Saturday, January 29, 2011

Video Game Party

My son’s birthday is this weekend and turning 9 he wanted a video game party.  He decided to have it at a local pizza place…I jumped for joy at this, no house to clean...uhh, I mean shove stuff in closets, right!  Anyways, I came up with some goodie cups and decorations, but kept them in budget with being a little creative!
My son’s favorite video games are Donkey Kong Country and Super Mario Bros. so I started looking for items to go with this theme right after Christmas.  I was able to score on some after Christmas deals:  red cups, chocolate coal pieces (they look like Donkey Kong bombs), and green clips.  I then added in napkins ordered from , and bought the rest of the items at The Dollar Tree.  I recommend always checking your local dollar stores before anywhere else when putting a party together.  If you can find items in your theme there, you will always get a better deal.  The only splurge I had for this party was the Donkey Kong napkins that I ordered; they don’t carry them anywhere else!
Below are the cups I came up with and the items I included in them that went with the theme.  I downloaded free Donkey Kong and Plumber Bros. fonts to make the name tags for the cups!  The party was a huge success and fun for all!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cleaning by Chatty

It has been one of those weeks where I find myself running around trying to fit my daily chores into my volunteer commitments.  Most weeks are like this and I don’t know about you, but I will forget about vacuuming or dusting (like I do that often) in lieu of working in the kids classrooms, prepping art projects, or helping coach track.  Sometimes even a coffee run with friends bumps laundry!
I have some tactics I use to look ready for company on the fly and I will share them with you. 
First off, use the child labor in your home.  Our kids are very spoiled and don’t know how to harvest a field or even mop floors.  I taught my son how to vacuum once he was strong enough to push the thing.  The first rounds weren’t great (one push per room is not enough), but with teaching he is now an expert.  He vacuums the house once a week, or right before company comes!
Second, we have closets and cupboards to hide stuff; if there is another reason for them I am not aware.  Closed closet = clean, open closet = mess of stuff.  I am the queen of shoving stuff in closets and cupboards to quickly clean up a space, I will clean it out later, but for now it will make my house look tidy.
Third, wipe down your bath and counters with a Clorox wipe.  You can quickly, in about 5 minutes, wipe down your guest bath and kitchen counters; which makes your whole house look immaculate (only if you shove the stuff in the cupboards and closets first).  You don’t even have to dust before company comes over, unless your children have practiced their spelling words or autographs in the layer of dust on your table.
So, next time you need a tidy house in a pinch, try some of the tried and true tactics above!

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Portrait of Me

My daughter loves to draw, paint, create; anything artistic is her favorite thing to do.  She has an easel from IKEA that I bought for her to help her write her letters.  She loves to draw on it and drew the picture below just the other day.

I was so touched she thinks I am pretty.  The fact that my skin tone looks a bit jaundice indicating a liver problem is a little disturbing.  I don’t in fact have any liver problems or yellow toned skin.  I also don’t wear my hair in pig tails very often (usually only for Yoga).  I love to see how we look through the eyes of a child, it really helps put things in perspective…especially since she thinks I looked best when dressed up for a costume party last year.  I had teased hair, lots of blue eye shadow, raging red know, like a hooker…it was her most favorite look of mine yet.  So much to live up to!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Girls' Weekend

Girls' weekend away!  We need a weekend away every so often and it is so nice to have one.  Meals out (my rule is no play places) are so fun.  Sleeping in.  A morning walk at the beach (not too early, after breakfast).  Shopping at 2 to 3 different malls.  Relaxing on the couch with a good magazine, or correcting Bar Exams.  The best part: a free place to stay!  Thank you Mom and Dad, we love you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Our Garden

This year we decided to build an elevated garden box to have our own vegetable garden.  My husband and my father designed a square box that would serve as our garden and keep the tortoises (we have 2 California Desert Tortoises as pets) away from the garden.  It has been a lot of fun watching the veggies grows from seed and starts.  The kids love it and are happy to help take care of the garden.
We now have our winter crop growing strong, I know, winter crop sounds weird to most of the country.  Here in SoCal we can grow many things straight through winter.  Right now we have different kinds of lettuce, spinach, radishes, and carrots.  It is so fun to send the kids out with a bowl and my garden scissors to harvest our dinner salad each evening!
The kids love the radishes; they grow fast and are ready to eat immediately.  I highly recommend growing radishes if you have children.  They are ready to pull out of the ground in about a couple of weeks.  It doesn’t matter if your kids like them or not, they are excited to see the transformation from seed to red radish.  My kids will now eat them, just because they grew them…hmm, great idea for picky eaters, we all want our kids to eat more veggies, so just grow them!
You don’t have to have a large yard to have a garden, ours is quite small.  Just a tiny area of dirt will do.  You can also have a container garden; my aunt shared with me how she had a container garden made from recycled containers on her patio when she lived in Santa Barbara.  Try some seeds anywhere, it is fun!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Try Something New

