New Years Eve – Family Style

I remember all those New Years Eve nights when I got dressed up in sequins… hair did… makeup did… and looking all fabulous for a night of nonstop dancing and celebrating. *sigh* Ok. I might still have another couple of those years left in me. BUT – I do have to admit that as my kids get a little older, I will definitely want to share in this holiday with them as well. They are still young and midnight is beyond their bedtime… but in due time, they will get the exception to stay up and party it up with me – family style.

In the meantime, I’m finding some wonderful ideas floating around on Pinterest, so I’m compiling a list here:

** New Year’s Evening countdown. I am obsessed with what this momma did for her kids. SOOO fun. In fact, put an adult twist on the activities inside the balloons and this could be something my friends and I could enjoy now. hehe. Many of her individual ideas are already great on their own, but to stack them all into a countdown throughout the night?? Genius! There’s also another similar and cute concept for this using countdown bags.

UPDATE: Elena over at Craftibilities posted her most recent NYE celebration countdown with some new ideas, including a fun photobooth!

** New Year’s Resolution Statements. Free Printable from 30 Handmade Days. I love this idea and its a great keepsake for the kids to look back on as they get older.

** Year in Review. Free Printable from Dating Divas – including one with blank year. Originally an idea for couples, but this is super cute for older kids and another great keepsake. This can totally turn into a wonderful lifetime scrapbook.  There are other similar concepts for this to check out… free printable versions of Time Capsule Questions and Celebrating the Year.

**Kid-Friendly Bubbly. Bubbly Jell-o Parfait Recipe from Spoonful. These just totally look festive and yummy at the same time!

** New Year’s Eve Hat Making. These are adorable. And if I ever do a kiddie NYE party – we are totally doing a photobooth with a fun backdrop like that!

** NYE Playdate Party. Why not let your kids invite a couple friends over to join in on the festivities? Could totally do the countdown activities as a group. Then you can also have some other fellow adults to celebrate as well. A win-win fun situation. Here are some ideas for some kid’s NYE party food. Don’t forget to do a balloon drop! Yes!!!! And a New Year’s Eve Ball Drop too! Yes!!!!

** NYE Movie Night. This can include doing it pajama style and with some fun refreshments.  My little ones are watching Rudolph’s Shiny New Year since they are really young. Since its still so close to the Xmas holiday – you can still get away with watching a movie from this list of Holiday Movies for Kids.

For my local San Diegans… Here’s a list of family-friendly NYE events around town for celebrating. It includes the Pajama Jam that I had posted about not too long ago. I soooo want to do that next year!

Whatever you decide to do to celebrate, I hope you enjoy yourself! Happy soon-to-be 2014!

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Our Mega Cousin Reunion

I love planning in general already…. so of course I welcome excuses to plan any type event!

There are a total of 13 cousins on my mom’s side – 10 of which were born consecutively one year after the other. So growing up, it was fun! I would say we have remained fairly close into our adult years, trying to get together when we can. I kinda nominated myself as the “Cousin Social Committee” and make sure that when someone is in town, we try to make an effort to get together. Well… when our furthest living cousin (London) was planning a trip to visit So Cal last summer, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to plan a Mega Cousin Reunion. The challenge: getting ALL 13 of us together. A photo with all of us had not been taken since 2000. Seriously. We were always missing someone! So it had been 12 years since we were ALL present and accounted for.

Anyhow… with some dates on hand and several emails and headcounts… it looked like we were going to make this happen! YIPPEE! And… even better… it landed on the weekend of our grandmother’s 82nd birthday…. so we added on inviting her as a surprise! She had NO CLUE that we were all going to be there. The photo of her with ALL the grandchildren was priceless.

