Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...Scenes from the kitchen table

Some scenes from the kitchen table this week....

Coco has learned how to finish her cereal by watching daddy.

Franklin patiently waiting for dinner.

Happy Wednesday!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Sidewalk Chalk Painting

We pulled “paint with sidewalk chalk” from our Summer Bucket List this week.

I would give credit to whoever came up with the idea, but it is all over the web right now so it will have to suffice to say that this was not my brainchild.

It is a cheap and easy activity, but gets messy fast.

We took sidewalk chalk and smashed it into a fine powder. The kids used their little plastic hammers from their toolboxes...because a broken finger is NOT on the Summer Bucket List.

Vinny used my kitchen mallet. I used a rubber mallet. This was wonderful for releasing pent up aggression energy. You can use new chalk, or the leftover small pieces that are hard to hold.

We put our chalk powder in low vessels so that it wouldn’t tip over, but you could use disposable plastic cups too.

Then, we added water and stirred until it was the consistency of paint. Tada!!!

The kids had so much fun painting with this stuff.

Coco had to be wiped from head to toe when we were done, but it comes of the skin surprisingly easy.

I tried to convince them to paint more in the sun so that my photos wouldn’t have shadows, but it was hot.

When the paint dries, which it does quickly, it looks like chalk on steroids. It washes off easily, but since we did it in the courtyard, I don’t mind if it hangs out for a few weeks days.

Isn’t that what summer fun is all about?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ponys and Cake!

We visited Irvine Regional Park for a birthday party this summer.

We come to Irvine Regional for the pumpkin patch every year, but we’ve never taken the time to explore the other fun things this park offers- maybe because the kids were smaller and a little harder to wrangle.

There is so much to see and explore here.

The boys decided they wanted to ride the ponies. I was not convinced this was a great idea, because Vincent has a tendency to get anxious at the last minute (I wonder where he gets that from), but I went with it.

To my delight, they loved it! Vincent was not scared at all.

I was especially surprised by how calm Franklin was on the horse. He would reach down and stroke Jacks’s neck and talk to him. It was terribly sweet.

We may need to get one....or visit a dude ranch...or move to Wyoming. I love me some cowboy boots.

Trails wind through the park, which is great for horseback riding and biking. You can rent both horses and bikes if you choose, or bring your own. You seriously forget you are in Orange County when you visit here.

It is cool and lush and quiet. The ponds are calm and beautiful. You can rent paddles boats. I think that would be a blast when the kids are older.

There are picnic areas tucked all over the grounds, some can accommodate large corporate events, and there are both small and large playgrounds.

Here is the birthday boy, Odin with his cake. He is so stinking cute, and just as sweet.

And the aftermath.

Vincent loves this photo. Isn’t that what turning a year old is all about? I would totally do that now if I could get away with it! Maybe for 40.

Odin’s mom Nicole made these delicious push-up cakes. How cute and fun is that? If you are in the OC and want some for your own party send me an email and I will get you in touch with her. Nicole is amazingly creative.

The park also has a train that runs through it. I have been surprised every Halloween that the kids haven’t asked to ride it. I have a feeling this Halloween will be the year.

It doesn’t feel right including Irvine Regional in the Summer Park Tour because it is so much more than a playground destination. I really don’t know how to “rank” it. I wouldn’t pack a picnic and the children on a whim and come over, so I am going to put it on the bottom. This is not a reflection on the park, rather a flaw in my system.

If you are following along, here is the current ranking:

1. Aurora Park

2. Starlight Ridge Park

3. Community Center Park

4. Seaview Park

5. Irvine Regional Park


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy National Ice Cream Day

In recognition of July 17th being National Ice Cream Day I thought I would share some fun ice cream related stuff with you.

This piece of awesomeness has replaced my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer as my favorite small kitchen appliance. Never did I think those words would leave my mouth. I’m sure it is a temporary promotion.

It is a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. I was hesitant to buy an ice cream maker. I thought it would be messy and take up a lot of room that I could otherwise use for hiding my secret stash of Peanut M&M’s.

Then ice cream prices started going up. I refuse to spent $6.99 for Dryers. REFUSE! So I picked up one of these babys at Costco when they had it for a great price with an instant rebate.

Let me tell you- the stuff you can make in this sucker is way better than the stuff from the grocery store (except Ben and Jerrys.....I still love me some Ben and Jerry’s). It is super easy to use, the kids love helping with it, and you can make it for cheaper than buying. LOVE!

I got mine in red, but look at all these fun colors you could get for yourself.

And here are some fun Etsy ice cream finds if you really want to celebrate National Ice Cream Day in style (with links):

Vintage ice cream spoons. These would be super cute as a little anniversary gift.

Traveling Snack Bags. Reusable, washable, and I love the clip on the side.

This screen print would be fun in the kitchen.

Any National Ice Cream Day celebration would be incomplete without eating ice cream. We whipped up a batch of vanilla last night and the kids had crushed M&M’s and cherries on top.

I made Drunken Cherry Jubilee to top the adult's ice cream.

