Sunday, December 16, 2012


This little word is the new source of endless entertainment for Jadon. It refers to any number of activities that require him and the parent of his choice to end up upside down on their heads. Usually I am able to defer this privilege to Jim when he gets home, and he is oh so good at it! 

Christmas Festivities

Oh my goodness, this time of year is SO full of opportunities for fun. We have had so many parties and events to go to, that a night in with nothing scheduled is a special treat. Here's a glimpse at some of the fun we've had so far:

Women's Christmas Dessert:
Christmas started early this year at the New Song Women's Christmas Dessert. Two weekends before Thanksgiving, close to 300 women crowded into our open cafe area and sang songs, ate great foods served to us by the pastoral staff, shopped local home businesses, and had a great time. I hosted a table again this year, and after winning the "best use of theme" award last year, I went for it again. Our women's ministry theme this year is "Rise Up" (with the colors of purple and gold and a lioness' face). This table design came to me while I lay in bed one night:

(Get it? The balloons are making the tree "rise up"!) :)
(And I was so happy with my cute "lioness" cookies):

This feat of brilliance (okay, maybe I should just call it a silly mish-mash of fun) won yet again in the theme category. Yay! I have to be honest, there was only one other table who went for this category...but theirs was very beautiful and I would have voted for it had I not made my table. But I'll take the prize (it's a $25 Macaroni Grill gift card! Can you say "date night"?!). I also scored in the raffles, taking home an adorable bag handmade by orphans in Haiti (everyone knew that was right up my ally!) and a gift card basket (uh, Christmas gifts for Jim!!!). After being called up for the third time, though, it was getting a little embarrassing, but I'm full of gratitude for the little shower of blessings God rained down on me!

Neighborhood Boat Parade:
No, we don't live on the water, but every year, our extended neighborhood has a boat parade. I don't know who started it or gets it going every year, but it is SO cool. Fifteen to 20 vehicles (boats as well as other cars and trucks) deck themselves out in lights and all other sorts of holiday cheer and circle around about a mile or so loop. Last year there was a fire truck and a Marine tank, but this year was a bit more small scale. From the trailers they throw out candy, and Christmas music plays, and neighbors line the streets to watch. We love our neighborhood, and this little tradition makes us love it even more!

Living Nativity:
 Last night, I took Jadon to a living nativity at a local church. It was supposed to be a family affair, but I forgot Jim was preaching for the whole church this weekend, which includes the Saturday night service, so instead of pouting, I decided to just take Jadon on my own. It was so neat, even if I was exhausted by the end trying to reign my crazy two-year-old in! Hopefully next year, Jim can join in on this activity that helps focus on the real meaning of Christmas.
The church's multi-purpose room was transformed with over a dozen little booths reliving what it would have been like in Bethlehem. You walked in and "registered for the census" and then were given coins and your choice of "authentic" garb (Jadon refused to put anything on!)...
Then there were tons of activities kids could do for a coin, like make a mosaic cross (let's just say, Jadon's was a little more "artistic" than everyone else's!), make a leafy garland, make a toy spinning top or sheep, listen to a story, visit a synagogue, practice carpentry and leather-working (um...Jadon and hammers...a little intimidating to the poor souls working those booths!), bake bread, eat baklavah and raisins and other fun snacks...and a bunch of other options that we didn't quite make it to.

 I think Jadon's favorite part by far, though, (even more than wielding the hammers!) was the "stable" with Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus...and animals. Okay, so he couldn't care less about the holy family (dang it, that was what I had tried to prep him the most for so that it would be meaningful!!!). But he LOVED the animals. My crazy child was SO gentle, and his face was so precious as he held the tiny baby chicks and rabbits. One of his favorite Curious George stories is where George gets to hold a bunny and Jadon always pretends that he is, too. So to be able to actually do it seemed like a dream come true.

 I'm so glad I bit the bullet and took him!

Family Picture:
Okay, so what's the Christmas season without the infamous family pic? While we already had a good one of the three of us from this summer, we decided that we needed one with Austin. So between all the hustle and bustle of our chaotic schedule, we flung ourselves in front of the Christmas tree before running out the door to take Austin to his basketball game and Jadon to Legoland. All things considered, it turned out okay:
Except notice that Jadon isn't smiling. Half a million attempts later, this is the best face we could get from him. Most of the time he was just a blur. So I think this is actually my favorite realistic pic (notice all our hands pinning Jadon down):
I think this one captures our awesome crazy life perfectly! :)


Living in Southern California, we are surrounded by fun activities to do with kids. One of the amusement parks that we have been wanting to do for years is practically in our back yard: Legoland. On a recent trip to Costco, they were having a 1-weekend-only special on their 3-month Legoland passes. What usually costs $79 was $59 (which is cheaper than a 1-day pass!) I jumped on them.
We went as a family last weekend, and then again with a friend on Friday. So. much. fun. (for Jadon at least!)
 Legoland is brilliant, with Lego play areas while you're waiting in line for many of the rides. Jadon isn't all that into quiet, independent play, but since most of the lines were less than 15 minutes, it was perfect!

