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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot

It's getting towards the end of July and the reason I know this is because the TV and stores are now bombarding us with back-to-school shopping ads. Oh and I was in Costco the other day feeling pressured to buy a thick, furry rain coat for my child because if I don't get it now they will no longer carry them when I actually need it - in about 6 more months. (I didn't buy one.) I know when I go there in a few more weeks (in Aug) I'll be able to pick out my child's Halloween costume if I so desire and a week or so after that I'll be able to buy my fake Christmas tree with all the trimmings. 

Can we just be done with speeding through life already?  

I know I'm fighting a loosing battle because that will never change, as annoying as it is. But for now while I am a stay-at-home-mom creating a little, tiny bubble around my little, tiny family we can ignore all of the pressures of society - as much as possible anyway. As my kids grow older and we are out in the world more (like kindergarten), I am really noticing this push to do everything, be involved with everything and learn everything as young as possible so you have several years to hone your talent before you start making your parents millions of dollars. OK, slight exaggeration, or is it?  All you have to do is take one class with your child to witness first hand the parents who are trying to get their child on track to excel in that particular thing whether the child wants to or not. 

As a kid I had a good friend who literally did everything. She had no down time whatsoever because her time was filled with several commitments a week and she was never, ever available to do the typical childhood things on the weekends due to these commitments even though she desperately wanted to be a regular kid. She couldn't go to sleepovers because her weekends started very early in the morning with various practices, competitions and recitals and for this same reason she couldn't go to birthday parties in general, or any playdates for that matter. However, when I was a kid we didn't call them "playdates."  We just called it "playing outside with the neighborhood kids." 

Now that I'm a mom I'm very careful not to schedule too many things at once, even fun things they want to do like dance classes and swimming lessons. First of all it's expensive. But when you have more than one child doing more than one class a week you can see how your days and weeks get away from you and they no longer belong to you - they belong to the schedule. 

It's important to know your child's personality type to see if this is a good thing or a bad thing - for them. Notice I didn't say to pay attention to your own personality type. Many times we are very different from our children even though we may not want to admit it or "deal with it." Just because a parent likes to be super busy and on the go with several things scheduled at all times, this doesn't mean our child thrives in this situation and vice versa. Just notice your child's daily/weekly tantrum level to see if this is the case. (Even older kids have tantrums in their own ways.) Most tantrums are thrown by children who are overwhelmed, over tired, over scheduled and over stimulated with no room for transition time between activities. If you find yourself running from activity to activity, eating restaurant meals in the car or on-the-go, your kids are doing homework in the car or prepping for the next class and your only "down time" is the drive to the next function (whew that makes me tired just typing it), you are very likely over doing it and setting yourselves up for failure. Kids need down time to discover who they are are, what they like and what they are capable of doing on their own. 

When I was a kid 30+ years ago, our summer days looked a lot like this:

  • Wake up lazy
  • Have breakfast
  • Pack a picnic lunch (my mom put in a lot of time packing awesome, healthy summer picnic lunches)
  • Head to the beach or the park until dusk
  • Get an ice cream at Thrifty's (back then it was only 25 cents a scoop)
  • Fall asleep the second our heads hit the pillow
  • Repeat the next day

That was basically it. 

If we went to the beach we'd take boogie boards and sand toys, beach chairs and an umbrella.  If we went to the park we took bikes or roller skates/skate boards, and maybe a board game or a deck of cards. We never, ever bought food at a snack shack because my mom had that covered. She even made extra sandwiches to last us throughout the several hour beach day. That didn't keep us from asking for snack shack food of course, but we never spent money we didn't have. 

The only time we'd ever get anything at a beach snack shack was when my grandparents lived walking distance from the pier down in San Clemente. To this day San Clemente is my very favorite beach of all time - even after living on Kauai. I have so many great memories of San Cle. When I was a kid the snack shack down at the pier had the best cheese burgers around. Kind of like In-N-Out Burger if you are familiar with them and their fries were great too. So this was the only time we splurged at a beach snack shack. 

How can you do nothing when there are chores to do?