1 ½ cup fresh pitted cherrys

½ cup dry red wine

¼ cup cherry preserves (add more if you want it a little sweeter)

1 tabelspoon Ameretto (or Almond Torani Syrup)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Bring the first 3 ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add the last two ingredients. Stir. Serve on top of your favorite ice cream- warm or at room temperature.

As Franklin would say, it was “wicked”!

Now go eat some ice cream, and thanks for reading!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Carmageddon and my General Distain for the LA News

By now you have all heard carmageddon is upon us. Specifically, it starts tonight at 7:00pm.

For my fortunate out-of-state friends, Carmageddon is the two-day closure of a 10-mile stretch of the 405 freeway, in both directions, between the 10 and 101 freeways. It is being preemptively called, “the mother of all traffic jams”.

Southern Californians have been hearing about it for months. Celebrities have been asked by LA city officials to tweet about it...and tweet they have. A city councilmen told the public at a press conference to, “stay the hell away” from the area. Classy.

OK- so we get it already. But it doesn’t end there.

The LA news affiliates are now providing special live coverage of the closure, including updates on the hour...every hour...for forty eight hours plus.

Which lead me to the real reason for this post- to complain and whine about LA television news.

Tune in for an evening or morning newscast and you get two big local stories and a national story...if you are lucky. The rest are fluff pieces about celebrities, television programming, the entertainment industry, and occasionally a new restaurant.

I don’t remember this being the case in Charlotte, or when we are near San Francisco. Don’t get me wrong- I am all for an occasional human interest story and an investigative report, but if I have to see where Kim Kardashian went for lunch post-workout I think I am going to scream.

Even the sports reporters are sucked into the hollywood scene. Forget about getting scores and highlights and updates on the NFL lockout. What really qualifies as news is the listing price for a local athletes Malibu home. I will admit, the McCourt divorce has been interesting, but I think that is because of the legal ownership ramifications...because I am a law geek.

And don’t turn on the news two days preceding or following the Emmys, Academy Awards, or the Grammy’s.

Yes, this carmageddeon is a big deal. It is actually newsworthy. Therefore, I will stay away from the freeways...and the local news this weekend.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Community Center Park, Picnic, and Daylight Savings

I have never been a fan of daylight savings. I understand why we do it. It makes sense economically and environmentally. But I am a night owl. My favorite time of day is dusk, when the sun is setting and the evening is preparing to turn dark. I like dark nights.

Now that I am a mother, there are other reasons to dislike daylight savings- the biggest being that the kids struggle to go to bed at night when it is still light out.

In an effort to embrace daylight savings and burn off some of the kids extra summer energy, we went for a picnic at the park a few Fridays ago. I had everything packed up and the kids ready when Patrick got home from work at 6:30. We were at the park by 7:00.

This is a new park for Patrick. The kids and I have been here once before, a few weeks ago. We were stood up by Audrey. It has two play sets.

One is for little kids, with 2 slides and age appropriate climbing stuff.

The other play set is a monster.

I can’t guesstimate height, length, or distance to save my life, but Patrick thought it was at least 35 feet tall.

It has three levels, four slides, a bridge, a rock wall, and various other climbing contraptions. Even with its three stories, I didn’t freak when the boys were at the top because it is really secure. There are picnic tables and gathering tables, and bathrooms. The only thing his park is lacking is shade for mom during a really hot day.

After eating our picnic dinner, the kids were off to play.

We could spend hours at this park.

Here’s Coco playing during mommy’s favorite time of day...

... and finishing her dinner, while the boys have a little something sweet.

They saved some for their sister.

I still love the dark nights, but daylight savings is growing on me.

If you are keeping track, here is the new Summer Park Tour ranking:

1. Aurora Park

2. Starlight Ridge Park

3. Community Center Park

4. Seaview Park


Monday, July 11, 2011

Dairy Queen Love

One of the items on our 2011 Summer Bucket List is a trip to Dairy Queen.

We took the kids to DQ for the first time last summer when we were burning some vacation time in the desert. And when I say burning, I mean BURNING. It was a mild June compared to the typical desert weather, but once it hit 106˚ I was done...even though it was a “dry heat”. I’m a wimp like that.

We were lucky that the kids still napped then, so we would hit the pool in the morning, nap in the afternoon, and swim again in the early evening. One afternoon we decided to ditch the naps and hit the DQ.

The boys got Blizzards. It was love at first bite.

Franklin dreamed of the flavor he would get next time.

Vincent didn’t have to share with anyone.

Coco was happy to be held in the cool ice cream parlor- she wasn’t really into eating back then.

Last week I took the kids to the local DQ- our first trip since the desert.

I got off cheap. The boys each got a cherry sundae.

They both ate the whole thing.

Franklin left no cup unturned.

There were drips.

And Colette, who had fallen asleep in the car, slept through the whole event...including the ride back home. The boys have decided we need to go back to DQ when Coco is awake.

Such givers, those two.

And they have already decided on their next desserts.