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Outside of deciding on a date and getting everyone there…. I had this vision of what the logo for our event would be. When we were kids, we used to gather at my grandparent’s house every summer and in the backyard was always this old metal Radio Flyer wagon. We’d take turns pulling each other around in it. So it was the perfect iconic logo to use. I had a friend photoshop the title of the event into the logo and it looked perfect!!!!  For our shirt printing, I ended up going with UberPrints.  They were fantastic! The pricing was very reasonable, information on the website was clear, lots of different shirt/color options and the ordering process was very easy. For the backside of our shirts, one of my cousins and I came up with the brilliant idea of using the Words with Friends board and intertwining all of our names on there – including spouses. It was actually kinda fun to try and fit all the names in. Only took me 3 tries. Love how “cousins” is exactly the 7 letters needed for the letter board at the bottom. Look closely on the board and you will see two special tiles that my cousin and I hid on there in order to claim our work (ML and KT).

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I had shirts made for the little ones too.

 

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I also had a vision for doing a cupcake cake resembling the logo for the event. It turned out pretty good. However, with the heat in August, some of the frosting started to fall through the gaps later on. Boo!

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Of course… I’m all about presentation. So I combed the internet for some reasonably priced frames and then took the logo and put in each person’s name so they had their own custom version of the logo in a photo print, a frame to put our updated cousin photo in later… and tied the shirts to the back. Damn I’m good. For the Second-Gen (the little kids aka mine and some of my cousin’s kids) we got little beach buckets with all sorts of fun goodies.

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The swag table looked good!

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I thought it would be cool to do a big collage of us through the years. I mean… its been 35+ years of cousins in the making. Pulling the pictures weren’t hard because we try to get group photos at least yearly from some holiday or event. The hardest part was trying to fit them all into the poster board I bought! But it worked out! My grandma now has it framed and hung in her house.

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Here we are! My grandma with EVERYONE! All 13 of her grandchildren accounted for, plus spouses, plus 6 great-grandchildren. Whew!

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And this was the photo we’ve all been waiting for! YAY! All 13 of us! Finally!

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The second generation kiddos. My grandma is a happy great-grandma now!

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We always like some friendly competition…. so we ended the day with a little team relay. One of my cousins found some good ones for us… including this tennis ball in the panty hose one. hahaha. Funnier to watch than do!

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I wanted to close with a throwback of our Year 2000 Cousin photo. Crazy. 12 years between us all getting together! In this photo, our two youngest cousins weren’t even born yet! Sniff… this was back when there were only 11 of us. Wow.

I’m not sure when the next Mega Cousin Reunion will be, I’m hoping maybe 2014. But I’m happiest that we were able to accomplish this at a time where my grandma was able to attend, be surprised for her birthday, and enjoyed a new fun memory with all of us.

Emergency Toddler Meals

Ok… We’ve all been there. Its okay. You don’t have to be ashamed. I don’t look at you any differently!

I’m talking about those days when you are either too tired, too busy, or just plan ran out of ideas for cooking something fresh and nutritious for your child. We ALL have those days. And on those days…. you find yourself reaching for the nearest microwavable meal. And you know what? IT’S OK. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Goodness – I know in my freezer I got some Banquet TV dinners and Celeste Pizzas on hand for my “emergency adult meals”. Shoot… who doesn’t have some ramen or Cup o’ Noodles on stock either? You know… starving college meal days… translates into emergency working adult meals too. Its all good.

Anyhow… Of all the things that you could be giving your child in those moments… here’s my roundup of favorites. Enjoy!

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I’d have to say that there are a lot of pretty good Frozen Meals from the Earth’s Best line. I’m pretty impressed. I typically like to make my own mini pizzas for my son… but every once in while… a quick 3 minute meal is needed.

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I don’t feel as guilty if I get my kids the Whole Grain Chef Boyardee at least. hehe

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My kids have been eating the Graduates Pasta Pick-ups just fine. I like that there is some veggies in them as well. I haven’t tried the Organic ones yet. but I like the sound of Organic and the fact that its in a sauce is a nice transition for them to start eating some adult ravioli versions in the future.

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Trader Joe’s has a lot of great options for quick meals. The chicken drumettes are really yummy but take a little longer if you are using the oven to make them more crispy. The organic tofu veggie burgers are great! I usually just wrap them in a paper towel and zap it in the microwave for a minute. When my kids were younger, I would dice them as finger foods because its really soft. But now, I actually can slap it between some Oroweat Sandwich Thins and make a quick sandwich.

