Halloween 2014

We had a phenomenal Halloween this year.  Earlier this week, I read a quote from a guy that was featured on Humans of New York (if you’ve never followed this guy and like human interest stories, give it a try.  The images and quotes are so gripping and interesting).  He said something to the effect of “things aren’t magical when you’re an adult like they are when you’re a kid.”  That stuck with me because it’s kinda true.  There aren’t a lot of things that bring you sheer delight or that consume you to the point of elation when you’re an adult.  Or maybe it’s just me.  But I am finding that I have a lot of moments or days when you just feel good.  And you feel like life is good.  And that everything is going to be ok.  And that things are good.  It happens a lot more now that I have kids – maybe their magic moment feelings are radiating onto me.  I dunno.  But Halloween this year was kind of like that.

It started with decorating.  I had bought a few Halloween lawn signs to put out and my SIL brought us a few more along with some decorations for inside the house.  We also had a skeleton for the door.  Miss K. really enjoyed putting those out.  So much so that when we were done, she went to the edge of the driveway and started yelling “Neighbors, come look at our Halloween decorations!  Come out!  Come look!”  Then I bought some scarecrows and put those out but one fell over so I asked Mr. Crunchycake and Miss K to go fix it.  Apparently one of our neighbors was talking nearby and Miss K asked her dad, “Who’s talking, dad?” And he told her it’s one of our neighbors. My sweet little girl whispered back “Are they talking about our Halloween decorations?”  I just love her.  Her aunt brought a couple small indoor jack o’lantern decorations that have a light inside.  They keep getting moved around because Super S really likes them and brings them over all the time for me to turn on for her, wherever we are.  But I keep finding them in front of Miss K’s Laugh n Learn House.  She puts them out in front of the front door, as if it were a real house and real pumpkins.  So cute!

Miss K and her cousin went to a pumpkin patch event a few weeks before Halloween.  Super S and I didn’t go because we had just started potty training her and I wasn’t ready for that long of an excursion.   I didn’t have a costume for her yet so we put her in her Rapunzel dress and gave her a stuffed version of the little chameleon sidekick, Pasquale.  It sounds like she had a really good time – she decorated a pumpkin with googly eyes, jewels, a feather and a pipe cleaner.  Ya, I don’t know…she was really proud of it.  We put it out on the front step until the day before Halloween when we carved it.20141011_092149 IMG_20141011_090446I really thought the kids would enjoy watching me carve the pumpkin but they weren’t all that interested.  They kept running off.  Miss K did help me make some artistic choices – she was adamant that the nose should be round.  I can confidently say that pumpkin gutting and pumpkin carving are not on the list of things I’m good at.  And can I just say how awesome it is that Miss K shares my love of pumpkin headbands?

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Note to self: take a picture of the pumpkin before it rots and insert it here.  🙂

We made the kids’ costumes this year.  Frankly, I’m as shocked as you are.  I am not crafty.  I am not terribly creative.  But I am armed with the internet.  We (Miss K and I) decided that Super S would be the Very Hungry Caterpillar and Miss K would be the beautiful butterfly.  She originally wanted to be a half rainbow, half Anna and Elsa butterfly.  Sigh.  But I thought it would be really cute if we did the Very Hungry Caterpillar duo because Super S IS a very hungry little kid.  So I started looking and gathering materials.  Miss K helped with her costume and I hand sewed Super S’ costume one night after they fell asleep.  I could have used my sewing machine…but I don’t know how.  I was a little bummed – I had ordered a pair of yellow pants for Miss K to wear as part of her costume but they weren’t delivered in time for Halloween.  When they hadn’t arrived by Thursday, I decided to go to Michaels to pick up some fabric dye and even though I had never done it before, I successfully transformed a pair of white tights into yellow butterfly bottoms!  I’m really happy about the way the costumes turned out.  Do you know what made it completely worthwhile?  After we finished the wings, my sweet little girl said “Mama, they’re AMAZING!  I love them.”

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Super S was really excited to put on her costume after seeing her big sister in hers, although she didn’t really get it.  Instead of putting on the hat that I made as part of the costume, she kept trying to put on her pink polka dot sun hat.  Eventually she did put in on, though and shockingly, she didn’t mess with it or take it off the entire time she was trick or treating!

