Monday, June 2, 2014

A Quick and Literal Tale

I realized today that my children are way too literal.  
Yesterday my husband, in a moment of frustration,  asked her how many times he had to ask her to do something. She replied 6. 
Today I asked the 7yo how many spoons of Nutella one person needs. She said 2. 
Oh for the love of sweetness! What are your options when this happens? 
I see two clear options in this sort of a situation-
1) Laugh
2) Hit my head on the nearest solid structure

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Tale of Mrs. Mean Guy and How I Learned I Am NOT Mrs. Brady

This is not news, but there are aspects of parenting that really suck rocks. One of my least favorite parts of the job is having to e the bad guy. There are days, weeks, maybe even months, when I swear every other word out of my mouth is "don't" or "no" or "stop-it!" to one or both of my children. It's so tiring and frankly sucks the joy from my most inner core.

As an aside, my sister and I didn't always get along, but I can't believe we would have survived to see 10 if we had behaved the way my kids do. In my fantasies my girls are best of friends and ultimately these fantasy children of mine become strong, polite young women who have a deep bond. I am even OK with the idea that they will gang up on us, their parents. I picture a happy Jan and Marcia Brady, sure they fight but within 20 minutes they are sharing sweaters and working at the ice cream parlor together. Is it really too much to ask?

Sorry, now back to reality. This past April after hosting a birthday party my 7yo daughter got a coupon for the Build-a-Bear Workshop down by Disneyland. Today was the expiration date. Earlier this week I told both girls that we could go and use this coupon along with the left over gift cards I had from the party, today, Saturday. The caveat? They needed to behave. I thought I was setting the bar low. Honestly I did. I didn't want to let this discount expire any more than they wanted to skip a trip to BaB. I should also add that nearly every Saturday the kids and I go to a restaurant about 10 miles from our house and meet family members for breakfast.

Here was the basic plan when I got up this morning. Let the kids sleep in. Get them dressed and out the door by 8am, be to breakfast by 8:30, then from there if all has gone well we would go over to BaB.

It started going south about 15 minutes after they got up.  From the start they were arguing and grumpy with each other (strike 1). They didn't do what I asked them to do in preparation for leaving the house but instead said "hold on I am doing…." (strike 2). They constantly interrupted the adults at breakfast, didn't eat the meals they ordered and refused to sit in their seats (3, 4 and 5). I could go on. The 4yo took her sisters 1 Direction trading cards and colored on them (strike 6!) There was crying, there was baby talk (OMG I HATE BABY TALK!) and there was basic rudeness. I swear I reminded them over and over again about the promised trip and the consequences of their behavior. Honestly I did, before, during, and after.

Finally breakfast was over and we got in the car. The first thing out of both their mouths was "let's go to Build-a-Bear!" I'm sorry. WHAT? Somebody needed a reality check, for sure! Had we come from the same restaurant? Did they even understand what the expectations had been? Who did they think they were fooling with this sunny declaration? Had they recently been hit in the head and lost their memory? Why, oh why, could they not just behave?!

I know that I am not Mrs. Brady because if I were I would have been able to make some sweet and simple statement and they would have had a total attitude adjustment. Instead we had this….
Me "Girls, what did I say you needed to do to earn the visit to BaB?"
Them "We needed to get ready quick, listen and be good."
Me "How do you think you did?'
Them silence
Me "Honestly, how do you think you did?
7yo "badly"
Me "….I am sorry to have to say this but we can't go to BaB today or I would be teaching you the wrong thing."
Them crying and begging lots of "we will be good now!" and disingenuous promises that involved the rest of the day 
Me "Please stop. I am not changing my mind, we will do it another time, IF you shape up."

And so instead of going and having a fun morning building stuffed animals we filled up the gas tank and drove through the car wash. Sadly they have continued to bicker and jump all over each other for the slightest offense and so as of now they have also lost TV (although I would pay anything to be able to just chill on the sofa in front of some cartoons right now.) It is honestly hurting me as much as it is hurting them.

