Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Love Working from Home

I (Brent) have been working from home for a few weeks now. Want to see what I've been up to? You can read my personal finance blog to find out. This was a big step, but now I'm doing what I love.

It's been a big change in our family dynamics, but one that we both are enjoying. I hope to contribute a bit more to the family blog as time goes along.

5 Things I Love About Working from Home:

  1. Getting to eat lunch with my wife each day. 
  2. I get to write and read every day! 
  3. Working in my pajamas is o.k.
  4. Play breaks with my son. 
  5. No commute! 
Question: Are you doing what you love or moving towards it? 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

G's Birthday Prep

It has already been one year since little G arrived on this planet.  I wanted to share with you some of the details of his birthday.  The theme was green (the color).  A few years back I saw some pictures of a kid's yellow birthday party.  Everyone wore a shade of yellow and there were yellow balloons everywhere; it was festive to say the least.  I wanted to create something similar for G.

We used evite.com for his invitation.  I REALLY wanted to design an original invite but we chose to go with evite due to the fact that we could communicate to guests and keep up with RSVP's very easily.
Here is what the evite looked like:

We were planning to have the party at a park but due to a forecast of rain we moved it to a local library.  It was a great find that I feel God gave us as a special gift.  The room where we had the party over looked a marina.  Sailboats and yachts galore!  But I have not even mentioned the BEST part of the birthday weekend.  

My parents flew in to surprise us and celebrate G's first birthday.  Their plan was to casually walk up to the party at the park.  Since they arrived Friday evening and the party was not until Saturday mid-morning they decided to stop by our place and reveal their scheming early.  I am so thankful they did...my mom helped me finish up sewing the birthday banner while I started on the cupcakes.  If they had not arrived I'm afraid we would have been up all night.

My sewing machine did most of the work for the "Happy Birthday" flag banner.  To make the banner I used this seemommysew tutorial.  For the application of the letters, I used hot glue.  My mom sewed on a small rope to the top to hold it all together.     

I made homemade "green" velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.  Green food coloring replaced the traditional red.  I created different shades of green for the batter and frosting with varying drops of food coloring.  My mother in law makes the best red velvet cupcakes, I used her recipe.  She was super sad she couldn't make it to the party, but her cupcakes were there.  

Be on the look out for the party pics coming soon!  

Friday, November 4, 2011

How in the world do I wrap a scarf?

I googled this question recently and found a very hip and informative video.  I don't know about you but I hate not knowing how to do something like wrap my scarf in a cool way.  Usually since I don't know how to do it I give up and leave home minus my scarf.  Thanks to Wendy I am now educated!     
I went with the "double rainbow" today.  What do you think?  
It is raining and cold in Los Angeles today.  
This scarf wrap information could not have come at a better time.
Enjoy your weekend!     

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Reading the Potato Peel Pie Book

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

It has taken me a while to get into this book but I think I like it finally at page 45.  It is all letters, which was a huge turn off at first but I am getting into it now.  It is set in 1946 post World War 2 in occupied Germany.  The main character, Juliet, is around my age, single and a successful author.
Looking forward to evenings to come where I can curl up with a spot of tea and enjoy this little dandy.  A part of my day that I really look forward to.  If you will remember I'm somewhat new to reading for fun.
This book makes me miss writing and receiving old fashioned letters.  Anybody want to be pen pals?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Meet the Jetsons

Meet George Jetson...                                                                                           

Jane his wife...

...his son Elroy.
Photo by Lisa Soltis
and Instagram
Photo by Hyung Lee
Holidays are so much FUN with kids.  Our weekend was jam packed with Halloween Hoopla.  

Friday Night - We went to an International Student Potluck.  Many of the students, newly arrived to America, carved pumpkins and showed off their creative costumes.  

Saturday Night - Our friends, Hyung and Julie, threw their awesome annual Halloween Party.

