Thursday, February 23, 2012

Our Day in the Snow

Being from Southern California and now living in the desert, snow is definitely a novelty. Yes, we occasionally get some snow and even more rare, sometimes it actually sticks but it is not the norm. Last Wednesday we got some snow flurries. I didn't say anything to the kids at the time but I was secretly hoping that our long 4 day weekend for President's Day might get extended by an extra day but by morning any snow that had stuck in the yard was already melted.

Talk about novelty though - it figures that we actually had somewhere to go Wednesday night. We went to Back to the Ballpark night to meet the kids' baseball coaches for the season and then to the school's science fair to support the participants and look at all the cool entries. Some flurries were coming down when we left and I kid you not, I had never driven in falling snow before. And at night, it is actually quite a pretty sight. Jake said it was like we were in hyperdrive from a Star Wars movie and you know what? It was a pretty accurate description. So here are the hills above our house the day after it snowed as I sadly took the kids to school, my hopes for a snow day dashed:

So we didn't get any snow. Bummer. But I really like for the kids to get to play in the snow at least once every year. Last year we took the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway up into the San Jacinto Mountains for some snow play. This year we took advantage of our Friday off and went up to Big Bear. We stopped at a snow play area and spent almost 3 hours tubing. It was a blast! I am sure for those who get snow regularly during the winter, driving to and paying money to play in the snow probably seems ridiculous but again, for us it is quite the novelty. Jadyn throwing snow while waiting for Jake and I to come down the tubing hillAnd now it is her and Daddy's turn:

Here the kids both stylin as they go down the "bunny slope" for tubing:

Jadyn and I demonstrating our favorite tubing position:

Our little tube train - Jadyn on my back and Jake in a second tube holding onto my feet. Super fun!:
Another advantage of going somewhere to play in the snow? The convenience of not having to climb the hill before tubing down it. This snow play area had a covered moving walkway. We rode up in style!:

The kids and I:

Another advantage of driving to the snow is coming back down the mountain to do some shopping and have an early dinner before heading home and finding the temps hovering in the 70's. Gotta love So Cal winters!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Birthday Meme

Yes, it is my birthday. Taking a cue from Joanna, instead of adding on to 30, I am going to start subtracting from 40. Therefore I am now 40-2. The idea behind this concept is that in 2 years when I actually do turn the big 4-0, it won't seem like such a big deal since I will have essentially been trying it on for the 2 years prior.

Anyway, LauraC tagged everyone who read her blog post to answer the following 11 questions and (no pressure here) challenged everyone to be the most entertaining by bribing them with a Starbucks gift card. So while I highly doubt I can be the MOST entertaining, I sure as heck am going to try anyway. Besides, it's my birthday so why not do a post that is all about ME!

1. What is your favorite Girl Scout cookie? Okay, so not as unique an answer as someone who has never had a Girl Scout cookies but don't kill me for admitting, I am not a huge fan. Forced to choose, I would say Thin Mints but what I really love about this time of year is the limited edition ice cream that Dreyer's puts out - Slow Churned Girl Scout Cookie Thin Mint ice cream is worth stocking up on now to ensure you have plenty during the warm summer months.

2. What is the one item on which you always splurge? My hair. I gave up a lot of splurging to stay at home with the kids (totally worth it!). I rarely get professional mani/pedis and gave up 99% of the products I used to use from department stores or salons, not to mention name brand clothes BUT I still get my hair highlighted and cut professionally every 6-12 weeks depending on how blonde I am at any given time. Furthermore, not only do I budget for this splurge, I travel 88 miles to get it done by the same hairdresser back home that has done my hair for 15 years now. Kris is amazing and totally worth it and it is a nice reason to have dinner at the in-laws every 2 months or so.

3. What's the best book you've read in the last 10 years?It wasn't the best book but the one that has the most sentimental value for me is Twilight. Before you roll your eyes, please understand that prior to reading Twilight I had somehow lost my love of reading. Between only reading textbooks and research while completing my degree, getting married, moving multiple times and having kids, I hadn't read for pleasure in as long as I could remember. With Twilight, I rediscovered something that is now once again an integral part of who I am.

4. What is your favorite summer drink? June Bug. Total foo-foo tasting girly drink that packs a powerful alcoholic punch. It contains Malibu Rum, Midori, banana liquor, sweet and sour and pineapple juice.

5. Spring or fall? Fall. Love the colors, activities, holidays and sports associated with the season.

6. If you are not doing your dream job right now, what would it be?Write anything, counsel others, either high school or college-aged young adults not sure what path they want to take or young military wives needing assistance as they learn more about the culture they have married into.