One thing that was nice about Halloween this year is that it actually felt like Fall.  Living in Southern California, we’ve had some ridiculously warm Halloweens so it was refreshing to feel a slight chill in the air.  Since we’re new to the neighborhood we live in (and because we’ve never really had any trick or treaters in the places we’ve lived), I wasn’t sure if we’d need much candy.  Based on the scant Halloween decorations, I didn’t think we’d have all that many.  So to ensure that we’d be able to give the girls some Halloween experiences, we went to a street in our city that has a bunch of small retailers and restaurants that shuts down the street for trick or treaters.  It’s really nice.  We went for about an hour and it was perfect.  We got to see a whole bunch of awesome costumes.  My favorites were a little boy dressed as Cookie Monster with a Batman mask and a Superman cape and a woman dressed in an In n Out uniform holding her baby who was dressed as a hamburger.  I also saw an itty bitty Wonder Woman that I loved – tiara and all.  I was so relieved that people actually knew what the kids’ costumes were and we actually got compliments.  The day before Halloween I was seriously contemplating going to Target and buying them something instead of putting on the costumes they had made.  Miss K loved going up to the vendors and saying “Trick or Treat!” and even little Super S put out her little pumpkin.  It was nice that they got some treats but not too many.  And the girls loved seeing all the costumes.  We must have seen at LEAST 20 Elsas and 15 Annas.  We also saw a creepy Papa Smurf.  The girls really enjoyed themselves and right when we decided it was time to go home, it started sprinkling.  Perfect.

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We went home, listened to some Halloween music, had some dinner and we actually had trick or treaters come to our door!  And they were little kids for the most part, not scary teenagers!  So everytime the doorbell rang, we got excited and ran over.  There were probably 15-20 groups, which is exciting for us!  Karina showed off her costume to a few of them.  We met a few neighbors, which was nice too.  Next year we will trick or treat in our own neighborhood for sure.  In between visitors, the kids were playing and were just happy.  They were running and jumping on their dad.  Miss K wanted to watch Madagascar so that was on and little S went to sleep without too much of a fight.  At around 8:30-8:45 we were starting to really worry that we wouldn’t have enough candy but then soon after, it started to really rain so no more visitors.  All’s well that ends well – trick or treaters start winding down around 9:00, right?  We ended up giving out some of the candy that the kids had scored on Montrose so we didn’t even have a ton of candy that none of should be eating.  Seriously, it was a near perfect Halloween.  This crunchy life sure is sweet.

50 Easy Acts of Kindness

To wrap up Be Kind week, I though I’d make a list of ideas for 50 easy acts of kindness.  You don’t have to spend money.  You don’t have to go too far out of your way.  All you have to do is see things from someone else’s viewpoint and think of something that might help them or make make them feel good.  It was surprisingly easy to come up with this list.  What are some easy kind acts that you can think of?