As a mom, my goal is to fine tune my house keeping so that I'm not bogged down the entire weekend with piles and piles of laundry and dishes. The following has been a good system for me so far, but stick with me til the end because it might sound crazy at first if you have been accustomed to the weekend filled with hours of laundry:

Every morning I put in 1 load of laundry. We have a laundry sorter in the garage next to our washer and dryer so I gather up the clothes in everyone's rooms each day to take them out to the main sorter. At this point it's usually just a few items since I'm doing this every day. When that 1 load is finished washing I put it in the dryer or I hang it on the line (depending on the time of year) and this is the biggie: I do not start another load of wash. However, I do make a mental note of which load I'll be doing the next day. When that load is done drying I take it in and fold it right away and then I put everything away. Because I have only 1 load to do this takes very little time and effort and I'm almost 100% successful at it each day because it's one complete load of laundry from start to finish.

I do the same thing for the dishes however, it varies slightly. We usually run the load of dishes throughout the night. If time permits my husband empties the dishwasher in the morning before work and I fill it throughout the day. I cook at home and make homemade meals for dinner each night so we always have a ton of pots and pans to wash. In a perfect world, the drying rack gets put away as well as all pots and pans that are drying on the stove. This doesn't always happen, ok it rarely happens, but that is the goal if I want a clean kitchen. 

A preschool teacher we had made this great suggestion that I have found to be useful: wipe down all bathroom counters each day with a paper towel and spray cleaner, very quickly swish out and wipe down the toilets with cleaner (everyday!) and get rid of all bathroom clutter (ie; hang towels, put things back where they belong, etc.) Depending on how many bathrooms you have, you could get this daily task down to about 15/20 minutes or less a day. Because you are wiping everything down everyday it doesn't get the chance to gather any gross bathroom funky build up that takes a lot longer to scrub. 

If you are super organized (I'm not) you could accomplish this with your kitchen/stove top and counters every day too. My kitchen has become a catch all because we don't have a proper office so this is harder for us - but we're working on it.

These are just a few tips I try to do daily to minimize and eventually eliminate the long weekend cleaning days. 

If you only do one of these things every day I suggest doing the laundry thing. 

It makes a huge difference!  Especially when you have multiple people living in your house. Resist the urge to do more than one load a day if possible (I know it's hard because that is not how we are trained to do things) because when you do many loads at once, chances are you will not be able to successfully wash, dry, fold and put away multiple loads of laundry - and seeing it to the very end (clothes in closets and drawers!) is really the daily goal. When I get backed up from life getting in the way it only takes about a week to get back on track where the majority of our laundry is clean and in drawers or hung up. There are even some days were I'm actually looking for something to wash for that days load if you can believe that. That is when we do bigger things like sheets and stuff. 

I remember seeing an episode of Oprah were she said she has fresh, clean (and ironed!) sheets on her bed daily!  I don't know about you but I was kind of shocked when I heard this as were most audience members because they panned out across the audience to wide eyes and all mouths agape. She even looked kind of surprised (and sheepish) at the audience's reaction to see that most people do not change their sheets daily, let alone iron them. Someone in the audience made a reference to her having housekeeping help and even she agreed and said, yes, that makes a big difference. That must be so nice to have someone cleaning your house regularly!  

Ahhhhh....just give me a second to dream.... 

Imagine the free time you'd have?!  

Well, do my laundry trick and I promise if you keep it up all week and stick to the 1 load a day rule until you get a firm handle on it you'll feel a bit of freedom from the piles and piles of weekend laundry. This of course only really works if you don't have to go to the laundry mat, or share a common laundry room in a complex of some sort. Been there done that and I feel for you in that situation with a family, I really do. 

As far as not doing much during the summer because I kind of digressed a bit there, if you can get a handle on the household chores you have more free time to do not a whole heck of a lot. I don't mean spend the day watching TV, playing on the computer or playing any type of electronic device for hours on end. I mean spending time outdoors doing basically nothing. When I say "nothing" I mean where your child's day is not scheduled out for them with a class or anything structured and they get to make their own fun using their own brain, their own creativity with maybe a few things provided like a bike at the park or a ball, sand toys at the beach or something like that. But no cheating with electronics!! Hopefully you get exactly what I'm getting at here.