7. Is there a better movie role model than Maude?Better, I don't know. How about Alice from Alice in Wonderland? A role model for me would be one that doesn't give a shit what others think of them but still takes the feelings of those they care about into consideration. A delicate balance indeed.

8. If you had $100 to spend at Target, what would you buy? Ahh. This is stressing me out. I love Target. I could seriously blow an entire paycheck there in the bat of an eye. Right now it would definitely be home decor and organizational items for my office.

9. Have you ever tried boxed wine? If it was good, what was the brand? Not that I am aware of but that doesn't mean I haven't.

10. If you could meet one blogger who would it be? Cacey is the first of many I still hope to meet including the WAHM group from BBC.

11. If I could photograph you doing anything, what would it be? I triple dog dare you to get a candid of myself that I actually like but seriously? Posed and candid shots of my family and I up in Joshua Tree National Park.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Funny Valentines

I know I've said this before but I happen to like Valentine's Day. Maybe because it's the holiday closest to my birthday or maybe because I enjoy any opportunity to show those I love just how much I care, even if I do try to make that effort daily anyway. Now that we have kids, and I know Joe would agree, I think of it as more of a family holiday than a romantic one. Yes Joe and I do exchange cards but we don't usually go out or get each other elaborate gifts, again probably since my birthday is so close.

So anyway, here are my funny Valentines before going to school. Again, Kuma insisted on being part of the picture, which is just as well since he is essentially one of our kids:

Last week we did some early Valentine celebrating. Jadyn got a new Build-a-Bear, a special pink heart kitty she named Bella Hearts. Jake got a treat too but somehow a new army helicopter and landing pad just doesn't scream "VALENTINES!" in quite the same way:

The next day Jadyn did a good majority of the work in helping me make these Valentine themed cupcakes, which I served at the inaugural meeting of my new book club later that night:

The kids came home from school on Valentine's Day hopped up on sugary treats each with a full bag of cards and even more candy. To say they were excited would be an understatement. And since it was my regular day to volunteer in Jadyn's classroom, I actually got some extra Valentine's myself, which I thought was super sweet.

In the end, all the red and pink and chocolate in the world can't compete with the pure sweetness of spending quality time with the family and capturing moments like this:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just like Harry Potter

Last Saturday I took the kids to the town's family fun day. This particular event had a theme of Wizards and Magic and with the kids love of all things Harry Potter, I knew they would have fun. We saw the same magician perform that we had gone to see over the summer during the library's reading program, Joel Ward. Jadyn and I took our picture with him and one of the doves he uses in his act. I had to comment to him that I also caught him on an episode of Tosh.O. Quite a jump to go between performing in front of families and small children and then being on a comedy show that is most definitely adults only.

Some of the other activities included wand-making and potion making. Jake made brainiac brew and Jadyn made liquid luck.

We also watched them put together a Muggle Quiddtich tournament. It seemed kind of confusing to me but it was a cute concept and the kids enjoyed watching it.

Overall it was a fun event. It also made us want to go home and have a Harry Potter marathon. But we didn't.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Project 365 highlights

I'll be honest - I have failed miserably at taking at least a photo a day. However, having said that, my project 365 has continued to serve its purpose as I have found myself taking more candids of the kids and pictures without human subjects as the year progresses. Therefore, although I may not end up with 365 pictures, I am continuing it anyway. Here are some highlights from the last several weeks.

Oops! Didn't mean to start with a picture of me. Anyway, I took this because I was showing off to a friend that I can sometimes step out of my comfort zone and wear colors that work together despite the fact that they don't match. Kind of an inside joke but I am big time into matching:

Kuma and I ran into this guy last week during our daily walk. Scared the crap out of me initially but he was just an innocent gopher snake and Kuma was completely disinterested. It did remind me however, that with all the walking through the fields we do, Kuma should probably be given the 2 shot series of rattlesnake vaccine, just in case:

Plenty of other grocery stores have these but they are new to the local grocery store we frequent and now the kids are suddenly fighting to go with me to the store. So stinking cute. And yes we are in the produce aisle but as you can see from Jadyn's cart we were heading into the weekend and stocking up on the boys favorite chips:

Kuma running around at the dog park with one of his two best friends, Jack. He is a German Shorthair Pointer of similar age and energy level and they seek each other out whenever we go:

The kids testing out new baseball equipment for the upcoming season at the sporting good store. They meet their new coaches tonight:

One of my favorites thus far of the 365 projects, this is a really cool window that is in the restroom no less shared by the yoga studio I attend and the best new pizza joint in town, Pie for the People:

Adventures with Flat Stanley

Last Saturday was BUSY! After the Home Depot workshop we did something that was long overdue. We went up into the national park. The reason for visiting Joshua Tree was twofold. First of all, the kids LOVE rock scrambling and we have not been nearly enough during the cooler days of fall and winter. Second of all, we have our visiting Flat Stanley who we wanted to show some of the sites that are unique to our home. The scenery of Joshua Tree National Park is about as unique as you can get.

