Monday, January 30, 2012

Before we say good-bye to January

Yes, my blogging has been pretty sporadic as of late. January is just such an odd month. You have a perpetual hangover (metaphorically speaking) from the holiday celebrations and abundant time off from work and school. It is one of the slowest times of year for our family - we are in between sports, dance has just wrapped up a recital, work is slow and the weather is usually cold and dreary. That is precisely why I chose January to be recovering from surgery but when you add that to the mix, I am SO ready for January to be over.

Friday was a rare exception from the not so blog-worthy every day that we have been experiencing. Earlier in the week we received the honor of having a Flat Stanley visit us from a friend in North Carolina. Her name is Josie. I am really hoping to show Josie some of our desert landscape but on Friday, I decided that she should accompany the kids and I to school.

First off, Jadyn's kindergarten class was performing their teacher's college cheer (Nova Southeastern University) in front of the entire school during Friday Flag. The college cheer is part of a program called No Excuses University, which is designed to expose kids to the idea of college and college readiness at an earlier age. I was fortunate enough to be volunteering that day and was able to watch and video Jadyn and her classmates perform the cheer - really cute! Here is Josie with Jadyn and her best friend Riley before the performance:

Second of all, the school's production of Tiny Thumbelina was performing a matinee for some of the classes and both Jake and Jadyn's classes were able to attend. I had the chose of getting my volunteer duties done early or stay and watch the show first. I chose to watch the play and was so glad I did because it was really cute. Not to mention that to probably no one's surprise, Jadyn is now claiming she is going to try out for the spring production. As if kindergarten, ballet and t-ball is not enough for her. We will see how that goes, but in the meantime, here is Josie enjoying the production with Jake and some of his classmates:

We had a lot of fun family time in January - we played a lot of board games, adding Jenga to our rotation. We watched a lot of family movies, loved Dolphin Tale, the two Dairy of a Wimpy Kid movies, and give a less enthusiastic thumbs up to Mr. Popper's Penguins and Real Steel. We worked on crafty projects, baked goodies in the Easy Bake oven and I learned how to include myself in Jake's Nerf Wars (more on this in a future post). So January was not all bad but still, I am ready to move on. Good-bye January. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A treasure for treasures

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile now. Another item Jadyn had on her Christmas wish list was this wooden design and decorate jewelry box she saw in the Toys to Grow on catalog. She had actually wanted it since last Christmas but this year it moved up her list to #2.

I kept trying to sway her away from it because it seemed kind of pricey to me. At one point, I even showed her some other decorate your own jewelry boxes but she was not fooled. She informed me that these other jewelry boxes were made of cardboard and the one she wanted was real wood. This of course made Daddy proud. Sometimes you can get a good deal on something. And sometimes you get what you pay for.

Needless to say, she did in fact end up getting the jewelry box from Grandma Anita and Ken but due to shipping constraints, she did not actually get the jewelry box until the week after Christmas when I was in the hospital. Jadyn was willing to wait for me to get home so I could help her decorate it.

What none of us could have ever known was that the timing of the gift was perfect. I couldn't do much those first days after surgery but I could help Jadyn with her jewelry box. What we also never would have been able to guess is that this jewelry box would quickly become a family project. Daddy decided that it would probably look best if we painted it before decorating it so he pulled out the pink paint left over from Jadyn's room and carefully painted it. Once it was dry, Jadyn and I started to design it. The minute Jake heard the word pattern, he got in on the action helping us map out what was going to go where - gems, fabric flowers, ribbon and glitter glue placement was all thoroughly planned out and executed. I think the entire process took us 3 or 4 days.

I recall talking to my mom on the phone and telling her about the jewelry box. She asked if it had turned out gaudy. Or actually she might have used the word ostentatious or maybe even "over the top". At any rate, I knew what she was asking. However, the answer is not so simple. While yes, almost every inch of the jewelry box is covered by gems, fabric flowers, ribbon and glitter glue - it was not done in a haphazard manner and somehow, I know that the group effort produced a result that Jadyn will treasure for years to come. And to me, it really was worth more than the cost of the item itself.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Project 365 Week 3

I can see that some weeks are going to be better than others.

