Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Fourth Annual Faux-Prah Giveaway

*** Giveaway is now closed and the winner has been notified***
For years my absolute favorite thing to do during the holidays was watching Oprah's Favorite Thing show and watching the ladies get whipped into a frenzy about everything they were getting.  Then I would call one of my friends who absolutely hates the show but watches anyway and we would go over the details.  I would tell her all the things I just HAD to have and she would tell me how many ladies fainted clutching their free loot. 
Now that Oprah is off the air I'm going about building my "Faux-prah" empire.  Which, lucky for you, includes my annual "Faux-prah's Favorite Things" giveaway.  I pick a handful of my favorite things and you get to win them! Hooray!  You can see what was on last years list here, and details on how Faux-Prah got started.
Have you read this book?   It's amazing and I just discovered an abridged Young Adult version of this book.
Mr. Boy is reading it and we are having the best time chatting about it.  I think it's a story that everyone should read.   You can pick to receive the unabridged version or the Young Adult version of the story.

Have you ever made your own Gingerbread? This mix is crazy, as in crazy easy. Mr. Boy always asks to make Gingerbread Men, but  I've always been too intimidated to make Gingerbread.
Last year we received this mix as a gift and it took about two minutes to make and required no chilling of the dough.   The kids had a blast rolling it out and I was so surprised that it made 2 pans full of gingerbread cookies.  I'm handing these out this year as gifts to my friends, because it's a total holiday time saver.  It's an easy way to make holiday memories. 
My family loves Popovers but I can't stand scrubbing the pan after.  I dread baking anything in muffin pans, something always sticks inside those wells.  Someone told me I needed to try out the William Sonoma, Gold Line of Bakeware.  These pans are amazing!   Muffins, cupcakes, popovers and whatever else you cook in them cook evenly and nothing sticks! I love these pans so much and now I want the whole line of gold pans.
To enter the contest, all you have to do is leave a comment in the post below.  You can tell me your favorite things, tell me why you love me, or just say, "Bon Jour".  If you aren't logged in to Blogger, leave me your email address.   To receive an additional entry, you can share this giveaway on Facebook, just leave me a comment below that says you shared it on Facebook.

You have until Monday, December 22, 2014 at 11:59pm.  Winner will be picked via and will have 48 hours to respond.  Winner will be announced Wednesday, December 23rd, 2014.

*Disclaimer: I received zero compensation for this post and zero donations of the items featured on this giveaway.  Nor am I affiliated with Oprah.  This giveaway is simply my gift to my loyal readers who indulge in reading my crazy posts.*

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Everything is better in Costume.

Three years ago I was watching stage production of "White Christmas" with my husbands extended family.  I fell madly in love with the ending as the stage was full of ladies dancing in big red skirts with fur trim.   I leaned over to Mr. Man's Aunt aka Mrs. Aunt and said, "This year I want everyone dressed just like that for our Christmas Eve Dinner."   I was joking, kind of.  I mean I fully believe that everything is better in costume, but I really didn't expect everyone to show up in costume.  So imagine my surprise when I opened the door on Christmas Eve to find Mrs. Aunt and the entire family decked out in full White Christmas Costumes complete with fur muffs. It was the best Christmas Eve and now it's become a family tradition to wear our most festive outfits to Christmas Eve. 
I realized a few days before Thanksgiving that Mrs. Aunt's birthday was just two days prior to the Thanksgiving Extravaganza she was hosting.  The whole family was coming into town to celebrate Thanksgiving and it was going to be one of the largest Thanksgiving gatherings in some time.   One day while running errands it hit me, I needed to do something for Mrs. Aunt, and I knew there was only one thing she would appreciate.  Costumes!  So I cut out Pilgrim collars for 50 plus and a few extra for Baby Roller Hand and even our pets.  (The deer wouldn't cooperate for the picture.. drats) 
The result was glorious! The Pilgrim collars were a hit, well maybe not everyone loved them, but most wore them, because everyone loves Mrs. Aunt. Everyone knew that Mrs. Aunt would love this, and she did. I'm beginning to think that everything is better in costumes. 
Thanksgiving is one of my favorites, Mr. Man has this big family with oodles of cousins.   As for me... I have two cousins... exactly two and I wouldn't know them if I saw them on the street. We ate, we laughed, we had a great time and parted ways.