Fingers crossed they start getting their act together. We have three more days until they are out of school and the prospect of being home with them fighting and baby-talking for the next few months makes me want to run away and join the circus.

Portrait of me by 4yo- I named it Mad Mommy
Well readers? Do you have any parenting advice? Over the counter meds I should try on days like this?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Awesome Sesame Noodles

Today was a school picnic for F, the 4yo. It's a potluck event and so I decided to make my very favorite  Sesame Noodle dish which was given to me nearly 20 years ago by a friend. It's slightly spicy and sooooo good!
Sadly I forgot to take a picture of it but I did send some in the 7yo's lunch so can show the bit she took with her. 
L's lunch- PB sandwich, apples, and yummy sesame noodles
For those of you wondering how to make this, I am posting the recipe here. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! Enjoy!!!

Sesame Noodles 
Quantity                                      Ingredients     
1/4 c.                                           soy sauce
3 T.                                             Sesame Oil
2 T.                                             Red Wine Vinegar
1 1/2 T.                                       Sugar

1 T.                                             Chili Sauce w/Garlic (Sambal Oelek)
12oz package                              Chinese water-style noodles or spaghetti 
4                                                  green onions sliced
2                                                  bell peppers julienne
2 T.                                              Cilantro, chopped (I use an entire bunch but just the leaves)
2-4t                                              sesame seeds (I use toasted and normal)

Blend marinade ingredients until well combined (can be done a day ahead, cover and chill). Bring to room temperature. Cook noodles al dente, cool and toss with marinade and remaining ingredients. Serve chilled. This works as an entree and feeds 4 or as a side and feeds 8-10. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

A Tale of a Birthday Lunch

Today is my eldest daughters birthday, I wanted to something a little special for her so I made her a cupcake sandwich.
The sandwich has Nutella in it and the rest is very straight forward with apples and goldfish crackers. Simple, right?

At lunch I also took cookies and 8oz bottles of water to her class. Birthday girls' choice. 
It was a busy day but well worth it to see her smile. 
Happy 7th Birthday To my first born! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Tale of Being Thankful

I got a text today from my husband that simply said "Mike passed away yesterday" while I was leaving my neighborhood Starbucks. I sat in the car and cried like a baby, or as I am sure the customers leaving Starbucks thought, I cried like a crazy lady. Well, my apologies to the fine people who happened to pass me at that time but sometimes these things really can not be helped. 

Here are some things you should know about my friend. He was a really good guy. A devoted husband, father and musician.  He had an amazing memory for the names of designers, strength beyond his size, and an uncanny (some might say slightly freaky) ability to look at a woman and not just guess, but KNOW their dress size. I don't know how the hell he did that but it was truly amazing. Mike also had the ability to make people feel welcome and I know there was a large group of the local community who loved going into his shop to spend time just talking to him. That's the kind of guy he was. 

Here are some things, beyond what I wrote above, that I admired about Mike. 
The way he looked at his wife. He was one of those guys who you knew by every thing he did, that he really loved his her. 
The way he openly adored his son. 
The way he talked to my kids like real people. 
His energy and enthusiasm. 
His excitement for, and knowledge of good design. 
His ability and willingness to listen to people. 

OK. So to be honest I know he was not perfect. None of us are. 

The last time I saw Mike was a couple of months ago when we got together for breakfast. This was something we had come to do over the years, we would go to their house, they would come to ours or we would meet at a local restaurant or a museum. This last time was just after he had finished up some treatment or another and before he went in for surgery on his neck. He was in pain and had been sick for a while. If it were me I would have been just grumpy and totally miserable to be around. Not Mike. He was his normal affable self. Ill never forget some of the things Mike has said to me over the years. 

No one lives forever. It may be a disappointment to some but I simply can't believe there is a magical after life we go to after this. I believe that it's what we do in this life that is so very important. It's who we love, who we help or learn from, what we do that counts. Perhaps this is too simplistic but I believe that as long as I remember those I have cared about who pass that they live through me. As long as I remember the lessons I have learned from them and share those lessons, they live through me. 

