Wednesday, June 30, 2010

new blog - and she needs your help!

Do you have a case of the "what are we going to do today" summer blues? It's hard being a mom in the summertime and thinking of new things to do with the kiddos. That's why Lara just started the blog Saving Grace for Summer. She is reaching out to other parents for summer ideas. Here is what she is asking,

"So here is my plea..
I am asking all my friends, moms, dads, non parents and parents to be, for some help.
Send me any and all of your ideas that you have done, will do, or plan on doing with your kids this summer. Craft ideas, outing ideas, any ideas!
And tell EVERYONE you know about this so they too can add to the plethora of ideas that we are all going to share! The more the merrier!
I started this for my stay at home homies (and let's face it, really for myself!) to not get discouraged and keep the pace with these youngins that have more energy than that obnoxious pink bunny with the drum on TV!
Please email me at and you can do your part to help save a parent from the seemingly endless summer days! Think of it as a new charity program.
Save the parents!
Let's share our thoughts and ideas about what works.
I will post all the comments and your names for all to see."

Please send Lara your great ideas so we can benefit from them all!

july action plan

I really enjoy Whole Living Magazine (of course I do since it's part of Martha Stewart). Every month they have an Whole Life Action Plan, so I decided to give July's plan a try! Here it is, want to join me? I noted everything on my calendar with instruction.

July, 1st - Make your own sauce
Tomatoes are best in season. So carpe diem by whipping up your own pasta sauce. Just heat 6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil with 1 Tbsp. minced garlic. Add 3 lbs. coarsely chopped plum tomatoes, bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Voila! Homemade!

July, 3rd - Ramp up your Vitamin C
This vital nutrient is rich in antioxidants and plays an important role in immune function. Get a dose in ever meal (and snack) with organic red pepper, kiwi, spinach, or broccoli.

July 6th - Celebrate the Dalai Lama's Birthday
If someone tests your patience today, do as he would and focus on keeping the peach.

Social Wellness Week
July 7th - Tell the truth
Skip the pretense with your friends, coworkers, and parents and give it to them straight. (You'll be glad you did.)
July 9th - Log out of Facebook
And throw a potluck for your friends and friends of friends to expand your real-life social horizons
July 10th - Pay five compliments
Don't just think them, say them. You really will make someone's day.

July 12th - It's Don't-Touch-Your-Wallet Day
OK, so we made it up. Do it anyways- go an entire day without spending a dime. Pass on the latte; forgo impulse purchases. Challenge yourself to make a simple meal using whatever's in the pantry.

July 16th - Add five minutes
Going for a 20-minute run? Make it 25, then stretch for another five minutes. Park a little farther from the office and walk five minutes. Rather than scarfing down your lunch, take an extra five.

July 22nd - Try a little mint
Mint isn't just refreshing- it's loaded with antioxidants and aids digestion. Add some to your iced tea, water, or salad today. For recipe ideas visit

July 26th - Do 10 push-ups
It's one of the simplest yet most challenging and efficient exercises, toning the chest, arms, and core. Bonus challenge: Repeat every day for the rest of the week.

Cool right? I know you can do it too. If you really like it you can go to the website and sign up for weekly action plan emails here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

i dare you

I did not see the movie Fireproof or read the book The Love Dare but I had heard about both of them. So when I came across the iPhone app The Love Dare: 40 Dares, I decided that for $0.99 it was worth a try. It gives you daily marriage-strengthening dares to complete and so far I am up to Dare 9. Personally I think it's super cool and I like that it makes me take a little time away from my crazy kids to work on my marriage. Check it out in iTunes!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

fun, fun, fun

This is for all you Southern California residents. Last weekend we went to Knott's Berry Farm. I can't remember the last time I had been there, but we had so much fun! Camp Snoopy is perfect for little kids and my kids had the best time. It was clean and easy to get around. I'm excited to take them again (and it wasn't very crowded). You can get discount tickets at any Ralph's grocery store.

Friday, June 25, 2010

hope you are having a great week

Happy Friday! We have family in town for a visit, so I'm not able to blog like usual. I will be up and running again next week. Until then, here's a little taste of what I get to look at everyday. Cute right!

Monday, June 21, 2010

bbq time

I made this coleslaw for a BBQ this weekend. I found it on and it had 5 stars. It tastes just like you would want a traditional coleslaw to taste. Great for summer BBQ's!