Day 15 - Friday is in love with this box. Great hang-out and he loves to play in it as well:

Day 16 - We have kind of a pigeon problem. Seriously, they are the rats of the bird world. Joe blocked off access to their enclave so now they just sit on top of our outside lights. Go away!:

Day 17 - Jadyn and Cookie watching "Bob's Big Break" in 3D:

Day 18 - Me sporting my new Green Bay shirt compliments of a thoughtful friend:

Day 19 - the kids helping me with laundry (LOVE!):

Day 20 - on the way to the in-laws we saw several rainbows in between the wet weather:

Day 21 - Jadyn showing off the Valentine crafts she made with Grandma Saturday while I was getting my hair done:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Worth the Wait

Last weekend (as in NOT this past weekend, yes I am behind) we got together with our good friends Cruz and Tara for dinner on Sunday night and also watched one of the football playoff games too. The kids were surprised to find they each had one more Christmas gift to open, as Cruz and Tara had to special order Jake's gift. And let me just say it was totally worth the wait for both of them -

Jadyn got something that had been pretty high on her list, Cookie the Playful Pup. In the past she always asked for the animals that "do stuff" but rarely are these the toy animals she gets super attached to. Not in this case! Cookie is really cute and has become Jadyn's best friend:

Jake got a set of woodland camis with his name on them. These are not to be confused with the desert camis he got from Cruz and Tara for his birthday, something he dresses up in several times a week. Now he gets to take his pick! Not the best quality picture but the face? Yeah, the non-smile was most definitely intentional:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Advice: Taken and Given

So much going on with the Internet and the Blackout to protest SOPA and PIPA. Crazy scary bills, in which you can read a brief summary here. Through LauraC's blog post today, I learned about an alternative to the protest that was proposed on Stirrup Queen's blog. Instead of protesting the bills, why not share what is good on the Internet, what might get lost if these bills pass? I thought this was an excellent idea and it kind of ties into what I wanted to share today anyway.

So today has also been declared free advice today as it showcases the positive, the things that we gain from being able to share on the Internet, specifically for me, in relation to my blog and by reading others' blogs.

Advice Taken: LauraC advocates taking pictures of your family. It doesn't matter when or where or whether you think you stand to lose a few pounds or whether you got the kids to smile or even look at the camera. These are memories you are going to want to have captured. Her advice reminded me that I withheld what I thought was our best family picture of the year from my blog because I used it for our holiday card this year. Therefore, I realize many of you have already seen it. But I wanted to explain for a moment why I chose this photo.

When I look at this photo, it takes me back to a wonderful memory of something that we love to do as a family. When we go to the river, I am able to relax and enjoy myself and my family to a degree that can not be compared to anything else. It is my happy place. And the fact that Kuma is in the picture too, makes it even more meaningful because I consider him so much a part of our family.

Did I have reservations about using this picture for our holiday card because I am in a bathing suit and not in love with my figure or because it was not holiday themed? Only fleetingly and simply because of everything I stated above, it trumped any insecurities I had.

Advice being given: If you have a blog, do not stop at updating it or even backing it up to your computer. Do something with it! I just received a package yesterday with two of my newest blog books including every post and every picture for the years 2010 and 2011. While I love scrapbooks and agree that they are super cute, I was never good at keeping up with them. And these blog books have so many details I have written about that I never would have taken the time to put in a scrapbook. It is a combination of a memory book and a journal and I have no doubt that I will cherish them for years to come, as will the kids. They will be able to look back on these and remember all the wonderful things we did as a family, the good and the not so good of our everyday lives and get a fairly accurate picture as to who their mom really was during this time in their childhood. I can not be more happy with how they turned out.

Here are the front covers. Every year I chose a picture of the kids that is a genuine candid and has sentimental value to me. These are the pictures that I would probably never frame on the wall but love nonetheless:

For the back covers I inadvertently started a tradition that has stuck of using a picture that is taken from behind. And beautiful scenery of a fun outing doesn't hurt. 2011 was taken when we went apple picking and 2010 was from our holiday photo shoot at the Morongo Preserve:

And just to give you an idea, a typical page on the inside. So far my yearly books have ranged from 320 to 500 pages:

Finally, if you do nothing else today about the protest to SOPA and PIPA, you can take a moment to participate in this petition letting Congress know how you feel. And my apologies for the link heavy post.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Project 365 Week 2

Day 8 - the family engrossed in Youtube videos on Daddy's laptop. Their new favorite? The music video for Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO.

Day 9 - Kuma working on the "leave it" command. Super proud of him. I can leave a highly desirable chew flip right at his feet and he won't go near it until I tell him it's okay. Such a good boy!:

Day 10 - Joe and I got to have a lunch date after one of my doctor's appointments. I introduced him to this Jewish deli and bakery in the low desert that is to.die.for. He loved it and is very picky about eating new places. I got to have a Monte Cristo, a personal favorite that is hard to find made to order (since I need it prepared without ham). It was delicious!:

Day 11 - Jadyn being silly trying to balance her stuffed tiger Raja on top of a board game box using her feet. Very proud to have captured this spontaneous moment:

Day 12 - my most unwilling subject Jake who did not want to be photographed cuddling up with his sister's blanket and pillow. I love the expression on his face:

Day 13 - loving my Kindle e-reader and case. I can't believe I wavered as to whether I would miss reading actual books and turning pages. This technology rocks:

Day 14 - Time for tea. Afternoon tea and yes the kids are still in their PJs. Love lazy days. This particular tea party included water, M&Ms and goldfish crackers. Yum!:

Thursday, January 12, 2012


And luckily for the moment at least, I am not talking about any illnesses.

