Friday, September 26, 2014

What happened to my blog?

Hi everyone. I'm sick today, so I figured I would catch up on 2014. My blog has clearly fallen by the wayside which makes me sad because it has been my plan all along to not only reach out to parents about stuff to do, stuff to make and stuff to buy, but to use this as our family's historical timeline. Clearly, we will have been in the nonexistent period from January to September, but that is all going to change - today.

Finding my force

First stop on the rewind, our vacation to Yosemite... To be continued.



Friday, January 3, 2014

Lego Organization. How We Roll.

You may remember when I first approached this daunting topic, here. You know, the impossible feat of organizing organisms...well, they feel that small to me. Since Christmas, Hanukah, and a December birthday have passed, we have been hit again by the influx of yet, MORE LEGO! I think I need a support group.

Recently, I was asked about Lego organization by a flustered friend of mine and it inspired me to write this follow up post on what storage solution is working best for us (more like a work in progress). These tiny little evil bricks have caused equal amounts of joy and pain in our home. Mental and physical - the bottom of your feet will agree, and my eyeballs cannot go for more than a minute without scanning a Lego brick or mini-figure in my sight line. Legos and my boys are like peas and carrots. If you are like us, you have a Lego problem.

In all reality, the toy is fantastic. There is nothing better than watching your child sit for hours following written directions to build the monumental Death Star or Empire State Building, or use their imagination to create a masterpiece of their own. It's all educational, fun and inspiring, until it's time to clean them up. Or really, do they ever actually ALL get put away? If your answer is "yes," then I hate you. You're lying, or your kids don't love Legos the way mine do, or truthfully, maybe you're just more well adjusted and not OCD like me. This is a story about brick frustration - somewhat self-inflicted. And, continue rant...

Here is the biggest problem I have with Lego and the reason it can be the bane of my existence. Some of these more intricate Lego sets can cost in the realm of $150-$200 and up, per set. My issue is, that barring a trip to Disneyland, on nothing else would I spend this type of money for a few hours of use. My son will spend a half of a day constructing these sets, he will play with them like one would a doll house, and then what? Well, after several days, it needs to be put away. I don't have space to display every set created, and unlike many that will argue this point, I refuse to just throw them into a box with a million other sets, to never be built again as written.

I am fully aware that many parents are totally comfortable with dismantling the project and dumping it into a communal bin. This is not okay with me and it is not okay with my 8 year old. My influence? My OCD? Could be... but it really does pain me that the life span of an expensive Lego set is truncated by our ability to store it. In a perfect world, a set could be built and rebuilt again, with all of the pieces in tact. Some would argue that the communal bin inspires creativity...well, in my home, it inspires frustration and the inability to find ANYTHING! Oh, and keeping the original boxes? Not an option.

Okay, here is how we roll, and what we have discovered....

What we don't like. Don't sort by color.

Sorting by color makes it really difficult to find specifically shaped pieces. This is a common way I've heard parents say they organize, and we just think it makes pieces WAY harder to find.

Needle in a haystack.

Sort by type. We have two "types." By set, and by piece.

We found nut and bolt compartments at the hardware store which served us well in sorting the tiny and specialty pieces.

We also have some smaller sets sorted in these plastic drawers- which I hate, and they are hitting the road as soon as I can get re-organized in the new bins highlighted further down in this post.

Mini-figure/Accessories drawer

This has worked best for set-sorting

Gallon size ziploc bags work great for storing larger sets. We typically will put a set in one or two large bags and the tiny pieces in a snack or sandwich style ziploc bag.

The bags then fit nicely into a box or basket, like this one, from IKEA.

and tucked away into a shelving system like the IKEA EXPEDIT.

Lastly, OF COURSE we do have general combo bins, but we feel strongly about the preservation of some of our more special sets. Monster Fighters live with monsters and Zombies, Luke and Darth are with Jabba, and so on. Segregation is okay in the Lego community.

Good Luck. May you keep your Legos stored and your feet imprint free.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Our Holiday in Pictures

Good morning 2014. Here we are. Face to face.

