Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer Journal Entry - carbon canyon regional park

He has been taking his (my) rod everywhere and always attracts a little following of older boys at every place we go! 
Bobby...always on the edge...always...sigh
He will do this all day if he could!

Last monday I took the boys to Carbon Canyon Regional Park. I haven't been to that park since I was younger, and I knew Bryson would appreciate the lake. And I had it in my memory that the lake wasn't gross duck poop everywhere lake, like so many around our area...and I am glad I made the trek. We could have easily spent a few more hours there - and I was wishing I brought a book and a blanket because I just parked between bryson fishing at the lake and the two littles playing on the HUGE playground (there are actually 4 playgrounds all close to each other). Parking was $3 - but other than that we had a pretty cheap day! Bryson didn't catch anything, so he was a little bummed (i think he expects he is going to catch a fish every time...i told him if that were the case they would call it "catching" not "fishing" - he didn't get it)

I also brought scooters and bodie's bike and they enjoyed finding all the hills to bomb. It was a pretty park - well maintained and lots of shade. Definitely would go back if we find ourselves in the area again!

To See Bryson's Post on Carbon Canyon: CLICK HERE

Friday, July 26, 2013

Summer Journal Entry - Huntington Library and Gardens

I have a cousin (second or third cousin really, but we don't try to overthink it) from Sweden and he and his wife and their precious daughter Kajsa live in Pasadena. His wife is the one with the work visa, so my cousin is the stay at home dad! My sister and I took the trek up to San Marino to visit the Huntington Library and Gardens to hang out with them and enjoy the beautiful gardens.

I had not been here for a while and I realized as I was there that I should probably not go again without back-up...or maybe even better...without kids. I just couldn't get them to stroll and look at the gardens and not RUN EVERYWHERE and get completely soaked in the children's garden. And also that children's garden - so cute! but so frustrating with three boys who take off in opposite directions ALL THE TIME. (the place is a maze of sorts) Definitely felt a bit out of control that day and at one point i just sat down in the mist room and put my head in my hands and sent a little prayer up to God to please let them calm down for a minute. It was one of those desperate moments. At times I feel like I am this crazy mom and everyone else is able to control their kids but me...but then I was looking around the garden and it was all moms of like one I felt a little better - that I was actually braving it with three boys...three very active boys. and maybe one day some of them will be in my shoes and a little less judgmental with their looks...

Anyway, despite that - they did enjoy the Japanese garden and sat and watched the koi fish for like a minute or I could almost relax..if you call holding the back of bobby's shirt every time he got close to the water relaxing. Plus it was a hot day by the end of the trip I was just exhausted. Seriously - next time I go back is with girlfriends - I have been there 4 times and there is still so much I haven't seen. My cousin has an annual pass and was telling us all kinds of interesting facts about the place and the original owner. It is all so fascinating. How anyone can be that wealthy is fascinating!

To See Bryson's Post on the Huntington: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DIY Ombre Clothesline Bowls

I saw this DIY today and felt inspired. I was going to do the paint like the original DIY, but my acrylic paint is not in the best condition (read: dried up due to non-usage) and I didn't even think about fabric paint until after...maybe next go around? I did have some RIT teal dye on hand though, so per my usual way of doing things - just jumped in and figured i would figure it out as i went along...this method usually works 7/10 times for me. I enjoy the learning curve i guess you could say ;) or perhaps others would call me impatient...its all about perspective people! i am an eternal optimist (to a fault)

I found my boys' sand buckets (3 of them) and rinsed them out and filled them about halfway with hot salted water. In the first bowl I added 2 tablespoons of dye, in the second I added 1 tablespoon and the third I added a teaspoon. I just kinda guessed on the amount of clothesline to put in each and let them sit for a half hour. Then I rinsed them out until the water ran clear and popped the clothesline in the dryer. Here is the part where the winging it didn't work out so great due to the fact the dryer completely tangled the i guess if you are more patient than me...lay it out in the sun for a few hours instead? It wasn't that big a deal, and I get some weird kind of satisfaction untangling things, so that is just me and my weirdness...but anyway...