Unfortunately, the stomach flu was passed around our Thanksgiving table with 53% of the Pilgrims going down over the next four days.  It was much like the first Thanksgiving where plagues were swapped.  I think everyone is finally on the mend, but all this has given me an idea for next years Thanksgiving Costumes.. HazMat Suits! 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Five Things For Friday 11/21/14

 1. We celebrated Mr. Man's Birthday last night and surprised him with a Clan themed dinner.  It was great fun, as we all donned kilts and ate like Kings.   The kids could not contain their excitement about our dinner plans and I'm sure Mr. Man thought we were planning an Epic event with Limos and 600 of his closest friends.  The kids were bursting at the seams wanting to tell him.  Just a handy hint, when ordering supplies for a surprise themed dinner don't use your Guest of Honor's Amazon account on accident.  Oops!

2.  You need to check out the documentary "I am Eleven" which we saw with 11 of our friends on 11/11/14 and got to meet the Filmmaker.  It was such a great movie that really showed our kids just how big the world is and how lucky they are to have what they have.  It also showed me that really most eleven year olds are the same.  I loved this girl in Morocco, while being interviewed  you can hear her mom coaching her off camera, "Tell them we don't have electricity and that we are very poor." She turns to her mother and says, "What?  You think if I tell them that they will connect our electricity?"  Then she rolls her eyes at the camera.   Our group left the screening chatting about the film and it was exciting to eavesdrop on their thoughts.

 3. This is my new favorite tradition.  It's a Shadowbox with a slit on the top that we drop in notes of what we are thankful for.  It was supposed to be leaves instead of paper strips, but I really like my lack of carpal tunnel, so I opted not to spend my evenings cutting out leaves.  It is fun to see the kids get an idea and run over to write something.  Although, it's not always a grateful thought.  Yesterday I spied a note in there that said, "Grateful that my parents are the meanest EVER."

4.   We had a day off from school this week and it made me yearn for days of summer. Those long and lazy days seem so far away from now.  However I will say that I am grateful for our long afternoons.  With Mr. Boy sitting out sports this fall due to some health concerns, we are not running from field to field every day.  Some of our afternoons are long and lazy and we have even been able to squeeze in a movie.  I miss cheering my boy on from the sidelines, but love spending our time at home. 

5.   Can you feel that tingle in the air?   I can feel it too and it can only mean one thing... Fauxprah's Favorite Things is coming to my blog!   I bet you can't wait to see what I picked this year for my picks!  Check back in December to find out what you can win this year!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween 2014!

My darling AK was born half-goth, I'm pretty sure of it.  She has always been in love with the dark side and  villains, so it was no surprise when she announced this summer she wanted to be Maleficent for Halloween.  Truthfully, I loved her costume idea, she makes a pretty fantastic Maleficent. 
I didn't actually sew her costume this year.  It's an assortment of pieces, the horns were purchased from Amazon  and the cape was purchased after I weighed the cost of the fabric and time with making the cape.   The black clothes are from her closet and the stick is from our backyard.   She pretty much hasn't taken the cape or the horns off for the last week.  It's a little alarming to turn around and see this face.  She makes a pretty convincing evil villain.  