  1. kindesssmallHold open a door for someone whose hands are full
  2. Help someone put their groceries in their car
  3. Write a thank you note to your child’s teacher or instructor.  Be specific about what you appreciate or give an example of why they’re so awesome.
  4. Call your mom
  5. Bring in your neighbor’s trash cans
  6. Send a note to your dad recounting a happy memory of your childhood
  7. Make your spouse their favorite treat or dinner
  8. Offer to watch a friend/family member’s kids so that they can catch a break.
  9. Leave coupons that you’re not going to use for someone else at the grocery store.
  10. Send a package to a deployed soldier
  11. Make an extra dinner portion and give it to someone who could use a little help
  12. Bring a snack to share into the office (or to the office of your kids’ school)
  13. Return the shopping cart to the cart corral for a mom/dad with young kids OR if you see a parent getting out of the car with two little kids, offer them your cart if you’re done with it .
  14. Offer a hot chocolate to someone at the bus stop on a cold morning
  15. The next time you bake a treat, bake extra and give it to someone whom you appreciate
  16. Write a positive review on yelp if you think someone did a good job.
  17. If you receive particularly good service on the phone, ask to speak to the agent’s supervisor and let them know about your experience
  18. Collect box tops for kids who are collecting them for school
  19. Collect toiletries from hotel amenities and donate them to a women’s shelter
  20. Take your kids to visit the elderly at a retirement homediana
  21. If someone (anyone!) smiles at you, for god’s sake, smile back!
  22. If you have a bunch of items to purchase at the grocery store and the person behind you doesn’t, let them go first.
  23. If you see someone drop something, pick it up for them.  Bonus points if it’s an elderly person, pregnant woman, or parent with a baby in their arms.
  24. Compliment a coworker on a presentation or communication well done.
  25. Put your crummy day behind you and meet your spouse with a smile when they or you come home.
  26. Leave an encouraging comment on someone’s blog.  We love that.
  27. Invite a single friend over for dinner on a weeknight just because.
  28. Offer a cold drink to someone who is working on your home
  29. Leave extra coins on the machine at the Laundromat
  30. Make eye contact and smile at the person at the drive-thru
  31. Leave a large tip for good service
  32. Give a gift card or a thank you note to someone who regularly provides service to you
  33. Clean the windshield of the car next to you while pumping gas (ask first!)
  34. Leave a flower in a coworker’s cube to brighten their day
  35. Write a note with sidewalk chalk on a neighbor’s driveway
  36. Bring in your neighbor’s garbage cans
  37. Pick up trash at the park
  38. Let your doctor know what you appreciate about their care
  39. Make a list and rattle off why you’re proud of your child
  40. wildeMake a list and rattle off why you’re proud of your spouse
  41. Make a list and rattle off what you admire about your parents
  42. Thank a soldier and explain to your child (in front of the soldier) why he’s/she’s a hero
  43. Leave a treat for your mail carrier in your mailbox
  44. Offer to take a picture for someone who is clearly trying to get a picture but can’t get the selfie to work
  45. When you see a mom with kids going crazy, give her a smile and let her know it gets easier
  46. When you like something about a stranger’s appearance, tell them
  47. Introduce yourself to someone who doesn’t know anyone at a party you’re attending
  48. Open your home to a friend – no need for a fancy meal or scrubbing the house top to bottom – just tell them to come over
  49. Recycle, reuse and reduce – being kind to the earth counts too!
  50. Accept kindness graciously.  It allows others to feel good too.

5 Kind Things to Do For Your Loved Ones

dalaiSince it’s be kind week on mycrunchylife.com and it’s five things friday too, here are five ways to to be kind at home.  I was looking up benefits to kindness and came across some information from psychologist Sonja Lyubomirksy, whose research suggested that students who performed five acts of kindness were happier than a control group who didn’t.  Side note…this psychologist’s name sounded incredibly familiar so I looked her up and sure enough, she is at the University of California, Riverside, where I attended two years of college.  I am 98% sure I was a research assistant for her my sophomore year.  She was doing studies on happiness back then too.  Back on track: those who performed five acts a day were happiest of all.  Furthermore, happiness is even greater when the acts of kindness are directed towards those we know as opposed to strangers. It feels good to strengthen our relationships.  So how about we do some nice things for the people we love?

1.  The next time someone in your family asks you to hand them a blanket, don’t just hand it to them, tuck them in.  My husband just did that for me the other night and I thought it was so kind.

2.  Leave a love note for your spouse or child on the bathroom mirror.

3.  Volunteer to do your partner’s or your kid’s chore for them.  Tell them it’s because you love them.  Maybe they’ll pay it forward!

4.  Put down the remote, the laptop, the phone, the tablet, or the game controller and listen to a loved one tell you about their day.

5.  When your loved one is taking a shower, throw their towel in the dryer.  When they come out, they’ll have a warm snuggly surprise waiting for them.

Click here to enter our Be Kind Week giveaway for a free pair of Good Natured gPants!

Teaching Kids About Being Kind

bekindOne thing that’s great about kids is that they have genuine actions.  Typically when they’re really little, if they do something nice, it comes from the heart.  They’re not trying to manipulate or get on your good side or get something out of it; it’s just their nature coming through.  I love it when my 13 month old baby tries to feed me food.  The smile on her face is priceless.  It’s her version of being kind.  She’s giving her food to me.  When she was barely two, I bought my older daughter a placemat.  I showed it to her and the first question she asked was “Where’s baby Sia’s?”  That came from a genuinely kind and thoughtful place.  I’m concerned that as they get older, they will fall out of the habit of being kind or that they’ll take kindness for granted.  So here are a few ways to teach kids how to be kind:

1.  Lead through example.  There is no better way to teach kindness than to live it and model it for your kids.  If they see it in action, they will adapt it into their own lives because it’s just what you do.  And after you’ve done something for someone else, explain to them why.  For example, if you stop to help someone put away their groceries, afterwards, tell your child that the person “needed help because the groceries were heavy and it’s a good thing we were able to help them!”

