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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Season

Before I get into our fun and maybe some ideas for you, I just want to do the Mommy feeling vent thing-
In light of the recent terrible events we are extra attentive to our little one. Kids are sensitive to the world around them and as much as I'm trying to guard her from the news I know she has picked up on somethings. We had to speak of evils and what do if she should see "a non-police man with a gun," just lots of conversations we weren't ready for or even wanted to discuss. The event has made us look a little more at what a gift our child is. I didn't think we could possibly love her anymore then we do, but I think sometimes as a parent we take everything for granted. For every bath-time and repetitive story reading there's another parent out there missing out on such things or wishing and wanting for their little soul to come into their lives. So hug your little one a little more and try to make the most out of the moments we are so lucky to have.

Now down to business, SORRY! It's been far too long between posts, but we've been busy busy making the most of the Holiday Season.

Photo Courtesy of Maximo Photography

This year it's been us taking advantage of everything there is near us. We live in San Diego so we have plenty all year round, but I'm sure you can find enough free, cheap or worth the price things to get into!

If you live in our neck of the woods, check out San Diego Family Magazine, lots of listings of what's going on.

We must admit it's pretty awesome living near a ton of major theme parks. Thanks to radio and news stations there always seems a chance to win a few tickets here and there. The biggest key is have a Facebook and follow each, they normally do additional giveaways on there if you can't always be near a television or radio with your phone in hand.

We got lucky this year and my sister also won tickets to SeaWorld San Diego's Christmas Celebration (lasts until Jan. 5th) so we all got to go as a family. It was raining and cold, but nothing a good jacket and some rain boots couldn't help! The whole night was tons of fun, lots of Christmas decor and characters at every turn. The penguins and Wild Arctic just made us feel that much more in the winter spirit. If you are close to one I really recommend trying, if you can swing it in your budget check into their Fun Card program, it's a price of 1 day but covers a year minus a few of  their busiest days. They also are offering a deal on a 2 year membership, but I really don't know the details.

One of the greatest things has to be "Holidays at Disneyland!" It lasts until Jan. 6th. Last year was not only my kid's first time seeing the park during the Holidays, but mine as well. Totally AMAZING! I must admit this year with Cars Land now open at California Adventure it's even better! But, my absolute favorite has to be the "Nightmare Before Christmas" take over of the Haunted Mansion. As you see from my shirt, I'm kind of a geek for that stuff.

The best of this season has to be another "Thanks to Groupon!" Every year they seem to offer discounted tickets to The Nutcracker Ballet and this year Riley was finally old enough to be able to attend. It was fantastic! We all got to dress up and head out to the Theatre and enjoy a show. As you see Riley even got to meet a few Ballerinas  Since that night it's been non-stop "Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker" music and a little dancer all over my house. I love it! I'm all about supporting her love of classical music and dance.

One of the biggies in this town is "December Nights" in Balboa Park, if you follow our Facebook page you may have seen a link for it. It's lots of fun but getting more an more crowded as the years go by, so the park has been trying to offer shuttles to help. But, to be honest we skipped it! I know the pics lead you to believe we didn't but we totally did. But, we couldn't be more fortunate to be part of a awesome Church that happened to have a Christmas event in Balboa Park, right before the "December Nights." 

It was a great night of hot coco, gingerbread men  Christmas decor, a Nativity Set, and Riley preforming her heart out to "Jingle Bells," and a little time with Santa. Up until this year I haven't thought twice about the whole Santa thing. I don't mean the telling of him, I mean the debate that Christmas is for Christ and has no room for Santa. Honestly, I never even knew this was a train of thought but as I read more and more of other people's parenting philosophies there are some things that take me by surprise. If you feel this way and it works for you, great, but it's not for us. I believe in letting Santa be. in my mind he s kind of a symbol of childhood. A symbol all about embodying the giving and loving spirit with a little bit of hope an magic, plus he was a real man once upon a time.

Art Project from her Sunday School

It's all about balance and letting the focus fall on the history and explaining why we celebrate it. Our Riley doesn't run around the house saying "I can't wait till I GET presents!!" But, she actually runs around the house saying, "IT'S ALMOST JESUS' BIRTHDAY!!!" She gets it! Also it may help that we put more emphasis on the giving, less on the receiving.

What we've been doing to make it more about the giving is for the past few days it's been a crazy mess of baking and lot's of hammered candy canes! Yesterday, we finally were able to package up all our goodies and drop them by some of our awesome neighbors, friends and family. The best part is that people don't expect anything from us and though it's not much everyone was so gracious and Riley just beams after every delivery.