I didn't do the base quite as large as the directions either. One package of $5 clothesline made these two bowls - the diameter at the bottom is about 3.5". i still had rope left over too! It came together relatively fast - a few snaggles on my machine - could have probably done with a stronger thread for this project, but we made it work and I am super happy with how they turned out! I am thinking this would make a pretty sweet and thoughtful gift stuffed with some flowers, or wine or dry goods, or anything! Have fun and happy sewing!

Summer Journal Entry - La Habra Children's Museum

I am now officially out of order since this field trip happened last week, but that is okay...I am actually blogging - that is amazing stuff enough!

So I had never heard about this little museum until this year...and I really wish I had. Although I thought it was way overpriced for what it was ($7 per person ages 2 and up) was a cute little museum to pass the morning hours and spark good conversation and imaginary play.

This museum, in my opinion, is best for ages 5 and under. Bryson (age 7) was a little upset that he couldn't ride the carousel. I feel like if I just had the younger kids we could have spent a lot longer here exploring the different rooms. Bryson sets the pace for the younger boys and if he deems something as boring or if he moves on, then the little ones follow suit (which can be both frustrating at times and also awesome at times)

The museum has 8 rooms - all with different themes. There are so many different interests covered - biological sciences, model trains, natural history, theater/dress-up, earth science, history - you are guaranteed to find a room your kid loves! Surprisingly, my kids spent the most time in the toddler room playing with the giant building blocks. Go figure...

There is also a tour of the trains outside of the museum that i know my boys would have loved, but it didnt start until 1:00 - which is during a certain 2 year olds nap sadly, we had to miss it. There was a lovely bench in the shade and a play area in the back of the museum though that enjoyed our lunch at. I don't know that I would be returning again, but if i lived closer and had younger children - I would definitely get the year pass - you only have to go a few times to make up the cost!

(To See Bryson's Summer Journal Post about the museum - Click HERE)

Summer Journal Entry - Poppin tags birthday party

So fun you guys! I wish I could take credit for this idea, but my best friend Ruth told me about one that she went to and I knew immediately that we had to steal that idea for my husband (Bryan)'s birthday. 

We met at a Goodwill - the rule is that you had to buy your outfit for dinner with only $20. I really wish I could have found a different thrift shop to do this, because Goodwill is over-priced in my opinion, but it was the only thrift store I could find that was open past 7:00. So anyway - we met there and had fun all helping each other pick out our outfits- met for a group shot while being accosted by a homeless man...gotta love long beach! (which is why all my group shots are cutting people out and blurry). We then all drove downtown to The Federal Bar. The restaurant is in an old bank and its super swanky - so we looked pretty awesome all of us walking in. Before our food came (and after a drink) we had a fashion show where people got to sell us on their outfits. There was a prize for best dressed male and female voted on by all the people at the table. We had a blast. Bryan loved both his finds (and sadly, will wear them again and again). Thank you to everyone who came out and played along - we seriously have the best friends who are game for anything! Love you guys!

Summer Journal Entry - Moustache Camping Trip

It took me a while for this post...I really wanted to find pictures from our first moustache camping trip 7 years ago...but sadly, they are boxed up somewhere. But anyway...what a difference 7 years makes! Back then, Bryson was the only baby...this year there were 10 kiddos! 10! And in a few more years I am sure there will be even more, which is way exciting for me...since we are finished making babies - i have to make sure to be around people with babies. but then give them back when they cry...and poop.