I am a better person for having known Mike. Not because of his death, but because of his life. Honestly I don't have much more of a tribute to pay to anyone. I am thankful that I knew him. 

My hope for all of us is that no matter how much time each of us has on this earth that we are able to love whole heartily, listen when children speak to us, find the time for our family and friends, and face each day no matter what it brings with an energy and enthusiasm like Mike would. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Tale of a Traveling Octogenarian

I realize as I sit here and type this that my parents are prepping me for when my children are older and begin to leave the nest. Anyway that is what I am telling myself. 
I also say things like "This is good practice." 
or "It's all part of the cycle." and "You can't hold on too tight." The last thing I want to be is one of those helicopter children. 

Well, easier said than done. Back in late January my dad announced that he was going back to the mid-west to see his sister and aunt and to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade in his boyhood town. So I'll tell you the truth, I was nervous just thinking about it. Having just visited this same state myself less than a year ago I know that there is nearly no way to get a direct flight, that the weather is unfriendly at best, and frankly that it's not the place he remembers. I find facing TSA daunting and I fly fairly regularly! 

I can only imagine what you are thinking right now as you read this- He is an adult. The man is in his 80's! He's educated! He worked in aerospace and traveled all the time! Heck, he took me on my first trips to Europe!
Here is my dad as a fresh faced young man
He was a police officer and faced bad guys! He raised two daughters. Even more impressive he was on the S.W.A.T. Team! That man traveled across the country on route 66 to get to California. And to top it all off he survived the depression! What is my problem?! It's not as if he has not been around the block a few times and I know it. 

Over a few weeks we worked details out.
Flights (booked)
Rental Car (booked)
Airport shuttle (booked)
Place to stay (organized by my aunt, thank you!)
Packing instructions, reviewed, explained, and discussed several times. 
We talked about it all. What shoes to wear to get through TSA quickly, the weather and the appropriate clothing to pack. EVERYTHING. If I had been sending my 6yo off to visit family in the mid-west I could have just done it for her and it would have been less worrisome in several ways. 

Time to admit something I guess. I am constantly worried for my parents. I think unfortunately for me I often project negative outcomes to situations which they seem to pass through with little to no damage. I know this, but that does not calm my fears. Who am I to discourage him? He and my mom had allowed me to study abroad at 21 (I know that technically I didn't NEED their permission but that's beside the point) and he has been supportive of my career and the traveling I do. When the time came I knew I had to let him follow his heart and that everyone involved would regret it if he didn't go see these important people in his life. I told myself "Flying to see Aunt B isn't hurting anyone." I also reminded myself that "there would be help at the airport if he needed it and he would be with friends and family once he arrived at his destination." 

D-day came and went. I saw a few photos that my cousin and aunt posted on social media but that was about it. He was scheduled to be gone 12 days. On day 11 I phoned him to let him know I would be at the airport to pick him up as planned. He sounded happy and ready to come home. What more could I ask for?

The next night at 9:30 I headed out to our local international airport to pick up my Dad. 80+ years old and still traveling here and there. Maybe with a bit more support, but getting it done just the same.
Just returned from his trip to see family in the mid-west.
It warms the heart to see people you love do what makes them happy. Don't you think? 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Tale of an Ocean Themed Spring Break

This week my kids have gone back to school after spring break. After a week, it's a shock not only for them but for me too. Homework, alarm clocks, backpacks and lunches. OH MY!

Not that we did a lot, vacations are more stay-cations in our house. My husband and I both had to work so the kids were home with their babysitter all week. But never mind that. L, my 6.75 yo started a unit on the Ocean in her 1st grade class and so the one thing we did over this break was visit an aquarium and then have a short, and chilly afternoon at the beach.
The 4yo and the 6.75yo ham it up at the Cabrillo Aquarium in San Pedro, Ca.
It was a fun day but the altered motive was to get the girls excited about ocean life and this precious resource. L has a diorama to do before the end of the month and frankly I was hoping she would get inspired. 