Serves 8

1 (16 ounce) bag coleslaw mix
2 tablespoons diced onion
2/3 cup creamy salad dressing (such as
Miracle Whip™)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

1. Combine the coleslaw mix and onion in a large bowl.
2. Whisk together the salad dressing, vegetable oil, sugar, vinegar, salt, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl; blend thoroughly. Pour dressing mixture over coleslaw mix and toss to coat. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

i had to take action

I have always said that I want to spoil my kids, just not spoil them rotten. I am now seeing what a fine line that is with my five year old and I am standing my ground! I think it must be his age, but all of a sudden he wants a toy everywhere we go (and actually gets snippety with me when I say no). He's a really good boy too, I can't imagine if he was a naturally naughty kid. All I know is that he is testing his boundaries and I need to pull back a little and make sure we don't give into things just because we are tired.... and both parents need to be on the same page or else we are in TROUBLE.

Tonight I made "Brody's Chore Chart" and from now on he is going to have to earn his toys or treats. It's kind of cheesy and homemade, but other chore charts I have seen are for older kids, so I had to make it up. It has 3 areas he can earn a star in. The first is making his bed in the morning. The second is cleaning his room at the end of the day. The third is helping take care of the dogs. These are three areas I eventually want him to be doing on his own without thinking and they are tasks he can easily do himself. I went to Staples and bought a pack of stickers. The pack tears off into sections that each have 24 stars. When Brody completes a task, he gets to put a star in that area. After he has used all 24 starts he gets to buy a toy or a treat (we equate each star as $0.50, so the toy or treat would have to be $12 and under). I put the chart on the refrigerator, hoping he will look at it every day and be motivated to use it. I will let you know what happens.

Piper wanted one too (she wants to do what ever her big brother does). Hers has two sections, going pee pee in the potty and picking up toys. We need to make hers simple since she is only two. It's never too early to try these things out, although I am thinking hers will take a lot longer. She was excited to put a star on her chart like Brody, instead of her usual Skittles for going pee pee in the potty tonight, so we will see!

The one thing I know about being a parent is... never give up on trying to make things work and be creative with them. Try different things to fix a situation, something will work and your kids will surprise you.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

art time

Hello Monday! For Father's Day we had special art time with some small canvases I bought from Michael's. They are around $5 for a set of two and are so nice to hang around the house. The kids each made Mark a print and then each grandpa got a canvas that they both painted on. I really enjoyed giving them the freedom to paint and I loved using the canvases over the plain paper. I labeled each piece with their name and age on it. I think I'm going to go buy a bigger canvas and let them go to town on it next.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I've been into making smoothies at home lately, maybe it's because I hate watching fruit go bad so I have been using the "almost there" strawberries & bananas (and sometimes blueberries). It's also a good way to get my fruit intake. I just use fruit, ice and a tiny bit of juice (if I don't have juice, I don't use anything else). Well, I bought these Rocket Popsicle Molds (set of 6, with a base and BPA free) for $10.95 from Land of Nod and today I made a big batch of smoothies and turned them into popsicles.... who doesn't love real fruit popsicles? I can't wait to eat them!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

be prepared

I purchased this book from Barnes & Noble for our emergency kit....I actually purchased two of them. I decided we should have one around the house as well for any boo boos that come along. It pretty much covers every first aid situation possible. I tend to panic when it comes to blood or injuries, so having this book makes me feel a bit better. Plus, I'm going to read it to refresh my first aid memory. You can never be too prepared!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

my next 30 days

I will not be doing another list for my next 30 day project, but I have decided to give myself a challenge. I found the two items below in the Pottery Barn Teen catalog and I am going to try and recreate them myself for our house.

This mobile costs $69. I want to make something similar in Piper's room for much less.

This Monogram Sign costs $79 and I want to make something similar for either our kitchen or living room.