Here is a list of what nothing looks like for us:

  • Going to the park, setting out a blanket, taking a lunch and just letting the kids play and explore. 
  • Going for a nature walk in the neighborhood and discover the world around you.
  • Taking a lazy stroll or slow bike ride/scooter ride through the park, beach trail or neighborhood.
  • Lie on the grass and look at shapes in the clouds.
  • Go to the library and discover something new, attend a FREE toddler/preschooler story time or get involved in a reading club.
  • Turn on the sprinklers in the back yard, fill up the water table, play in the sandbox and have a picnic outside.
  • Garden, dig in the dirt, plant something.
  • Look into FREE things through your local parks and rec like public wadding pools for little ones and concerts in the park in the evenings and different events for Holidays like the 4th of July or Easter Egg Hunts, etc.
  • Have a backyard family camp out.
  • Have a night time family movie party (the kids pick the movie) and get a pizza or make something fun to eat and put out a blanket and let the kids eat in the living room picnic style while watching the movie. This will be a huge, fun treat if your kids never get to eat in front of the TV. (That is a good thing btw!)
  • Reading!
  • Painting with watercolors
  • Arts and crafts
  • Exploring the wild outdoors
  • Most importantly - slow down.

Have fun discovering what your family likes to do that is not a structured, scheduled, indoor event. Those have their time and place in our lives too but they should be the exception, not the daily agenda. We have a rule in our house now with extracurricular classes scheduled through parks & rec (especially since we have baby #3 on the way): Each child gets to take one class at a time and we take a break in between sessions. The classes we usually take are once a week for about an hour and at this age we have been able to combo some classes like tumbling or take them the same time at the same location but different teachers like swimming lessons, or back-to-back on the same day with the same teachers like soccer. (I had a very strict rule that there was to be no electronic devices used during the soccer class while the other sibling had class. Their options were to actually watch their sibling play and encourage them while doing so, or find their own fun running around looking for bugs and leaves and chasing birds at the park. Sometimes we took supplies to color or draw. It was never an issue. Mom stuck to the no electronic device rule too because as you know, you teach by example as opposed to just using words without backing them up with an example.)  

This summer is a bit different since our daughter is taking a kids Science and Nature Summer Camp at the Nature Center and these summer camps run for a week at a time from 9-noon. So far we've taken two different ones and have one more week on the schedule. So for now she is the only one who is taking a scheduled class because the ones for preschoolers filled up too quickly and we didn't book them in time. We've learned our lesson for next year! However, my little guy is doing plenty of fun things because we have a pass to our local water park and usually go several times a week for a few hours or so.

If you need any more ideas of things to do in the summer I wrote a Summer Bucket List a few years ago. Some stuff no longer exists like the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, but you can fill in your own activity in that one. 

Here are some lazy family pics of us doing "nothing." 

Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Learning to surf from daddy at Doheny Beach, California
Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Exploring the stream at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach, California
Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Exploring the trails at the El Dorado Nature Center in Long Beach, California 
Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Splashing in the wadding pool at a local park.
Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Making up their own games with their own rules.
Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Taking a scooter & bike riding detour to throw sticks and leaves in the stream at a local park.
Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Exploring a local water fountain after having lunch out.
Dog Days Of Summer - The Art of Doing Not a Whole Heck of a Lot
Mom's Night Out! Mama's perfect version of doing nothing!  (This one is a solo act btw!!) 

MyTalesFromTheCrib - Coco Cana
My favorite beach of all time: San Clemente, California

Monday, July 14, 2014

Getting Back To The Roots Of Our Life

There is something about adding a family member that is making me want to totally downsize our life. Since I haven't mentioned it on here yet, we are having another baby! We will now be my favorite show from the 90's, Party Of Five.  We're not finding out the sex of the baby (just like we did for baby #2) and we're due sometime around the beginning of December. I already feel like this baby was brought into our lives to change my outlook and focus as a parent.

Our family is in a huge transition right now. It's stressful and overwhelming yet feels like it's exactly how it should be and it's not to be rushed. But it seems that slowing down is not what we are allowed to do anymore. My husband is in Europe right now for business and he texted me today (bedtime on Sunday our time, Monday morning for him) and said that something about being in (Western) Europe makes him feel like we are doing it all wrong. Not our family per say, but the US as a whole. I couldn't agree more. We are failing ourselves big time and we are getting so far away from what we really need as a society it's not even funny. Just what we are doing to our food alone is making me feel like I'm going insane most of the time. Many European countries have banned GMO foods yet we are pumping them out faster than the 1940's could get doctors to endorse cigarettes for magazine ads!

