Friday, August 31, 2012

End of Summer

With the kids back at school and Labor Day weekend upon us, it is time to look back at the summer and see exactly what items on our summer bucket list we were able to accomplish. Being that I have declared this the "best summer ever", I would say we did pretty darn good.

Visit our local museum
Visit Discovery Children's museum **
Go to a baseball game (minor and/or major)
Miniature golf
Movie theater - Madagascar 3, Ice Age 4, Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3, Brave.
Drive in movie theater
Going out for frozen yogurt
Concert(s) in the park
Movie(s) in the park
Library summer reading program
Visit local animal shelter
Swim lessons
Knott's Soak City *
Palm Desert Aquatics Center
Swimming in our pool (A LOT)
Swimming at high school pool or spa pools *
Beach (hopefully at least twice) *
River ( A LOT) check out new areas along the river **
Sunburst Splash park
Play dates with friends
Sleepover with friends *
Grilling and eating outside on the patio
Family movie nights
Family game nights
Family dance parties with glow sticks
Water balloon toss
Sleep overnight in a tent
Stay in a hotel *
San Diego Zoo
Legoland **

Most of the things we didn't get to were things that were thrown out as ideas if we got bored but obviously, that never happened. Those items included visiting the local museum and bowling. As far as the aquatic center, I decided to hold off on that because Jadyn wouldn't have been tall enough to go down the water slide and we decided as a family to wait on the zoo, opting for Legoland instead. We also have plans to go camping in the National Park one weekend coming up soon, when it gets just a tad bit cooler.

One item on the list mutated a little bit when our busy swim lesson and sports practice schedules prevented us from using the pool as much as we may have in the past. The solution: night swimming! It became quite the tradition for us.

Last week when we got back from the river, we rounded out our summer with the one place the kids would not give up on going to - Knott Soak City. I did not bring in my phone or camera so I have no pictures but the kids absolutely LOVED it. For me, it was as exhausting as I thought it would be - carrying rafts up the hills, waiting in line in 100+ temps, dealing with crowds and overpriced everything BUT it was worth it to see the smiles on the kids faces, their playful screams when going down the water slides or dodging a wave in the wave pool and then jumping up and down deciding what attraction to go on next.

The next day we met up with some friends for one last playdate at Sunburst Park, the perfect spot for summer because it has both a splash park and skate park for my new bike riders. Here are a few pictures taken over the summer at one or more of our many Fridays spent there with friends:

Friday night, both the kids had their BFFs spend the night and we capped it off with a glow stick dance party.

We spend the rest of the weekend playing soccer games, resting and gearing up for the start of school.

We are not going away for Labor Day weekend (in fact Joe doesn't even have Monday off). We have no soccer games because of the holiday. I can't wait to spend a relaxing weekend with the family. One thing we will be doing is sitting down and brainstorming our list of Fall activities we want to do, so get ready for another seasonal bucket list. In the meantime, have a great Labor Day weekend.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Couldn't ask for a better ending

Last week we headed up to the Laughlin/Needles area for a few days at the river. This is our second year making a similar trip and I truly hope it continues to be a tradition. Sure we go to the river multiple times during the warmer months but we usually make day trips to areas south of Parker. Actually staying overnight at the river gives us much more time on the water and makes for a much more relaxed attitude about everything involved with getting a boat out on the water.

We decided to stay at one of the casino hotels in Laughlin, in short to give us the convenience of more eating choices. We also thought that when we arrived Sunday afternoon, the kids could enjoy the hotel pool. That turned out to be an epic fail. I couldn't believe how crowded the pool was! The kids still swam for awhile but it was far from ideal.

 We were joined on this trip by Grand Bob and Granny Annie, Bob's cousin Joe and his wife Mary and our friends Cruz and Tara. We launched the boats, beached for awhile, drove through Topock Gorge (so breathtakingly beautiful, one of my FAVORITE spots along the river).

And the kids in all our years of going to the river finally got a chance to try this:

TUBING! Jadyn, our little thrillseeker didn't particularly like it. When we asked her how she goes on all these crazy roller coasters but doesn't like being towed on the tube, she explained that the roller coaster has a seat belt and the tube doesn't. Makes sense. Next year I definitely want to see if either of the kids want to try water skiing.