So we planned this trip back in January - we tried to find a different spot to camp, but it ended up being too difficult. Plus we have been camping at Lake Cachuma for so many years, we just know it by now. There is a lot about the place I don't care for. Cachuma is pretty crowded and dirty and loud and the bathrooms are not the best in the world...oh and the BIG bush of poison oak smack dab in the middle of our campsite. I like camping with my boys because I feel like I can just say -! climb trees! get dirty! and not stress about it...but i felt like every minute I was in our campsite I was telling them "no" or "don't do that" and that is just a bummer. So when I would start to feel like that I just took them down to the lake to throw rocks in the forts with fallen branches. find feathers. we stayed there for a few hours one morning and not a single fight erupted. pure bliss. i just stared at these kids in amazement that they instinctively know what to do in nature. My kids (at this age) are never bored in nature. there is always something to do. a tree to climb. a collection to start. a rock to skip across a lake. shells to find and smash the guts open. I just realize more and more as my boys get older that the most precious moments are the ones that are simplified and quiet and scaled back. we are all so much more at peace surrounded by beauty like this. This is the part of Lake Cachuma that I do like...the lake. Especially at the twilight hour. So beautiful. I will be forever taking away memories of watching the kids all play together so well - despite age differences and gender differences. I will forever take away the campfire conversations with dear friends and friendships spanning over the course of 20 years - friends where we can talk about Game of Thrones in one sentence and finding your passions and staying true to yourself in the next. I will be forever remembering that this is a crazy time for all of us and we are doing it together. Because really, do we want to do it all alone? 

(To See Bryson's Summer Journal on the Camping Trip - Click HERE)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Journal Entry - Skate Parks

ya know...bryson is kinda kickin me in the pants with his summer journal! i am trying to journal everything he does (for at least the places I took him) and its been difficult! but i am so glad to do this. this summer has been so nice to be freed of schedules. i had so many different moms ask me about camps and events and i just really didn't feel the need this summer. partly, i admit, it was selfish - due to money and the time spent dropping off/picking up, but also I wanted to have this time with them - without schedules!! during the school year, it can be a bummer- bryson in school till three - homework until four (sometimes later because he fights it EVERY day) then dinner, then bed time. there is not a lot of room for outings, or free time.

one of the places he always begs me to take him - school day or no - is the skate park. All three boys LOVE the skate park and it is usually easy for me to take them. I find it better sometimes if I don't watch - so I even bring a book. (I only don't watch if there are only a couple other kids in the park. If the park is super busy...i can't be so chill). And by better if I don't watch, what I mean is better if I don't try to tell them what to do/don't do. They do five million times better when they figure it out themselves...i have learned.

Case in point - the Costa Mesa skate park the kid dropped in...on a skateboard....2 years old. what?? I didn't even think to tell him not to do that because I didn't know he could. bryson just learned how! And sure, he fell...but good thing they have pads...and even better that Bobby is half composited of rubber.

Bryson has been doing great. At the El Dorado Skate park they can ride bikes, scooters or skateboards. Bryson prefers the scooter most of the time, but has been doing so good on the skateboard. Dropping in, going off a step or two here and there, getting his balance - learning to ollie. I have to admit - it can be hard to watch them, but I truly know my boys - and their abilities and know that if they learn this young (when falling isn't such a big deal) it will serve them well in their teens...hoping for that anyway. I just know we can't keep them away from it! and also - maybe if their mom is cool and takes them to the skate park, they won't hate her later for not letting them play football? maybe?

To See Bryson's Post on Skate Parks: CLICK HERE

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Angry Bird Custom Zoodie

I recently made these adorable angry bird zoodies as a custom request and my 7 year old became immediately jealous...make me one please mom! I do rarely get requests from him's tempting...maybe as a "welcome to 2nd grade gift" perhaps?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Summer Journal Entry #8 - 4th of July!

This Fourth was pretty chill - which was really nice. The Douglas' came over in the morning with their gang and we rode down together to the bike parade. After our ride back home bobby napped...the bigger boys played in the backyard...bryan grilled...i cleaned...then later we had a few people stop in to enjoy some ribs (we had a little "rib off" with our neighbor Jim) and watch the diet coke/mento bombs out in the street. Last year someone (Becky?) gave us a special tool  to make the bombs since last 4th we tried several different attempts to make our own with a semi-anti-climactic finish. This tool was AWESOME! I highly recommend giving a 7 year old boy this plus a 2 liter of diet coke as a birthday present. pretty rad. the only thing is that after pulling the plug and stepping back, bryson and bobby were running through it...loving it. so gross...but i guess so fun? for them? anyway - i had to hose them down but they loved it. we didn't do fireworks this year - just hung out in the backyard with friends and family and good conversation. it was lovely, truly. 

