Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Love this pic of my parents who came down just to attend AK's Grandparents Day program at her school. These guys spoil her rotten, and AK loved having them all to herself for a good part of the day. Thought it was appropriate to post on my Dad's Birthday... Happy Birthday Dad!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Homeschool What?

Two weeks ago, I attended a Homeschool Convention. Let me repeat that for the folks who just fell out of their chairs from shock. I attended a Homeschool Convention; because I don't know what the future holds for public education. The budget cuts, high admin costs, and large class sizes has me pretty discouraged about the future of public education and my family. Last year, we couldn't wrap our head around the ginormous kindergarten class size, so we ponyed up some cash and sent Mr. Boy to a small sweet Kindergarten with less than 14 kids. This year we interviewed at private schools, and everytime I looked at the Tuition Payment Schedule I felt chest pains. There has to be a better way. At the suggestion of Mr. Boys teacher and some dear friends, I started looking at homeschooling. I even asked Mr. Boy, "What if mom was your teacher?" And daily he started asking me when I would start teaching him, "And would you be teaching me cooking & Lego building too?" We even tried a "trial day" at our house and in 2 hours, we did a full school day. That even included a science experiment where we blew stuff up.
My friend Laura who is struggling with the same issues joined me at the "Not Back to School Days" Convention put on by the Southwest Home Educators Association. We met with vendors, chatted with homeschool moms, and got some info. I even bought some Curriculum to supplement the kids schooling.
I learned that I'm considered to be a "Refugee Homeschooler", someone who considers homeschooling, because I'm not thrilled with public education. Everyone seemed to recommend the A Beka curriculum for language, and they had some great resources. They have an online academy with virtual lectures and everything. I was totally surprised to find out that Mr. Man's Alma Mater, BYU, has a virtual academy for Jr. High & High Schoolers. That's awesome, maybe Mr. Boy & AK can do Jr. High & High School through them, and that will satisfy Mr. Man's craving to have the kids be BYU Alumni. (I'm a heathen, no BYU for me!) I just couldn't get enough of the Blackbird Press reading guides. They are literature guides that go along with your favorite books. The activities are perfect for Mr. Boy, even better, Mr. Boy actually enjoys doing them. He doesn't view it as "work." Brilliant Product!

I loved chatting with Susan at Fun Places Publishing, who wrote THE ULTIMATE guidebook on places to go with your kids in Southern California. This thing is awesome and full of great info. She also gave us the best "You can do this, and you will not regret homeschooling" pep talk. Through her book, I realized homeschooling gives you the flexibility to teach hands on. Want to learn about the ocean, go to the beach, visit the aquarium, go whale watching... 10 times better than a textbook. This book is crazy amazing for anyone young and old looking for a local adventure. Are you aware that there is something called CAVA. which is a virtual academy that is FREE to those who reside in certain counties in California? Orange County & LA County are included. They provide your curriculum, online lectures, and access to a teacher to guide you. It's amazing, and it uses K12 curriculum which we loved.

Then there is homeschool-hybrids, which is where the kids attend schools two or so days a week, and you homeschool the remaining days. I LOVE the idea of this. At the end, we hit the Lego Store for some creative building. Mr. Man would say that Legos is all you need for an education!
All in all, I'd say it's an option I would absolutely consider. There are so many great resources, and I learned that this isn't a solitary adventure. There are local groups to support you, and lots of moms willing to split up the teaching. I loved the flexibility of homeschooling, and these people are living the concept of "It takes a village" to raise their children. The very moment I start to feel like public school isn't working, I am armed and ready to give homeschooling a try.

Thursday, September 24, 2009


We are back in the swing of things here with school, work, and my new Mom's Taxi role as I shuttle kids around to activities. Can I just say, that since everyone is doing different activities I feel like I am always spending 8 minutes in the car waiting for someone.. Drop off Mr. Boy, drive AK to school.... wait 8 minutes to drop her off. It's annoying, and I am wistful and so grateful for having Mr. Boy & AK at the same school laste year. Everything took place there, sports, dance, cooking class, and there was one drop off and one pick up. It was awesome and a timesaver. Ok... see.. boring... even my petty annoyance is boring.

Anyway... There are a few things I can't live without this Back to School Season.
1. Camelbak Water Bottles are saving me some serious cash, no more juiceboxes. Even better, they come home empty everyday so I know my kids are drinking water.

2. Mabels Labels who is saving me even more money, with her awesome labels that I stick on everything the kids take to school. These labels go through the dishwasher, the laundry, and they still stay on. The kids water bottles have been misplaced, but quickly returned thanks to these labels.

3. Oh, Cliff Bar... how I adore thee, for making delicious kid's Zbars. The kids gobble them up and on those mornings we hit the snooze bar one too many times, it's easy to throw the Zbars at the kids to chow down on the way to school.