So I am giving myself until July 16th to create both. Wish me luck, doing this is a little out of my element for me, but I know Mark will help me out.

hanging pretties

All my necklaces were getting tangled in my jewelry box (more like on top of my jewelry box), so I asked Mark if he could whip me up a necklace holder. He happened to have this random hook thing, probably like $3 at Home Depot....isn't it perfect? It may not be pretty but it works perfect in my closet and it's high up enough that the kids can't reach them.

christmas in june

I know money is still tight for most people, us included. I am always thinking ahead with our finances, trying to figure out what we need to do next. I know it's only June, but I am already thinking about Christmas (is that crazy?). I want to make sure the kids have a great holiday and I don't want to be stressing about money. Last year I started buying their gifts in September so that we could afford to get them what they wanted. I'm thinking it's a little early too start buying gifts now.... but I had a great idea that I am implementing today! I am going to start buying gift cards for us to use later. If every paycheck I go buy a $25 gift card to Target or Toys R Us (and give up an eating-out meal), then by Christmas shopping time I can use all our gift cards and not break the bank. I likey.

a dream

I have been doing some research for a wedding I was hired to help plan and decorate and I came across this wedding on 100 Layer Cake. Personally, I think this is my favorite wedding I have EVER seen. I don't have words for how much I am in love with the details or how close this would be to my ideal wedding. So all I can do is post about it. For more pictures click here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

emergency kit

(As I was typing this post..we had an earthquake....freaky right?)

I was just about to post about the emergency kit we put together, when I got the following reader question:

"On the emergency kit. Did you use a website for reference or just put together things you know you'd need? I've always wanted to do this but it never seems to get past lots of water in the garage. It frustrates me!"

I think we all get stuck at the water part. I did research online for a list of items to put in my kit. I am kicking myself because I can't find the website....but I did write everything down. I have noticed that different websites have different things, so it's good to look for other add-ins. And of course add in anything else you think you will need. Here was my list:

Water (1 gallon per person for 3 days)
Food (3 days worth/ non perishable)
First Aid Kit (latex gloves, dressing, cleansing, antibiotic, burn ointment, bandages, eyewash, thermometer)
First aid info book
Cell charger
Petroleum Jelly
Dust Masks
Garbage bags
Can opener
Dog food
Fire extinguisher

We found this amazing Johnson & Johnson Emergency First Aid Kit at Target for around $30.00.

It rocks because it contains a lot of these items! So much easier than buying everything separate, so I totally recommend it. Pay attention to the quantity of certain items in there. There are only like 2 dust masks and we have 5 in our family, so we bought more. We also added a utility knife, glow sticks, hydrogen peroxide and a few other things. I just read another place that mentions feminine hygiene items, bleach, etc. So do your research. This website is a good tool.

Putting together an emergency kit is time consuming and costs some money, but I feel so good now that it's done! I really think you should do it too!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

time is up

Do you remember my 30 Things I Want to Accomplish the First 30 days of my 30's? Well my time is up! How did I do? One part of me wants to say I failed, but I know better! I don't really believe in failure. So, my answer is that I succeeded in completing 26 of my 30 to-do's. It was a really great experience because it forced me to take on some projects I had been putting off and it also made me realize how many more good deeds I can fit into my time. I also confirmed the fact that I am a perfectionist because I found myself doing certain things over again because I didn't feel like what I did was good enough the first time....lame right? I learned a lot about myself and taught myself a few lessons too:

1. I need to be happy enough with my accomplishments, big or small.
2. Every good deed or goal doesn't need to be a gigantic offering of self sacrifice.
3. Sometimes I need to throw in the towel for my own good. It's okay not to finish everything when and how I want well being is just as important.
4. Life throws us bad days/weeks/months that make it nearly impossible to finish your agenda (oh well, God has other plans)
5. I still always put the things most important to my own accomplishments last (my etsy shop and 5 pages for my book), but I'm a mom and that obviously won't change anytime soon.
6. That my husband is really just as nuts as me... he doesn't blink when I tell him we can't leave yet because I have to plant a garden really fast....or I'm sorry we are all sick, but we HAVE to have a picnic and it has to be today.
7. That I worked my ass off to get these done and I am so proud of myself.

I could go on and on and on and on. The four things I did not finish were setting up my etsy shop (couldn't find the time), writing 5 pages for my book (I wish I had), sleep training the baby (oops I waited too long and then he got sick) and losing 4 pounds (I only did 3).

