Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Really decking the halls

It has become tradition to spend the long 3 day weekend after Thanksgiving prepping the house for Christmas. Friday I took down all of the boxes and this is the one of the best parts of the whole experience, going through all of our decorations, sentimental mementos and crafts from years past, some things long forgotten since last year, and marveling over them as newly discovered treasures.

The first thing Jadyn wanted was for Jake to read her a Christmas themed book, which of course he obliged:

We then decided to introduce Kuma to the holidays by torturing him with reindeer antlers. Never fear however; that is as far as I will go when it comes to "dressing up" my pets for the holidays:

I spent most of Friday setting out all the indoor decorations. We usually leave the tree for last. It usually gets its' own special day. Looking at the blog from last year, I realized that I posted fall decorations but not any of my Christmas ones, except of course for our THREE trees, a tradition that will remain in effect this year.

Here is our mantel:

My favorite area to decorate, the entryway console table:

And the dining room:

And I know this may seem silly, to show you a picture of Kuma's kennel but this special stocking has been passed down to him from Utah, who received it as a gift from the vet staff after his first knee surgery:

Saturday we put both the kids trees up and that night our family tree while watching our favorite holiday movie, The Polar Express. It was a great way to start off the holiday season.

One of our family traditions is of course that the kids have their own trees with special ornaments. But we have some new traditions we are expanding on from last year and starting this year. But that will just have to wait for another post.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A week to give thanks for

We had a great Thanksgiving break. It's kind of hard to believe that it is already over and now it's going to be December! The kids are back to school for 3 more weeks and then it's Winter break. Before we know it, Christmas will be upon us. But before I jump ahead to holiday preparations, let me give Thanksgiving its deserved moment in the spotlight.

Last Monday we had a wonderful play date with the Davis family and the kids got to make foam glittery turkey crafts. Tuesday we had the Beyer family over for a visit and Rose helped me make the stuffing that was such a huge hit at last year's Thanksgiving dinner. Wednesday Joe and the kids made cookies to bring along. In between all that, we watched some movies, played some board games (we recently added the old classic Sorry to our collection) and video games. We borrowed Just Dance 3 and FINALLY there is a video game I love and can play with the kids and actually beat them. It's a hoot. One day I will bravely post a video of me and the kids dancing. I say brave because I feel like I should look much better dancing than I actually do. I mean I spent 2 years on dance team in high school. At any rate, it's a lot of fun.

Thanksgiving Thursday was a very pleasant day - filled with good food with lots of family and plenty to give thanks for. Here is the requisite family picture and another one of just the kids:

What I love about Thanksgiving is the focus on being thankful for what you have and last year I introduced the kids to the thankful tree. This year I challenged them to not only include items from last year but to try and think of other things to be thankful for that we may not have included last year. Some of the items on the tree included being alive, earth, friends, family, pets, nature, our home, a nice-sized yard to play in, Dad's job, our health along with the Xbox and Wii (guess who's contribution that was?)

The rest of the weekend was spent mostly preparing for the holidays - setting up the decorations and tree(s). But I will save the details of that for another post. We did take a break Saturday to go see Puss in Boots, which was good. I think Joe and the kids liked it more than I did but it was still a fun outing. I snapped this picture of the kids with the Chipmunks because yes, apparently they are coming out with yet another movie.

Thanksgiving break was a good combination of fun, relaxation and productivity. Now bring on Christmas. I am really looking forward to to it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

For Days Like This

I am thankful for days like this and for all that it represents.

I am thankful to have the opportunity to spend quality time with my two beautiful children.

I am thankful for the beautiful weather, the changing seasons and the chance to be out and enjoy nature.

I am thankful that although it meant he couldn't be with us on this day, Joe has a job that he likes and is good at and that furthermore,he provides so much for us.

I am thankful that we are all in relative good health.

I am thankful that my children get along so well.

I am thankful that they can be goofy and silly and make me laugh almost daily.

I am thankful for a daughter who wears her heart on her sleeve, even if that means she can be overly emotional at times.

I am thankful for a son who is helpful and sweet and sensitive to the needs of others.

I am thankful for a house we have made our home and for pets who can be an integral part of our family .

I am thankful for those serving our country and their families, making sacrifices daily so that we can live free and be protected from harm.

Although I am grateful for all these things on a daily basis, I think Thanksgiving is the perfect time to not only be thankful but to really celebrate it.

And I am especially thankful for all my family and friends near and far and I wish each and every one of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

It seemed like a good idea

Last Monday Joe had the day off. Mondays are generally my ONE day during the week that I don't have scheduled commitments while the kids are at school. I usually go grocery shopping, clean and organize for the week. BUT, since Joe was off we decided to check out a new trail someone had told me about that is not in the national park (translation: Kuma can come with us). It was a nice 3.2 mile loop.