One of our Christmas traditions is a gingerbread making night. Lots of fun, if you aren't already doing so, start tonight. Riley is becoming a pro at this, less and less messy as the years are going by. It's the fun of letting your kid do some more in the kitchen and as a family getting creative. It's great for kids to learn how to use tools and it works for some bonding time. The awesome thing about this year is we got to use these cookies for her class' cookie exchange, talk about killing 2 birds with 1 stone. 

Just in case you were looking for something a little less mess and extremely easy, but will occupy hands, get out your white coffee filters and scissors. Cutest snowflakes, hands down! Let the little ones go to town. We folded them down to a nice triangle and started with the cutting. My kiddo felt her's needed some color so I let her. They look great in the windows and were fun to make. I actually enjoyed doing and looking at these way more then the old paper way. It's also easier on little hands because it's thinner and easier to cut then paper.

Last but not least. this year we lost a loved one and I wanted to do something a little special just to keep the memory of him. If you remember last year I made a few beach themed ornaments, well this was kind of similar. For this funeral we traveled to Chicago, my husband's hometown and where most of his family still is. Well it was that perfect time of year in the Midwest, when it was just starting to turn all the colors of fall. During one of the days with the family my husband grabbed a branch so my daughter could show her class all the beautiful leaves once we got back home. We keep them and they dried so nicely. Well I took a trip to the craft store, got me a clear plastic ornament and some white paint pens. I stumbled upon this quote and saved it before I knew what/or exactly how I was going to do something, "Because Someone we Love is in Heaven there's a little bit of Heaven in our Home." It was too perfect, so once I filled the ornament carefully with some of the leaves I wrote the quote on one side with a heart and the other side with "Grandpa Archie" and his birth year and parting year. I hope you didn't lose anyone this year, but if you did this maybe a great idea to hold them close. Just fill it with something special to that person or maybe some dried flower petals from the service, even pictures. Do what feels right in your heart.

Just remember this is, 
"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas time." - Laura Ingalls Wilder  
On that note, Merry Christmas everyone! An don't forget to take advantage of any neighborhood light displays let your inner child run free. ;)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Guest Blog: Health & Safety Concerns for Home DIY Projects

Asbestos in the Home
Image courtesy of the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance.

Avoiding Chemical Exposure From Home Renovations

If you plan on doing any DIY home improvements, there are many points to consider before taking that step. You and your family could potentially be exposed to some dangerous substances that may be hazardous to your health if the proper precautions are not taken.

What you should know

If you are renovating an older home, remember that asbestos is one of the common dangerous substances you may encounter as you work. In addition, many people have no idea that their health has been affected until they develop mesothelioma many years later and no preventive measures can be taken. Unfortunately, once the asbestos becomes lodged in the lungs, heart or stomach, the process becomes irreversible.

What you can do

Remember to use aspirators, protective clothing and gloves as you work to prevent any health problems the harmful substances can cause. Be aware that inhaling mildew and mold, which develop in a dark, damp area after a flood or leaks, can cause you to break out in a rash or become lethargic or ill. Whenever this occurs, they should be removed promptly.

Exposure to radon is another common problem that can cause your health to deteriorate. This gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless, and a special test is needed to determine if it is present. Since it can cause harmful conditions such as lung cancer, exposure to radon should always be avoided.

You can reduce the possibility of becoming exposed to these life-threatening substances by learning more about the topic and taking the necessary precautions as you work. If you wear the recommended gear when removing them, you will have the satisfaction of a job well done and protect your family at the same time.

Brian Turner has been working with the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance as an environmental health and toxic substance safety advocate since June of 2007. Brian brings a tremendous amount of research and awareness experience in environmental health risks, environmental carcinogens, and green building expertise. Brian is very interested in all types of cars; his favorites are classic, muscle, and imports. Brian is commonly found playing and watching various sports with his friends.

Read more from Brian:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Remove Temporary Tattoos

After a little research and some trial and error I found a way to save you some muscle and your little one's skin. 

Let me just start this by saying, don't get me wrong I'm fine with my kid sporting a temporary tattoo or two, but there is a time and a place. An well that would not be on her face at church, at least in my book. So, what was I going to do when my kid comes home after a fun day out with a couple "Mike the Knight" tats on her cheeks knowing that the next morning would be a much needed church time? Also may I mention these were some good grade quality tattoos not any of those one time bath gone cheapies. They looked just as new after a good bath soak.

It really came down to 2 items to get these bad boys off my daughter's face, Baby Oil & Cotton Balls! 

