 2 since then. Tooth fairy is going to be visiting this house a lot in the near future.

9) Jadyn asking me to take pictures of her on days she really likes her outfit for school or simply snuggling with one of the pets.

10) The routine of school days where late afternoons look like this:

Homework time followed by dinner and then soccer or dance. Same stuff, different day but busy, busy, busy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Last Swim

Although it is and still will be in the 90's for several more weeks, the overnight low is dipping low enough that even with the solar cover, the pool was getting a tad bit chilly. We might have been able to squeeze a few more swims out of the pool, but it was becoming counterproductive to expend the energy of running the filter and keeping it clean.

Yesterday the kids went in, knowing it would be their last swim for the season. They only lasted about 10-15 minutes before getting out because they were cold. I truly prefer to know when it will be there last time in the pool and took the opportunity to make it a "Kodak" moment.

As I was getting ready to come in from outside myself, I found the kids snuggling like this to keep warm after getting out. This was completely NOT posed and makes me love it all the more:

Just another sign that summer is over and Fall is right around the corner.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Balance

And no I am not talking about the brand of running shoes but about the new balance I am trying to strike in my life with both kids in school 5 days a week.

But first, an update on the dance debate since so many of you took the time to write such thoughtful comments. (THANKS!) To answer some questions, the one activity at a time rule was basically just something I had loosely planned on, not anything that I had ever sat down and discussed with the kids. Jake has never expressed interest in doing anything other than soccer and baseball, which do not conflict so we have never denied him the chance to do any activity he was interested in. After Jadyn did the two classes last week, I asked her if she could only pick one, which would she chose and she actually chose hip-hop over ballet. This is not surprising to me because it is a) new to her and b) very upbeat. I don't really want her to give up on ballet as long as she enjoys it because should she decide to pursue dance further down the line, ballet is going to give her the technical foundation she will need. As for her sticking to commitments, she knows she has committed to her soccer team and has every intention of seeing that through. As far as ballet or hip-hop is concerned, those are paid on a monthly basis so if we let her do both classes for a month and it is too much, her commitment would only be for that month. Finally, if the class was not going to fit into our family's schedule, I never would have let her observe or participate in it in the first place. It just so happens that it does fit into our schedule fairly well as long as she has the energy to take back-to-back classes, which she proved at least last week that she could.

It is for those reasons, that after speaking to her again, Joe and I decided to let her add hip-hop to her existing schedule. She knows that if at any time the addition starts to affect school, sleep, behavior or other activities, she will have to drop the class and revisit adding it again once soccer is completely over. We shall see how it goes.

As for me, I am focusing on getting as much accomplished as possible while the kids are school and Joe is at work, particularly work files, cleaning, laundry, working out, errands and appointments. The more I get done while they are gone, the less time I have to do it while they are home, which should give me more quality time with the family. Of course, I will still probably almost always have work on the weekends but if I can free up the weeknights and do more of the cleaning and laundry during the week, that extra time will add up. So while I thought I wasn't going to have enough to do, when I really looked at my priorities, I found I have MORE than enough to keep me busy and that doesn't even include the days I volunteer in their classrooms, which I can't wait to start doing.

So for now it's back to work!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One last trip

On Sunday we took the boat out for one last river trip. We didn't make as many trips this year as we have in summers past but with the exception of the first trip, which was unmitigated disaster, all of our other trips were filled with full fun days on the water.

I have to admit, it felt a little odd. We missed all the 10th anniversary 9/11 tributes and opening day of NFL games BUT it really was our last chance to go and since Joe had to work over Labor Day weekend, we had to take advantage when we could. Also, we had been unable to bring along our friend Cruz all summer and we all wanted to make at least one trip with him as well.

And we couldn't have asked for a better day. A little more cloudy and cooler than other trips but still plenty warm. The water wasn't too cold yet and their was hardly anyone else on the water, which was low enough that we had our sandbar and stayed there all day as the water slowly rose and eventually, the beach disappeared.

The kids and I at the end of our boat ride to the sandbar:


This was Kuma's 4th trip to the river and he seems to get more adventurous every time. He ran up and down the strip of beach, splashing into the water with wild abandon and then swimming when it got too deep. He played fetch with sticks, rolled around in the sand and explored a "cave" among the tall reeds finally becoming tired out and deciding to sunbath on the bow of the boat. Does this look like one happy dog or what?:


The kids searched for unique rocks and shells (or as Jadyn calls them, shelves) in the water and along the beach, practiced their swimming skills and followed Kuma into his "cave", laughing at his antics. I think the only time they were not in the water was when they stopped to eat lunch.