4. These awesome melamine plates have been on my wishlist forever. They are on sale at Target for less than $2 bucks each, so I stocked up. I just wanted some non breakable plates that I could have for a casual gathering. Super simple they can be dressed up or down. One day I will be in a phase where my first concern isn't "oooo, that's breakable."

5. Oops, Not Pictured... Google Reader which keeps all my favorite blogs that I love to follow organized and easy to read.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five minutes of this..

I swear five minutes with these guys and you feel all glow-y and fabulous. The sky seems blue-er and the world just seems a bit brighter. Auntie Cinnamon has brand new kittens, she is a foster-kitten-mama for a cat rescue. She's an angel... for so many reasons beyond this. (Notice AK, feeding her stuffed kitten.)Something about feeding something so fluffy and so small just lifts the soul. Oh man, if only we could bottle that feeling, we'd be rich. I tried to sneak one out in my pocket... But Cinnamon heard it meowing and made me give it back. Dang it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Spray Paint: Better than sliced bread?

Our mailbox is a snoozefest. Mr. Man picked it out the first weekend we moved in, and it was so boring I didn't even notice we had a new one for a week or so. Sometime ago I had spied a gorgeous, simple black one at some fancy store with a hefty pricetag. Last week I got sick of my boring mailbox and decided to make it over as a cheap imitation of the one I saw.
Total Cost $3.42 for Spray Paint, Small wood plaque, and vinyl lettering from an awesome lady who ships anywhere and is super reasonable! (email me for the source) I ripped off the "hangy things" and the metal piece. And then gave it a British Nod by putting the word "Post" on it, just like the one I saw.
Then while I was in the garage inhaling fumes, I pulled this Star out from my "Project Bin". I scored it for $1 on clearance. The rusted look doesn't work with my house, but I knew it had potential. (Also, check out my favorite shoes of the summer.) So I spray painted it white and popped it on the Garden House. Totally worth it!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sandy Schnoggle Dog

Sandy has been sick for a few weeks now. She is thirteen and has been more than a dog... she is a member of the family.Sandy & Mr. Boy are constantly together. So can you imagine how tough it was to drop a sad and nervous Mr. Boy off at first grade last week and then drive over to the vet's office with Sandy to have one of the toughest conversations of my life...It's unclear what the next few months hold for Sandy, other than at this point we know her health is failing. She is not in pain and she is being pampered like royalty.
Homemade food - Vet's orders and peanut butter with her meds morning and night. And while she was at the vet's getting pumped full of vitamins and fluids... they took her magical horn off her head. She had some weird bump that appeared last year, it was not pretty. We joked that Sandy was turning into a unicorn in her old age. For now she has purple stitches, and AK keeps trying to come up with excuses to get purple stitches too. Is it so wrong that all my prayers include the phrase, "please bless the dog, I know, I know... she's just a pet, but I love her.....I need her. I'm not ready for this."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sandwich Frenzy

I've got this sister-in-law who has her motherhood down to a science. Lunches are lined up all in a row, kids are dressed, hair is done, and they all march out to the car with their backpacks. We aren't morning people... so it shouldn't surprise anyone that last week I went to unbuckle AK for school, and noticed her giant poof of hair. Some mornings.. we run out to the car and I'm tossing Cliff bars and a Horizon milks in the backseat. And lunches.. don't even get me started. I hate it... I want to be more put together than that. So, I decided to copy my sister-in-law, she makes a bunch of sandwiches, pops them in the freezer and grabs them when she needs them. I'm a bit of a natural & earthy girl... so I got my organic bread, natural peanut butter, and instead of tossing them in ziplocs, I bought a slew of sandwich containers. I used a Pampered Chef sandwich cutter, but a cookie cutter works well. My sister in law said you need cheap bread, and I bought the cheapest whitest organic bread I could find.... and the bread cracked... so they kind of look a bit flimsy and crumbly. Meanwhile, Mr. Man keeps passing through the kitchen and keeps telling the dogs, "She's going crazy! She's making a billion sandwiches." So, I made 20 sandwiches, and popped them in the freezer. Now I have a giant stack of these hole-y crusts, no clue what to do with them other than to pose with them. So this morning, I popped one in Mr. Boy's lunch and wouldn't you know it... he loved it! Hooray!

Monday, September 07, 2009


Overheard coming from the bathroom as AK checks herself out in the mirror.AK: Mom, I'm still not pink I can eat more raspberries. This girl is addicted to raspberries. Since Friday she has eaten 9 clamshells full, two of them she snuck out of the fridge and ate behind a tree.
When she asked for seconds last night at dinner, Mr. Man told her, "Ooo you better take a break from raspberries, I'm afraid you'll turn Pink just like Pinkalicious"
Normally, she would love the idea of turning Pink.... but not if it meant she had to stop eating raspberries. *also note the power ranger on the table next to her bowl. Shhhh.. dont' tell the boy but the Power Ranger danced with Cinderella this morning, and then proceeded to blow up Darth Vader's ship on the way home from the Royal Ball.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A trip back home.