2.  Talk about kindness DAILY.  Maybe it’s dinner conversation – “Did anyone see any kindness in the world today?”  Maybe it’s telling them about something kind that someone did for you.  Use the words “appreciate, kind, considerate, out of their way, nice, thoughtful” and describe how it felt to receive or give the kind act.  Ask them about what they did today that was kind.

3.  Make it a point to recognize when someone does something kind.  Especially the child.  Reinforce, reinforce, reinforce.  I find myself telling my child that I’m proud of her often.  Lately she’s been asking me why and I try to make sure I tell her that I’m proud of her kind heart and then give her examples.  When she shares with her sister, I tell her that it was a kind thing to do.  It feels good to be recognized and if it encourages her to do it again, then I’m in!

4.  Make suggestions.   You can’t force kids to be kind but you can help them find ways to do so.  I’ve noticed that if I say “Miss K, baby is crying.  Go give her a toy.” usually there is some dismissal or even pushback.  It seems to be a lot smoother if I say something like “Oh no!  Baby is sad!  Do you think she would feel better if you gave her a toy?”  Coming up  ideas and letting the child choose gives them the chance to own the act of being kind.

5.  Find ways to be kind together.  My daughter and I were at Costco once and there was a handicapped woman trying to get some paper towels into her cart but was clearly struggling.  When we turned the aisle and we saw her, I said to my daughter “She looks like she could use some help, should we go see if she would like some help?” And the enthusiastic “Yes!  We should help her!” was amazing.

An amazing example of teaching children about kindness comes from a dear high school friend’s family.  They sadly had to cope with the devastation of having a still born son.   I cannot begin to fathom the pain they’ve been through.  I believe that if it were me, I would shut down and close myself off to the world.  That I would have a hard time understanding why the world was so awful.  Instead, this beautiful family has taken their grief and turned it into something beautiful.  Check them out here.  This family of four goes around doing random acts of kindness to honor their son, Dylan.  They’ve made donations to the L&D ward at their local hospital, paid for fellow diners’ meals, handed out Krispy Kreme gift cards, and brought treats for nurses and firemen.  The best part is that they involve their two sons in this and their sons genuinely seem to enjoy it and get joy from it.

They really serve as inspiration to me. And today is the Vernal Equinox so I think a celebration is in order.  I’m going to challenge myself to do something kind everyday for a month.  I’ll report back.  Wish me luck.

It’s Be Kind Week!

kind

adjective

: having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others

I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness lately and I think I have a lot to say.  So it’s Be Kind Week on mycrunchylife.  I just want to share some thoughts with you, hopefully provide some inspiration, make a commitment and do a fun giveaway, all in the name of kindness.

I think I’ve always been a nice person but I don’t think I’ve necessarily been a kind person.  In my book, this is differentiated by action.  So for example, I’ve always been nice in that I think I make people feel comfortable; I’m seldom rude or cold but I also seldom go out of my way to help another.  I’ve been feeling kindness lacking in my life so I’m hoping to spark a change by writing about it.

Here’s why I think being matters:
It’s infectious.  Be kind to someone and chances are they’ll appreciate it and be kind someone else.  Maybe not in the same way, but that act is infectious.  Whether it’s peer pressure or leading through example, being kind and doing something nice influences others.

It makes you feel good.  No one ever said that kindness needed to be altruistic.  Doing something nice for someone else is like getting a hug without invading personal space.  It just feels good.  And there’s proof (clinical studies and all!) from a researcher at Stanford that students that performed five weekly acts of kindness were happier than a control group who didn’t and the ones who were happiest of all were those that performed five acts of kindness a day.  So it feels good and is good for you!

The world is a better place because of it.  You know this.  We have billions of people in the world we all just want to feel connected to someone.  Acts of kindness help us feel not so alone.  There are days when you can give and there are days when you’ll need to receive.

Hell, it’s the right thing to do.  I don’t know what to say about this but it is.

So let’s talk about being kind and then do something about it.  Tomorrow I’d like to write about children and how to teach the idea of “be kind.”