Playing with Kuma:


A hug pose for the camera:


Jadyn giving her "baby rock egg" a sand bath:


My goal for the trip, other than to have a nice relaxing time (which I did) was to get a decent family picture of us. I told Joe if we got a good enough one, I would even use it on our holiday card (because we all know how much Joe LOVES family photo shoots). I am pretty darn satisfied with one in particular so I am not going to share it since I am 99.999% sure I am going to use it for our holiday card this year, but here is the other one I liked (thanks Cruz!):


Oh, and how can I thank Cruz for taking THE picture? By sharing this one of him looking like an old man trying to navigate the rocky bottom of this portion of the shore. Nevermind that he has a brace on his knee and has "sensitive" feet. Ignore the fact that he swam with the kids all day and put up with Kuma jumping on his back in the water on several occasions.We still enjoyed giving him a hard time for it:


Although Fall doesn't officially start until September 23rd, with school and soccer in full swing, this last trip to the river marked the end of summer for us. And what a fun summer it was.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dance and Debating

As if the first week of soccer games wasn't enough to keep us busy, the dance studio Jadyn attends started their fall session. Jadyn has moved up to the next level - from pre-ballet to Ballet 1A. I think taking the summer off was the BEST idea. She was so excited to go back and see her friend Kimberly and start a new class.

Before leaving:

At the bar in class with Kimberly:

Now for the debate part. After ballet, I let Jadyn "observe" the newly added clean and screened hip hop class. It took her all of 5 minutes before she asked if she get out there and participate, which I told her she could. Every class allows for one free trial class anyway. As the class continued I don't think she ever stopped smiling. She kept creeping closer and closer to the front of the class and was quite smitten with the very energetic male teacher. The idea in my mind was that maybe once soccer was over, she could add the hip hop class to ballet but of course, she wants to do it now.

I am already breaking the rules I had tentatively had in my head - one activity at a time for each child. Last year, I told her I would let her do both soccer and ballet because honestly, I didn't think she would like soccer. But she did and wanted to play again this year. I didn't want her to have to give up ballet because she likes that too, so I let her do both again this year. At some point she will have to chose between team sports and dance but I want it to be her decision. The only reason I am considering letting her take the hip hop class now and not wait until soccer is over is because a) I am worried if we wait, the class will fill up and their won't be a spot for her and b) if the hip hop class participates in the winter recital, waiting until November or December to join the class will make it harder for her to catch up in time for the show. Not to mention that she is in school only half day and she has been adamant that she can do both dance classes and soccer. She proved at least last week that she could. Joe's opinion, which also weighs in quite heavily is that it going to be too much for her.

So hence the debate. I would love to her other's opinions about what ground rules or experiences they have for their kids or had as themselves growing up.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Back in Action

After weeks of practice, the kids were super excited for opening ceremonies and the first weekend of soccer games. Growing up, their were no opening ceremonies for soccer and not all leagues do it. I went last year, not knowing what to expect. My only experience is opening and closing ceremonies for Little League. Wrapped in tradition yes but sorry to say, very boring.

For soccer, it is a very fun evening that is essentially a chance for the league to fundraise. They have a banner contest for all the teams, snack and craft items for sell and little games for the kids to play like ring toss, basketball hoop throwing, coin plinko, etc. The kids love it. You get a candy for trying and a small prize (think dollar store) if you win. I brought my camera but was so busy socializing and watching the kids have fun that the only picture I took was this one of Jadyn so she could see the product of her patiently waiting to have her face painted:

Saturday morning, both my little athletes all dressed in their uniforms. Recall what I said about Jadyn's "glowing the dark" and Jake being head to toe green?:

Jake's game was first and he played very strong. His league is still considered noncompetitive but everyone keeps score anyway. Unfortunately, the other team was only able to score one goal and it was against their own team. Jake scored a whooping 3 goals. In one game! This is after not scoring any goals last season since he seemed content to hang back and play defense. Not this year. I think the final score was 12-0. I am not even sure.