To keep things ocean-ish I have also been trying to send her with ocean themed lunches (SHOCKER!) So here we go, here was Monday's lunch. 
PB & J Angel Fish and Manatee along with apple slices, string cheese and bear cookies (so frustrated that we didn't have goldfish crackers)

Close-up of AF and Manatee
IDK if this will help her get going on her diorama but at the end of the day we had a nice day and put our toes in the sand. Thanks Cabrillo Aquarium

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Tale of St Patricks Day Lunch

Tomorrow is St Patrick's Day. Now, we are not religious at all, but I was brought up to be connected to my Irish heritage and cleche as it may be St. P's Day is a part of that. I try to make it something my kids can connect with as well. Tomorrow I have a long work day ahead of me so we celebrated tonight with corned beef and soda bread. Yum! 
Corned Beef!
Soda Bread! 

For lunch tomorrow I am sending my daughter a four leaf clover for lunch, apples and one big cookie. 

Happy St Patrick's Day Everyone!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

A Bunny Tale

Last summer my kids found a bunny in our neighbors roses.
One of the kids feeds our new bunny a treat
The poor little guy was clearly someone's pet that had gotten loose. No one in our neighborhood claimed him and within a day we had a new pet.

Anyway, Spring is here and so I made a lunch for the 6yo that looks like the bunny.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Tale of a School Spirit Sandwich

Friday is School Spirit day at my daughter's elementary school. When I have the time (aka get up nice and early) I try to make her a lunch that reflects the school mascot which is a bee. I didn't sleep much last night so I had plenty of time to think about what to do today. 

Here is her painted bento lunch for Friday March 14, 2014. 
I hope she likes it!

PB&J sandwich with apple slices and cookies

Close-up of today's sandwich

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Tale of Tuesday's Lunch

Here is the lunch that went with L today. It's a pb&j sandwich painted with food coloring. On the side she has apple slices and a rice cake snack. To tie the the two boxes together I used the disposable grass for bento lunches my last remaining silicone flower and leaf (where do they go?) 
To rid the sandwich of it's crust I got used a sandwich sealer that I got at Northgate Market and made by Wonder Bread. It's a fantastic little device that seals the sandwich and removes the crust. The final product is similar to an uncrustable but you are in control of the content of the sandwich and the type of bread used. 

Ta-Da! The finished product. 
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Tale of…Doctors Orders

At my last physical the Doctor told me I need to increase my calcium intake. 

Today while looking for something to eat for lunch I found a half eaten pint of Ben and Jerry's Mint Cookie Ice Cream and was confronted with the question:If I eat it for lunch, am I following Dr's orders? 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Tale of Thursday's Lunch

This week in school the 6yo is studying the life cycle of butterflies. Last night we spent time looking at different illustrations and graphs of the life cycle and stages. We talked about the process and tried to remember each stage by more than one name (larva and/or caterpillar), and at dinner we talked about how the butterfly's tongue works.
This morning while making her lunch I made her a lunch fitting someone studying the butterfly.
I thought the yogurt covered rasins were a bit like eggs...
I hope she likes it! Happy Thursday! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Tale of A Hump Day

This week's hump day is hitting hard at my house. 
Last night we went to a family event and didn't get home until nearly 10:00. Not too late, until you consider the kids are accustomed to going into their bed between 7:30 and 8 with lights out at 8. The 4yo actually turned to me and said "Mommy I think it's past my bedtime" last night. Thankfully she doesn't have school today but the 6yo does and it starts in a little over half an hour. As for me. I got to bed at a normal time, actually maybe a bit early. SO why am I so darn tired today? NO IDEA. My guess is the change in schedule. 

Anyway, this morning I woke with a start at 6 on the dot already 45 minutes behind schedule. WTH? I seems I forgot to set my alarm. D'OH! Well, I am more or less caught up but still feeling sluggish and in need of a laugh. 

In the spirit of Hump Day I wanted to share this clip from the 1990's tv show Friends. It's one of my favorite story lines and the reaction of the friends is priceless. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and wish you all Happy Wednesday! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Tale of Three Lunches

Here are a couple of the lunches from this week. 