I love crafts!  Actually Arts and Crafts are my love!  There isn’t a craft I won’t try, at least once, and it is fun to see what new things I can make or create.  I have wanted to learn how to crochet for a while now and decided that since yarn was on sale, it was the time to start!
I checked out some books from our local library on how to crochet, bought myself some yarn, and hooks.  I was ready.  Read through the books and started with a basic chain.  Then I ventured on and did some single crochet stitches.  With practice it is fun and easy to create small projects.
Everything is all about technology these days and you can find a “how to” on Utube on anything, seriously, once I found a Utube on how to slice a mango…they really have everything on the net!  I also found a great show on the Create channel called Knit and Crochet now.  It was very helpful to see someone crochet and hold the yarn.  They have some great projects to try also.
Have you tried anything new this year?  A recipe, craft, new exercise, sport, book, etc., try something new, it is fun!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Reading

Ahhh, it is finally Saturday, it seemed like it took forever to get here after a long week of sickness in our household.  The sky is blue, the weather has turned warmer (it was 82 yesterday, my daughter asked if we could go to a pool), and all the sickies are on the mend.  My children have their 300 volts of energy back; which I never thought I would be so happy to see.
Saturday is also the day that I look forward to reading “Man Of The House” by Chris Erskine.  He writes a column for the LA Times and it is a funny tongue and cheek writing about family life in Southern California, found in the Home section of the paper.  His latest column is linked below for your reading pleasure.  Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fun For All

One of the best parts of New Year's Eve was playing a Wii game our good friends brought over.  It is Just Dance 4 Kids.  There are over 40 songs that you dance to following the direction of the on screen dancers.  You are given points according to your accuracy and energy as you dance.  It is downright hilarious to watch your kids or friends follow the dances to songs that we love like: Holiday, Surfin' USA, and some of The Wiggles classics.

My daughter loved it so much she saved her allowance for 3 weeks to buy it; of course I chipped in some money since I wanted it also! It is also a great workout for moms everywhere.  You actually work up a sweat if you do 5 or 6 songs and really put your groove into it.  The best part is that you can beat your kids at a video game, yes, despite our ages we are still better dancers than our prepubescent children!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Too Much TV

In our household we are going on day 5 with my daughter having a fever and staying home from school.  It is hard to pass the time when you don’t feel well and don’t have much energy to play.  Sooooo, my daughter has spent too much time in front of the television.

I told her to turn the television off today and she said, “NO”.  I quickly dug deep to my inner poet and recited the following poem that I memorized years ago while teaching 4th grade.

Jimmy Jet and His TV Set by Shel Silverstein

I’ll tell you the story of Jimmy Jet-
And you know what I tell you is true.
He loved to watch his TV set
Almost as much as you.

He watched all day, he watched all night
Till he grew pale and lean.
From “The Early Show” to “The Late Late Show”
And all the shows between.

He watched till his eyes were frozen wide,
And his bottom grew into his chair.
And his chin turned into a tuning dial,
And antennae grew out of his hair.

And his brains turned into TV tubes,
And his face to a TV screen.
And two knobs saying “Vert.” and “Horiz.”
Grew where his ears had been.

And he grew a plug that looked like a tail
So we plugged in little Jim.
And now instead of him watching TV
We all sit around and watch him.

I recited this with my most dramatic and charismatic character, complete with over exaggerated facial expressions (all of which I inherited from my mother).  It worked, her eyes became large and round like saucers and she turned off the TV.  Don’t ever underestimate the power of a good poem!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crazy Cat

We have a crazy cat that lives at our house.  He is an important member of the family and really keeps us all entertained.  I rescued him from a shelter a year and a half ago as a surprise for the kids (I love animals and if it wasn’t for my husband’s limitations on pets we would have many more rescued animals).
The Many Adventures of Crazy Cat
1.       Has captured over 50 lizards and has brought at least 20 into our house.
2.      Has caught 2 birds, brought one in and left it alive under the Christmas tree.
3.      Brought me a dead mouse for New Year’s.
4.      Chased a Coyote down our street and lived to meow about it.
5.      Chases our neighbor’s medium sized dog back into their house.
6.   Climbs the kids play structure and goes down the slide.