That day we stayed on the water until 7 p.m. It was an insanely great day at the river. And what better way to finish it off and make staying in Laughlin 100% worthwhile than dinner at In-N-Out?

Day two on the water we again drove the boat through the gorge and went all the way to the top of Havasu. I may be the only person in the world who has never actually been to Lake Havasu. This is where all the spring break and holiday weekend craziness happens and it can be a little less than family friendly. We have always had our little sandbar when we go to Big River but this trip we stopped at THE Sandbar - a spot famous for getting crowded and wild. Since we were there on a random Tuesday, I only spotted one girl in a thong and pasties and luckily the kids were oblivious because I didn't really want to get into a discussion with them about that.

Here is our obligatory family picture from this trip:

I know I sound like a broken record but this summer has truly been the best summer ever. I think the kids are at ages where they can do a lot more, do a lot more on their own and I just really, really enjoy all the adventures the summer allowed. It makes me want to be able to freeze these moments in time. I have never wanted them to stop growing up so fast more than right now. But then I think to the future and all that it holds and I just can't help but smile. It won't always be easy but in the end I know it is worth it. On the days I am stressed out or having issues with the kids, I am just going to close my eyes and remember floating on a raft with the gorge as my backdrop, listening to the kids giggle as they splash in the water and all will be right with the world.

Monday, August 27, 2012

First Day of the School Year 2012

It's true what they say - time flies when you are having fun. So after having one of our best summers ever, it's hard to believe the kids are already heading back to school. And this year I have two elementary school veterans!

The biggest change for Jadyn going into 1st grade (yes I said 1st) will be adjusting from a half day to full day schedule.

 Jadyn wanted me to take an extra picture so she could show off her painted nails:

The biggest change for Jake going into 3rd grade (yes I said 3rd) will be adjusting to nightly instead of weekly homework assignments.

However, I am hopeful that this will be another great school year and even though I have loved the summer, I am ready for the natural rhythm and routine that school provides, not to mention looking forward to some cooler weather.

Here are the kids choices for backpacks/lunch bags. I found it kind of ironic that Jadyn picked hearts and peace signs and Jake went right for the military camo print.

And never fear, because as far as the blog goes, I am not quite done with summer yet.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Discovery Museum

Last Wednesday the kids and I went to the Discovery Museum of the Desert, which is fairly close by and a very cool little place for younger kids. It was another item that was pretty high on both the kids lists of MUST do items for the summer. The kids basically spent a ton of time in all the same areas they did last year. Some highlights:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Swamis Beach

Sunday night, the kids and I drove to Temecula/Murrieta to visit our friends, the Beyer family. The kids spent the entire evening playing, laughing, riding bikes and having a blast with their friends Gavin and Hayden, whom they don't get to see so often since they moved away last year. Rose and I of course spent hours and hours chatting and catching up on life. It was very nice.

Monday they took us to this little beach they found in Encinitas. It's a little surf haven that is almost exclusively frequented by locals, which means it doesn't get as busy as many of the other beaches in Southern California. My expectations were high, as Rose had described it as magical. And you know what? She just might have been right.

We spent four glorious hours on the beach with picture perfect weather and the kids tried boogie boarding, which they immediately fell in love with. I seriously don't think they spent more than a total of 20 minutes out of the water the entire time we were there and that was because the four kids had to take turns sharing the 3 boogie boards Rose had brought.

This magical beach had a few drawbacks. It is located on a bluff and you did have to descend approximately 170 stairs to get down to it. Going down wasn't so bad but coming back up? Well let's just say it's been 3 days and my calves are still sore (man am I out of shape!).

View from the top of the bluff:

And on the beach with the bluff in the background:

The other drawback is that while it was only 45 minutes away from Rose's house to get there, the drive all the way home for us took almost 3 hours. Needless to say, the kids and I were exhausted.

Exhausted, but totally worth it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mama said knock you out

Remember that other front top tooth of Jadyn's? The one that was already naturally loose?

I am not sure why Jadyn's teeth can't just fall out. She has to endure some kind of trauma for it to happen. At least it seems that way as of late.