I have been feeling for a few years now that I need to do something totally drastic in order to preserve the innocence of my family and protect them from the negative energy our society is producing at a rapid pace. This feeling inspired me to get rid of my Facebook account*. I wrote about that here. And it's really making me feel like I'm a black sheep when it comes to other people, particularly other moms. I really felt it this past year with my daughter being in kindergarten. We go to a public school but it's ranked very high and has won all sorts of distinguished honors for a California public school. Originally, when we were looking for a house this was our biggest draw - a great school district. Well, we are in one of the top in the state, where all of the elementary schools including the middle school in our district are California Distinguished schools, and the high school ranks right up there as a top performing school as well. What I learned very quickly what this actually meant (for our school and Principal anyway), is that the Principal's main focus is going to be keeping scores up at all cost. This is not necessarily a good thing because the amount of stress it puts on the staff, the teachers, the students and the families is horrible. However, it seemed at times I was the only parent who was frustrated by this. More for another post for another time because I can already feel my blood pressure rising and it's not good for the baby. In short, we were very unhappy with our first (official) year of school - and we were only half day as a kindergartner. I saw my very bright, creative, imaginative, adventurous child become a test taking, homework doing zombie by about the second/third month of school. Her entire year was centered around doing over an hour of homework each night of the week and taking multiple tests on multiple subjects every week. I might need to remind you that she was only 5, and not 15 getting ready to apply to college. Thanks to good 'ol Common Core Standards.

When I was in kindergarten we took naps, played with play-dough everyday, played with a million wooden blocks, played dress up and kitchen and lots of other make-believe games and basically were encouraged to not eat the paste. I know 2 year olds who are in all day "preschool" programs who would look at my kindergarten experience as a 5 year old and roll their eyes and call it baby-ish. Back in my day my own child might as well have been a third or fourth grader with what she was expected to do at 5.  Is this really progress though?  Is this the magic solution for our schools?  And my child is bright. I'm not just saying that because she is my child. A retired elementary school teacher we know refers to her as gifted and even her own teacher told us how smart she is. I can only imagine how stressed out I'd feel if my child was one of the many kids who were falling behind in her class. So many of those kids were just slipping through the cracks and if the parents don't step up and practically dedicate their entire lives to their child's education they are going to keep slipping because the teachers are too overworked with trying to keep up with Common Core to get every kid caught up.  Besides the fact there isn't any money for classroom aids so they are totally reliant on volunteer parents. The teachers are just doing what they can to cast a wide enough net to get as many kids as they can but the ones who are slipping are slipping at a rapid pace because there just isn't the time there once was to get them caught up during class time. How can parents who both work full time jobs keep up?  I'm very fortunate to be a stay-at-home mom but even with that flexibility I felt completely overwhelmed to get everything done. How is this progress?

Throughout the year I saw my child's bright light start to diminish in ways I could see becoming a permanent thing if exposed long enough and this was absolutely not OK with me. It brings me to tears just thinking about it. Our relationship took a drastic change for the worse and I found that I was no longer able to be the happy, positive mom who encouraged her to frolic in nature looking for cool bugs, paint with water colors for hours on end or explore a tiny imaginative world of make believe with her Calico Critters and Lego's. Something a 5 year old should still be doing on a regular basis. We simply didn't have enough hours in our day. She didn't hardly have any play time because it was all taken up by school work and as a 5 year old, this should not be the norm. And we were only going to school from 10:10-2:30!  In first grade she is supposed to go from 8:30-3:30. Or is it 3:00?  I don't remember. I've blocked it out since we're smack dab in the middle of summer vacation.

My mission this summer was to find my child again. To find myself again. To make my husband want to be around me again. To reclaim the happy-go-lucky pure blissful happiness my toddler felt before the stress of school plagued our family. He didn't understand why he was having more and more tantrums, but I do. I felt the same way but wasn't as free to display my emotions as he was. My mission was to repair the very damaged relationship my daughter and I developed during the school year where I became a prison warden who was a slave to the clock and the day of the week and the box I needed to fill in on the homework log. Before I became a lunch making, paper filing, homework forcing, flashcard flinging, classroom volunteering, PTA fundraising, room mom maniac who was constantly exhausted and always running late yelling like a drill Sargent to get out the door regardless of how early I woke up or how much prep I did the night before.

