Friday, July 30, 2010

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

I am a HUGE fan of movies from the 80's. I have seen them over and over and over again. Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, She's Having a Baby, Say Something, Mystic Pizza... L-O-V-E them.

However, if today was my last living day on earth and I had a choice to watch one of my favorites before my time was up, I'd hands down choose Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

Now instead of rambling on and on about why I love that movie so much, let me tell you what made me think of this today. I wasn't just randomly reflecting on my favorite 80's movies. After all, what busy parent has time for that, right?

It was this thing that I kept hearing over and over again from the 1st moment I woke up this morning...




And as my 3 guys persistently called my name, I resisted my usual urged of telling them that I changed my name to "Dad." They never seem to use that name in this house! Instead I had an instant imagine in my head of this man:

And I all I could hear was the morphed voice of my children turned into Ben Stein's voice...




It just made me laugh, you know?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Boys' Best Friend

When we broke the news to our oldest son, then 6, that we were moving away from San Clemente, a beach town in south Orange County, to a rural town in North County San Diego, he was not thrilled. He was anxious about moving away from his home, his friends and relatives, his school, and all the activities he enjoyed. To ease his apprehension, my husband threw in a deal: “We’ll buy you a dog!” This was news to me and I really wasn’t in the mood to consider adding a fur child to our already hectic life.

Much to my dismay, the family began talking about our pet to be. Suddenly our conversations revolved around what kind of dog we would get, what size, what color, etc. As their conversations swirled around all the possibilities, my head swirled around all the work and costs. I knew through all the promises of teamwork with the dog, that I’d be the one to ultimately provide care for it.

So as they cheered and talked excitedly about this soon to be pet, I moaned and groaned. But then we started our search for the dog and found a rescue group in San Diego for Labradors. As I browsed online through the multitude of adoptable doggies, I couldn’t help but feel a tad bit excited about bringing one of these beautiful animals into our home. The funny thing is that as I continued researching and warming up to the idea, Kevin starting hesitating. I told him there’s no going back now. The kids would flip if we retracted his bargain. So he left it up to me and said, “Go for it.”

Although we had our heart set on a yellow lab initially, our coordinator persuaded me to look for the right dog, not the “right color”. I’m so glad she finally convinced me to flex. As soon as I met Rascal, I knew he was the dog for us. He is a big black thug of a dog. His shiny coat is stunning and his calm demeanor is just right for a house full of rowdy boys.

We brought him home while Kevin was away for work and he’s been our big buddy ever since. Ironically, because I was the one to care for him when we 1st brought him home, he is a total mama’s boy. Boy, am I glad I changed my mind about getting him!

Rascal has done a few things for our family that I’m so grateful for.

He has taught my boys responsibility. Charlie and Jack are in charge of feedings.

He gives Luke a comfort zone to show affection, which can be a struggle for kids on the autism spectrum. We’ve noticed Luke hugging us more since we’ve brought Rascal home. It brings tears to my eyes.

Rascal even pretend plays “vet” and gives a stellar performance as the “patient".

Sure a dog may is man’s best friend. However, in this house, our dog is boys’ best friend.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Sharing Favorites at Dinner

If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I love-make that LOVE traditions. BUT, there is something I LOVE even more.

I LOVE combining traditions WITH food.

Back in my teaching days, I’d have my 1st graders form a circle on the carpet. We would take turns going around the circle sharing our “bubble up” (good thing) that happened at school for that day. The kids eagerly anticipated Bubble Up and expressed their utter disappointment if we ran out of time and could not squeeze it in at the end of the day.

Now that I’m at home with my boys, I take as many opportunities to infuse my teaching experiences with my mommy moments. I fervently believe in family dinners. With our nutty schedules that keep us preoccupied, I hold onto the old tradition of sitting with your loved ones and sharing a meal and meaningful conversation together. Kids need that time to connect. Moms and Dads do, too.

