Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 5th Blogiversary

Wow! I cannot believe that I have been blogging for FIVE years now. It really is an integral part of my life and the fact that I can turn all the blog posts from any given year into a very detailed memory book for the kids makes it all the more sweeter.

When I look back over my posts from the past year, I usually find a few posts that stick out to me as being particularly poignant and I list them as my favorite posts of the year. Looking back on 2012, very few posts stuck out to me. I did a decent job of documenting everything we did throughout the year and writing about Jake and Jadyn's personalities and interests but I find I did not dig deep or get as personal. I know that part of that is due to the fact that as the kids gets older, I have to be more aware of what I put on my blog but that doesn't explain all of it. I seemed to have taken a step backward, having started to open up in this venue, I find myself becoming more reserved again.

And the fact that the posts that I tend to cherish the most are the ones where I open up and let myself be completely real and vulnerable are always my favorites. The posts that get the most response from others. The posts that I admire most on other people's blogs. It is all the evidence I need in deciding that I want my blog to find myself heading in that direction again in 2013. Because the real me is who I want others to see, who I want my kids to know when then are older and looking through the books that I created, almost like a private journal for all to see.

What I hope to see at the end of 2013 is that my blog is a reflection of all that we are as a family and all that I am as a person. I want it to capture and reflect a growing ability to live in the moment, be vulnerable and free and hopefully discover what I want for my future.

I want to live, laugh and love to the fullest. You can call it my new year's resolution if you would like but that is what I hope for the upcoming year.

And I wish the same for everyone else in the new year too!

My books of 2012

If you count the books I also re-read, I read 30 books this year. This is definitely the most I have read since becoming a mother and I love that reading is such an integral part of my life. And since it is such a big part of my life, I wanted to share those books that I particularly enjoyed this year.

I rate all the books I read on Goodreads on a 1-5 star scale. I had many books who I could only give 4 stars but I really wanted to give them 4.5. I just couldn't quite justify the full 5 stars. The ONE book I gave 5 stars to this year was...

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

4 star books I really, really enjoyed and would be comfortable recommending were

The Passage by Justin Cronin (4.5 stars)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (4.5 stars)
The Fault in our Stars by John Green (4.5 stars)
Before I Go to Sleep by S.J Watson (4.5 stars)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Ape House by Sara Gruen

Most of the other books I read I gave 3 stars too. I typically don't bother finishing books I would ultimately end up only giving 1 or 2 stars too. That said, the book I enjoyed the least this year was

The Kill Order by James Dashner (prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy, 2 stars)

Thanks to the Kindle gift card Santa brought me, I have already gotten several books to read in 2013 and added several others to my wish list, most from friend recommendations on Goodreads or best of the year lists from major publications. I think this next year will be another great year of reading.

Kuma turns TWO!

While Kuma didn't become a part of our family until he was 8 weeks old on President's Day weekend of 2011, his actual birthday is December 25th, Christmas Day.

I can't believe he is already two years old. He is officially no longer a puppy and yet he will always be my baby. This last year he has continued to be a sweet and mostly obedient dog. He became my true exercise partner when I started running again and some days I am so thankful to have his needs to motivate me to get out there, whether we just walk, run or a combination of the two. And I love that on most of the routes I take, we end up on a trail in an empty field and I can let him off leash. Watching him bound around the desert plants, chasing birds and rabbits and seeing him so happy always puts a smile on my face. I am so very grateful to have Kuma as part of our family.

And yes, I am that crazy doggy mom who actually baked him a dog-friendly cupcake for this birthday. He was a little afraid of it at first since we actually put candles on it and sang to him. But once he got a whiff of all that peanut butter, he went at it and devoured it.


This is the picture that was on the back of our holiday card this year. I could not believe how well he cooperated with me for this and I think it is fitting being that he is a Christmas baby.


Happy birthday Kuma!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Santa Claus Came to Town Version 2012

Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even the mouse.

Wait. We don't have a mouse. We do have the guinea pig and I am pretty sure he did his own thing that night.