I may be a desperate housewife residing in the OC, and a wannabe LA wife of an Entertainment Mogul, but my heart resides in Santa Barbara. I love driving around town and seeing beautiful architecture on every corner. And I miss seeing the ocean daily from the hill we lived on. Santa Barbara is home to me. A few weeks ago I got a little homesick and needed to rejuvenate, so I took the kids on a trip up to Santa Barbara. They have the best little zoo, where you can feed the giraffes. AK never gets tired of the giraffes big long purple tongue tickling her skin. This hill at the zoo is covered by slick astroturf and is there for the sole purpose of sliding down it. I want to put one of these in our backyard. Shhh... next time I'm bringing the toboggans. No need to take the kids sledding anymore!!I have been to zoos a zillion times and never once seen a lion awake. This lady was AGITATED and restless. And it wasn't from the giraffes who roam within eyesight. She jumped right up on this rock just inches from the glass where we stood and laid down. She then proceeded to roar and growl, then would pause. In the distance, her mate who had been taken across the zoo to be quarantined would roar back at her. She was so sad with her mate being away from their home. I felt so bad for this lioness, I can totally relate. Mr. Man is back up in LA for work again, and I just want to move right up and join him. I feel like I gotta break out of this cage and move our home base up to LA. After the zoo, I took the kids over to be well fed at my favorite restaurant of all time, Palazzio. My kids love the hot garlic rolls, and loved eating from one big giant bowl of pasta a la Lady & the Tramp. I left with a cooler full of pasta & rolls to take home for the freezer for when I need a taste of home. This food.. it's better than mama's home cooking. (sorry mom, but you know it's true) I couldn't help but snap some pics of the kids while roaming around town. This was Mr. Boy's souvenir from the zoo. He sleeps with this and Elephant Friend every night.We got some Ice Cream on the wharf. This is my favorite view on the planet and I love the fog rolling in the background. Again, this is home for me. I sat there on the wharf thinking back to one awful, awful date I had in high school. I remember standing on this wharf, peering over the railing, wondering if I could possibly jump off and swim to shore, just to get out of spending the rest of the evening with a boy who had no clue what it meant to be chivalrous. On the flip side I have had some truly magical moments on this pier as well. I had secretly hoped that my future husband would propose to me on this wharf. We stopped over at my folk's house, who sadly no longer live in Santa Barbara.We pretended to be pirates, played at the park... and my very sweet dad, encouraged me to remember to take care of myself and sent me off shopping for the afternoon while he & my mom watched the kids. Sound advice, and the break was much needed! We even went for a boat ride. Mr. Boy loved steering, while my mom panicked that we were going to crash! We celebrated a few birthdays, and Mr. Boy (wearing the pillowcase) got Star Wars sheets. These are a reproduction of the exact sheets we had growing up.
I love seeing these guys snuggling together, they got to share a bed on the floor while on vacation. On the drive home I learned Mr. Boy's Birthday Wish was "for Sandy to live forever." I cannot even put into words how much it breaks my heart that I can't make that wish come true. The sun is setting on this dog's life and I am powerless to stop it. For Mr. Boy... I think wherever Sandy is.. that is home.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

First Day of First Grade

Sometime last week Mr. Boy went from being fun to a nightmare. I was ready to ship him off to a far off land, but realized later that evening that he was nervous about school. It's a new school, and we only know one kid his age there. The night before school all was well, but as soon as the lights went out he panicked. Total meltdown, but quickly solved by watching "The Three Stooges" in my bed. He could NOT be lured out of bed this morning, only the shouts of "Oh my goodness it's raining!" (And that wasn't a lie, we had a surprise rain shower!) His brow furrowed and you could tell he was trying to be brave. He is "smiling" in this pic. By the time we got inside the classroom, there was one solitary tear starting down his cheek. Within a few minutes, it was a full on cry. I knew I wouldn't be able to keep it together much longer, so with the blessing of his teacher and a quick hug & a kiss, I was off. I spent the entire day worrying about my beautiful child. (and Sandy... another story for another day.)
I knew he would be okay... eventually. How many days would it take? Not long because this is the kid I picked up from school. He loved it.
He asked his teacher as he left, "How many hours until I wake up and come back?" His teacher told me that by noon he was acting as if he owned the place and was trying to run the joint. I think she figured out pretty quickly that he is a leader not a follower. Phew, so far, so good.