Here was the view after a little uphill hike. Further down and to the left of the more obvious housing development where all the green trees are is our neighborhood:

Saturday morning I did not wake up early enough to take Kuma to the dog park so I got the brilliant idea to take the kids with us to go back on the trail we did Monday. Originially, we thought we would go up a way and then turn around and go back. The kids were really enjoying it, looking for cool and unusual rocks along the way and laughing at Kuma's antics as he enjoyed the freedom of running along the trail. At one point, Joe and I decided that we had come far enough that they could probably complete the same loop we had done earlier in the week.

So here we are at the "height" of our hike meaning we were enjoying nature, being outside, spending time as a family and having fun:

Then Jadyn got tired. Totally understandable and expected. No problem. Daddy can easily carry her on his shoulders. How cute are they?

But then it became constant whining from both about being tired, wanting to take breaks, needing water, being hungry, having sand in their shoes, etc. etc. etc. In an effort to keep us going, Joe finally attempted to carry them both. That is about 80 pounds of wiggling kids he is carrying:

I on the other hand could do little but forge ahead of them, making it up the last hill and getting to the car so I could come back down and get them. I probably only managed to get about a third to a half mile ahead.

It was still a nice hike and I don't think anyone regrets going. We just have to remember not to push our luck when it comes to the kids limits. As Joe was trying to carry both kids he looked at me, smiled and said, "Who's idea was this anyway?"

And how nice is it to have a decent camera on board my phone so I can capture these pictures without lugging around my SLR. Am I enjoying my iPhone? Why yes I am.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Style Sense

Jake has been taking a more active roll in his attire these days. I still lay out his clothes for him the night before but he has been adding accessories that almost everyday include a hat, sunglasses and gloves. I think it is endearing:

Jadyn and I have continued to just have so much fun together with clothes. The night before we pick out her clothes, decide what shoes look best with it, how she is going to wear her hair and what hair accessories will complete the look. I have been having a lot of luck at the Gymboree outlet because frankly now that she is in little girls sizes, my usual favorites such as Target and Old Navy seem to forget that they are LITTLE girls. Jadyn was particularly pleased with this little ensemble we put together:

Also note that the PIGTAILS are back!!! All of a sudden, she is willing to wear them again, although she insists they be lower then I used to have them. Fine with me. I love her in piggy tails.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Magoomba Update

Updates on random items that have previously been mentioned on the blog.

This past Saturday was the last soccer game of the season, which also meant end of the season parties for both kids' teams. Jadyn had hers at McDonalds (the weather was cold, not a lot of options in our town). The kids had fun in the playland and Jadyn received her trophy. I made flip photo books with pictures I had taken of the team throughout the season to present to both coaches. Here is Jadyn is with Coach Malerie. If she looks familiar its because Ms. Malerie was a teacher at the kids' preschool (excuse the random people in the background. It was chaotic and I just wanted to get a shot to preserve the memory):

Tuesday Jake had the dreaded dentist appointment to fill his first cavity and have a tooth extracted to hopefully make room so his permanent teeth can come in straighter than they currently are. Jake was nervous. I was nervous. But in the end, it all went rather smoothly. Here he is leaving the office biting on gauze to control the oozing:

We then went to Wal-mart for him to pick out a small Lego toy (Star Wars Clone Wars in case you were wondering) and for frozen yogurt after the numbness started wearing off.

Coincidentally, Jake had his end of season soccer party that evening at Pizza Hut and wasn't the least bit affected by his earlier trip to the dentist. Jake received a trophy (Bobble head ones of all things) and again we presented the coach with a flip photo book with pictures from the season. Here is the team (minus only one player) showing off their trophies:

Finally, on Monday Jadyn's weekly newsletter included the recipients of October's Student of the Month awards and Jadyn received the Academics award for achievement in reading. I am so proud of her and after seeing Jake get awards for the last 2 years, not to mention just last month, she was super excited. As soon as we get her award (the school had run out), we will be making another trip to Carrow's for her free breakfast and to celebrate her accomplishment. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture to share since the school cut down on awards ceremonies due to time constraints (which was actually fine with me because I think once a month assemblies was a little much).

That's all for now. Gotta get my work done and rest up. Midnight showing of Breaking Dawn Part I tonight with a great group of gals. My expectations are so low for this movie (seeing as how they have butchered all the books in their adaptations and this book wasn't even that good), I might just end up pleasantly surprised.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Knott's Berry Farm Version 2.0

Two years ago I blogged about a trip our family took to a Southern California amusement park called Knott's Berry Farm and how much it had changed from when I used to go as a child. One of the reasons we had gone was because from November 1st through Thanksgiving they offer a promotion where Veterans and one guest get in free, making it a rather inexpensive outing for our family. We meant to go again last year but never found the time.