So, after a 3 a.m. wake up call from Jake last year, Joe and I were sort of expecting the same this Christmas morning. Therefore as parents, we kept waking up, listening for the stirrings of the children and checking the clock. To our utter surprise, the kids didn't end up getting out of bed until after 6 a.m. Much better than last year!

And then the joyous chaos of Christmas morning.



And before you know it, the area around the tree looks like this:


The kids both got the iPod touches that were on the top of their list. Jake also got a new bike (his old street bike was WAY to small for him) and some more Halo sets. Jadyn also got Bouncy my Happy to see me Pup, a pink Razor scooter, and a few other assorted crafty items and stuffed animals. And they then declared it The Best Christmas Ever!

We spent the morning playing with all our new toys and then got ready to make the drive to visit my Grandma Kat, along with a houseful of my Aunts and cousins. Unfortunately, the chaos of a Schexnyder Christmas does not lend itself well to picture-taking but it was very nice to see everyone (it had been too long) and after taking some time to warm up, Jake and Jadyn eventually played with their cousins and had a good time. I was also able to indulge in some of my Grandma's famous cooking including seafood gumbo and homemade pralines fudge. Yum-Yum!

This holiday I did miss not having my mom in town and the fact that I never got to see my brother and his family but other than that, I have to say it was a very nice Christmas, full of family, friends, too much food and plenty of fun-filled memories.

Celebrating the holiday

Our first Christmas celebration was on Saturday the 22nd with the extended Funny Nose clan. To make it easier for Grandma Anita, we had a lunch at her house with her husband Ken, GrandBob and Grannie Annie, Joe's Uncle Steve and Aunt Sharon, cousins Kristen and Diane and their kids and Joe's sister Leigh and our niece and nephew. It was a full house. Jake and Jadyn had a blast playing with all their cousins and the food was as always delicious.

Here are all the cousins together (we are minus one, Teah, who along with her parents Steven and Michelle, were unable to make it). Top row: Jadyn, Jake, Aidan and Aliyah. Bottom row Joel, Lilly and Paul.


And the kids and I when we got home (I wanted to show off my new boots, a Christmas gift from Joe):


When we got home Saturday afternoon, the kids were allowed to open gifts from GrandBob and Grannie Annie and both received items that were very high on their wish list. Jadyn immediately started snuggling her new Build-a-Bear German Shepherd, whom she named Germany and Jake was shocked and pleased to see a Megabloks Halo Elephant underneath the wrapping paper.



On Christmas Eve, we celebrating the holiday with friends, The Millers, our neighbors the Guerreros and Cruz and Tara. We had a traditional Mexican Christmas dinner complete with tamales, homemade refried beans, chicken taquitos and salsa courtesy of Joe and Mexican rice and guacamole from our local carniceria.  It was amazing! Afterwards, we gathered up the kids for a picture before doing a gift exchange. We were able to include Kuma and Harley in the picture along with Michael, Adriana, Jadyn, Jake and Dominic (notice Jadyn is wearing her new Stompeez slippers):


We were also able to get a family photo:


After everyone left, we carried out all our Christmas Eve traditions - picking out cookies, carrots and milk to leave for Santa, telling Jelfie good-bye, sprinkling magic reindeer food on the lawn and checking Santa's location on Norad. The kids excited, were able to go to bed fairly easy given their busy evening and by the time the clock struck midnight, Santa had already made his stop to our house:


The only question that remained; how early would the kids get up?????

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I really try to instill in the kids that while it is very fun to wish for and receive gifts for Christmas, it is equally satisfying to give to others and that giving, especially to those less fortunate than us, is truly the spirit of the season. However, while I want to document the giving we did this holiday, I am not doing it to pat my own back. In fact, just the opposite. I really want to carry the emphasis of giving to others to encompass the entire year and that is definitely something we can improve upon as a family.

The week leading up to Christmas, the kids spent time creating special cards and gingerbread men ornaments to include with the gift cards that we got for their teachers. We also put together bags of Snowman Soup (hot chocolate with kisses, marshmallows and candy canes) to pass out to classmates.