I don't like that mom very much. She was a tired, frazzled, constantly screaming, miserable person to be around and frankly, my kids hated her. I hated her whenever I saw her in the mirror. I think of her now and want to tell her to chill the fuck out - but I couldn't back then. Our life as we knew it wouldn't allow for it. It was an unhappy, dark time in our lives and this was only one school year. Supposedly the easiest one yet!

The only thing that kept running through my mind on a constant basis was, "somethings gotta change. We can't live like this."

Then we got pregnant with Baby Pickle. (That is the nickname our kids have given the baby.)  BP is already this beaming light shining brightly into our lives exposing the dust bunnies and the clutter and forcing us to rethink, reexamine and regroup all the while bringing in more love and happiness.

It's a bit easier to refocus on the positive since it's summertime and as you know, the living is easy. But we really are trying to get back to what matters to us. We're sleeping in, not planning much for our days, keeping less of a schedule and my daughter is taking a science and nature camp at the nature center, something she is passionate about. We are spending many of our days at the local water park (we have season passes so that makes it easier), or the little wadding pool at the park by my parents house. We are also trying to have picnics in the park as much as possible and eat a lot of meals outside when we are home. This does make it a bit tough considering our neighbors are outside chain smokers and their patio is literally about 10 feet from our kitchen, but again, I can't really go into it because the baby doesn't appreciate the rise in blood pressure. So there are times where we'll just get everything settled and we'll start eating and we smell their smoke sending us back inside. But whenever we can, we eat outside. But boy living next to constant day and night chain smokers really makes me hate smokers. I try to be the type of person who doesn't hate anybody. I'm usually very supportive of people's life choices but I can honestly say that I think smoking is one of the most vile habits on the planet. If I met you and you are a smoker I wouldn't necessarily hate you as a person, but I would absolutely hate the habit you have since it doesn't just affect you and that would probably keep me from wanting to be around you if you smoked in front of me and/or my kids. If your habits only affected you it wouldn't bug me because those are your personal choices. However, once I have to start rearranging my life around your need for nicotine, that is when my blood starts to boil and my hackles go up. I just can't handle it.

Wow, I didn't realize I had so much pent up hostility raging through my veins right now. I guess it's good that I'm writing this post then. It's been a while since I've posted anything. The stress cloud we've been living in has kept me from doing a lot of things I once enjoyed, like writing. While I'm at it, can we talk about the paper waste that is going on in schools? Holy cow! Can we eliminate some of that please?! Trees are dying over here people. I don't need a reminder flier sent home about the reminder flier that was sent yesterday about yet another fundraiser the school is having. We all have an electronic device stapled to our eyeballs 24/7, please use that instead of so much paper! But there are many positives right now too. We're having a baby! We found a super awesome midwife and a great doula and are prepping for another home/water birth like we had for baby #2. It was such a positive, life changing experience I couldn't imagine bringing this baby into the world any other way.

Like I said, our life is in a huge transition right now and major changes are underfoot. I'm inspired by living simply and embracing what drives us to be happy and living our passions. Right now we don't have all of the answers and some things will totally be out of our control, but we're open to changes as well as insisting on changes, so it will be an interesting year to say the least.

You can read about my beautiful water birth with baby #2 here and here.

*BTW, this August will be a year since I deleted my Facebook account and it was a great decision. No regrets and no looking back.

It feels good to get back on the horse.  Enjoy your summer and don't forget to slow down! If you need a few ideas here is my Summer Bucket List from a few years ago to inspire you.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Death By Chevron Print Overkill - Chevron Print, Chevron Print Go Away! And Don't Come Back For Two Decades!

Ladies, we need to chat.

Ummm...Chevron Print.

Thanks to Pinterest, DIY blogs, Pinterest, and all things cute and crafty (Pinterest), we have a bit of an overkill going on over here regarding the trend du jour, Chevron Print.

Yes, I admit. I have seen a few chevron-y things that are kinda cute. But it's gone too, too, too, oh-so-far, far. I've seen entire walls of rooms c-o-v-e-r-e-d in Chevron print complete with matching bedding and DIY curtains and accent pilows. (And no I'm not linking to it because you'll pin it to your "All Things Chevron" Pinterest board!)