We had a wonderful winter break. Even the week of my surgery, the kids enjoyed being home and having tons of time to play and relax. It was so great that Jake in particular has had a hard time getting back into the swing of things. As both last week and this week progressed, he got increasingly grumpy, especially in the mornings. He whined asking why he had to get up early every morning and go to school. Then after school he would whine about having to do his homework. He even whined at bedtime about why he had to read and go to bed early. I mean, wasn't it obvious why he needed to go to sleep? He was SO grumpy.

Then this morning Jake woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. He got ready for school and then came to me in my office and announced that he had made Joe and I's bed because he wanted to be nice and helpful. He also got Jadyn's stuff ready to brush her teeth. I admit to tearing up at his unprompted thoughtfulness. My sweet Jake was back.

The entire morning was then filled with good moods and random acts of kindness toward each other. Jadyn even got Jake's backpack and filled it with his lunch bag for him. I wish all mornings could be like this.

Of course after tomorrow the kids have a 3 day weekend for MLK's birthday. I just hope we don't wake up Tuesday morning and find ourselves back to square one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The mystery of our kids lost teeth

I don't know what the deal is with our kids. Last year Jake lost his first tooth after it became so loose, it fell out when he bit into a rice cake. His second tooth fell out at school and by the time he noticed it, he didn't know when and where it fell out. Honestly, he probably ate it with his lunch. Then if you recall, he let his third loose tooth dangle there for so long, it fell out while the hygienist was cleaning his teeth during a routine appointment. Seriously!

Never to be outdone, the day after Christmas Jadyn lost her second tooth in similar fashion. In fact, I think I'm the one who noticed that it had finally fell out that morning, most likely in her sleep the night before. It had been hanging by a thread for days. Now, only two weeks later, Jake realized he has lost yet another tooth but doesn't know what happened to it. The funny thing about this one is that we didn't even realize he had another loose tooth. What is going on here?

The first time it happened to Jake, I helped him write a note to the tooth fairy explaining what happened so he didn't get missed when she made her nightly rounds. By now, I think she is fairly convinced that my kids are trying to scam her - wanting money for a hole in their mouth and no evidence of the tooth that used to live there.

I guess its a good thing I know the tooth fairy personally.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week in Review

This last week found the kids at least, back to business as usual. They went back to school and Jadyn picked up her ballet class again.

For me, it was a chance to get caught up on some projects that I would otherwise not usually have a chance to work on. Therefore, this last week I was able to sit on the couch with Joe's laptop and create not 1, not 2 but 3 years worth of blog books. That is 1100 pages of editing. And I am feeling quite accomplished to be caught up in that respect.

For Joe, it was chance to walk in my shoes. And I have to give him a shout out for what an amazing husband and father he is for working, going to school and taking on all my stay-at-home duties like cooking, cleaning and getting the kids to and from school and ballet. I don't know what I ever did to deserve him but I am one lucky gal.

Saturday was the only day we did anything noteworthy. We took the kids to the Home Depot Workshop where they built and painted savings sheds. They came out really cute. We then hopped over to Carrow's so we could celebrate Jadyn's reading award from October with her free breakfast. She was so proud!:

We then headed over to the Community Center so I could sign BOTH kids up for Little League. You heard me right. Jadyn is going to try her hand at baseball now by playing t-ball. I no longer have doubts about her playing team sports. She has already proven herself with soccer that my girly girl can also be one tough cookie. While I was filling out all the paperwork, the kids enjoyed some time at the park. The weather over the past week has been beyond amazing - sunny and near 70 degree temps.

While running errands, Jadyn used her Christmas money/allowance to buy one of the new Lego Friends sets that are geared toward girls. I don't know why they haven't launched a line like this before. It is super cute. We spent the late afternoon putting it together and playing with it. I foresee more of these sets making their way into our home in the future:

We finished off our Saturday by having some friends over for dinner, our neighbors Shami and Adriana and Cruz and Tara. It was a very nice evening.

And so I think the new year is off to a pretty decent start.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Project 365 Week 1

I have a feeling I am going to miss some days BUT I also have a feeling I am going to love this project and gain a lot from it. Lots of observations already.