Overall, I try to do my best to feed my kids. I’m just a mom. I can’t slave away at an intricate, healthy, organic meal all the time. So I admit it. These emergency items save my ass.

A post of posts

I am fascinated with this idea and think it’s such a wonderful way for kids to get to know their parent better. Not just as a parent, but as a deep and intriguing human being. I must compile a list too!

Life As I Know It

I found a very interesting idea the other day…. A list of posts. A legacy of sorts.  Something to leave for my children to look back on some day. The things I think they should know about me. I have decided to tweak it and make it my own. As I finish each post, I will link it here and it will eventually become an interactive list of posts. I’m pretty excited about it and I hope you enjoy!

Thirty Things My Kids Should Know About Me

1. 20 Random Facts about myself
2. Describe 3 legitimate fears and how they came about
3. Describe my relationship with my spouse
4. The 10 things that make me most happy, right now
5. If I had 3 wishes…..
6. My dream job
7. Five things I am passionate about
8. Ten people who have influenced me
9. Embarrassing moments
10. Pet…

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December Festivities

As soon as December arrives, my holiday mood switch flips on! I don’t know what it is about this month… perhaps the Xmas songs that you hear everywhere you go, or just the thought of all the fun and happiness this month brings. Whatever it is, I love it. And one of my parenting goals in life is to assure that my kids grow up with that same holiday spirit.

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We’ve already been doing some December activities already, but with my daughter (and myself) now on Winter Break for 2 weeks… there is still more to enjoy! Here’s a list of things we did to enjoy this wonderful time of the year:

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** Letting the kids decorate the tree! – We opt for an artificial tree, but having the kids decorate the tree is definitely an annual tradition (that we actually do on Thanksgiving morning). Notice how the ornaments are gravitated towards little people eye level. hehe. I went back and redistributed the ornaments evenly later. 🙂

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** I already love Disneyland period… but Disneyland in December!?!?!? Everyone must do Disneyland in December at sometime in their lifetime. It is absolutely “magical” as my friend said to me this year. Highlights of Disneyland in December include a special area with holiday crafts and Santa; It’s a Small World holiday; The Christmas Parade; lighting of Cinderella’s Castle; and the amazing fireworks show that includes some “snowfall”. We usually go on a weekday in the first half of December – before schools let out for break. It wasn’t too crowded and the most we waited for the preschool-aged rides was 20 mins.

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**Seaworld’s Christmas Celebration – We’ve been pass holders at SeaWorld for the past 3 years and always try to make a quick trip in December. They have a designated area with Santa and crafts. There’s also a “snow world”.  Some of the shows are changed to Christmas themed, including Shamu’s.  Have never tried the Breakfast with Shamu & Santa, but that’s certainly something to consider.

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** Seaport Village – We caught it on a beautiful December morning this year. Wonderful reminder of why I damn love San Diego. I was bummed that I was too late to make reservations at The Harbor House for their Breakfast with Santa event. But that’s on my to-do list for next year for sure! Instead, we just wandered around the shops, rode the carousel, and soaked in essence of Seaport Village.

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** Gingerbread Man Decorating – This was a first for me, as we usually do houses (and still did a house this week too!) These kits were picked up at Costco. The kids had fun! But I think I like the houses better. I felt like there was limited decorating that you can do on a gingerbread man – plus, a lot of it was already imprinted, so you really had to cover it with icing to customize your man’s outfit.

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** Gingerbread House Decorating – I love these pre-built kits from Costco.  this particular kit even comes with a tree. It helps to add to it your own extra candies to spice up the houses. But it does come with plenty – although my 4 1/2 year old definitely seemed more concerned with taste-testing the candies. Either way, its an easy $10 to entertain the kiddies for an hour or so and get into some holiday traditions.

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** Making Xmas Cards – I got these 4-pack kits in the dollar section at Target. But simple blank paper or printables online will do as well! I just liked the kits because they were cardstock with designs on the front and came with cute envelopes. The kids definitely enjoyed this one, especially my oldest who is practicing writing her letters and getting really good with her stick people art.