We got the opportunity to go last week and boy oh boy was it fun. I know it's a total ripoff of Disneyland in so many ways - just replace Mickey Mouse with Snoopy and Charlie Brown (not that I am knocking the Peanuts gang. Their holiday specials are tradition in this household). But when you can go for practically nothing, when it's a light weekday crowd, when the lines are almost nonexistent, when the kids are old/tall enough to go on many of the rides by themselves, well that just adds up to a good time for all.

And Jadyn is such an adventurer. I took her on a pretty intense roller coaster in Camp Snoopy - she loved it. I then showed her some of the bigger roller coasters, ones she is years away from being able to ride and had she been given the chance, she was willing and ready. Jake isn't as into the roller coasters but he did finally go on that same roller coaster on our second go round of the rides. They also did the dragon swing and the Hat Dance (tea cups) and while the kids loved it, I realized I no longer have the stomach I used to for rides that spin and continually sway up and down.

You know its a successful trip when the whole family willingly poses with Snoopy!

And check out all these genuine smiles and silly posing:

Yearly tradition? On our fall family fun to do list? Absolutely! And for extra fun click on the Knott's Berry Farm link in the first paragraph of the post for a fun comparison of how much the kids have grown over the last 2 years.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Who knew we had two cats?

During the mild months of spring and fall and even the scorching heat of summer, the cats spend A LOT of time outdoors. Some may argue about the risks of having indoor/outdoor cats and we have had our incidents of the hunter becoming the prey and injuries because of our decision. But, I have always allowed our cats the choice to go outside and they enjoy it so very much.

However, last week our weather cooled considerably, going from the 80's to the low 60's and even lower at some points with added wind and rain. And off topic, I wasn't too happy that we seemed to have missed out on the low 70's/high 60's that is a favorite for me in fall. But apparently, this change in weather has decreased the amount of time the cats spend outside, basically they go out to do their business and maybe for a short jaunt during the right time of day. Otherwise they are inside, which means they play inside as well as want more attention and cuddle time too. It's like all of a sudden we have two new cats in addition to the dog. I found a majority of my pictures from this last week were 1) involving the cats and 2) taken with my new iPhone camera. Still getting used to it but nice when I don't want to drag out or lug around my SLR.

So glad we got Kuma a dog bed, which he never uses but the cats seem to find it a cozy place to cuddle up for a midday nap:

Friday begging for fresh sink water from the kids during their pre-bedtime teeth brushing:

And Friday again, zonked out next to Jadyn while she watches her post-school day cartoon:

Quickly, the only other news from last week was that on Thursday Jadyn got to wear her Halloween costume to ballet. Kind of fun:

And our school had their fall festival that same night. The kids had a blast and I was glad they moved it indoors, although I wish I would have known because I was bundled up to be outside and ended up sweating during my assigned time working the 2nd grade ring toss game. What can you do?

We finished the weekend by watching a lot of sequels - Cars 2, Spy kids 2 and X-Men 2. We also were very productive, getting lots of pre-holiday toy/junk purging and planning done. The kids went through their rooms and picked out stuff to donate, I ordered our holiday cards and made a list of the winter clothing items the kids still need. I also got a good list going for my holiday shopping. Can't believe it will be here before we know it.

Jadyn after going through her plethora of dress-up clothes and accessories. She specifcally asked to have her picture taken so I could share it with my friends:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wound up and winding down

This past Saturday was the 2nd to the last game of the season. Between daylight savings and the weather cooling down, I will be glad not to be sitting at the field for practice 4 evenings a week, but honestly, I am a little sad that the season is ending because I love soccer and I love watching the kids play. And Saturday Jake was ON FIRE scoring 3 goals and playing some awesome defense.

At one point during the game, the coach yelled out to Jake something to the effect of, "Someone sure did have their Wheaties for breakfast this morning!". Not understanding the reference, Jake stopped and looked at him replying, "No, I had bacon and toast."

It has also been a joy to see Jadyn get more and more aggressive on the field. I even had a parent from another team remark at how well she played during the game. She seems especially unafraid when playing goalie. Maybe she will take after me - I played goalie for several years during my "soccer career". At any rate, it doesn't look like she will be choosing between soccer and ballet anytime soon. And next year she will move up a division and no longer play co-ed, which I look forward to.

As you can see from the pictures, the matching "team spirit" hair color has somehow become a weekly ritual, almost part of their uniforms. To that end, I am kind of glad next week is their last game.