I took each of the kids shopping to pick out gifts for each other, daddy and their best friends. Daddy in turn helped the kids pick out gifts for me on the internet. They made, pained and decorated picture frames for the grandparents at the Home Depot workshop earlier in the month and were involved in gift wrapping all the gifts that came from them. And of course, we passed out containers of goodies to all our neighbors.

The most important act of giving however, was when I took Jake and Jadyn to the store to pick out non-perishable food and a few toys to drop off at the local charity of our choice, TLC (Tender Loving Christmas), who provide Christmas meals and gifts to those who might not otherwise be able to enjoy the holiday. The thought that the kids put into making these selections made my heart full.

Here are the kids the last day of the break before we left for school with all our goodies to pass out:


The last day of school before the break, Jadyn and her class all made gingerbread houses using little chocolate milk containers. I volunteered that day and was able to take a picture of Jadyn with her creation:


Jake took part in a gift exchange and got to watch the Grinch with his class.So as usual that last week before the holiday was busy and of course, lots of fun.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Baking, baking and more baking!

It seems that every year we add to all the goodies we bake. And this year with the kids going to school clear up until the 21st and the fact that we were celebrating Christmas with the extended Funny Nose family early, we had to get a lot done in a short amount of time.

Joe took care of the fudge, chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies. I prepared the sugar cookies so the kids could help roll out of the dough, cut out the shapes and decorate.




But that's not all. On Sunday, we not only made second batches of fudge and chocolate chip cookies, but Joe experimented and made some really delicious peppermint fudge and a small batch decorated with M&Ms. I also decided to make peanut butter blossoms and haystacks. We had a lot of goodies!


So we packed a bunch of them up and headed out to hand them out to neighbors:



 But we kept plenty to share with our company that night too.


 Yes. We definitely did our share of baking this year.

The last week with Jelfie

Jelfie continued his antics through the week leading up to his departure on Christmas Eve. On Monday, he took over my stocking:


On Tuesday, he brought the kids Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3 on DVD and declared to have gotten the cheese touch. The moldy cheese came as part of a prank kit with the movie as well as a bug trapped in ice and fake poop. I am afraid for the pranks that will ensue with these items:


On Wednesday, he took pictures of the kids sleeping and was found playing with my phone the next morning:

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On Thursday, he got in a marshmallow snowball fight with some of Jadyn's friends and build some snowman out of marshmallows as well. This was one of the kids favorites:


On Friday he made a sugar snow angel. This was our annual baking day (more to come on this later):


 On Saturday, he got locked out of the house.


 I had to plan ahead for this one because I knew the kids wouldn't want to leave him there and they are deathly afraid of touching him and having him lose his magic, so I was able to get him in a shoebox so he could sleep the rest of the day. Later in the day when we were watching a holiday special on TV, Jadyn held him up so Jelfie could watch too:


 Sunday was his last night with us. He added himself to our family photo via dry erase marker and left a very nice note. This note explained that to enable him to say good-bye, Santa would be lifting his magic momentarily so the kids could give him a hug and kiss good-bye. The kids were thrilled. It helped soften the blow of saying good-bye.




However, even with permission, Jake was afraid of taking Jelfie's magic away, so  he bypassed the opportunity.


On Christmas Even, Jelfie flew back to the North Pole with Santa and he will be missed. He brings joy, laughs and extra special magic during an already magical time of year. Good-bye Jelfie! Hope to see you again next year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

School Accomplishments

Amid all the holiday excitement leading up to Christmas, the kids also finished their first trimester of the school year. I was very proud to see such good marks on both their report cards.

Jadyn was at or above grade level for all areas of language arts and math and her teacher remarked that she was a mature and conscientious worker. This is also the first year that she gets to attend the trimester award assembly and she was both excited and nervous to go on stage to accept her Star Reading Award:


She also received the Spelling 100 award and was personally invited by the principal to attend an after school screening of the Polar Express for meeting her reading goal for the trimester. She had a lot of fun at the event.