Jadyn's game was immediately following and although she came very close on several occasions, she didn't quite score but it was fun to see her play more aggressively then last year and really get involved in the action:

I think it's going to be a great season.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Phone Photo Friday

Forgot to include these pictures in the last post. The kids are painting their memo boards at the Home Depot workshop:

Anyone want to guess the significance of the following picture? That's right folks, I am out in the light of day and while I do have on eyeliner and lip gloss, otherwise I have on no makeup. I had just finished up my appointment with the new dermatologist I have been working with. I have always been VERY self-conscious about my skin. I think most people I do not go anywhere without makeup including the river, the beach, even just to workout. Anyway, I have seen major improvements in the hyperpigmentation I have been struggling with for the past 2+years. I really wish I had drummed up the courage to take a before picture so people could see how much it has improved. Even still, I can't believe I am sharing this picture. Eek!

So follow my lead. This weekend take a chance to step outside your comfort zone. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised with where it takes you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Marley & Me

I am going to talk about the movie Marley and Me in just a moment and if you haven't seen the movie be forewarned, there will be spoilers. But before I get to that, just a quick rundown of our Labor Day Weekend.

Joe had to work both Saturday and Monday so that was big fat boo. Friday night we got back into the family movie night groove with Marley and Me. Saturday while Joe was at work, I took the kids to the Home Depot Workshop and I got to go out to dinner with the girls and Sunday we went to Cruz and Tara's for a BBQ. We had the Niles kids over for a few hours on Monday and then after dinner went as a family for frozen yogurt. Nothing too exciting but it was nice not to have a full schedule since ballet and soccer games will be added into the mix starting this week.

Now, for the movie review. The kids had been asking to see this movie because of recent advertisements for a straight to DVD prequel of sorts called Marley and Me: The Puppy Years. I remember when this movie first came out in 2008 and hearing that although it was being marketed as a family film, it dealt with some pretty heavy subjects. So I went online and did some research and was prepared to answer questions if they should arise when we watched this movie. And they did. Jadyn asked questions about what happened to their baby when Jennifer Aniston's character, Jennifer has a miscarriage. I was very satisfied with how that conversation went. At the end of the movie, Owen Wilson's character, John has to make the decision to put down Marley after he had gotten to live a long and happy life with their family. I thought this would be an appropriate topic to discuss. After all, we had to have both our elderly dogs euthanized over the last year and I thought seeing this movie might help the kids understand the process a little better. And I think it did. The kids really enjoyed Marley's antics throughout the movie. I would say it can be appropriate for children if you are ready and willing to discuss the topics of conversation that most surely will arise from the more serious parts of the movie.

And I have debated whether to share this and have decided to do so without too many details because I feel that at Jake's age, to go too in-depth would be a betrayal of his trust. However, I love Jake's sensitivity and compassionate side and both now and in the future, I want him to know how much I do love that about him and how proud it makes me as a mother. Suffice to say this movie really struck a nerve with Jake and was somewhat upsetting to him, necessitating an additional conversation and extra cuddle time before bed.

Marley & Me is a great movie and a great reminder of how much pets can enrich our lives. However, it is also a reminder that their life spans are much shorter than us humans and that is simply part of the deal. We love them and give them the best possible life and in return they love us unconditionally and spend their life being devoted and loyal to their family. I can't think of anything better than that.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why I am no longer going to spend money buying Jadyn toys

She uses her wild imagination (which I love) to get attached to the oddest things. Some of current favorite possessions are:

Snaily - she found this rock at one of Jake's soccer games and deemed it a snail. The leaf is it's bed, the stick standing up is his boat and the other sticks are it's favorite birthday presents from a recent party it had:

Her "puppies". Jadyn has I don't know how many stuffed animals (probably her favorite real toys) but she saw these pieces of Kuma's training collar and decided they were puppies. She carries them around in a special basket:

Her "cell phone". Again she probably has at least 3 toy cell phones that light up, make ringing noises and even speak back to her, but she found this cardboard inset from the box Joe's latest phone came in and decided it was her phone. She even sets it on the counter where I keep my phone:

Finally, okay this is technically a toy. Jake's Legos. He made her a mouse city. The mice are the little teeny tiny circular Legos that serve as headlights for vehicles and such:

