Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Do Something Nice

You can never do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A few weeks ago, Patrick lost a dear friend and mentor to cancer.

Dave was only 49 years old. He battled the cancer for many MANY years. He never complained. He never said an unkind word to, or about, anyone. He loved his family and he worked hard until the very end.

Whenever Patrick needed professional advice he called two people- his dad and Dave. Patrick and I have been thinking and talking a lot about Dave the last few weeks.

We were privileged to know him.

In his obituary Dave requested that in lieu of flowers, you do something nice for someone else. That was the kind of man Dave was.

I have been trying to do something nice for someone every day to honor Dave. Doing something nice for others not only makes that person feel good, but also makes you a better, happier person. Thanks for the reminder, Dave!

Here are some ideas of things you can do for others, if you want to join me.

  • Let someone cut in front of you in line.
  • Give a random but genuine compliment.
  • Return someone’s shopping cart to the coral for them.
  • Bring your neighbors newspaper to their front door.
  • Write someone a heartfelt note.
  • Do one of your spouse’s usual chores (without telling them).
  • Pay for the person’s coffee behind you.
  • Leave a tip.
  • Allow a car to merge into traffic, even if they drive like an idiot.
  • Pack your child’s favorite lunch.
  • Let someone else pick the television show, restaurant, movie etc.
  • If you see trash, pick it up.
  • Take flowers to the elderly.
  • Say yes instead of no.
  • Bake someone something.
  • Smile when you would rather complain.
  • Say thank you and mean it.
  • Double a recipe, and take the extra to a friend or neighbor.
  • Compliment a parent on their child’s behavior.
  • Post a positive comment on a website or blog.
  • Offer to help.
  • Give another driver your parking spot.
  • Donate blood.
  • Run an errand for someone.
  • Wave to a neighbor.
  • Be a friend.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Not Just a Three-Day Weekend

"Any Nation that does not honor its heroes will not long endure."

~Abraham Lincoln

A recent poll found that only 28% of Americans know why we have this three-day weekend at the end of May. This was a national poll, and I heard it on the morning news this week, so I don’t have the citation. You will have to trust me.

While Memorial Day will always mark the kick off of summer and the BBQ and season, our country has forgotten the meaning and purpose of Memorial Day, to honor our soldiers lost in war.

We are lucky to live in a country where our personal liberty and freedoms are protected by a brave and selfless military. Here are some ideas of things you can do on Memorial Day do to remember those who died protecting our county as well as honor our veterans and active military throughout the year.

  • Take flowers or a flag to a soldier’s grave.
  • Visit a military museum.
  • Volunteer with an organization that provides service to veterans.
  • Make care packages for active military serving oversees.
  • Donate items for military families at home. Diapers and children supplies are always needed. If you live near a military base, help with or organize a clothing and food drive.
  • Wear red, white, and blue.
  • Observe a moment of silence at 3 p.m., the “National Moment of Remembrance” and explain to your children why you are doing it.
  • Educate yourself about the issues that are affecting our veterans.
  • Say thank you when you see a uniformed soldier.
  • Pray for our military, veterans, POW/MIA.
  • Enjoy your life- go to a ball game or grill in the backyard while remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice so you could enjoy yours.
  • Fly your flag!

Have a safe Memorial Day weekend friends!

  • Photobucket

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Disneyland sans Diapers

After having to reschedule a couple times due to illnesses, we finally made it to Disneyland on Monday with the boys.

Vincent’s first trip to Disneyland was last May when he was three and a half. We used a day trip to the happiest place on earth as incentive for him to potty train. It worked- a month after he turned three he decided to wear underwear and there was no turning back.

Our intent was to only take Vinny. It was to be a special treat, a day where he would get all of our undivided attention. When we told him that it would just be the three of us he cried and said he really wanted is brother to go too. We obliged. It was his day, his accomplishment, and he wanted his best friend with him.

The day was amazing. There is something truly magical about Disneyland when you see it through a child’s eyes. That Walt really got it right. And Vinny was thrilled that his brother was with him.