Are you curious about some of the things I did do? Feel free to ask if you want more specifics from my list. Here are a few examples though. I sent an anonymous gift card to a very wonderful lady who works at a place I visit a lot. I donated to and gave money for a classroom that needs books. I tried the new Barre Class at my pilates studio. Brody gave money from his piggy bank to children at CHOC. He also drew pictures and gave them to neighbors. I sewed a baby handkerchief for drool and a baby blanket with tags. I planted Roma tomatoes and some bell peppers. And, my hubby and I went to a wine party hosted by a friend and left the kids at home!

I have to say that praying for a miracle was my favorite.... because it is an act of faith. I prayed for it in different ways, and the thing about a miracle is that it may have happened and I have no idea. Or it may be in the works. You just never know.

I almost want to have a new list of things to accomplish every month....we all should. It really makes you slow down and be thoughtful about the choices you make with your money and your time. I encourage you to make your own list. Try it for a month. Tell me about it. Blog about it. Heck, I will blog about it for you.

Don't ever stop challenging yourself!

Friday, June 11, 2010

i'm really real

The thing about having a blog is that you can write about things you are good at and things you know. But, often I'm thinking you come across as self righteous, yes? So for today I am going to write about 5 things I am doing poorly at...just so you know I'm not trying to come across as perfect. I have a hard time meeting women who always tell you about how perfect their life is, but never tell you how real it is. Please tell me that you had a fight with your husband this morning or that your kid made you scream yesterday....I can relate to that! So here I go.....

5 Things I'm Not Doing Very Well Right Now
1. Sleep training the baby. I am a nightmare when it comes to Baby #3 sleeping. It's totally my fault. He is coddled.
2. I have been eating sweets or fatty foods lately to curb my stress. It does make me feel better.
3. I check Facebook way too much.
4. I have said "shut up" to my kids more than once lately. Such bad words to use. I was angry. I feel guilt.
5. My kids watch too much tv.

Happy Friday! (I could have done so many more)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

for our wall

We love to travel and we want to share that love with our kids. Mark and I have been talking about having a map on a wall at home for awhile. We want to use pins to mark which states we have each visited. I knew that I wanted the map to be kid friendly so that it would help teach them their states. I saw this map (unframed) at Land of Nod a long time ago and finally ordered it tonight. I can't wait to get it and have each of us "pin" the states that we have been to. Fun right?

picky eaters

I have been wanting to post on this topic for awhile now. For the most part my kids are great eaters. Of course all kids can be picky, but as parents you need to help minimize their pickiness as much as possible. My older two are totally different when it comes to eating. Brody is really picky about how his food looks and what is in his meal. Whereas, Piper really cares about the taste of the food. I have some rules about eating in our family that I think help with making sure they don't turn into monsters at the table.

1. I only make one meal each night. I do not make separate food for the kids UNLESS I'm feeling really lazy and decide the kids can pick. This does not happen often.
2. For the most part, every meal has parts for the kids. A main part, a veggie, maybe a fruit or a grain.
3. In general, I find that I deconstruct most meals. Tonight I made Chicken Chili in the crockpot. For the kids I separated things so it wasn't so overwhelming. So shredded chicken as one part, beans and corn as another and then some fruit. It also helps this way because I know Brody doesn't care for tomatoes so I can kind of take those out.
4. I do not make my meals based on the kids. They can try whatever we make or at least like part of it.
5. I have bribed the kids to try new things. I never did it daily. It worked because I never do it anymore, I don't need to. I like using marshmallows, fruit popsicles or like 5 M&M's.
6. The kids do not get snacks after dinner. Ever. If they say they are not hungry and don't finish their dinner, there is no other food (no matter how much they cry....and they have cried).
7. I tell them all the time my expectations for their dinner when I serve it, like "you need to eat all your green beans tonight." I make sure they do too (although if they are eating really well I don't care about a few extra green beans on the plate).
8. Going back to the lazy part. It has to be a real bad day for the kids to eat chicken nuggets, little pizzas, hot dogs, quesadillas, etc. for their dinner. These are lunch foods if they are really lucky. Do not give your kids these for dinner on a regular basis.
9. If you have nothing for dinner go to the store and buy a precooked chicken. Steam up some green beans (you can buy the microwave steamers too) and make some brown rice. Throw a sliced apple on the table too. It might sound boring, but it's my last minute go-to dinner and it's healthy. (Make sure you take the skin off the chicken)
10. I could go on forever, but my main advice is just to be thoughtful about what you serve your kids (at every meal). The more you offer, the more they eat and try new things. Keep lots of food for the kids at home and change it up at their meals so they are use to having yogurts somedays, applesauce others, etc.

