Sunday, January 31, 2010

Time with Grace

A few weeks ago, my school district called to ask me if I was planning on returning to work next year. Even though I have really enjoyed my time this year as a stay-at-home mom (ok, some days are definitely better than others), I am looking forward to going back to work. I am so grateful that I've had the opportunity to be at home focusing on my family this year! I definitely feel closer to Jason and to our kids. One of the things I am grateful for, is the chance to spend one-on-one time with both Jeremy and Grace. When Grace is at school in the mornings, I get Jeremy all to myself. He is so much fun to be with- he just makes me laugh- he is sweet and endearing, says the cutest things... I don't need to plan anything in particular with him because all he needs is play time! In the afternoon, Grace and I get to spend time together. Being a person who like structure, I couldn't help but make a schedule for us. This past week, I took some pictures to document (for myself) the things that she and I do every week after she finishes her homework and Jeremy is napping.

Mondays- Writing Day: she chooses a person to write a letter to or she writes in her journal. On this day, she chose to write in her journal.
Tuesdays- Baking Day: we bake together... We've tried all kinds of recipes this year and we've both become better bakers. We've made cakes, cookies, banana bread, cheesecake, muffins, cupcakes... It's a wonder that our family hasn't gained a lot of weight over these past few months! On this day, we made Strawberry Cupcakes (to go along with one of Grace's favorite stories, Pinkalicious). Goodness, they tasted sooo good!Wednesdays- Art Day: I prepare art projects for Grace to do. On this day, she made Valentine's Cards from scratch for some loved ones. Thursdays- Game Day: Grace and I play board games together. Sometimes, I make educational games for her, but usually, we play games like Candyland, Memory, or Chutes and Ladders. Friday- Paint and Playdough Day: Grace gets to paint with watercolors or play with playdough. It makes me glad that out of all years, we chose this year for me to take my leave of absence. If she was in school for the full day, we wouldn't get all this great bonding time!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ice, Ice Baby

We've been really open to letting Grace try different activities to see where her interests and strengths lie. She's taken swimming, dance, gymnastics, and soccer. For this upcoming semester, I gave her some suggestions: t-ball, karate, gymnastics, ice skating (I figured it was worth a shot!)... She actually chose ice skating! That was before Christmas. Since then, she has changed her mind and asked to do gymnastics. She said it looked too hard and she was scared of getting hurt. So, I called "Break the Barriers" and was put on a waiting list. With no idea how long it'd be before she'd be able to join a class, I suggested she try ice skating anyway. I shared about how I grew up knowing how to skate, and I showed her videos on YouTube of beginner figure skaters. The U.S. Figure Skating Championships were on t.v. last week, and she watched with a lot of enthusiasm. Well, tonight was Grace's first skating lesson. Jason and I were amazed- she did wonderfully! She fell a lot, but got right back up and kept trying. It was nice that Grace had a personal helper. I really thought she was going to start crying out of frustration, but she was completely determined to keep up with the rest of the class. As we left, I asked, "Did you have fun? Was it hard?" "Yes, it was hard but I had a lot of fun." "Would you want to come back next week?" She responded with, "Yes, since there's no room for me at gymnastics." Hmmm... she obviously still has gymnastics on her mind...
Well, we found out earlier today that there is in fact an opening at Break the Barriers. Maybe I should've just let Grace keep believing that there's no room at gymnastics, and let her continue discovering skating. I don't know if I could feel ok with that. So, as I was tucking her into bed, I asked her again which she'd prefer because there was an opening at gymnastics. She sighed, thought a moment, and said, "Maybe I'll do gymnastics." Can I confess that I'm slightly disappointed!?!!

Ok... so she won't be the next Michelle Kwan... Maybe she'll be the next Mary Lou Retton?!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jason's Home Turf

I've blogged about this before, but did you know that Jason ran track years ago? That he was so good, two of his records still stand at his high school? That he got a scholarship to run track at Fresno State? That he recently began training again to compete in track meets? I am so proud of Jason for how much dedication he has put forth into his running. Four times a week, he wakes up early to go run or go to the gym. Last year, he ran in several All-Comers Meets, and made it a goal this year to run in many more. His long-term goal is to run this July in the USATF Masters Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Sacramento. Yesterday, he competed in his first meet of the year- Los Gatos All-Comers Meet. These all-comers meets allow athletes who are beyond their college years to still compete competively. The ones at Los Gatos are also heavily attended by high school teams from the area, hoping to qualify for other meets around the state. Los Gatos happens to be Jason's alma mater, so it was familiar turf and he was able to see former coaches and teammates.
While we were waiting for Jason's race, I drove the kids to a nearby park called Oak Meadow. It was Jason's favorite park as a kid, and I could see why. Our kids had a blast- there was a plane and a train for them to climb on, slides, swings, a climbing wall, etc. It was much better to let them run around at this park than on the bleachers at the track. It had just rained and everything was wet, but with nowhere else to go, I had no choice but to let them play. We were able to eat lunch before heading back to the track.
I was worried that I would miss seeing Jason's race (has happened before!) because of the kids needing my attention, so right when Jason got into the blocks, I bribed them each with a small box of Smarties (Canadian M&Ms). It worked and I was able to watch Jason's race. The time finally came for his race- he ran in the 100m and placed 3rd in his heat with a time of 11:92 secs. He had to ease up partway through his race because of his hamstring tightening... yup, another injury to contend with! I am glad he improved his time from last year, but it's a bummer that his body isn't cooperating.