As we begin eating Kevin and I look at our children and observe which boy is showing the best table manners (elbows off the table, chewing with their mouths closed, etc.) May I say this is a much better tactic for teaching table manners than nagging? Trust me, I tried that 1st.

Once one of the boys is chosen, we ask, “What was your favorite today?” They answer, “My favorite is…” Sometimes we give everyone a moment to think of their favorite before we pick a kiddo to start so they don’t ponder their answer and make the other kids wait. Once the 1st family member shares, they have to look at the next person (of their choice), address him/her by their name, and ask, “What was your favorite?”

Not only does it give Kevin and I insight into their days, it teaches them important life skills.

“Favorites” has become a major favorite in our house. Try it tonight and let me know how it goes.

Cheers to your favorites!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tourmaline Beach Day

We used to live by the beach. It was like our own backyard. I know, we were spoiled. I walked the beach path from North Beach to the San Clemente Pier each day with the Charlie and Jack after dropping Luke off at school. Despite the repetitiveness of the walk, the beauty of it never escaped me.

When we moved inland last year, I wasn’t prepared for how much we’d miss our quick stops at the beach to let the kids play. It’s where we rode bikes in the afternoon to kill time before Kevin came home from work. It’s where I met a dear friend for "walk and talk" time. It is a place that no matter which season, I knew I could take my kids to throw rocks in the water, dig in the sand, or climb on the rocks. The majority of the time, I didn't even put them in their swim trunks. After all, quick stops in their regular clothes were our norm.

We didn’t need coolers, umbrellas, beach towels, and the other number of “survival” items for a full trip to the beach. I miss those days. And I admit, making a trip to beach now, seems a bit of a task. I fully acknowledge that sounds so negative and awful, but if you have kids, you know that packing for such days takes a lot of work.

This last weekend we were invited to join my brother's family at Tourmaline Beach in San Diego. Although it required a lot of packing and an hour long drive with a revolving, “how much longer until we get there” from 3 beach ready kids, it could not have been a better day.

There was lots of taunting the waves and shrills of joy from cool water tickling little toes.

Sand, sand, and more sand…

And this stuff?

Well, it was a hit with the boys. I’ll spare you the details, but it was part of the toilet all the boys in the group were making.

What can I say…boys will be boys. I think I’m getting used to it.

And as we loaded our 3 super sleepy and sand covered boys in the car, we knew it was all worth it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Crackers in Bed

Some memories just stick in my mind more than others. Our oldest is now 7, but when he was around 3 he crawled into bed with me in the morning. I wasn’t feeling well as I was struck hard by morning sickness with our second baby. My 1st reaction was to convince him to fall back asleep. As he nuzzled close to me, he noticed the saltine crackers on my nightstand. He grabbed the bag and proceeded to crunch on the crackers and chat with me. He even offered me some. So there we sat together in bed...eating crackers. Crumbs and all.

Something so small, yet so big that I still remember it.

It was a perfect way to start our morning and it reminded me to cherish those small moments. Now we have 3 boys. Our mornings are rushed as we race to get lunch packed, breakfast made, and Luke off to school.

Eating crackers in bed with my Luke is one of my favorite memories. It was simple and sweet and will always remain that way in my heart.

I'd love to hear if there is a moment that you have frozen in your memory with one of your children. Please share!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Too Paint or Not to Paint

So the design mission continues. I'm still working on the kitchen and I've started on the family room/kid playroom/office (that's what happens with a small house). The colors are similar to the others in the house...blues, greens, and browns. However, since it is a kid space and I love the color, I've added bits of orange. Not too much since it is overpowering, but just enough to say, "Hello, I'm orange and I'm here to make you happy!"

(They are more muted in person)

I really wanted symmetrical modern prints from Crate and Barrel but the $320 didn't fit my budget. So I did my best at coming up with my own version based on something similar I found in a design magazine.

Frames + Scrapbook paper= Project

I found cheap frames from Ikea with white matting. Then I put in funky scrapbook paper. I am going for a more modern look with this area of the house and brighter colors to reflect that is is a kid-friendly space.