Soak a cotton ball in Baby Oil, rub it on the tattoo. Nice little layer. Next we tried Diaper Wipes because they normally work with the cheap ones, but this time around it was a no go. But, a wet warm washcloth was just the thing. I also read you can get the leftover tattoo off with Scotch Tape, but as you see my little one still has some of her peach-fuzz so I didn't want to harm her, instead we just spent a extra few wipes of the washcloth and DONE! Good as new! Pheww!! Wish I knew about this when I was a kid, could had saved my skin tons.

Just to prove I'm still "A Cool Mom" her's some links on making your own tattoos:
Oh the Lovely Things has a way with Printable Tattoo Paper
Charlotte is not my name has a way to do it with Bandage Spray
Tradewind Tiaras' even has DIY GLITTER TATTOOS!

I really hope this helps you, sometimes we all need to know a few mommy tricks in the most random of areas.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving Ideas

Time to be thankful & try not to lose it when the kids are home from school! Just kidding, but it's a good time to do some fun stuff together in light of this holiday. So I'm going to share with you a few things we have done and stumbled on, with a budget in mind.


This is a good excuse to go for a nature walk pick up some pine cones or in our case a magnolia tree seed pod. Get some fun stuff out to make your items into turkeys. We used some glue (glitter & regular), googly eyes, foam sheets, construction paper, feathers (or cut out construction paper feathers) and scissors.

If you want go ahead and cut out some of those construction paper fathers and while you're at it cut out a circle for each turkey head you need. We used foam sheets for the other items. Two triangles for each beak and two squares per turkey for feet, and a free form wavy thing for the wobble.

Assemble time! Get your glue, turkey body and little bits!

We chose to use the stem like a turkey neck, though if you are lucky an have a pine cone you can probably have a taller turkey an just glue the head where you want it.

Glue your beak. What we did was add a strip of white glue then placed on, maybe you prefer tacky glue, but hot glue seemed like a bad idea for a kid's craft.

Now, dots of glue for the googly eyes.

Strip of glue for the wobble. Attach.

Dots of glue for your little square feet. Add them to bottom of your seed pod or pine cone.

Does your turkey's face look something like this? Maybe a little less running wet glue? ;)  Don't worry if not, it's always easy to fix. Everyone good? Time to move on to the next step.

Glue your feathers, real or paper to the backside of your turkey. Our original plan was both, but we ended up just leaving it alone after a few feathers on each.

If you are making a little extra sparkly turkey, add your glitter glue now. 

Let your turkeys dry. Enjoy.

Cheap Crafts-

Never underestimate the power of a cheap little craft at Micheal's. I picked up this few cent scarecrow on a whim and let the kiddo get to work with some of my sharpies and it was a nice little time of peace and quiet.  Love their little kid holiday craft options and love their new app with coupons always at the edge of my figure tips.

If you want it to look extra finished use a Modge Podge or a sealant spray.


A few extra ideas to check out look at these:

A few Books to Read with the Little Ones-

"One is a Feast for Mouse: A Thanksgiving Tale" by Judy Cox
"Thanks for Thanksgiving" by Julie Markes
"The Littlest Pilgrim" by Brandi Dougherty

Hope these ideas keep your Thanksgiving week a little more bonding and a little less crazy.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Diaper Cake

This idea is for something a little more fun then just a box of diapers and a few baby odds and ins. I still remember from our diaper cake. Our baby shower was awesome and we got so many things, completely blessed. Though I appreciated every single item we got, our diaper cake was a stand out an we appreciated the extra time that was put into it. Other guests even commented on "how cute an creative" their gift to us was, so it was not just us admiring. So if you have some time to get this done I recommend it for those close friends and family members that you want to put a extra touch into the gift. 

First before we dive into this, though it isn't hard to make a diaper cake, it does require a good amount of time, so if you are short on that or can't clear some up some, you may want to skip. I had plenty of warning the shower was coming and made sure that I could use every bit of non-kid time to get it done. 

Now, What You Need:

Diapers! I used 100, but that is up to you. Base for cake, I used Styrofoam round and tissue paper (Glue & sponge paint brush help with that). You can buy a cake plate or do my same idea with a fowm board,it's just your call. In addition you'll need, regular white glue and Fabri-tac, cake dowels, and rubber bands, A LOT of rubber bands! Don't try to go cheap and use what you have, it won't work. Buy a big bag of random sizes because you will need a variety. Also you'll need, scissors, and minimum 3 things of ribbon. For the ribbon you want 1 thick to cover the rubber bands and be like your main them item and then I got 2 colors of curling ribbon, feel free to buy as many as you want of that. Only item I recommend that is not in above's image is a lighter or matches, I'll explain the need for that later.