Ladies and Gays, hear me out - it's venturing into this sort of obsessive/compulsive, life of it's own, pre-teen-puppy-love-OneDirection-JustinBieber-OMG!-JenniferLawrence-just-cut-off-all-of-her-hair-Beyonce's-secret-album-drop-is-that-a-Jennifer-Aniston-baby-bump-ten-year-reunion-rumor-Black-Friday-Deals-starting-in-the-summertime-and-lasting-all-month-gotta-have-it-gotta-have-it-gotta-have-more-stuff-more-stuff-more-and-more-and-more-more-stuff-can't-function-until-my-life-is-totally-utterly-completely-plastered-in-some-crappy-Charlie-Brown-T-shirt-zig-zag-print-from-the-70's (minus the drab colors of course.)

Not that I really have any issue with it, of course.

A Crafty DIY: "I'm Over You Chevron Print/You Can Go Now" Picture.

Let's move on people. There's nothing to see here.  

BTW: if you make a youtube video of yourself reading the above rant in one breath I will make you a chevron print decorated sugar cookie that will be totally Pinterest worthy. 

Coco Cana - I have a confession: I hate chevron print because it's really ugly. I didn't want to tell you because you pinned 287 things covered in chevron. Still friends?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Holiday Hilarity

I have been having a little too much fun creating those funny, terribly sarcastic someecards. It's kind of right up my alley right now because each picture is like a perfect little writing prompt. Great for when I have writers block and need a lil fix o' funny. I have a lot of them so I have decided to start blogging them into categories just for fun. Here is my Fall/Winter Holiday edition. 
If sarcasm is your jam then check out my other someecards on my Pinterest board called: My Funny One Liners

Here is some Holiday Hilarity for you: - I hope you like the gift I got for you that's kind of like a gift for me too. I'll let you open it though. - So I told the saleswoman, - Christmas when you're married: Here honey, you can open the gift I got for the both of us. - Is it ironic that I'm a white girl wearing yoga pants drinking a Pumpkin Spice Latte talking about how happy I am that it's finally cooling off enough to feel like Fall? - Lemme get this straight: I need to shop for gifts, wrap & hide them, cook fabulous holiday meals & cookies from scratch, entertain our families, create & blog the nighttime shenanigans for an elf - anything else? - PumpkinSpiceLatte Math: One - Mom & Dad, I'm a child. I don't need an iPad, iPhone, every single toy, new video games and 24/7 TV. What I really need is to learn how to read, write and interact w/ humans. - I don't always drink eggnog... but when I do it's more like rum with a dusting of cinnamon. - Just a friendly reminder that the venti, 2% milk w/ whipped cream Pumpkin Spice Latte you're drinking right now has 470 calories. Happy Holidays! - I decided to try all of my grandmother's homemade Thanksgiving dinner recipes and do everything from scratch and then I decided to make reservations - I don't always eat broccoli salad... but when I do I eat an entire days worth of calories in one sitting. - Most Popular Fall Pin on Pinterest: Create a cute, unique, DIY jack-o-lantern along with a recipe to turn the leftovers into a Pumpkin Spice Latte! - I'm sorry your mom convinced you the whole family is allergic to - I was on Pinterest getting excited about Fall, wearing sweaters & scarves, all of the different seasonal colors til I remembered I live in Southern California - I won't see any of it! #westcoastprobs - OK kids, let's go over this one more time. Mommy wantsSnickers, Reese'sPeanut ButterCups & M&M's. Any questions?

Hope you got a laugh! I'm not going to say "sharing is caring" because that's lame. But you know what to do.

Happy Holidays!

Coco Cana

To read more of these wacky cards click here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Enjoying Fall Through the Eyes of My Child

We don't get much of a Fall here in Southern California like most places as far as the crisp snow-like autumn air and all of the fiery colors go but there are still many natural things to enjoy. I love experiencing life through the eyes of my children. When we slow down long enough and take in the sites that mother nature is so willingly offering us we can experience a different world that is often times right under our nose. 

My little guy and I were off on a chilly adventure just the two of us to find "tiny things." Well, chilly for us anyway. We did have our long sleeves and fuzzy boots on even though he was wearing shorts and was walking around barefoot most of the time. We scrunched down to explore the Earth, to discover new bugs and we searched for itty bitty flowers and baby pinecones hiding in the grass under the fallen leaves. Since it's the unwritten Toddler Law that a child cannot, under any circumstances, leave the park without finding a really cool stick, we found a really cool stick and made our own tree with different leaves that were scattered about. 