My baby kinda looks like…(the 2014 edition)

Back by popular demand (not really, I think I’m the only one amused by this), I present to you: “My Second Baby Kinda Looks Like…”  A little background on this.  A couple years ago I used to amuse myself by posting pictures of my little one and what she reminded me of.  So my baby kinda looked like Wolverine one day and her Fisher Price Seahorse the next.  My mind is always turning on that but I’ll admit I haven’t had the creative juices flowing enough to keep up with it on a weekly basis like I did for a while.  Now I have a second baby and a whole new type gatorade to quench my thirst for ridiculousness.  So here we go:

My second baby kinda looks like…

George Dub-ya (only smarter.  and possibly more aware of what’s going on in the world.)  ZING!  Heyo!

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she just needs a soccer ball and some cleats.  

P3060029…she’s flipping me off and saying “Oh ya?  Well take THIS!”

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An Interview with gDiapers’ Social Media Master

As I’ve mentioned before, I really like gDiapers.  And a big reason why is because they do a great job of reaching out online and creating a community.  In my former professional life, I was responsible for Online Marketing and you always strive to engage your audience – This is social media at its best.  I’ve been super impressed and over the last couple years, I’ve been privileged to get to know the mastermind behind gDiapers’ online presence.  Her name is Kelli Martinelli and she has been gDiapers’ Communication Manager (and from all accounts, she’s awesome).  She’s moving on to new ventures but before she left, I wanted to ask her a few questions about her life as the online personality of a wonderful company.  Forgive the poor formatting.  Wordpress hates me.

1.  What part of being gDiapers’ online personality will you miss the most?

I have a feeling that what I anticipate and what the reality will be will differ. But what I am anticipating is missing simply the engagement. The “gDiapers’ online personality” is really just a more PG version of myself. I truly love engaging with the g community. Of finding new bloggers or partner companies to work with and new stories to share. Of asking questions and gauging responses. Of coming up with new ways to play together. It’s been a steady drumbeat to my day, my evening, my weekends,  and it’s been my long-term strategy and my on-the-fly and off-the-cuff itch that I get to scratch. We’re all here cause we want to be, really, and I have been so honored to guide that conversation. And you know, Zuckerberg nailed it with that thumbs up thing. When I post something like “Your baby is your happy place.” and it gets liked and shared hundreds of times over, my inner thumbs up smiles a bit bigger. No lie.

2.  What would you say were the hardest parts of your job?

Watching the competition slide right in and acquire fans through cheap tricks is maddening. The gDiapers community has been built organically, through friends and customers who really want to be hanging out with us on that page, not just to score some “free trial” offer or to rub theoretical elbows with a shiny celeb. Ugh. Ruiners. Also, it’s been hard to wear so many hats. My head isn’t really very big, and my ears sit a tad high which makes some hats kinda awkward. When you wear a lot of hats not everyone truly knows what it is that you do, exactly (even your own colleagues). Integrated social media strategy and execution, email marketing, creative project planning, customer service management, blogging, copywriting, they all take time and are inter-woven. But in most companies, they’re separate positions, not one job. It has been a balancing act, and I have longed to be able to trim away some of the hats so that I could give more focus to one or two and be able to do them to their greater potential. But when you’re in a little company there simply isn’t the resources to hire a new body for every detail, so you end up doing them all, which can be taxing and can allow some details to take a backseat to others.

3.  Be honest.  Does it ever get old – liking pictures of babies?

No. In fact as I get older, and my own babies begin asking questions like “Are the Greek gods more real than the Roman ones?” I’m becoming more of a moth to a flame when it comes to babies. I WILL HOLD ALL THE BABIES!

4. How often do you “sympathy like” people’s babies? Let’s be honest – not all pictures are awesome.  HAVE YOU DONE THIS WITH PICTURES OF MY BABIES???  🙂

It  makes me pretty sad that 99% of all the babies I like across the interwebs I’ll never get to meet in person. The babies that I’ve blogged about, the profile pic lovelies, the babies that turn into toddlers and then hug their younger sibling babies in photos, GAH. Kills me. Just when I’m getting ready to wrap up a little something special in a size small for Sia, BAM, she’s gone and grown. I need a time delay remote and a really fast private jet.