(To See Bryson's journal entry about the fourth - click here!)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Summer Journal Entry #7 - Public Transportation Day

On the bus

On the Aqualink
Enjoying the inside of the Aqualink

Picnic/Hill Slide at the Lighthouse


I have done this whole route a couple times before, but this was my first time attempting it solo. It was fine and the boys (and myself) were appropriately tired out afterward and we enjoyed a very chill afternoon. Good times when that happens!

We started at our house and took the bus downtown. The boys loved the bus ride - bodie and bryson sat across the aisle and fought about who got to pull the yellow cord the WHOLE way. pulling the yellow cord is like the ultimate...dont you know? it changes your life. whatevs. This time around I made a point to show Bryson the signs at the bus stop and had him read and tell me where the buses are going and how to look for the bus number on the bus. We then walked down pine all the way to where the Aqualink docks...then kept going around until we got to the lighthouse. We had about 45 minutes to kill so it was the perfect amount of running around/snacking time before it was time to board the Aqualink.

The boys ran up and down that hill below the lighthouse at least 15 times...i tend to exaggerate, but 15 is a conservative guess...i would say it is probably closer to 20...they did it a lot is my point. and giggled every time they came down. it really was one of the cutest things. I loved rolling down hills as a kid - and watching them for that moment brought back that joy - that unbridled childhood joy. it is a good hill! 

We hopped on the Aqualink and i thought the boys would love it on the deck and they did not so much. bodie and bobby both preferred to be inside. bryson wanted to be outside, but i couldn't seem to be okay with him being up there for half the time i made 2 of them miserable and the other half i made 1 of them miserable and somehow we all ended the trip with a happy memory. I think that is just the lesson with having multiple kids...there is very very rarely a way to make all of them happy at the same time...sometimes it is about who will be the least upset is how i make my decision. this is all character strengthening good stuff i firmly believe in. anyway...we walked back and bobby fell asleep in the stroller on the way home, which hasnt happened in like a million years - so i know it was a good day! I just wish i could be successful in convincing other mamas to come along with me! 

(To See Bryson's journal entry about this day, click here)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Meal Prep Week #1 - First Time for Anything!

Soooo...I keep starting out this post in different ways...i keep wanting to rewind back to January 2012. And this is, in fact, my own blog - so that is precisely what I shall do (even though this is gunna be long - you have been warned) I had been feeling really down - I don't want to say depressed because I don't think it was that serious, but my moods were low (for me - i am that annoying super extrovert/super optimistic type person usually) and my energy levels were low, and i was super anxious ALL the time - about my kids, my finances anything...and everything.

Around that time I decided we needed to budget (for the FIRST time in our marriage ever). I just want to pause here. I am NOT a planner. I am a fly by the seat of my pants and go where the wind takes me and explore everywhere type of person. So the thought of schedules or budgets or plans is super unsexy to me. But we continued to over-spend and it was stressing me out and so I started to budget then. (This year we started the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University way of budgeting with cash and it has been so great so far. Last year we tried a modified version of it and it didn't work for us. But that is another post - this is about clean eating!!)

So around this time of feeling down and out of control and budgeting, etc - I found a way to fit the cost of a gym membership into our monthly budget. Bryan started going in the mornings and I would get all the kids fed, dressed and ready for school/day etc - and then around dinnertime or after dinner I would go work out and Bryan would put the kids to bed. This continues to work (amazing) for us. I am super motivated to go to the gym because putting my boys to bed can be stressful for me. Working out for an hour- an hour and a half exerts less energy and relieves stress than putting my children to bed. Is that sad? It sounds sad when I type it, but its truth. Also - I usually work out 3-4 times a week, so I am still putting them to bed half the week. Anyway - the gym REALLY changed my moods. Sweating is like a miracle drug, I swear. I am usually 93% nicer after I sweat. And I feel good about myself - even if i show up at the gym and walk on the treadmill and watch trashy TV - I am still proud of myself for going.