This is the first year that Jake is being given letter grades and I was very pleased to see that he got all A's and B's. His teacher remarked that he is a hard worker who produces very neat work and is she is very pleased with the improvements he has made in creative writing. Because of his good grades, Jake made the Dean's Honor Roll having earned a 3.75 GPA. He was very proud:


And Joe and I were very proud of both of them and hope to see them continue to do so well in school.

Knott's Merry Farm 2012

Last Wednesday before the break, the kids had a minimum day at school. We thought this would be the perfect chance to play hooky and head over to Knott's Berry Farm. Our friends the Millers and Tina's sister Diana with her two girls, also thought it was a great idea and decided to join us.

Knotts Merry Farm

The kids had a blast. The only low came when I convinced Jake to try and go on Montezuma's Revenge with me. Jake is not a fan of roller coasters but I thought going with his best friend Dominic and the lack of sideways movement might change his mind. This roller coaster, a personal favorite of mine, launches you from 0 to 55 in 3 seconds and then takes you on a 7 story loop forward and then again backwards. Needless to say that Jake was NOT a fan and proceeded to pout for about an hour afterwards, repeatedly asking me why I took him on the ride. Oops. Not one of my best mommy moments. I can't wait for Jadyn to get a little taller so I have someone to go on these rides with. Unfortunately this year she was just shy of the 48 inch height requirement.

I can't help but smile every time I see this picture:


 Jake's favorite ride, the swings:


Jadyn's favorite rides were the ferris wheel and the "spinny" roller coaster of which I have no pictures because I was on the rides with her. But here she is with the girls hanging out with some gold miners:


 And the whole crew together on the air mail ride in Camp Snoopy:


A big shout out to Knott's Berry Farm for offering such a generous promotion to veterans during the months of November and December, making a yearly trip to this amusement park a family tradition. We've always enjoyed going and this year was no exception.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Scout Elf Fun

The kids have really enjoyed having Jelfie here for another holiday season and being that it is his second year with us, he seems to really have stepped up his game.

Last Monday for example, he exchanged all our stockings and replaced them with our underwear. I am a little embarrassed at the though of Jelfie rifling through my "delicates" drawer:

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 On Tuesday he got so caught up playing on my laptop that he didn't make it back to the North Pole and had to send Santa this email:

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The next day we found him next to a plate of elf-sized doughnuts. Thankfully, there were also human-sized ones for all of us to enjoy as a special treat that morning for breakfast:

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 Friday was his most labor intensive antic yet. We found him fishing for Goldfish in a Polly Pocket play set of Jadyn's while perched on a lifeguard chair he constructed out of of Legos. Where does he find the time?

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While I didn't photograph him playing Connect 4 with Barbie on Saturday morning, on Sunday he decided to toast a marshmallow by candlelight. That night the kids had S'mores for dessert:

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Yes indeed. We have all enjoyed having Jelfie here for another holiday season and can't wait to see what he does his last week here with us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bass Pro's Santa's Wonderland

Saturday we headed out to the Inland Empire. It was time for this mommy to get her hair done. And the timing made it perfect for a stop to Bass Pro Shops. Now our family can turn a trip to Bass Pro an event any time of year but during the holidays, it truly is an event as they have their annual Santa's Wonderland.

There are crafts, a carousel, a moving train, remote controlled monster trucks, slot cars, and both laser and bow and foam arrow arcades. But the highlight of course is getting to see and take a picture (free) with Santa:

Bass Pro Santa



 Afterwards, we headed to Grand-Bob and Granny Annie's for a quick visit and the kids were given very thoughtful ornaments to add to their trees - a bike for Jake and a cheerleader for Jadyn to signify their new found interests in these activities. They were also given a Home Depot gingerbread house. Joe and Jadyn had fun putting it together Sunday as we had a lazy day at home mixed in with some holiday activities like getting together goodies for the kids to pass out in class the last day before winter break.

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 And just like that we are only 1 week away from Christmas day. It just goes by too fast!