I do not give sympathy likes on facebook, just like I don’t give chest bumps at hockey games . But there have been times where I have liked photos so that fans know that I (gDiapers) has seen them (for a contest, perhaps). And there may be an errant chest bump in my past somewhere ….
5.  What are you most of proud of when you look back at your accomplishments from your 7+ years at gDiapers?
It’s hard to think of “proud” so selfishly. gDiapers is a team. A tiny team of 18, though so many think g is a huge corporation (which is a huge challenge in and of itself!). And tiny teams don’t put the pride all on one player. Our marketing team kicks ass, and without Dodge and his kitten calendar, and Doe and the gMums, and Michelle and her partner relationships, and Heather and her slick new postage machine (along with so many others!), “my” accomplishments would be no more than hot air in a porous balloon.
6.  Did you have any surprising complete flops while in this role?  What did you learn from it?
I did early on. It was when social media was just starting to get underway and the bulk of my day to day revolved around customer service. There was a customer with an issue. And I responded with a solution, which the customer appreciated. But then I second guessed my solution and ran it by someone on the g management team, and I was then pressed to give an alternate solution to the customer, which did NOT go over well. And it shouldn’t have. It wasn’t the right solution for this customer.  My gut was right the first time. But not listening to it meant the issue turned into a problem. And if you’ve ever been in customer service, you’ll know that these problems can sit with you. You wear them in your heart and they sit like a grease-trap in your stomach. I went home that day and bawled. It wasn’t the only time that a customer service issue or a social media interaction messed with my emotions pretty strongly, but it was the day that it occurred to me that my instinct was pretty damn spot on. I knew what the customer needed, and that was more important than what the protocol dictated. I had empathy, and empathy is to be trusted.
7.  What skillset/path led you to be the social media master that you are today?  Did you always have an interest in this space or did you stumble across it?
Early on in my life I squatted down, wrapped my purple coat around my knees, buttoned it up, then waddled around the playground pretending to be a purple oompa loompa. I wrote poetry about litter in the 2nd grade. I was a cheerleader, twice. I was spirit commissioner for my high school, bringing spotlights to the Arcata Invitational Basketball Tournament for the first time EVAH. I was a camp counselor on multiple occasions and one time, at an outdoor school gig, I got a bad review from the “head counselor” but got a standing ovation from my campers. I’ve always had a knack for being myself when others were trying to be a “kins” (this was a thing, “Jennykins” “Donnakins” “Tarakins”, it was like Heathers for Humboldt County middle schoolers). My colleague and dear friend, Karen, made me cry into my egg nog the other day at my “farewell roast”, when she spoke to how I’ve demonstrated how to really be yourself at gDiapers. She said it eloquently, and I’m messing up her words. But before then, I had never thought about how being myself was much of a career strategy or skillset, but now I see it.
I sought out a job with gDiapers because I loved the company and the product. They gave me the customer service department (which at the time was just me). And I grew into new roles, ultimately driving the online communications strategy for this itty bitty company with a groovy diaper. Social media master I’m not, but I am master at being myself, which (most of the time) tends to play well with others. And that play is happening on the social media playground. Ergo, there I yam. It’s where storytelling, personal connectivity and revolutionary change is given permission to occupy the dance floor and go nuts.
8.  Any advice for your successor(s)?

Anticipate the most negative or contrary reaction you can think of before you post something publicly.

Be a magic wand, not a cookie cutter.
And don’t lose yourself. You are not a brand.

So humble, so real, so smart, so grammatically correct.  Awesome, amirite?  I feel connected to her because I wore a pillow case with a face drawn on it over my body and made a hat with cutouts for my eyes in the second grade.  I was a munchkin in our school’s production of The Wizard of Oz.  I’m not going to lie.  The performance wasn’t the only time I wore that getup.

I kept her questions mostly contained to her job at gDiapers but she’s doing some amazing things.  She is producing the Portland Listen To Your Mother show this coming Mother’s Day.  Listen To Your Mother is a national series of live readings performed on local stages, by local writers and in support of local communities. This will be the first year that LTYM has a presence in Portland.  Here’s the link to the LTYM website: http://listentoyourmothershow.com/portland/.  It really makes me wish I lived in Portland.  If you do live in the area, go see the show! It promises to be a great time!