It's fun when you present an idea to a child - "let's go to the park and explore some Fall" and then you turn over the reins to them and let them call the shots on how to go about it. It's never what you were originally planning to do...

"Let's find really super tiny fings, Mama!" Said with big, excited eyes. 

 ...and it's always so much better. 

Keep in mind that this is the itty bitty palm of a 3 year old, so this is a very small flower and a brand new sliver of baby grass. 

Crawling around on the grass near the base of a huge tree we discovered this beautiful little seedling thing. Smooth and perfect as only Mother Nature can make and yet funny and silly with "twisty hair sticking all out." A perfect thing to huck through the air we discovered. 

Having fun throwing a pile of leaves in the air. If only you could hear the squeals of laughter that went along with this photo. 

The clouds growing dark and coming in quickly told us it was time to go home, curl up with a warm blanket and sip some hot coco. 

Until our next adventure!

Happy Fall!


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Top 10 Things Never to Tell a Pregnant Women During the Holidays (or anytime!)

Pic credit: Barginlifestyle dot com

It's the holidays and you're out and about feeling merry and bright with your most precious gift - your baby belly - when sure enough someone makes a Grinchlike comment that dims your holiday glow. In the spirit of giving, share this list, and help make the world a better place!

1. “You're looking quite jolly in that red dress.”

2. “Are you hiding an elf under there?”

3. “Are you sure you aren't having twins? (This really has nothing to do with the holidays.)

4. You: “Hey Babe, does this white maternity snow jacket make me look too fat?”

Hubby: “No, it's cute. You look just like a snowman.”

5. “Too bad you can't have any wine right now. We're drinking the bottle we just brought back
from that little winery villa we stayed at in Tuscany." (Holiday or not, this is So-Not-Cool!)

6. “You know you can't eat that raw cookie dough, right?"

7. “How cute, when you laugh your belly shakes like a bowl full of jelly.”

8. “Are you sure you want to eat a third piece of pumpkin pie after you raided the refrigerator at midnight and finished off the rest of the turkey and mashed potatoes? You've been complaining a lot about heart burn, insomnia, swollen ankles, gas and constipation. You can't blame everything on the baby.”

9. “It looks like the bird has been stuffed already.”

10. Your Husband: “Honey, I just got the menu for my holiday work party. They are serving candy cane martinis and cranberry sangria, all you can eat sushi, and sashimi, goose liver pate, oysters on the half shell, deli meat tray with brie, camembert, goat cheese and port cheese, authentic Caesar salad, swordfish or Thresher Shark with veggies covered in hollandaise sauce, and a dessert tray with spiced rum cake, dark chocolate mud pie with espresso ice cream, custard tarts, Grand Marnier and Bailey's filled chocolates, homemade eggnog, hot buttered rum, and Irish cream or Kahlua coffee.”

You: "Looks I'll be making scrambled eggs for dinner again.

Did an interaction with a stranger (or loved one who should know better) leave you feeling Scrooge'd this holiday season? Tell us your awkward pregnancy comments below, and let us revel!

*This was originally posted on December 23, 2011 for mom365. Click here to read more of my Top Ten Lists on Mom365.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gorgeous Fall Sunset!

My kids and I were enjoying the beautiful So Cal sunset tonight! I love this time of year. The sunsets are amazing!

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib

My kids were playing in the living room and my daughter said, "look at the sky mom!  It looks like pink and purple marshmallows!"  By the time we grabbed the camera and ran out front it had already started turning dark red, orange and gold. Awesome!

Coco Cana

Give Back: Family Christmas Project: Holiday Mail For Heroes

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013
This weekend my family and I took some time to make out some Christmas cards. The kids colored and painted them with watercolors and added colorful Christmas stickers (and my lil guy insisted on putting some of his Disney Planes stickers too), we wrote long, hand written messages and included a beautiful quote about bravery and courage. This isn't too far from the norm during this time time of year when our Christmas cards get written, only this time we weren't including little tidbits about the kids and how we spent our year and there wasn't a family photo of us at Disneyland or riding our longboard at the beach. Actually, we don't even know the people we are sending them to. We were writing letters to active duty service women and men serving in the US Military during Christmastime for the Red Cross Holiday Mail For Heroes project.