Around that same time I heard about the My Fitness Pal app for your phone to track your calories. I started this around March of last year. And I did it because I couldn't tell you how many calories were in all - never paid attention - never cared. I was SHOCKED to see how much I was eating, and how a little forethought goes a long way into your diet.

With the help of the Fitness Pal app and working out, etc - I managed to get back to my pre-Bobby weight (I have almost given up my pre-Bryson weight). My moods were so much better - I felt in control of my eating and my finances and when I feel in control of a few things, I feel more able to handle ALL that in my life that is so out of control.

So then I broke my ankle this Feb and it kind of messed me up. I couldn't prepare my own meals and I couldn't exercise, and it was hard to stand to and cook, so I started unhealthily snacking (and gained back 8 pounds womp womp).

When I broke my ankle Bryan started meal prepping all the veggies after his CostCo run by blanching them and saving them in tupperware. It really cut down on cooking time and there were always veggies available for immediate snacking - it was awesome. So we started looking into meal prepping more. After following Bryan's cousin Dustin - who has lost over 100 pounds through the last couple years by training super hard and meal prepping - Bryan and I got inspired. We started by just browsing Instragram hashtags like #mealprepmondays and #mealprepsundays and #eatcleantogetlean. We had an open day on Sunday this week so we decided to get started and this is what we did to make 10 meals (either lunch or dinner depending on our schedules) for the week.

1. Grilled 10 Chicken Breasts (We had extra chicken too that we can use for dinner this week - $25 at Costco - Dinner #1 )
2. Cooked 3 1/2 cups Quinoa (Used 1/2 cup in each meal and froze the leftovers in ziploc bags to be used in meals later)
3. Blanched a Costco size bag of Asparagus (We cut off the ends and middles to make Asparagus soup as well - Dinner #2)
4.  Hardboiled 12 eggs (Didn't put this in the lunches, but we will use them for snacks and lunches)
5. Roasted 6 beets (Put 1/4 cup in each lunch)
6. Made Kale Chips (1/4 cup in each lunch as a snack) - our kale was dying since we were both gone this weekend, so it was perfect to make into chips!

I realize this is a lot and Bryan helped by grilling the chicken...if it were just me doing it I would probably roast the chicken and steam a bunch of veggies and call it a week. But also - it is just a few hours of work that will last you the entire week! I dont have to wash a single pan for my lunches all week! And I don't have to think about what to cook for myself all week! That saves on precious brain space...let me tell you.

Not only does this really help with budgeting (since you are less tempted to eat out and by buying in bulk you save) it also helps with my eating habits. Lunch is my worst meal usually calorie speaking - that is where i just eat out if I in the office (partly to get out of the house and partly because I love lunch).

I know it will be a struggle to do this every week, but our goal is to do it at least 2 weeks a month. And it helps you thinking about meal planning throughout the week. For example - this week for dinner I planned to make a turkey meatloaf (cooked in a muffin pan so it is portioned) and I will just make 2 batches instead of one and save the other batch for lunches the following week. Things like that.

Also - I think it would be a better idea to have 2 different recipes you are switching up so you aren't completely over it by Friday, but we had so much stuff to use in our pantry/fridge that it worked out for us this week this way.

I hope this is inspiring! I hope its not i said, we got into this little by little - first with just blanching the veggies for meals, then prepping. But the more you see what other people are doing to get healthy and eat clean, the more you say to yourself "I can do this too!!!" - so go do it!!!

Pinterest Meal Prep Idea Boards: Click Here
Blanching Time Table: Click Here
Helpful Tips - Meal Prep 101: Click Here
Roasted Beet Arugula Salad Recipe: Click Here
Turkey Meatloaf Muffins: Click Here