Get the "needs to dry" part out of the way. with my plain foam base, a little white glue and some red tissue paper I made the cake's base/platter. Go light on the glue an use the sponge to spread it around. Then GENTLY pull the tissue paper over wrapping to the not so pretty underside. Go slow and rub down very gentle so not to tear your tissue paper. I personally didn't feel like 1 tissue paper gave the proper color, so I repeated, added a tiny more glue and pulled flat again. Let dry as you began the next step.

Ok, time for the most time consuming part. Get comfy and set up in a nice clean spot free of pet hair and what not because it's time to bust out the diapers! Seriously, remember this is for a baby, so keep as clean as possible and be careful not to rip diapers, don't want parents not so happy when baby is leaking. Normally I would recommend you buy a size like 3 because it lasts the longest and it gives parents-to-be time before they have to completely disassemble the cake, but in my case the shower was ahead of baby's arrival by a few months to avoid holiday madness and I had found the best deal on my favorite little disposable diapers (Pampers Swaddlers). 

Besides diapers, you will need your bag of rubber bands handy. Start by looking at your diaper, it should have a natural curl to it, go with that. Top (belly part) of diaper to bottom (leg part). Do it as tightly as possible and rubber band around it.

Those that know me already know this, but I'm crazy anal about things, so of course my projects are no different. So, what I did to hide the yellow bit on the diapers (yes, it did not fit my Mickey theme, an I want all white darn it!) was divide my rolls as I went. If I felt yellow was showing it went in one bag, if it passed my all white standard it went into another.

Now the fun part! Assembly!

Basically the point of dividing up the 2 bags was so my yellow ones could work for the hidden center part of each cake layer, while the white was the outer edges. The photo above is the process for 1 cake layer. Essentially, you want to keep making round bundles an after each time, before you add a outer circle you want to add a rubber band around. This allows you to mess with your cake, adding all the fun extras without ruining the whole layer, and if a rubber band snaps it's less of an issue. 

For a 100 diaper, 3 layer cake, my math worked out like this: Top - 15, Middle - 32, & Bottom - 53.

*Extra Tip* For the bottom layer I had a lot of breaking, so I ended up linking bands together and that worked.

Stack 'em. Now, skewer (cake dowel) them. *Word of Caution* Go slow & careful, use your fingers to feel around to. You don't want to accidentally rip any of your diapers.

First I got out my smaller items, an attempted to work them in. My little set of spoons became like cake candles to me. I also had a special topper for the top layer so I avoid using any of my stick out items.If you added as many rubber bands as I did, it really becomes no big to slip layers on and off. I tucked in a few little extras of items, like the spoons, diaper coupons, and more washcloths into the center of the cake, everything doesn't have to be seen and surprises are fun.

When working my baby beanies and onesies in I had to slide layers on and off, pop out a few diapers here and there, a little re-shifting till I felt everything was perfect. In the case of the beanies I even removed a few diapers from outer edge an stuffed the cap. Then returned diapers from the spot I popped them out of. Click on the pic, make it bigger if you need a little more thought on how to smooth or fit in items.

Once you get it pretty much how you like it time to add your thick ribbon around the rubber band mid-section. Remember measure twice, cut once.

To make it look seamless and to avoid fraying fabric edges take the end to a flame (lighter or match, both work). It melts the end and makes a nice brand new looking end. Fabri-tac one end of your ribbon to the other. I prefer Fabri-Tac because it really holds fabric together, no heat, and no spiderweb glue strings everywhere that would damage anything.

The finishing touches. With the curling ribbon add any extra tiny little items you may have picked up. I went with bath stuff, but you may add like baby rattle, teethers, and other little odds and ends. I slide one end of curling ribbon behind the thick fabric ribbon and out tying in front then curling. Then lots of curls and tucking anywhere I felt to empty.

Very last, I added that special topper I was talking about. This maybe answering your question if you noticed item pilled on top but not in a cute way. I save a extra beanie and onesie to fill it up. I can't tell you how to make that because I didn't, but I bought it from my other half of AlittlePaint&Yarn if you need it. Other ideas are stuffed animals, big bows, oh and the one we got had a rubber duck that said if baby's water temp was to hot. Our daughter still plays with that rubber duck. really it's up to you and you really can't go wrong.

Here's the Mickey Mouse Diaper Cake, final version. I prefer my cakes to be view-able from all angles, if you were wondering.