I'm paralyzed in my bed not wanting to get up and ruin a resolution. I am however, posting to our blog, since I have seriously lapsed. Consider this one step in the right direction. Here are some fun and not so fun things that happened over the holidays! Happy New Year everyone! Make this one great!

A year older

Ryder turned 8. That seems old to me. I have a second grader. It was just yesterday I was going to Taco Bell after diving practice, listening to Def Leppard in my VW. Yesterday. *Sigh*
He also has a huge love of optical illusion pics. I'm sure there's more to come in this area. Stay tuned.

Artsy Fartsy

"Mom, do I look like a Picasso?"


Rite of Passage

So, as we were packing for our trek to the Mountains, this happened. A wooden tree swing with a big brother on it, with pass interference by Hayden, equals 3 staples. A rite of passage. Ryder had three in the same spot when he was 5. Boys. Did I mention we were packing to leave?

Family Christmastime

We went to the mountains for our usual Christmas break family bonanza. This year, we had no snow, but we did have a great time with family.

My sister-in-law Katy Schneiderman took this next series of pics. Check out her site here. If you are in the L.A. Area, you MUST check out her services.

We made bird feeders, and Hayden found out he liked peanut butter. YES! One more food for the short list!


Quality time my brother and his RIDICULOUSLY ADORABLE family... Well I think so. Cousins are awesome.

Cousin lunch.

Daddy Adventures

Winter Fishing at Pinecrest Lake with friends.

A boy-only trek to find some good sled runs. Ryder took the longest run of his life, Andy says, "five football fields" long.

New Obsessions

Ryder was glued to Diary of a Wimpy Kid. We were so excited to watch him tote this book everywhere. Keep it up, Ryder. You just finished your first New York Times Best Seller. Note the clip-on reading light. Santa knows what's up. ;-)

Lots of Crochet

I crocheted a lot of gifts, finished a long overdue baby blanket and channeled my inner geek. See below. Patterns linked when applicable.

Yoda. Ear pattern by Mamachee.

Viking hat. Pattern by Mamchee (braids by me)
Long overdue baby blanket for little Charlie Girl. Missoni inspired.
Creeper hat for my Minecraft junkie.
Tessa hat from Mamachee.

Happy Dog Walks

Photo Cards - Shout Out!

Lastly, a massive shoutout to Picaboo. We ordered our holiday cards through this company this year and I found their user interface to be awesomely customizable and slick. In full disclosure, the two founders are friends of mine from college, but if you know how picky Andy and I are about these types of things, please note that we would NEVER endorse something subpar in this area. They also do school yearbooks, photo books and more. Plus, I expedited the shipping and had them sent to the mountains and they STILL arrived on the due date as promised, which doesn't always happen at the cabin. Check them out!

I did them relatively last minute, as usual, and under-ordered. We have not sent cards since 2010, due to terminal lameness and inexcusable "I'm just too busy" justifications. We apologize profusely if you were expecting to hear from us, and did not. I guess I have another resolution to make.

Happy New Year Y'all!



Friday, September 27, 2013

I'm Not Complaining, I'm Just Suppressing My Crazy

To those of you who sometimes feel badly about yourselves due to the romanticizing of people's perfect lives on Faceboook, I give you reasons today to celebrate your life. Today is (not was...still going) a parenting day that is challenging me like an addict faced with their poison. It's one of those days where you realize why some people are in prison, but you are not, based on the exceptional levels of self-restraint you are exhibiting. My children are whittling me down to a point where I feel like I am the most powerless person in my home. Because I am...and I am letting them... *sigh*

Today, like many, after heading to school to pick up the kids after work, I was convinced I was a Mute. I even checked with my voice recognition software on my Android to make sure I could actually be heard. When I shouted it was time to leave, they responded to me like a school of minnows would to a pebble being thrown into a lake. When they came back together they wrestled, punched, whined and cried, only to be separated and immediately drawn back together with that obnoxious, but special, sibling magnetic force. "Stop hitting your brother," "Keep your hands to yourself," the repetitious statements persisted. I am yelling from a deep hole. I get louder and louder yet no one can hear me. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