Oh so simple, yogurt covered raisins, a couple of cookies, and a simple sandwich.
Another quick flower with apples and a couple whoknew cookies.
Anticipating St. Patrick's Day and Easter with a clover and tiny bunny, gummy hearts left over from Valentines Day, cookies, apples and pears.  

Tale of a Confused Mom

My children have an alarm that is set for 6:35 Monday through Friday. On Saturday we have a standing 8:30 breakfast date but I let them sleep until the last possible moment. Strangely the past few days they have started getting up before my alarm, not their alarm, but almost an hour earlier than that. What is going on?!?!?! I need that time to do stuff, like shower. This has got to stop.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

A Tale of Tuesday's Lunch

Happy Tuesday! I've been a bit lazy about posting the lunches I've made for the Creepy Kids. Here is a fairly simple bento I did today for the 6yo. Pb&jelly on wheat with apples and 3 ginger snaps.
Seriously so simple!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Tale of the Tooth Fairy and El Ratón Pérez

This week my 6yo daughter lost another tooth. This kid. She didn't even bother getting her first tooth until she was 13 months old and now she can't seem to keep them in her head! Anyway, the tradition in my family was the Tooth Fairy and both my sister and I had special pillows our mom had made for us with little pockets on the front for our teeth. I remember mine had lace around each side and a snap on the pocket. We loved having this special pillow just for our tooth mail and I can see now how smart my mom was for employing this technique back before Pinterest or other crafting social media outlets. Seriously, who is capable of finding one tiny tooth in the dark under a pillow without waking up the (already suspicious) child asleep in the bed? Not this mom! Im just not that stealth and my kids are far to easily disturbed. 

About a year ago, when her first tooth was showing signs of evacuation I set to work making a tooth fairy pillow for L. For her special pillow I recycled a pink cable-knit sweater and used some ribbon I had on hand for a handle. I made it tooth shaped-ish and included a pocket with a heart on it. 
L with her Tooth Fairy Pillow
I think it turned out cute.

Back to my story. On Monday she lost another tooth early in the morning just after the girls got up. When their babysitter arrived L ran to her and told her about her tooth. To this Tia (this is what the kids call her) said in Spanish "El Raton will come to the house tonight!" this had us both a bit worried. I don't know about you, but having a rat come to my house, sneak into my daughters room, and take her tooth is slightly unpleasant. But whatever, right?

That night as I was putting the girls to bed L said to me "Mommy, if the Tooth Fairy isn't real, would it be you or daddy that was doing it?" to which her sister (the 4yo) said "Duh! Mommy! Cuz fairies are girls!" which put them both into giggles and thankfully changed the subject. This comes after a conversation she had with my husband at Christmas where she explained to him that she was fairly sure that Santa doesn't exist. Six years old. Ugh. Anyway, already on to her I had prepped myself. We put the tooth in a tissue before putting it into the pocket. The Tooth Fairy replaces the tooth in the tissue with the money (and sometimes glitter) like magic! So I had a tissue from the same box in my pocket with her money and as I put them to bed I replaced switched out the package and took a huge sign of relief as I shut the bedroom door. Good thing I did the old switch-a-roo! Because with her parting words she warned me that she was planning on staying up all night to see the Tooth Fairy and find out how it all worked. HA! HA! Victory for now!

The next morning she was so cute. She came out and asked if we could look up Tooth Fairy traditions around the world and find out why Tia had said a rat would come to the house. So we read about the traditions of the Spanish, French and Italian speaking parts of the world that believe a mouse comes to their homes and takes the teeth. Sometimes the mouse or rat had a last name, Pérez, and sometimes it was the mouse of the teeth. We also read about what people did before these traditions started and how parents would burry or burn children's baby teeth to save them from witches or help usher their spirits into a favorable afterlife. Our favorite of all was the regional Scottish myth which blended the story of the fairy (which seems to originate in Scandinavia) and the Ratoncito by making it a mouse fairy. How cute is that? 

Hey look! They even made a movie about El Raton!

After all of this the good news is that I am still able to outsmart my 6yo for now anyway…...