Here he is, icing his hamstrings. I know it's so disappointing for him, particularly since he's been training so hard!

After the meet, we had the chance to reconnect with Paul and Heather Slayton. We headed over to their home. Paul was Jason's best man in our wedding but over the years, with crazy busy lives and the distance, we lost contact with them. We had so much to catch up on- kids and parenting, jobs, marriage... LIFE! The kids played while we talked- it was wonderful to spend an evening with them. We are confident it won't be another 5 years until we see them again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bye Bye BeeBees

Some of you might think it's weird what I'm about to post, but one of the reasons why I blog is because it's a great way for me to journal and archive memories about our kids. For example, I don't want to forget that from an early age, Jeremy has shown that he handles change pretty well as long as he initiates it. He initiated the transition from the bottle to a sippy cup, from a sippy cup to using a straw, etc. The latest? Pacifiers (beebees)!!! He was so attached to them, we really didn't think we'd be saying goodbye to them so soon (I don't know why, but he was attached to three- they had to be in his crib together). He has pretty much weaned himself- can you see why he no longer needs them?!
Next step will be potty training! I keep asking him whether he's a big boy (because big boys use the potty) or a baby (because only babies wear diapers). He consistently says, "Jeremy baby." I'm thinking we'll just wait until he initiates it!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Monterey Bay Getaway

Both Jason and Grace got 3 weeks off for Christmas Break. The first week was rather hectic, getting last minute things ready for Christmas and the second week was busy with gatherings and New Year's. So, it was great to have the third week- it really was a break! We headed to Monterey Bay for 3 days/2 nights. The first night, we arrived in time to go to dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., first time for all of us. We chose that place because we knew it was kid-friendly. After dinner, we headed to Ghiradelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop for dessert. Their World-Famous Hot Fudge Sundaes are to die for!
The next morning, we headed off to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The last time we were there, Grace was only 14 months old. This time around, both kids clearly enjoyed themselves and couldn't move fast enough to see all the exhibits. It was so nice to visit without any crowds, probably because most kids have gone back to school already. Grace said she loved the whole aquarium, but her favorite part was being able to touch the starfish. Jeremy's favorite was the tropical fish tank that had fish similar to those found on the movie, Finding Nemo (we're assuming this was his favorite, based on his excitement and the amount of time he stood completely fixated on the tank). My favorite was watching the cute sea otters, and Jason has always loved the huge Outer Bay tank, with the tuna, sardines, sting rays, etc. After our day at the aquarium, we dropped by Nestle Tollhouse Cafe for a snack (personally, Ghiradelli's is better, but who really says no to cookies?!). On our next day, we went to the Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary in Pacific Grove to see if we could catch a glimpse of the monarchs. Every year between October and March, thousands of butterflies gather at this very spot. Unfortunately, we only saw a handful of butterflies! It was disappointing... On our way back into Monterey, we stopped by Lover's Point Park.What great ocean views! Here, we watched the waves crash against the rocks, collected shells, and observed life in the tidepools. For lunch, we took a chance and went to Monterey's Fish House. We hadn't read any reviews or heard anything about it, but every time we drove by that place, it was packed with people. Since it's not near the touristy area and not mentioned anywhere in the touristy brochures we got, we assume that the place is frequented by locals. Jason had calamari steak, I had clam pasta, and Grace had the clam chowder. The place isn't exactly kid-friendly (no kid menus- a good place for a date, or business dealings), but they went out of their way for our kids. It was soooo good and we would definitely return!

Before heading back to Fresno, we spent a few hours at the Dennis the Menace Park. Several people had recommended that we visit this public playground. The park was designed by Hank Ketcham, the creator of Dennis the Menace and long time resident of the area. Our kids had a blast- there was so much to do: a maze, play structures, slides galore, a bridge, some tunnels, rock climbing wall, swings, and even a real train. After this trip, we can truly say that we had a great Winter Break! School starts up again on Monday! (more pictures in the album on the right hand side)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

We rang in the new year with our close friends, Jill and Adam, and Christa and Aaron. I don't know how long it has been, but we've been "ringing in new years" with these special friends for quite a number of years now. No gathering is complete without food, and we had plenty of it! We started with appetizers, had a chocolate fondue, and then finished off with Jill's New Year's Cookies (aka fritters). Throughout the night, the boys decided to do a "Around the World" beer tour, in which they sampled beers from different parts of the world. Jason printed off scoring sheets for each beer, and Aaron shared information he had researched on each one beforehand. He even found out how to say "cheers" in each country's language before they drank each sample. Right before midnight, we turned on the t.v. to join the countdown and watch the ball drop. Of course the night wouldn't have been complete without games- we played Perpetual Commotion until about 1:30am! Earlier tonight, we joined the Lee and McCreary families for dinner. It has been so long since our families have spent time together- it has been so long overdue! It was wonderful to catch up with these great friends!
A Blessing for the New Year (taken from Dayspring)

Lord, as a New Year begins
We come to you and ask for your blessing
We pray that you would give us joy to fill our days
And peace to fill our hearts and love to fill our lives.
Thank you for the plans you have for us in the New Year.

We thank God for you and pray that your new year is blessed in every way! Happy 2010!