Jadon's favorite vehicles right now are Jeeps (like daddy's), helicopters, and airplanes. Legoland nailed this one, too:
Oh yeah, and then there was the big water area. Jadon was ready to run right into the splash pad area, clothes and all (seriously, why would they have that running in the middle of winter?!)...Fortunately, he was running with such gusto that he slipped right before he reached the spray, which gave us enough time to catch up and divert his attention to the other water activities that kept him the water cannons:

 He wasn't too sure what to make of all the Lego statues everywhere. They were pretty creative:
But he LOVED "The Scary" (an adventure walk-through that snaked through the jungle, the ancient pyramids, and an ice field, all dark and with kind of creepy music and scary-ish animals that move out at you). He held on tight, but insisted on walking through it at least 5 times until we finally promised to come back another time...Next visit with his friend, he recognized the building from far away and wouldn't rest until we went through it several more times (in spite of his friend sitting outside with her mom because it was too scary). Now "the scary" is all he talks about. Oh boy.

And talking about "scary", this is the awesome face I just so happened to catch as he watched the roller coaster we were waiting for whiz by. He loved it. This kid is fearless.

The day we went, they were open for a couple extra hours for their holiday light display. Not too awesome, but we still had fun. 

Going with Jadon's friend Danica was another fun adventure, as they got to go on some rides just the two of them...and even got to play in the snow (big deal for us San Diegans!): 


Definitely fun times! Now we can't wait for "dampa and nama" to come down--we got them passes, too, and Jadon keeps talking about going back to "Lololand" and "the scary" with them. They'll be here in 3 days. Yay!

Thanksgiving 2012

OK, so my sister in Jerusalem said she's feeling out of the loop since I haven't posted in a month. I've been meaning too...there certainly isn't a lack of activity in our neck of the woods! Which is exactly the problem!!! So here I go, back to Thanksgiving.

Our table was a little different this year. Sarah and Greg were sadly absent :( but Austin and his mom filled their spaces.
Actually, it was a bit of a crowded house with everyone staying there all week. Fortunately, Jadon's bed pulls out into a king, and we kept his crib-turned-toddler-bed in the room for our adoption inspection, so my parents didn't have to sleep on an air mattress in the living room.
Thanksgiving morning, we started by running in the annual Oceanside Turkey Trot. Jim was a rock star, running 17:18 and placing 2nd in his age group to his friend and former coaching buddy at El Camino High School, Tom Kloos (who got 2nd in the entire race at just under 15 minutes. yes, for a 5K. That's sub 5-minute miles over a 3.1 mile course for you math wizards. Too bad they're the same age, 'cause Jim's probably never gonna be that fast ;))(Oh yeah, by the way, this guy qualified provisionally for the Olympic trials this year).
Let's just say...I finished. Dang, I've gotta get in better shape. Running fast is so much more fun! :) But we did have fun. A bunch of our running buddies from church ran, too. And Jadon didn't let a trip to the beach go by without a romp in the water. After his mad dash to the edge of the tide, my parents made the wise decision to strip him down, which he enjoyed with utter glee. Too bad my dad didn't have that freedom--wet shorts are not so fun. But man, we are blessed: We live in a great place...with great weather (November in the ocean?!)...and great friends...and great family...and great health...and a super great kid!

Then, back at home, Jim and Austin and Jadon watched football while my parents and I had fun in the kitchen. (Oh yeah, Jadon helped, too.)
At dinner, we went around the table and shared what we were thankful for, which included all of what I mentioned above and more...most significantly that
Woo hoo! We are so excited for them, although thoroughly bummed that they are on the other side of the world!!!
Thanksgiving is such a great opportunity to pause in our normal busyness and express gratitude for all the things we so easily take for granted. Thank you, God, for blessing us SO abundantly!

In addition to the usual holiday festivities, I continued my favorite tradition: putting my dad to work on projects. We got SO much done. These are all projects I've had in the works for months and months, but with a toddler and limited skills, I just never got around to finishing. Thank goodness for handy dads!
We made and hung a door for a cabinet I made in the space between studs in the wall of my bathroom:

We hung a little coat rack behind my bedroom door (for jackets and robes and such):

We made a new toy chest/coffee table for our tv room (almost completely out of reclaimed wood/trim/hinges/etc. I might add). This project took the longest, but was totally worth it.

(What we had before):

(My dad is awesome!!!):
(Jadon loved helping "dampa"):

AND we started on my new tile backsplash in my kitchen. The tile is all laid, but now it just has to be grouted, which I'm waiting for my dad's return for Christmas (I'm so much better at these things when I have his help!):

In the middle of all this, we took a trip to Guajome Park to feed the ducks (can't tell you how much we love living walking distance to such an amazing park!). Jadon is pretty fearless in all aspects of life, and while he'd never admit it, I'm pretty sure he liked having a big grandpa there to protect him from the geese that are taller than he is.

(Jadon always ends up eating his share of the bread, and when the bold geese take it out of his hands, he usually responds with the following hand motion paired with "boom! boom! boom! I shoot the ducks!" Future duck hunter, perhaps?)
 (What would a trip to the park be without foraging through the bushes?)
Oh, and my parents helped us get all decorated for Christmas (before December 1!). Jim is not such a big fan of decorating, but it has become his tradition to put the lights up with my dad the day after Thanksgiving. This year he got Austin involved...and then at Jadon's pleading, Jadon got to join them, too. Austin wasn't such a big fan of being up on the roof, but we could hardly get Jadon to come down. I think that was Jadon's favorite experience of his entire year!

Jadon really got into decorating the tree this year (which means he remained interested for an entire 37 seconds!)
 (Putting the angel on top):
 (Jadon's idea of decorating: stick as many ornaments as you can onto one branch. Who cares about the bare branches all around it?!):