7.      Does all this weighing in at 17 pounds!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ham and Bean Soup

I love my Crockpot!  You only have to spend 15-20 minutes in the morning and you come home to a house that smells wonderful and a home cooked meal at the end of your day.
I had the leftover remains of a spiral ham from before Christmas in my freezer and needed the space.  So after reading through a handful of recipes I made up my own ham and bean soup recipe.  It actually turned out good (which is suprising my sister, I am notorious for changing ingredients), so good in fact that my husband went back for thirds!
Ham and Bean Soup
2 cups chopped ham from left over spiral
2 cans white beans (undrained)
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
½ onion finely chopped (I used my Cuisinart chopper)
8-10 baby carrots finely chopped (also used chopper)
2 tablespoons 21 Season Salute (spice at Trader Joes)
1 bay leaf
Prep all chopping and cutting, dump it all in pot, turn on low for 6-8 hours and wa la, you have a healthy home cooked meal!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sick Kids and Dead Lizards

Sick kids are really sad looking.  I have 2 sick kids at home today.  One has a virus with a high fever (not just guessing, went to the Dr. this morning) and the other has an ear and sinus infection.  When you have active children who run around and laugh a lot sick ones are really sad!
You know your kids are really sick when your daughter doesn’t care what clothes she wears and hasn’t added any accessories to her outfit all day.  My almost 9 year old son is happy watching The Wonder Pets…that is really sad.
After looking at sad sick kids I looked out the window to see beautiful nature and noticed the lizard graveyard my cat decided to turn my patio into.  There were 3 little dead lizard bodies.  The cat was very happy and was smiling as he looked through the slider at me.  On a positive note, he is keeping the reptile population in check!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Winter Flowers

The weather here in SoCal has been rather dreary lately.  We have had more rain than usual and lots of overcast cold (by our standards) days.  I know the rest of the nation experiences way more of this weather than we do, but it is just not what we are used to.  I am not complaining. I know that we are very spoiled here, with an average temp of 75 and sun 355 days of the year.

One thing that I love this time of year is winter flowers.  You know the flowers that only bloom during the winter, or at least do in California.  My favorite is the Camellia.  It is a hearty bush with yearlong waxy green leaves and a beautiful bloom in the winter months.  They are easy to grow and inexpensive, if you buy a 1 gallon plant.  The blooms come in singles, doubles, and a variety of colors.  They bloom for days when cut and brought inside.  I love to float them in a glass bowl.  They are a beautiful reminder that spring is around the corner and the overcast days will be a thing of the past soon!

Saturday, January 8, 2011


Today I went with my friend Sunny to downtown Glendora to have breakfast and do some shopping.  I highly recommend the Village Eatery!  They have a Monte Cristo sandwich that was fabulous.  If you like a good Monte Cristo this is the place.  I took a pic of the sandwich!  There are also some fun little shops to look around in.

It really became a great day when I came home to my husband and kids.  My husband had deep cleaned the bathrooms, unloaded the dishwasher, and pruned the roses in the yard (we have a lot of roses, I love plants).  What a great guy!  I didn't even leave a "Honey Do" list!  He also took the kids on a long bike ride.  A very nice start to the new year.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nerf Guns

My kids decided to play Nerf Guns right before dinner.  Cooking dinner, looking for Nerf darts ( I have 3, yes 3, junk drawers to search in), were able to find 2 for each kid.  Kids are now happily running around the house pegging each other with Nerf darts.  They end up in the kitchen and are laughing hysterically as they are pegging me in the butt with darts, don't forget, I am still cooking dinner.  My five year old daughter yells, "Lock and load baby" (where does she get this stuff?)

Nerf Guns are great, only a couple of rules I have contrived. #1 No Nerf Guns that are the size of your kids, they are a real weapon when they are that big.  #2 The darts really should have little tracking devices on them so we can find the darts.  #3 If at all possible, have your children play with them outside...this leads to the lawnmower eating up the darts..drawback.