We've had many military men in our family from our grandfathers on both sides of my husband's and my family who fought in WWII to uncles and my father-in-law who fought and served during the Vietnam War and cousins and my brother who served in various branches of the military protecting this great country of ours. In the late 90's my brother was in the Military Police - K9 division and he and his trusty bomb sniffing dog, Tanja would work alongside secret service helping to protect then President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton (then First Lady) and then Vice President Al Gore who were speaking or visiting in a particular area. 

We consider ourselves to be a pretty red, white and blue loving, patriotic family and love the beautiful USA so writing Christmas cards to women and men serving our country and helping to protect our freedom was a perfect thing to do as a family, especially since they are away from their families, friends and loved ones at Christmas. I found some silly cards from Trader Joe's I bought last year in one of the Christmas boxes we had gotten down to decorate our tree. (We were really on top of it this year and decorated everything the weekend of Thanksgiving!) I had 6 cards left so I decided to write out 6 in order to get them mailed off today so it will make the Dec. 6th deadline. 

My husband and I figured it would be fun to get a silly card and a picture the kids made for them. I found a beautiful quote by Alexander Hamilton on bravery and wanted to include that as well. I considered typing everything up and pasting it into the card since I do not have the best handwriting, but I wrote them by hand instead. I think it will mean more that way. My husband actually has very beautiful handwriting so I will get him to write some out next year. This time he was helping me by entertaining the kids with hanging Christmas lights and decorations around the house. Our goal is to double our card load next year. I'll be sure to stock up on cards during the after Christmas sales and will get an earlier start. 

You still have time to send out your own cards. They need them in their P.O. Box by Dec 6th. So if you send it today it will probably get there. It only takes one card to make a difference and brighten someone's day!  Here are some specific guidelines from the Red Cross website that they would like you to please follow:

Card Guidelines:

Every card received will be screened for hazardous materials and then reviewed by Red Cross volunteers working around the country.
Please observe the following guidelines to ensure a quick reviewing process:

  • Ensure that all cards are signed.
  • Use generic salutations such as “Dear Service Member.” Cards addressed to specific individuals can not be delivered through this program.
  • Only cards are being accepted. Do not send or include letters.
  • Do not include email or home addresses on the cards: the program is not meant to foster pen pal relationships.
  • Do not include inserts of any kind, including photos: these items will be removed during the reviewing process.
  • Please refrain from choosing cards with glitter or using loose glitter as it can aggravate health issues of ill and injured warriors.
  • If you are mailing a large quantity of cards, please bundle them and place them in large mailing envelopes or flat rate postal shipping boxes. Each card does not need its own envelope, as envelopes will be removed from all cards before distribution.

All holiday greetings should be addressed and sent to:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

The deadline for having cards to the P.O. Box is December 6th.
Holiday cards received after this date cannot be guaranteed delivery.

 These are the cards we made for them this year. 

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013
This one is my favorite. 

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013
This is what we wrote on all of our cards this year. 

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013
This was the bravery quote we chose this year.

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013
The cards get removed from the envelopes so I stuffed each envelope with 2 cards and didn't decorate them with stickers, etc. like we would usually do. Next year when we send more I'll just put them all into one puffy mailer without any envelopes to make it more efficient. 

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013
This is the masterpiece colored by my lil guy who is 3 years old. And of course the Disney Planes movie stickers he wanted to add. 

Property of Coco Cana & My Tales From The Crib - 2013
This was one of the watercolor masterpieces my 5 1/2 year old made. She is really into black cats right now. I think it's a hold-over from Halloween. I normally give her free reign with her artwork, but for the sake of this being a cheery Christmas card I was "strongly encouraging her" to add a little color to lighten the mood!  haha!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you!  May you have fun spreading some love, joy and Happy Holiday wishes to people around the world who could use a little extra love.  We are all so fortunate and have so much and it doesn't take much to give to others. Sometimes (like these cards) all it costs is a little of your time. I hope this inspires you to Give Back this year. Please let us know what you did as a family in our comments section!

Here are some more ideas to inspire you! 

Peace, Love & Light