For Mr. Boy, he decided he was way too old to dress up, but he came around eventually.  Mr. Boy needed a project and Halloween provided the perfect opportunity for one.   He isn't doing any sports due to his health right now and the afternoons are long for him.   He got really into the idea of designing a really cool scene for our church's Trunk or Treat Party.   
It was easy for him to pick a theme, because he loves nothing more about Halloween than the movie, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"  So, he got to work designing and drawing some pictures to go along with our theme.  He drew everything and spent hours working on it.  It was the perfect project.
Then he decided he really ought to be Charlie Brown to go with the theme.    I am super proud of him and I think he did a great job. 
As for me, I'm nothing this year.  I just couldn't quite catch the bug, but wow!  Have you seen Mr. Man lately?  He dressed up as Bono!  Skinny Jeans and all.  We've been together almost 20 years and he still surprises me!

 Happy Halloween One and All!   

  If you missed previous years posts and costumes, you can find them here. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Five Things for Friday 10/24/14

Five Things I'm thinking about this Friday:

1.)  We just can't get enough of this book right now.   AK calls it "Franklin-stein" and if anyone corrects her I will banish you.  It's a parody of Madeline and my kids think it is hilarious. I might have a small addiction to holiday themed books. 
2.)  The Holiday Catalogs have started pouring in and my favorite is always the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog.  My mom and I always poured over the pages and imagined us receiving the His and Her Gifts.  One year it was a pair of real live Camels and we felt like if we got them, we would have to build an Arabian inspired barn, and then if we got a fancy barn, we'd probably have to tear down the house and build a house to match.   It became a running joke... "It starts with a pet camel... "

3.) I'm completely obsessed with a Roomba vacuum and I'm pretty sure it's because of this video of a cat wearing a shark costume, riding a Roomba.  Ridiculous in the best way possible. If there is a robot who can take over a job that I don't love, why wouldn't I jump all over that?

4.) Every year I get hooked into McDonald's Monopoly.   I don't like to eat at McDonalds and the odds of winning are terrible, but for some reason I find myself going out of my way to get game pieces. My brothers and I used to play it when I was little and my mom who was anxious to skip out on cooking indulged us. Surely, I am not the only one who gets suckered into this marketing gimmick?  
5.)  I'm trying to take pictures for our annual Christmas Card.  Getting the dogs to pose for a decent picture is nearly impossible.  Finally I get a picture where they aren't wrestling, and Zoey's eyes are closed! 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Second Annual Witches Tea

I'm pretty lucky, I'm surrounded by a  great group of friends and I love celebrating the ladies in my life.   Last year my Witches Tea was such a success, I decided to make it an annual event.. The Witches Tea has been my way of saying "Look Witch, thanks for having my back." 

I think getting the house ready is half the fun. 
The floating witches hats are my favorite.  They really creep the dogs out.
I'm grateful my family is supportive of this event, even though they are banished for the night. (We were trying to imitate a U2 Album cover in this pic.)  
What better way to welcome my Witches than with a giant W. 
I made my signature witchy drink, which is strawberry syrup in syringes.  It looks like drugs and tastes delish.  Everyone wonders why I have a bunch of medicine syringes handy, but it's pretty indicative of my life right now.  Some days I feel more like a medicine man than a witch. 
I really don't know how people had parties before Pinterest.  They must have partied like cavemen, because  I stole borrowed most of my ideas from Pinterest.

We had a caramel apple bar which was a great idea in theory, but my caramel got too hard as soon as you spooned it on your plate. It was a pretty big flop.   Thank goodness my friends Denise showed up to save the day with a cauldron full of cake pops.  She's the kind of person that basically invented all those great ideas you pin on  Pinterest.
Check out all my cute witches! 

Everyone dressed up to the nines and my poor neighbors must have been a little alarmed when they drove up and saw my house brimming with witches.
This party is by far one of my very favorites and I think it's a tradition I'll happily keep..
 See you later Witches!  Until next time.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Five Things for Friday

1.  The first weekend of October, we always attend the same event.  Without fail,  the last ten years it has  been blistering hot.  Every year I am baffled and exclaim, "This weather is crazy, it's October!"  Last year, I actually made a reoccurring item on my calendar warning me this is normal weather.  Guess What?  It's going to be triple digit temperatures this weekend and this year it's not taking me by surprise.  I feel like a genius for doing this, until I remember that I should probably have a good enough memory that I don't have to make notes to my future self in my calendar.