Day 1 - The night of New Year's Day, me still recovering and Kuma keeping me company. Forcing myself to post this picture because I am not fond of my profile:

Day 2 - Just a typical day at the Funny Noses - Jadyn stirring chocolate fondue dessert while wearing her footie pajamas and the cat mask from Halloween 2 years ago:

Day 3 - The pass we have to go through every time we want to go to "civilization" aka any store besides Wal-Mart:

Day 4 - Jadyn in one of my favorite outfits of hers, counting her green tickets from school (she earns green tickets for being extra good each day and gets a prize when she accumulates ten):

Day 5 - Friday stealing Kuma's breakfast and Kuma letting him:

Day 6 - Jadyn and her smiley face Lego creation:

Day 7 - Jake and Jadyn building Jadyn's new Lego set (more on this to come):

Observations - Jadyn is a much more willing muse than Jake. The kids are way too used to stopping and posing for me. I really really dislike my profile (oops, already said that. Have to throw it in there again to emphasis my point). We play with Legos, A LOT.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

So this is the new year

"So this is the new year and I don't feel any different", a line from a favorite song of mine by Death Cab for Cutie.

I also kind of feel like a broken record because I am pretty sure I have blogged about this before, maybe even quoted that song before. But am I the only one that doesn't feel that sense of renewal and starting over that everyone talks about with the new year? I feel it more when school starts in August/September. And then in January it is less about resolutions then it is tinkering with any new habits I had put in place in the fall. More resolve than resolution? I don't know if that makes sense. Put another way, in January, when we return to the every day routines after the holiday break, I like to look at the things I was already focused on accomplishing, the things I was already doing and doing them even better rather than taking on something that is completely new or foreign to me.

For example, over the last 2 years I have been meal planning. Every summer it falls to the wayside and every school year, I start it over. It again drops over the holidays and when I pick it back up in January, I am resolved to improve the system. And over the last 2 years I have become more consistent and efficient in my methods of accomplishing this.

My good friend and fellow blogger Jen brought about an interesting discussion about new year's resolutions on Facebook by resolving NOT to change anything. One reply stated it another way by suggesting to resolve to continue something you are doing that is already good, fun or healthy like "I resolve not to change my habit of reading to the kids most every night". I really like this concept.

And of course there is A LOT I cannot do right now, so my aversion to resolutions is even more pronounced. Last year I resolved to walk/run 500 miles and although I did increase my total from 250 miles in 2010 to 350 in 2011, I still fell short. It would be unwise of me to take on another fitness challenge right now when I will be very activity restricted for at least another 5 weeks.

BUT there is one thing I am taking on in the new year and that is a 365 photo project. There are so many variations on this but basically my aim is to take a picture (SLR or phone) at least once every day. My goal (and this is the connection to yesterday's funny post in case anyone was wondering) is to capture more of the every day, more candids.

You see, I am very good at taking lots of pictures on special occasions/special outings, holidays, birthdays. And usually a lot of these photos are posed. You know, "stop, stand here, say cheese!". The kids will definitely have pictures and blog posts reminding them of all the fun things we did. But what about the fun that we have in the every day moments? The moments like we had so many of this last week while all just hanging out around the house? I want to capture that too. So that is my goal in taking on this project.

And in addition to capturing it, I also want to be able to live in it. To just live in the moment and enjoy it. Being forced to take it easy made me realize even more than I already knew that this is so very, very important and something that for me, does not necessarily come naturally. But I have seen the benefits and it made me crave it even more. So I guess if anyone asked what my new year's resolution is, I might just say:

Live in the moment. I resolve to just be.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Funny Funny Noses

With me recovering from my surgery last week (it went well, thank you for asking), our new year celebration was extremely low key. We smashed the gingerbread house:

Yes, safety first in our house. I let my daughter weld a hammer outside in the cold with bare feet and didn't actually realize it until I looked at this picture afterwards. Doh!

We made S'mores outside with the firepit (don't get me started on Jake's new obsession with wearing sunglasses all the time, even in the dead of night):

And the next day we stayed in our PJS and had a very lazy, lazy day (frankly I think the entire weekend was lazy but whose keeping track?). This included lots of snuggling and giggles courteous of SpongeBob, whom I fear I will never truly understand the appeal. Nevermind. It makes them happy:

And with all my posts about the holidays, I had no way of throwing in some really funny pictures I have taken over the last month or so. Like this one of Jadyn, who found a new use for all her new Pipsqeak markers:

And Jake dressed up with some of his new battle accessories including an electronic clone trooper helmet (I also have about a billion other pictures of him dressed up in all his military gear sans the new Star Wars helmet):

And then there was the day that Jadyn decided to use a black marker to make herself a kitty:

And the time the kids made an obstacle course (still one of their favorite indoor winter activities) and then wanted me to take pictures of them posing with it (anyone know how to improve the foggy/evil red eyes when using flash with the new iPhone?)

Even the pets get in on the action, willing or not. Here is Friday acting as one of Jadyn's "patients":

Yes, the Funny Noses can be well, funny.

Looking at these pictures and the last week of being home and not doing much of anything made me realize something, which in part inspired my sort of, kind of New Year's resolution. But this post is getting way too long so I will save my revelation for tomorrow.