This is my favorite photo from May of last year. What is it about Disneyland that makes children hug their siblings impromptuly? Impromptuly is a word- I swear.

Fast forward a year later...

We dangled the same carrot in front of Franklin in order to get the potty training rolling. A few weeks before his third birthday he decide he was ready to leave the shackles of Pampers and be a “really big boy”.

Franklin was tall enough for the Matterhorn this year- he screamed “get me out of here,” the whole time, while VW wanted to go on it again. This is a major role reversal for the boys.

The Toy Story ride is always a hit- Franklin loves to fight the evil Zurg. We had to ride it, and Pirates of the Caribbean, twice.

They both loved Autotopia and I discovered on this trip that Patrick gets serious vertigo on the teacups. He has earned himself a new nickname.

On Tom Sawyers’ Island, which recently reopened, Vincent said that I had to blog this photo.

And here are the boys in front of that same Alice in Wonderland door, one year later. Both so much bigger.

Before we left the house Monday morning Franklin requested Colette come too, just like his brother had done for him. We explained to him that Coco had to stay with Grandma and Vader because she was too little for rides. He understood, and asked if we could all go when Coco decided to wear underwear. I look forward to that day!

<span class=

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dedicated to the Breadman

Muffin tin deliciousness was featured at dinner last night with top-your-own pizzas. This is the first time I have done this with the boys.

I started the pizza dough in the bread machine, but about 10 minutes into the cycle it died on me. I had to finish it by hand...the horror of it all! The machine is pictured above, in the background behind the boys...waiting for a proper burial. RIP Breadman...it was a good 11 years.

The evening’s toppings were: fresh pineapple, ham, black olives, mushrooms, and red onions.

The onions and mushrooms were requested by Vincent- he has been going through this spicy food phase.

When Franklin initially saw the muffin tin he was a little worried, thinking dinner was served. Once he understood the concept, he set to work.

Frankie likes lots of pineapple.

Vincent likes lots of everything.

Colette likes to sit at the table like a big girl.

It was a successful dinner, and nice way to end the weekend.

Have a great week friends!

<span class=


Friday, May 20, 2011

Just Another Thursday Night

The kids and I went to our friend Bridget’s house last night. Both our husbands were going to be out late so Bridget decided “Movie Night” would be a great way to usher us closer to the weekend and maybe provide a little break for the moms.

We envisioned 5 children (aged 4 and under) sitting quietly on the sofa, curled up and cozy in their pajamas, entranced by the movie, but periodically giggling and exchanging hugs.

What dumb broads we are!

It started off fine.

We got everyone settled.

Bribing with popcorn helped.

We got about 15 minutes into the movie when they decided toys would be more fun.

Then the dancing started. Coco practiced her downward dog.

Did I mention there was lots of chocolate?

Ave and Vinny mastered "the robot".

Soon everyone was out on the trampoline jumping until dark. Not exactly the calm evening we conjured up in our vivid imaginations. But there was wine and friend and popcorn and chocolate. Thursday nights don’t get much better than that!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Arnold, Alaska, and really good coffee

It is a rainy and windy day in Southern California. I had planned to do a fun painting activity with the kids this morning, but since I don’t trust the 19-month-old to finger paint in the house, that was quickly removed from the to do list.

I fear baseball practice may be cancelled as well. Apparently Mother Nature missed the memo that storms are not welcome here in May.

We SoCal people are wimpy like that.

Since there is not a lot to report on the children front (they are playing "army" right now) I thought I would share a few current but random thoughts:

First, so my friends from out of state can stop emailing me, I heard about Arnold yesterday. How could you not? It is the leading story on the morning news- maybe another reason I need to break my addiction to The Today Show. I’m glad he is no longer our governor...for a number of reasons. I think California realized a long time ago that he was a typical politician.

I am sad for his kids.

The only thing that surprises me is that no one found out sooner. I bet Gloria Allred is really pissed. She made a big deal out of the groping allegations during the recall election in 2003, when this was right under her nose. Missed opportunity, Gloria!

All that being said, I still like Kindergarten Cop.

I told you this was going to be random.