Thank you Kelli for keeping all us gDiaper fanatics entertained and engaged.  You are going to do big BIG things.

simply having A WONDERFUL CHRISTMASTIME

Worst Christmas  song ever.  But here it is in all its glory:

I thought I’d share some of the fun I’ve been having this Christmas Season.  Warning: this is starting out kind of hectic but really it’s been a wonderful time with my girls…

I took my girls to the mall last week.  I thought my they would like to see the Christmas decorations and I also wanted to get something for my mother-in-law.  It had been a few hours so I decided to first make a pit stop so the little missy could pee.  When we finally maneuver her, me and the stroller with baby in it into the stall, she says she doesn’t need to pee.  After asking her three times if she’s sure, I sit down because I do need to go.  Of course, right then she says “Mama!  I have to go pee-pee!”  I hadn’t started peeing yet but because I’m on my period, some blood must have dripped into the toilet.  I didn’t realize it but of course she did. Very loudly, I might add…

What’s that?!?!?
Geez…how do I answer this?  Nothing, honey.
Mama, what’s that?  What’s that red?
Nothing, sweetie.  Just go pee-pee.
My pee-pee is yellow.  Mama, my pee-pee is yellow.  What’s that red???
(Checks after I go)  Is your pee-pee yellow???

Of course the restroom is pretty crowded because it’s the holiday shopping season so I’m trying to change the subject.  She finally pees and then I sit down and she’s squatting down trying to see who’s in the next stall.

Who’s over there?  Who’s going pee-pee?  Why are they going pee-pee?

Oy.  The baby was just looking around, trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.

Earlier that day, we had gone to the doctor’s office to check on her cough that just wasn’t dying.  It took FOREVER.  Ok maybe not forever but we were there for an hour and twenty minutes.  In this time, she asked “Where’s Dr. Pelinka?” at least four times.  Funny part is that Dr. Pelinka is her former doctor from when we lived in Orange County.  She did amazingly well at her appointment though.  She did everything the doctor asked her to but surprised me by telling the doctor that her throat hurt.  She never told me that…Later that day, she said “I had fun at the doctor’s office.  Can we go again tomorrow?”  EFF NOOOOOOO.  She got a sticker, and I think that had something to do with it.  Incidentally, we also had the following occur:

Mommy, can you put my sticker in your pocket?  Nooooooo!  Don’t fold it!!!!

In case you’ve never put a sticker in your back pocket, it’s kind of a pain to take off.  Especially when your ass is pushing with all its jiggly might against the inside of the pants.

She said she wanted Panda Express at the mall.  So we got some fried rice.  She dutifully shared the peas with her sister.  All was good until I noticed she was scraping her fork along the bench we were sitting on.  Outside.  Then she dipped it back in the rice like it was totally ok.

We’ve been doing some fun stuff at home and Miss K. has been helping.  She helped decorate the tree:

IMG_20131205_195625She also helped hang the stockings.  We’ve made a few houses in a paper Holiday Village.  Super S also seems to be getting into the holiday spirit:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYep, she’s standing (sniff sniff) and almost walking (sniff sniff).  We’ve been explaining Santa Claus and Christmastime to her but I don’t think she quite gets it.  She’s been enjoying the music – her favorite song this season is Jimmy Buffet’s Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum (awesome…).

Tonight she helped me make a gingerbread house.  It was my first attempt!  Never did one before!

IMG_20131217_195438 IMG_20131217_195517 IMG_20131217_195420

Last night we went to go take a look at some of the neighbors’ Christmas lights.  Miss K loved them!  At one point we just heard her whisper from the back seat “OH MY GOSH.”  So sweet!

This really is a wonderful time of the year.  So much to be thankful for and so much to love.  The best part is that we’re having a wonderful time and she doesn’t even know that there are going to be some presents at the end of all this. Granted, this is probably the last year she won’t be expecting stuff but I’m loving that she is feeling the true spirit of the season.

Lemons, lemons everywhere!

So last week my MIL called and asked if I wanted any lemons. I said “Sure. Maybe just a few – not too many.” She replied “so two or three?” “Yep, mom, that’s perfect. Two or three.” Then later that day, I met my neighbor for the first time and he said “Do you use lemons for cooking or anything? We have this tree and don’t know what to do with all these lemons. Here, have some.” So before I had the chance to say no, he handed me three lemons. I took them. When my in-laws came, Mom handed me a bag and when I looked inside, there weren’t 2-3 lemons. There were a dozen lemons. Maybe she intended some of those lemons to go to my mom’s and brother’s houses. I’m not sure because she didn’t say. She is super generous so maybe she didn’t feel comfortable giving us “only” two or three. I don’t know but I found myself with fifteen lemons and no real need for any of them. By the way, I also had bought one of those lemon shaped squeezy things full of lemon juice. I wasn’t amused when I saw that there were more ingredients in it than lemons.