Jadyn has never got into collected or playing with one or two particular things the way Jake constantly plays with his hot wheel and Nascar diecasts and now his army men. She always wants toys she sees on TV but she seldom plays with her Littlest Pet Shops or Zoobles, although she plays with those a little more frequently then her other toys. However she is constantly role playing and using her imagination to turn ordinary objects into something much more elaborate and that is why I am no longer going to spend money on toys for her. I can just take her to the park and help her find some interesting rocks and sticks.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

On the flip side of motherhood

I never want my blog to come across as me trying to gloat about my parenting skills or show off all the fun things we have done or brag about what wonderful children we have while glossing over anything that might be unpleasant. We are not perfect. I am not perfect. Far from it and that is fine with me. I want my blog to be a realistic glimpse into our lives.

When I wrote the last post about feeling like a rock star mom, it was precisely because there are so many times where I feel I fall short. But I don't dwell on that either. While I know I am not perfect, I am not trying to be either. I am just trying to do my best just as I expect from my kids.

So here are some of my "less than perfect" mommy confessions:

1) I am not crafty or culinary in nature. My kids Halloween costumes and birthday cakes are store bought (or made by others).

2) I sometimes let the kids watch an extra cartoon or spend more time playing video games because I am on the computer. While sometimes I am genuinely trying to get work done, more often than not I am just talking to friends on Facebook or Twitter or trying to finish up a blog post.

3) I sometimes skip reading with them at night because we are running behind schedule from watching an episode of Billy the Exterminator or our newest favorite, Top Shot.

4) I lose my patience and yell much more often than I would like, although I also apologize for it when I am out of line.

5) I sometimes let them have junk food for a snack because I don't have the energy to argue with them about why they should be choosing a fresh fruit instead.

6) Little Caesar's $5 Hot and Ready pizzas, at least once a week, sometimes twice during the summer.

7) I sometimes have to lie about having seen a dance move or soccer play during practice because I was too busy talking to my friends.

8) I need a lot of Mommy alone time and girls nights.

9) When I am really struggling with my anxiety, I have a hard time concentrating. I forget what the kids said they wanted for breakfast and have to ask a second or third time.

10) I sometimes encourage them to color with crayons instead of playing with paint or Play-Doh because I don't feel like cleaning up the mess.

So there you have 10 "I am most definitely a less than perfect" Mommy confessions. It feels good to get that off my chest. Anyone want to share some of theirs?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I felt like a rock star mom, and speaking of which...

Poor Jadyn. Her possessions seem to be the recent target of Kuma's inappropriate puppy chewing. Yes, believe it or not, our "not so little" boy is far from being a perfect angel. It's one thing when the kids leave something out where they know he can get to it or they choose not to pay attention to what he is chewing on. However, two days ago Jadyn lost a brand new Little Pet shop doggy that Kuma grabbed off a table and then today, I took her headband off to brush her hair and left it within Kuma's reach and before I knew it, the headband had been ripped to shreds. And, it should come to no surprise that Jadyn can be pretty sensitive and overly dramatic in situations like this.

For the Little Pet Shop, I was able to find and reattach his ear with super glue. When I showed it to her and it was clear the ear was no longer perfect, I told her that it would be the ideal pet to have visit her Pet Shop Vet Clinic to be seen for his injury. This brightened her outlook immediately and I felt like a rock star mom for thinking so quickly on my toes. It doesn't happen often.

For the headband, she was pretty upset. She was really looking forward to wearing this particular headband to school. Another moment of quick thinking, I grabbed one of the super thin headbands I use when I wash my face or workout and attached one of her MANY bows to it and viola! Instant new headband. Then Jadyn and I started excitedly talking about how many possibilities this opened up - to just attach her bows to the headband, especially since she no longer wants to wear her hair in pigtails. Another rock star mom moment.

And speaking of rock stars, that is the name that was finally picked for Jadyn's coed soccer team - The Rock Stars. I think it fits perfectly with their bright fluorescent yellow/green with royal blue uniforms. I will save showing off a picture of that until her first game next week. But here she is ready for practice:

Jake is the same primary color as last year - kelly green and so his coach chose a name to reflect our desert home and the uniform color. Therefore this year Jake will be the Green Mojaves, a snake native to our locale. Here Jake is at practice tonight wearing his uniform from last year. This year's uniform is a lot more, well green:

His first game is also next Saturday. Can't wait!