2.  Two weeks ago everything seem to break.  My car window, the transmission relay switch (is that a real thing or did my mechanic make that up?), the water heater, Mr. Man's tooth, the pool pump... in a matter of days we had shelled out a ton of cash for things no one would notice.  That makes me crazy, so I bought myself a wallet.  I call it my $5,000 wallet, because it's the only thing I have to show for all the money we spent.  I think it's one of the best moves I've made to date.  

3.  It's Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I love that my kids have joined me in wearing something pink each day in memory of my mom.   I miss her and I especially miss how she was always in my corner.  I hope my kids know that I will always be in their corner.

4.  It's the first Fall Season that we haven't spent our evenings and Saturdays on a sports field.   It's weird to have such an open schedule but secretly I am loving it. We are spending a lot of time together playing games, watching movies, and swimming.  It's been a pleasant side effect of Mr. Boys health challenges.

5.  This was our One and Only Ivan summer, where we spent the summer reading this book as our "read aloud book".   We miss the characters like they were our friends and found ourselves savoring the last chapters, not wanting the book to end.  It's a definite must read for this year.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS, Why it matters to me...

Meet my Father In Law, Ken.  He passed away from ALS aka Lou Gehrig's Disease in 2005,  just a short 2 and 1/2 years after his diagnosis.   It was torture, pure torture watching ALS take its course on this man that I love dearly. I miss him and his absence is felt every single day in our lives.   

From the ALSA website:
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord.  When these cells die, voluntary muscle control and movement dies with them.  Patients in the later stages of the disease are totally paralyzed, yet in most cases, their minds remain sharp and alert.

It's a cruel disease, patients are trapped in these bodies that don't work.  It was hard... really hard on our family.  I wouldn't wish this experience on anyone. The road is lonely as families try to navigate each step of the disease.  It's a constant balancing act of learning how to cope and how to adapt.  Problems arise all the time and the cost of care and equipment is expensive.  It's a progressive disease so often each day is worse than the previous day.  Thankfully there is help, and for our family the ALSA, Los Angeles and Orange County Chapters provided a support network we could turn to.  They loaned equipment, coordinated support groups, and helped troubleshoot challenges.  Sometimes it was as simple as saying, "It's tough to hold a glass of water and get a good grip."  The ALSA care nurse said, "Try putting a thick rubber band around it."

(Pardon my terrible blurry video, making videos is NOT my forte!) 

Each and every time I see someone doing the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS, I cheer.  This disease needs awareness.  Research on this disease is somewhat limited, as there are not enough victims for drug companies to find it profitable to expend research and development costs to find a cure.    The ALSA funds research in addition to providing services to ALS patients and families.   It's not a perfect charity, I can't seem to find a charity that is... but  they helped us when we really needed it and for me that is reason enough to donate. Make sure when you take the Ice Bucket Challenge to include the term ALS and point people to the ALSA or an ALS related charity.

What I'm trying to say is, this is a cause that needed this windfall of viral PR.  I know some folks have said that it's getting annoying and clogging up their Facebook feed. That is fine, but as for me I'm thrilled to see this all over social media.  We all have causes and charities close to our heart or that we champion, for now let's just let ALS take the spotlight for this moment.  As of Friday, August 22, The ALS Association has received $53.3. million in donations compared to $2.2 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 21). These donations have come from existing donors and 1.1 million new donors to The Association. Do you have any idea how many families this is going to help? 
 For all my friends and family who have taken the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS, I want to give you a big heartfelt thank you.  It means so much to me and has restored my hope that one day this will be curable disease.  

Merci Beaucoup!  For more information visit:
To make a donation to the ALSA, click here. 