I'm not sold on the white frames but I'm going to live with them for a week before I decide if I want to paint them or not.

The other problem with the white frames is that I don't have a lot of white accessories. I needed something above my kitchen cabinets so I bought vintage looking white pottery. I like the white and it helps bring some cohesiveness with the frames since the rooms connect.

Here's one up close:

But Kev thinks I should whip out the good old spray paint and paint them the same as these guys (the owls)...

I'm on the fence. What do you think? I am not one to usually ask for advise, but I'm open. I can't promise I'll do what you suggest, but I'll ponder it. Fair, right?


Much love,

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

911 Super Nanny!!!

I need the Super Nanny. Pronto. Jack keeps getting out of his bed and it is driving me INSANE.

I don’t know what to do. Part of me just wants to commit myself somewhere just to escape my frustration. I know that for mothers of older children this must seem like a small thing that I am sweating, but right now, in my house, this seems big. Very big. And unlike a lot of problems I have with my kids, Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C have all failed. Plan D, Plan E, and Plan F have not worked either. The kid won’t stay in his bed. Oh, my Jack. My once sweet and obedient baby is 2 1/2 and thinks getting out of his bed is fun and games.

So each night, I try (not succeed) at calmly putting him in bed with a consistent bedtime routine. But the stinker continues to find it extremely humorous to run out and shout “ta-da” every few minutes. I pick him up, tell him to stay in bed, and leave the room. But then he does it again. And again. And again.

This mama is BEAT.

It’s moments like this that I wish our kids had buttons to program like robots. But then that would take away their individual personalities. So for now, I have to deal with the willful munchkin in our house and keep envisioning the Super Nanny encouraging me to be consistent and calm. If that doesn’t work, I just may have to apply to be on the show. Whatever it takes to get that kid to sleep.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Whooo loves Owls?

I am on a mission to make my kitchen feel complete. I don't know if the sudden motivation is due to having all 3 boys home now that it is summer or what, but I'm seizing the moment.

I'm lovin' the fake vintage "tiles", but there was still something nagging at me.

This empty space:

I'm not one for clutter so normally a little empty isn't a bother, but this empty was just a bit too, well, empty.

So I decided to find some quirky bookends. I found these guys at Barnes and Noble:

They fit the bill...not traditional and owls work with the vintage thing so they were a go. Except, I already have enough white in my kitchen...tiles (you know how I feel about those) and cabinets.

White = No Problem. I just needed a can of spray paint and this is what I got:

So stinkin' cute and a bit funky. Lovin' them! Now I just need to start cranking open these cookbooks. Maybe these owls will give me the motivation for that.

Happy Monday!

Much love,

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Cheap Solution When You Don't Get What You Want

I hate to be shallow. Honestly, I really do. But I am in a shallow mood today so I decided to do something about it. For 6 years, I lived with granite counters. When we bought this house, the kitchen had white tiles circa 1996. It still does. BOO!

And if you have been reading along, you know that we are in the midst of one remodeling project after another. The floors are finally done. Baseboards are this weekend. The yard and the bathrooms are still looming. Boo again!

Needless to say, this girl ain't gettin' granite anytime soon. Triple Boo!

Thank goodness for this cool mama:

I found inspiration from one of her blogs. It was about super cool shutters in her kitchen, but I noticed her vintage tiles on her backsplash in the photos.

So I did something I don't usually do because I'm weird that way; I emailed her and asked where she got them. She responded quickly and made my day. It was contact paper from Target. BRAVO!!!

I chose to space it out, but really you can create any design you'd like. It looks lime green in the pics but it more subdued in person, I promise. I mixed up the patterns to keep it funky and eclectic. I am in love. First it was with a volcano cake, and now it is with contact paper. Is that strange?

Anyway, check it out...