I made dinner - the same Mac and Cheese that I always make- but tonight it's elbows and not shells and suddenly it's disgusting and tastes bad...even though it's EXACTLY THE SAME brand and flavor. I am called into the bathroom to wipe the bottom of my little one, who has proceeded to unroll the entire roll of toilet paper onto the floor with a smile on his face. And the cherry on the cake of my day? After doing a load of laundry for my incontinent senior dog, I find that even after I shook out all of the blankets, I still succeeded in washing and drying a few large balls of dog poop. Yes I said drying....on high heat.

I'm not really sure why I am writing about this, but I'm blogging instead of rocking back and forth on the floor psychoticly. I am ignoring my kids at the moment and now they are playing nicely. We clearly all needed a "time out." 8:30pm cannot come soon enough. I love my kids like nothing else. I ask for no sympathy. I know I am lucky to have them. I am just offering you parents out there one thing... Solidarity.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why Whole Foods Makes Me A Better Parent

It's not for the reason you think.

April has been insanely busy. Why? Well, I think most of my time was spent trying to bake Hayden's three birthday requests - including the not-so-perfect, perfect cake. Hayden's birthday post is going to be delayed due to my wanting perfect photos. Perfect photos that will be edited perfectly by my perfectionist, Artist husband. This is perfectly fine. Our lives are always perfect online. We post family awesomeness on Facebook and Instagram, and somehow even the funny moments look great in photos, but the actual real-time experience may be oh-so-imperfect.

I read a blog post today about being an imperfect parent, and it told me (yes, she was speaking to me) that I am probably doing a better job than I think. You can read about me it here. I was the epitome of this at Whole Foods today - a place where I somehow feel the need to turn on the extra sensitive, gentle parenting persona. I think the broken window theory extends well beyond destruction and devastation in my case.

The broken window theory in basic terms, suggests that a small amount of damage can result in a snowball effect of greater destruction over time. I have always used Whole Foods vs. Walmart as a basic analogy. While Whole Foods has staff constantly restocking shelves and building perfectly crafted pyramids of apples, our local Walmart, which I avoid like the plague, has items strewn about, things rolling on the floor, open boxes, you get the picture. A spill on the floor of Whole Foods is quietly whisked away, ala Disneyland, while Walmart's could fester for an undetermined amount of time. Am I exaggerating? Maybe. But this has been my experience in the locations I have visited. Bottom line is, I drop an apple at Whole Foods, I pick it up. I drop an apple at Walmart, it's 50/50 (the apple was made in China anyway).

Today, I found myself at Whole Foods with 2 young kids that were having different issues. One was cranky and one was dissatisfied. The common thread was that they would both not stop "touching" each other, causing us to take up the width of two carts in the aisle, which we know at Whole Foods after 5pm becomes excessively aggravating to EVERYONE. I found myself trying extra hard to choose my words and control my tone. My surroundings were to blame for my "better" behavior. But it made me think. Why would this place, this clean, above averagely priced place, curb my instinctual poor parenting efforts? Remove the fact that there is someone I know around every turn, and I realized that this perfectly perfect grocery store was influencing me. This was the real problem.

My surroundings and being in public influenced my parenting choices more than the want and need to do what is best for my children. To be clear, I don't come home and beat my kids to a pulp, but I do yell, I do firmly grab them and I don't always frame poignant teaching moments or use the best choice of words. I also know, that no one always does the right thing, and if they tell you they do, they are full of it... or they are lying that they even HAVE children.

So, my epiphany here is this, if I can think of better ways to handle these kids in public - and in varying degrees based on my surroundings, than why can't I be the same parent at home? Now, I can't control my personal variables. I can't always be happy, or stress-free, or have peace and quiet during a Giant's game, but what I realized, is that I am capable. It's not about being perfect. It's about being capable.

From now on, I am going to pretend I am at Whole Foods.