Jake's day continued to get even busier. After going, going, going all morning and afternoon, he went with his best friend Kyle to go bowling in celebration of his birthday and then spent the night at his house. We had our neighbor Adriana come over and hang out with Jadyn so she wouldn't miss her brother's absence quite so much. We capped off the weekend with a Super Bowl party at Cruz and Tara's. It was a really nice weekend.

One last thing I wanted to show our visiting Flat Stanley before preparing to send her back was the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, which includes 3,100 windmills that can be viewed along Interstate 10, Highway 62 and parts of the 111 - all routes that our family travels frequently when going to what I fondly refer to as "civilization". I was headed that way Monday after taking the kids to school, so I brought her along for the ride.

I think we showed our visiting Flat Stanley a good time. I know we enjoyed showing her around.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Milestone Home Depot Workshop

Last Saturday we took the kids to the Home Depot for their monthly workshop. This particular project marked the tenth one for Jake and Jadyn, which earned them a special pin and they were really excited to have reached this milestone.

Here is Jadyn working on her project:

And after completing it, here they both are with their projects and special pins:

Furthermore, the project for February was a keepsake box. Right up Jadyn's alley and I was once again impressed with her creativity and attention to detail. I told her if I hadn't written her name on it for her, I might have kept the box for myself. Jake still hasn't painted his but I am holding out some hope that he might give it to me for Valentine's or my birthday.

We have all enjoyed Home Depot's monthly kids workshops and I really feel like it exposes the kids to do-it-yourself skills that will be valuable in the future.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Date night with the kids

I don't think it's any secret that Joe is not a fan of large crowds, especially large crowds of people that he doesn't know. So when I found out they were going to have a father/daughter dance at school, I discreetly warned him that he may be getting an invitation from a very enthusiastic 5-year-old little girl. Sure enough, Jadyn wanted to go and of course, Daddy couldn't refuse her.

I decided to take advantage of the event in more ways than one. I got to spend special quality time with Jadyn getting her all fancied up for the dance. She decided to wear her Easter dress from last year, which I thought was a wise choice since she hadn't had occasion to wear it again and she had made a pretty big deal about wanting this dress. You know, the one I nicknamed the "ridiculous dress"? Yep, that's the one. I also took her to get her nails painted while indulging in a pedicure for myself. It was the first time I had taken her - does she look excited or what?

I also curled her hair. With her shorter length, I found it much easier to get some ringlets. So yeah, she was pretty happy to be dolled up like a princess for her date with daddy:

And from all accounts, Jadyn had a blast. Joe was satisfied just to make her happy, so while he may not have had the greatest time, I think he would concur that it was worth it. They capped off the night with milkshakes from Sonic.

Finally, if you are going to ask where the picture is of Jadyn and Joe together, never fear - such a picture does exist. However, the memories of some special occasions are best preserved by keeping them to ourselves and that is exactly what Joe has requested.

So how else did I take advantage of this event? Well, I used it as a much needed chance to spend some quality time with Jake. We went out to dinner at Applebee's and enjoyed a nice meal and well, some conversation - he is not the most talkative boy these days. We also went to Wal-Mart to shop for his best friend's birthday gift, which he was celebrating with him the following day. Feeling quite generous, when we picked out the classic game of Battleship for Kyle, I also decided to buy the game for our family too. Therefore Jake and I capped off the evening trying to search and destroy each other's battleships, which he eventually did. The entire evening was a success.

Our date nights with the kids couldn't have come at a better time and as with the mention of our Nerf Wars, I still have a blog post brewing that will detail exactly why that is.

Monday, February 6, 2012

100 Days

It seems like just yesterday I took Jadyn to her first day of Kindergarten and now here she is celebrating the first 100 days of school with her class. Seriously, where does the time go?

Apparently celebrating the first 100 days of school has become a trendy and expected part of kindergarten. It's a fun way to help them learn numbers and counting. Jadyn's class had a full day of activities planned on Friday to mark the occasion. They were asked to bring a lunch sack filled with 100 items and then write clues to help their classmates guess what was in the bag. I know several friends whose kindergartners had to do much more elaborate projects then this but Jadyn not only had a lot of fun with her idea, she did it all by herself. I am very proud with how good her handwriting has become:

And here is my sassy girl ready for school on Friday with her mystery items in hand:

But the 100 day celebration was only the first part of what turned out to be a pretty eventful day for Jadyn in particular. So stay tuned.