20130929_151624Oh the irony.  You know what’s worse?  I don’t have a citrus juicer.  I guess I could have squeezed them all by hand but I didn’t trust myself to have that much patience and I could see myself getting frustrated with seeds and all that.  So I went to look for juicers.  If I wanted an electric one, it would be $30!  Oy.  I saw an extension that I could put on my stand mixer.  What a great idea!  Until I realized that it was also $30 and then I’d have to drag out the heavy mixer and also wash the parts.  I went to Kohls and was shocked (SHOCKED!) to see that I could buy one of those squeezy things that look like this:

lemonjuicer

 

But it would also cost $30.  And I’ll bet I wouldn’t be good at squeezing with that thing.  So at this point, it seemed silly to me to spend $30 on yet another utensil (I have a lot of kitchen utensils.  A LOT.) for some lemons that I didn’t really have a use for yet.  I like free stuff but really, I couldn’t justify spending that much to make use of 15 or so free lemons.  I gave it one last try at our local HomeGoods store and luckily spotted at citrus juicer for $4.99.  Yay!

My lovely assistant and I have juiced about half the lemons so far – it’s really easy and I’m surprised by how much juice a little bitty lemon can yield.  Maybe I’m surprised because usually I juice them by squeezing them by hand and they don’t put out that much.

20130929_152858So about half the lemons yielded a whole ice tray full of lemon juice.  I believe each ice cube is two tablespoons and there are 14 cubes, so almost two cups of lemons so far.  And since they’re frozen, I can just use a cube at a time as I need them!  Hooray!  Usually I buy a bottle of lemon juice for around $3 and it inevitably goes bad so it’s a waste and it has added crap and it produces garbage.  This route does none of that!  I might be a little biased, but I think the ones from my in-laws’ house are much prettier and lovelier.  They actually juiced better too.  Maybe because of the type of lemon.  Maybe because I know they were grown with love.

This fall’s harvest has been good.  My in-laws also brought us about 20+ figs and some persimmons.  The figs are the expensive mission variety and though I don’t care for them, my husband and both daughters enjoyed them.  I’m always shocked at how expensive they are, even in season.  I think I saw a basket of maybe 5 figs at the farmers market that was $6!  Crazy.  And they also brought us delicious persimmons.  I’ve been putting them in Miss K’s lunchbox and I think I’m going to steam some for Super S to try.  I had made baby food out of some from their yard for Miss K. when she was a wee one two years ago.  My parents gave us two huge pomegranates from their yard too.  I’m going to bust them open this week.  Those are full of antioxidants and Miss K. loves them.

I’m so embarrassed to admit this but it’s still a thrill to get food from our homes.  I’m so used to only eating foods that were bought at the store that it’s exciting (and a bit strange) to just go pick them from the yard and eat them.  I love this.  I really really REALLY need to try hard to grow some veggies next spring.  It would be so nice!  Maybe not cost effective, but wonderfully fresh and less trash produced!

 

 

Food waster? Guilty. So, so guilty.

I saw the following infographic from upworthy.com and started feeing the self loathing tick up.  I am so so SO guilty of throwing away food.

Tackling_Food_Waste_CrisisI think most of my food waste comes from lack of organization.  Meaning, I forget that I have something and then by the time I remember, I’m scared to eat it.  Or I plan on making a meal and I don’t have my stuff together and it goes bad so I toss it.  All bad stuff.  I sometimes read a blog called thefrugalgirl.com and she was tired of all the food going to waste in her home and started posting about it on her blog.  Public admission/humiliation goes a long way, folks.  So here’s what I’m going to attempt to do in order to reduce the amount of food we waste in our house:

  • Learn more about “ugly” food vs. spoiled food.  Use food when it’s ugly, thow out food when it’s spoiled.
  • Force myself to get creative with using up food before garbage day.  We now have four people who eat food in this house.  I need to use the food, not waste it.
  • Eat left overs, dammit.  Avoid fast food and just use what we have.
  • Juice up left over fruits and veggies.
  • Make bread crumbs out of old or soon to be expired bread
  • Freeze crap
  • Start a food waste friday post.  Shame myself into wasting less.

FoodWasteFriday
Oy.  Let’s do this.  We’ll start next week.