Second, I just finished reading Caribou Island by David Vann. I had to put my name on the waiting list for it at the library. I wanted to read it because it is the first novel by Vann who has won a number of awards for his other works, and the setting is Alaska.

I have had this weird fascination with Alaska for the last year. I am unsure why. I have absolutely ZERO hunting, fishing, or survival instincts.

The book starts with the main character building a cabin from scratch on a remote Alaskan island. He does this without a blueprint or plan. His wife goes along with it, even though she opposes the idea completely. The couple has two children, both with their own issues. I won’t go into any more detail, but to say that that the characters have no redeeming qualities. There was nothing likable or relatable (is that a word?) about them. Likable characters are not a must for an enjoyable book, but here, the overall tone was depressing.

Stylistically, Vann didn’t use quotation marks around any of the dialogue...and there is a lot of dialogue. You get used to it as you read but, creative license aside, it was a little unsettling especially when reading at midnight.

Overall, it was disappointing.

Finally, the former governor and this book remind me of living in Charlotte. We were there when Arnold was first elected and my favorite thing to do on Saturday mornings was go for a run then hit a coffee spot with a copy of the Observer or a book.

My favorite spot was Caribou Coffee.

I wish they would come to California.

I like their mochas and slogan- Life is short. Stay awake for it.

<span class=

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do It Yourself Trail Mix

Trail Mix is a popular snack in our house. It took me a while to not worry about the boys choking or going into anaphylactic shock every time they had a nut, but now that I am over that, trail mix is a mainstay.

The biggest issue I have with trail mix is there is always a little something left over- Vincent isn’t crazy about cashews, and Franklin doesn’t like whole almonds. To remedy this I have started buying our trail mix ingredients separately, instead of pre-mixed. I have found that it is cheaper, lasts longer, and I can add the stuff each child likes.

Most importantly, I am not compelled to 200 calories worth of leftovers so they don’t go to waste because there is usually nothing left for me.

Today, I decided to let the boys mix their own snack, muffin tin style. Their mix choices were: a medley of raisins, dried tropical fruit, Craisins, sunflower seeds, honey roasted peanuts, and M&Ms. Coco had hers sans nuts.

Other items that we often use are pistachios, mini marshmallows, Multigrain Cheerios, chocolate chips, Chex, Apple Jacks, peanut butter chips, macadamia nuts, mini pretzels, goldfish, granola clusters (Trader Joes has really good ones), banana chips, shredded coconut and dried pineapple chunks.

It always amazes me that they share and still get their fill of what they want. Maybe it is brotherly love...or my threats to never do anything fun again if this doesn’t go well.

Either way, this is what was left over after mixing.

I couldn’t let those M&Ms go to waste.

What is the go to snack around your house?


<span class=

Friday, May 13, 2011

More Books We Are Loving

The boys are really into bugs right now. They grosser the better, and if they have pinchers Franklin is in heaven. Monster Bug Wars is our current favorite television show.

Our library wish list is over flowing with books targeted at different types of insects that we must learn about. Black Windows, Tarantulas, and Mosquitoes are all at the top, and will be making a mini Pill Bug terrarium this summer. I hope this will keep the bugs out of the boys’ pockets, where they were found this week.

I picked up these two books as the Target dollar spot: Strange and Amazing Insects, and Stinkers and Stingers. They have great illustrations and lots of cool scientific information...and they were a buck each. We read them everyday.

Coco has finally taken an interest in reading. She doesn’t have a preference for any topic in particular, but she has to sleep with at least one book at night.

It took almost two years, but I have finally gotten around to reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

If you haven’t read it yet, you need to. It is set in 1960s Mississippi and tells the story of black domestic workers and the socialite white women they are employed by. It is an easy read and super entertaining. Even though it is over 400 pages, you will be surprised by how fast you blow through it, and you may be sorry when it is over. The characters are well developed and appropriately likeable or contumelious.

For a complete review of The Help click here, but be aware that the New York Times likes to go into a lot of detail as to the plot so you may not want to read the whole thing...I like to be surprised.

What books are you loving in your house?