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

On your 11th Birthday

Dearest Mr. Boy,
Today you turn 11 years old and it's time to write my annual note to tell you how much I love being your mom.  Tonight we watched a TV show and you saw a mom joke about how she sometimes wished that her children belonged to someone else.  You turned to me and asked if I ever felt that way and I responded with "Never."  I want you to know that I mean it, absolutely never ever have I even joked about it. Mr. Boy, I searched around the world for you.  We started our adoption journey by exploring Russia and Ukrainian adoptions, searching for you.   We realized you were not there so we turned to look for you stateside.  Little did we know you were just a few short miles away from us and I still think back fondly to the weeks leading up to your birth.  I cannot tell you enough how much we love your birthmother and how each and every day I give thanks to the woman who made me a mother. 
This year, I am incredibly grateful to see your birthday arrive.   It has been a great year but the last few months have been shadowed by a mysterious illness that has taken your healthy body and turned it into the Tin Man.   You are stiff, sore, weak, sensitive to the sun, and tired all the time.  I have never been more frustrated and would trade places in an instant if it would make you well.   We have seen some of the best doctors in the world and they are stumped.  You have the best attitude about it most of the time, and for that I am thankful.  The doctors told you that if you are the first to have a disease then you get to name it, so we have had fun making up names for whatever is ailing you.  In the mornings when you are stiff, you joke that you are a robot as you shuffle down the hallway or joke that you are an old man.  I want you to know that your Dad and I will go to the ends of the earth to get you the help you need. All of this, has brought us closer, and I find that I cherish each and every moment with you more than ever.   I am so grateful to have you in my life no matter what, I don't care if you walk like a robot or run as fast as lightening.

You make me laugh like no one else on the planet.  I am trying hard to raise you up to be a gentleman, but I am failing in one area.  You lack compassion and it's all my fault.   We've spent hours watching America's Funniest Home Videos and people falling down on the internet, unfortunately it has created quite a funny bone.  So this year when I fell flat on my face, instead of you and AK rushing over to help me up, you were rolling on the ground in fits of uncontrollable laughter.   The other night I bonked my head on your bunk bed and you fell out of your bed laughing.   Part of me is mortified of the monster I've created, but at the same time, I realize I have created someone who is just like me.  I love that our days are filled with laughter and that you have such an amazing sense of humor.  At your Fifth Grade Promotion, I loved that you kept cracking up as you caught my eye in the audience as I was making faces at you. 

One of the best things about this year was attending Outdoor Science Camp with you.  I loved watching you with your friends and I loved that you wanted me there.  In fact this year you have wanted me at most of your events.   I loved that you asked me, "Mom, will you be a Chaperone to Knott's Berry Farm?"   My heart feels a twinge because I know the time is coming when you will NOT want me there. I love hanging out with you and worry that I'm turning into a "S'Mother" .   I can't handle the idea of you not being around me and no joke, I actually sobbed one day realizing that one day you will move out and go to college. 

The year has been full of milestones as you are leaving your elementary school and moving on to Middle School.  I have had much anxiety, while you have been crazy excited.  Your backpack has been packed for two months in preparation and I am terrified.  I know you will thrive, you will thrive anywhere, but as a mother it's my job to worry. I pray that you will have good friends who won't want to do dumb things that puts your life or other people's lives in jeopardy.  Be smart in your choice of friends and in the decisions you make.  I won't always be there nudging you in the right direction. 

 You are eager to get out and travel the world and lament often about our lack of travel.  Be patient Mr. Boy, your time will come very soon.   Your dream trip is to Ireland and Greenland, you dream of snow, and of far off places.   I hope you know that the world is there for you to explore, but the secret is... most of the best stuff is right here.  We live in the most amazing place... you have deer in your backyard!  The beach is just a car ride away, and we do stuff outside all year long.   I know the grass is always greener, but try not to forget to enjoy your own grass before you move to a new pasture. 