When we moved in (I know, SCARY):


After adding my fake vintage "tiles":

Up Close:


Best of all...PRICE:

It sure beats the cost of stone counters and will make do for now. I'm a happy girl.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Summer Camping Trip

We are travel wimps. Ever since having more than one little guy, we’ve chosen to stay close to home. Kevin travels frequently for work, but I stay in close proximity to home base with the kiddos. The occasional weekend trip to Palm Desert or Vegas is as brave as it gets in our house.

But this year we have pledged to have some fun. And fun we did have this last week. We packed our minivan (I still feel like I want to cough and say that under my breath), and headed up north to scenic Refugio State Beach which is just north of Santa Barbara.

Now, it must be made clear that I’m not a camping type of girl. I have no hesitation in admitting that I prefer spas and room service to campfires and roasting marshmallows. But let’s be real, with 3 rambunctious boys in tow, how Zen would I get at a luxurious hotel and spa?

So Kevin bribed me by renting a RV and off we went. Despite my initial reluctance, I must confess that this is one of the best trips we’ve ever been on as a family. Although we only had one day of sunshine, the kids didn’t mind. They splashed, swam, boogie boarded, kayaked, and dug to China.

But that’s not all. We hiked and took a day trip to Solvang. Although the kids could care less for the “cute” factor, they appreciated the ice cream, candy store, and shaved ice. Who says bribery doesn’t work?

The best part of our Solvang trip was on our way back to the campsite. As we passed by the shimmering golden hills spotted with old oak trees, we spotted a sign for blueberry picking. We played a game of “should we-should we not” for a moment and then Kevin quickly made a U-turn for the decision was made. I love unexpected excursions.

And back at camp, the kids played games, crafted, rode bikes, colored, and endlessly giggled.

Yeah, the kids still fought, little ones still got daily ouchies, and the time out chair was occupied more than once, but that’s life. In the big scheme of things it was the simplicity of the trip that made it so exceptional.

I may just be a camping girl after all.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Just Two Hands

Today as we stepped in sync along the tree lined path and listened to the brook below, I paused before I reached for his small hand.

He's big now. Would he pull it away? That was my biggest fear. Would he hold it for a moment despite his embarrassment to spare hurting my feelings? Nope. His seven year old, soon to be a big second grader hand warmly embraced my own and we strolled together without a word.

It was perfect.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Child Remote Control

There is an invention that I have brewing in my head. I’m certain that I’d make millions if I can pull it off. It could be the lifesaver for all parents. I’ll share my idea with you, although I don’t have a patent yet so please don’t steal my idea: The child remote control. No, I’m not talking about a child friendly remote control. I’m talking about a real remote control for you to use ON your child. Let me explain the function with the following scenarios from my real life:

Jack (2) screaming as I frantically pushed the cart through Costco. If he was my 1st child, I would have been too embarrassed to keep shopping. You see, Jack’s my 3rd so I tried my best to ignore him (and the stares from the other shoppers) and continued my shopping. After all, it is not often that I get to Costco and with only one kid. So I pushed on. I rather have pushed the mute button to freeze my screaming wreck of a son. I imagined whipping out my magic remote out of my purse and experiencing the immediate peace from silencing my son without the use of bribery or worse, threats!

Fast Forward:
When Luke, now 7, was an infant he cried and cried AND cried. It never stopped. I was so tired and desperate. Having a newborn is tough enough. The sleep is non-existent, your energy is fleeting, and your brain is mush. All I wanted was to push fast forward. I knew it wasn’t going to last forever, but in the moment it truly felt like FOREVER. Think of the endless possibilities with this button: potty training, terrible twos, and puberty (oh, I can’t even go there yet!).

Here’s the thing, though. It is these moments that strengthen us as mothers and comprise our experience of motherhood. Without the lows we wouldn’t truly experience and appreciate the highs. It is a journey for sure. And when our children are grown, we’ll wish to push rewind. It will seem as though those years of raising our children were on permanent fast forward and we will yearn for the moments of cuddling, imagining, and providing the guidance and nurturing that at times drain us now.

So for now, I’ll try the slow motion button. I will make more of an effort to slow down and enjoy the moment. I hope you can too.