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** Christmas Movie nights!!! – One of my favorite things to do! I have always (and still do) love the old skool Xmas movies. Remember those clay looking figures? They still run those movies and a lot of the modern day ones on ABC Family. Get the schedule listing here: 25 Days of Christmas.  I recorded a couple that I don’t have yet on blu ray. But I did purchase the Christmas Classics 4-pack of movies on Amazon. The kids have really enjoyed watching all the movies and learning all the traditional stories that float around this time of year. Here’s a huge list of Holiday Movies for kids.

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**Holiday Manicures – I’m already addicted to pinning nail design ideas… so of course I’m excited to try some on my daughter for the holidays! I think it will be easier once her fingernails are bigger, but for now, she enjoys it and it looks cute. So that’s what matters.

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**Checking out the local Christmas Lights! – ooooh so pretty… and ooooh so many around town! My kids LOVED this this year, moreso than in the past.  There is a compiled list of the lights around San Diego for this year.

I’m sure as the years go on, I’ll be adding to this list. Please do share some of your December activities!

Silly moments

I was out running errands with my son last week and he just kept cracking me up all morning long. Every time I turned around he doing another goofy thing to put a smile on my face.

As I scrolled through the pictures I captured of those moments, I’m grateful for each and every one of them. Each one melts my heart. The simplicity and innocence in his actions.
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At Forever 21 while mommy returned stuff.

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After grocery shopping at Trader Joes and getting some stickers from the cashier, we were on the drive home when he says to me “mommy, look at me”. I turn around to see this. Laughed hysterically at him and then safely took a photo while stopped at a traffic light (I swear).

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Veggie sticks. Perfectly sized for toddler nostrils.

Considering my post yesterday with the reminder to “slow down”, I’m learning to appreciate these moments more often and pause enough to catch them.

Slow Down Mummy…

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What a reminder this poem brings.

I am constantly guilty of being in a hurry, always on my phone, and exhausted overall. Add to that my workaholicism and it looks like I have some serious bad parenting habits forming.

I strive a lifestyle where I give myself a lot of time with my kids. But is it the quality time it should be? Not always. Sure, we have cupcake baking mornings, crafty afternoons, cuddly movie nights…. but there are just as many tag along errands, Sesame Street episodes and iPad moments.

Like I said, this poem is a wonderful reminder but in all honesty, can be hard to implement in today’s fast – paced real world. Perhaps I can start by setting a goal that the quality moments outnumber the less – than – quality ones?

I’m open to suggestions. How do you keep from rushing through life? It’s not just in the parenting realm that we rush….. but I think that many of us are rushing through life itself. And what are we racing towards? A finish line where we can’t remember what the path even looked like or who was cheering us on along the way? Hmmm.

Note to self: slow down.

Pajama Jam New Year’s Family Party!?

Ok. I just got an email on this… wish I knew sooner I would have planned for it. But definitely something for people to check out this year (and hopefully they will do it again next year).

The New Children’s Museum is doing a Pajama Jam New Year’s Family Night Out on December 28th.

Ring in 2014 with your family during Pajama Jam at The New Children’s Museum!  Dress up in your silliest or most comfortable jammies and get ready to party with us as we celebrate the New Year. Dance to live music with Clint Perry & The Boo Hoo Crew, feast on delicious dinner, create noisemakers and party hats, and help us countdown with a massive balloon drop!
Check out some of the festivities we have in store for the evening:

All Night
•  Construct and decorate New Year’s Noisemakers and Party Hats
that you can take home with you!
•  Feast on delicious dinner (included with your ticket purchase)
from Rubio’s and Creative Catering.
•  Adults can enjoy a hosted bar, thanks to BBC and
Country Wine & Spirits.
•  Top off your evening with dessert from Eclipse Chocolate!

5:45pm and 7:00pm
•  Enjoy live music and dancing with Clint Perry
& The Boo Hoo Crew!

7:30pm
•  Count down to the New Year with us and enjoy a balloon drop
with 500 colorful balloons!

7:45pm
•  Silent auction winners announced!

Silent auction prizes will include: a hotel stay at Marriott Marquis and Marina and Alchemy gift card, membership to Athenaeum, Complete Foundation skateboard and skate gear, and much more!

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