I cannot leave out your relationship with your sister AK, she is your biggest fan and your biggest antagonist.  You are both fire and ice, yet I know you can be a team.   The thing about family is that they know all your buttons and how to push them.   It's annoying but it is secretly making you stronger and teaching you to be able to deal with difficult personalities later on in life.   Cut your sister some slack she is younger than you, and most of the time you know better. I know that you love her and have watched you defend her and protect her.   She is lucky to have you and you are lucky to have her.

As you enter middle school I want you to remember to "Be Yourself!"  Never feel like you have to conform, find your own path and others will follow.  Follow your Arrow, my son, wherever it may point and know that I will love you forever. 

Love, Mom

Monday, July 07, 2014

DIY Crime Scene

9:22 PM:  Kids all tucked in bed, Mr. Man is out for the evening, and I wandered into the bathroom to pick up the wet swimsuits off the floor.   Catch reflection in mirror and notice a plethora of grey hairs have made themselves at home on my head.  Root around in cabinet and find old bottle of hair dye, decide to dye hair on a whim.

9:26PM:  Marvel at how efficient I am being as I start to dye hair.   Will paint toes while dye sets on hair and in less than 30 minutes I will emerge a fresher version of myself.

9:29PM: Hear a sickening crack as I squeeze bottle of hair dye on the remaining 2/3rds of my hair.  The bottle shatters into a million pieces while reddish brown hair dye splatters all over bathroom.   Frantically started cleaning the dye off the walls, cabinets, tile, mirror, and the ceiling.  

 10:29PM: No such luck, cabinets and walls are stained with what looks like dried blood.  It is taking forever to wipe everything down.

10:35 PM:  Mr. Man strolls into bathroom to find his wife wearing a bathrobe with what appears to be a large bloodstain on the chest and dried blood all over the walls.   Spend next five minutes convincing Mr. Man I have not been stabbed or shot. 

10:40 PM:  Realize hair dye has been on 1/3 of my head for one hour longer than intended... scream... and start rinsing hair dye out.   Watch in horror as gobs of hair fall off my head and go down drain.

10:50 PM: Emerge from bathroom with bald patch, color blocked hair, and zero dignity left.  Crack open pint of Ben and Jerry's.  Buy several new hats on internet, vow to never dye hair again on my own and put "repaint bathroom" on weekend to do list. 

11:15 PM: Start to reminisce about other beauty mishaps and laugh hysterically as I remember the time I waxed off one eyebrow just before starting my first job out of college and having to draw on a brow every morning.  Then one day during a meeting I accidentally wiped off my brow and went around half a day with only one eyebrow.  I didn't notice it until I got in the car to drive home.  Surely, I'm not the only one who has had a beauty mishap? Tell me yours! 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

In the midst of the storm

Something is wrong with Mr. Boy and we don't have any solid answers yet. What we do know is that it is something in the Auto Immune Family and that he has arthritis.  Whatever it is, it is taking my active 10 year old and turning him into an old man.   We are spending lots of time with various doctors and specialists and no one has a solid answer, everything is murky.    
Every doctor reminds me that these type of illness take a year or more to diagnose and that patience is key. I don't want to have patience, I really want answers.  In the meantime I'm trying really hard to keep things normal for everyone. In the middle of all this, I have found a deep gratitude, because no matter what, we are incredibly lucky.  As I sit in the waiting rooms in the hospitals and doctor's offices, I am very aware that we are surrounded by people who are a lot sicker than we are.  We can handle this and we can learn to manage, I am confident of this.  Plus,  there are good things all around me, like when I looked up one evening to see the hillsides bathed in the golden light of dusk. It's my favorite time of day. 
Usually dinner is in the works and there is a basketball game going on.    
There are other good things.  It turns out that the jacuzzi is the best thing for his aching joints.
I was reminded that five years ago, Mr. Man said that he would never ever own a home with a pool.  It would be over his dead body.  Currently, he is alive and well, and we have a pool in our own backyard.   
Which makes me believe that nothing is absolute and that gives me hope.