Last night Jadyn was playing in Jake's room, went to look out the window and knocked her loose front tooth out on Jake's bed post. There was blood. There was crying. But in the end, she admitted that it didn't hurt so much as scare her. There is evidence of the accident, not only by her now missing tooth, but she also bit her lip in the process.

I now have TWO front top toothless kids (although in all fairness one of Jake's permanent teeth is about half way in).

This has definitely been a summer of crazy milestones!

Friday, August 10, 2012

From Tadpoles to Sharks

Disclaimer: Sorry in advance for this braggy post. Trust me: I am not perfect, my kids are not perfect and our life is not perfect but right now, I just want to to be a proud mama and not feel guilty for sharing it.

The kids just finished the last session of swim lessons for the summer. Oh, how I wish they had a year round swim program in our area but they don't. This year the kids did three out of four 2 week sessions because they were both enjoying it so much and making so much progress.

I have had the kids do swim lessons since they were a year old because I never really learned how to swim properly myself. I like the water and I am not going to drown, but I never learned the proper techniques for diving and different strokes. Being that we go to the river quite often, love the beach and spend so much time in the pool during our 100+ degree summers, I wanted the kids to be confident in the water.

Over the summers, the kids have moved through the age grouped swim classes - Tadpoles (mommy and me) and Guppies (preschool ages 3-5) to the skill based groups starting with Stingrays. After three sessions as a Dolphin, Jake moved onto Sharks for this last session, the highest skill based group available until you are old enough for guard training. The biggest highlight was watching him learn and perfect his diving:

But the real surprise was Jadyn. She realizes she is 2 years younger than her brother but that doesn't stop her from constantly trying to catch up to him. After starting this summer as a Stingray, she passed into Dolphins. She was immediately a natural at the dolphin kick (beginning form for the butterfly stroke) and passed all skills on her first try with the exception of diving (and she needed to improve her rhythmic breathing). Not to be deterred, I watched (and tried to help as best I could) as Jadyn practiced and practiced her form at lessons and at home. I watched her endure countless belly flops and face plants but she did not give up.

And all that hard work paid off with this dive on testing day (not perfect form obviously but it was still decent):

So now Jadyn, at the ripe old age of 6, has made it into Sharks for next summer. I am so proud of both of them. They worked hard and they had fun. You couldn't ask for anything more. Here they are with their instructors on the last day of class:

This summer will forever go down in history as the summer they BOTH learned how to ride their bikes without training wheels and they BOTH learned how to dive. It truly has been a very epic summer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Pets Abound

We are pet sitting a friend's guinea pig while they are visiting family out of state. Apparently having a very active dog and two cats just isn't enough for my kids, especially Jadyn who surprise, surprise, now wants a guinea pig. I love that she loves animals as much as I do but I try to be realistic about how many pets we can have at any given time.

The fact of the matter is that I have always thought of guinea pigs as a boring pet, the one you get your kid because you don't want to get stuck with the responsibility of a dog or cat. But I have to admit that after a week,  this little guy has kind of grown on me. And both kids, but again especially Jadyn, have yet to tire of caring for and giving more than enough attention to him.

Here is Jadyn with Snickerdoodles:

And speaking of pets, a couple of weeks ago when we were visiting the kitties, I noticed a younger female chocolate lab. I mentioned to Joe that she might be a good companion for Kuma and we took her home on an overnight trial. However, during the short time with us, she never really seemed very interested in playing with Kuma and so with a very heavy heart, we took her back to the shelter.

But never fear because this story has a happy ending. I mentioned the lab to a friend who happened to also want to add another dog to their family and so they went and got her for an overnight trial and she turned out to be a good fit.

Of course, now that she has had more time to adjust to being out of the shelter, she has warmed up to Kuma's boundless energy and when she came over last week for a puppy play date, things went much better.

Kuma and Harley:

So all is well that ends well.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Another one bites the dust

I hate algebra but here is an equation for you:

One kid who is a later bloomer losing teeth + one kid who is slightly early/average losing tooth = two kids who are two years apart both losing the same teeth in the same summer.

BOTH of Jadyn's top front teeth were loose. The one that was the least loose got knocked more loose when she ran into the countertop putting clothes in the hamper Monday night. Yesterday afternoon that tooth fell out after she spent all day pushing it around with her tongue:

One down, one to go and I will have two kids without any top front teeth! How crazy is that?