I am not this crazy, healthy cook. I am a regular mom. My kids DO eat chicken nuggets, peanut butter & jelly, fruit snacks and normal kid stuff. But I do not buy cookies, Dorritos, sugary cereals, etc for the house. Pay attention to what you buy. Read labels. I also do not give my kids soda....and I won't until they can buy it themselves. Heck, I rarely have juice in the house. You are starting their food habits for the rest of their lives!

Now I just need to work on our eating-out habits!

small change, big difference

Something so simple like giving my kids their own drawer for their bowls, cups, plates & sippys has made the world of difference for me. Now they don't have to ask me a million times for a cup of water or a bowl for snacks from a high up cabinet....they can get them on their own because they can reach them. I saw this on another mom's blog and adopted it right away. I'm sure to some of you it's a no brainer, but I hadn't even thought about it. Less hassle and worth the mess (when Piper likes to play in there).

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I purchased this book five years ago after I had Brody. It is What to Expect, The First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisnberg and Sandee Hathaway. They obviously wrote What to Expect When You are Expecting as well. Now I am sure that in five years time, many other books have come out that that are similar (maybe even better) and I haven't read any of them. All I know is that I still use this book today. I mostly use it when a baby is sick and I can't seem to figure out what it is and what I should do. It takes you through the first year on a month-to-month basis, but I find that I use the index all the time and look up any concerns that I have whether it be breast feeding, teething or a high fever. In one week I used it once for the baby and once for the two-year old. It has so much information in it to help you get through all of the baby's developments, which is especially nice for a first-time mom. I am a mom of three and I still need reminders and help too.

Basically, if you have a baby at home I really recommend that you have some kind of informational book at home that you can rely on at 3:30am when you have an inconsolable crying baby and you haven't even been to bed yet (yes that was me last night).

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I found this Jennie-O Taco Seasoning Ground Turkey at Albertson's this weekend and it is actually really good! I am a fan of lean ground turkey, but never expected to like it in my tacos. After all, Mexican food is one of my main food groups. But it's really flavorful and the kids loved it! It has 73% less fat than regular ground beef. Hello! I'm going to leave the greasy ground beef tacos for special occasions at restaurants and use this at home from now on. Yum-O.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

good things come in small packages

I was a little under-the-weather this weekend, so I decided to make baby food. My little guy is almost 6 months old now and ready to start his veggies. I made baby food for Piper and I hated it. I used my gigantic food processor and felt like I had to make these huge batches. It was always a huge mess. If it hadn't been so important to me, I would have stopped after the first batch. I really wanted one of the Beaba Babycook Baby Food Makers from Williams-Sonoma but we couldn't afford it. Well with Baby #3, my mom surprised me with one (yes, I cried) and I have been waiting to use it. OMG! I LOVE IT! You have no idea how happy it made me this weekend. I think it's amazing. It makes little batches, which means when I have a few spare minutes I can chop up some veggies and throw it in. It steams them and then you can mix them, all using one machine. It's brilliant. I found myself making food three separate times because I had a free minute. The only time consuming part is chopping your vegetables before hand. It's small, easy to clean and easy to use. I really wish I would have been able to use this with all my babies! My new favorite thing.

Friday, June 4, 2010

It's Friday

Happy Friday!

I saw Sex & the City 2 last night. What a ridiculous movie! But you know what, I would still see it a million times because it's about fabulous women, friendship and Carrie Bradshaw (plus the clothes and decor still rock). I loved how one of the scenes was exactly what I was talking about a few posts below about feeling like I was failing my kids.... proves I'm just a regular mom!

I'm also trying Red Box this weekend, wonder if I will want to cancel my Netflix subscription soon?

Did you see Design Mom's baby portraits for her new addition... really there are no words. If I would have seen these before baby #3 was born, I would have had my uber talented sister do one like the bookshelf picture. Amazing!

I just have to say it out loud.... I feel so far behind with everything. Three kids is crazy and I'm always trying to just get through the day. But I'm reminding myself that the baby is only 5 months old and I need to give myself a break. So I'm hoping I can catch up on projects this weekend. I have a lot of design work that I want to share with you once I find time to upload it all.

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!