Monday Night - We took G trick-or-treating on a quaint little street about a mile from our apartment.  The houses were decorated with cobwebs, ghosts made from old sheets, the whole bit.  None of it seemed to faze G.  He feel asleep on the way home.  Once he was in bed (still in costume) Brent and I dumped all the Halloween candy out on the living room floor and proceeded to eat it ALL.  As if the candy was not enough, I popped some popcorn and we watched "It's the Great Pupmkin, Charlie Brown."  (Amazon Affiliate Link)

Needless to say, we got our money out of those Halloween costumes.  It was very rewarding to see all my hard work come to fruition.  I could not have done it without Marmee's help.            

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Little Monkey

Today G dressed up as a monkey.  I had a costume that my dad gave me when G was born.  It was size 0-6 months so I thought I would put it on him for Mom's Group.  We had a halloween party, with chicken and cheese quesadillas, apple cider, and white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies plus a baby photo session.  Back to the costume, it fit him or at least kind of fit him but I couldn't take it off him.  His little monkey tail bottom, fat paws, outie belly button, and the banana smooshed on his head.  Did I mention the monkey ears?  See for yourself...


 I wish I could show you all the babes but for today it will just be Gdubs.  This is not his "real" halloween costume that one will be revealed very soon. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Halloween is a Comin'!

Here are a few shots of the Halloween costumes in process.

We are all dressing up this year.  We do it every year because our friends throw an awesome Halloween party.  Last year our costume looked like this.  Can you guess what we are going as this year?  I'm going to be in purple, Brent in blue and white and G in green.  Of course, I am super excited we have a little man to add to the ensemble.  By the way, my mom-in-law pretty much taught me how to sew on her last visit.  We worked on my costume for hours...we had a blast!  Learning to sew was a goal I have had for so many years.  

I took a Home Ec class in high school in which I sewed one wrap skirt with help from Mrs. Johnson.  I was so proud of that skirt.  It was peach colored with flowers and cool clear buttons with coordinating color specks of raffeta inside the buttons.  
Nerdy, I know but I liked it.  
Wish I had a pic of that skirt to show you.

So here is to accomplishing a goal and hopefully getting some super rad halloween costumes out of it.  More pics once we are all dressed up and ready to party!  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Holiday Greetings from the Past

I REALLY love receiving holiday cards.  If you are one of the phenomenal families that send us one, thank you!  I mean, really thank you.  After the holidays I cut out all the lovely faces and display them on the fridge year round.  I say phenomenal because you really have to have everything together to get a holiday card out before Christmas.  For me, making Halloween costumes, party planning for Grant's birthday, and Thanksgiving celebrations all limit my time.  Plus shooting a current family photo in time seems impossible.  To take the pressure off of myself, we now send Valentine's Day cards.  
2011 V-day Card
I designed this one myself - Red Curtain Designs

2010 First V-day Card
The pics were from a photo booth at a work Christmas party.  
The card design is from Shutterfly.

Skip 2009 since we sent a V-day card in Feb of 2010

2008 Christmas Card (the ONE and ONLY)
Created at Costco

2007 No card.  :(  First year of marriage.  We were working out our traditions and budget.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Craigslist and Strollers

Need a stroller?  Don't have the cash to buy a new one?  Look no further craigslist is here!  When my son was a newborn I "wore" him a lot in the Ergo carrier which I highly recommend.  There came a time when I needed a stroller.  Like when he would be asleep in the car seat and I needed to go into a store, restaurant, ect.   When I transfered him into the carrier he would usually wake up.  I needed to transport him in the car seat while keeping him asleep.

I did some research and knew that a frame stroller was what I wanted, a stroller frame that the car seat could snap to.  Also, remember we live in a 1 bedroom apartment with no extra storage outside the apartment.  The strollers home would actually be the trunk of our car.  I search and searched on craigslist, after about 2 months I found just what I wanted the Graco SnugRider Infant Car Seat Stroller Frame.  It currently retails for $69, I got it for $15 on craigslist.  Used, of course, but in great condition.

We used the Graco SnugRider Infant Car Seat Stroller Frame until G was 10 months old.  Then he grew out of his infant car seat.  Ours only went to 23 lbs.  (Note to expecting parents:  Buy an infant car seat that goes up to at least 30 pounds.  It will save you money in the long run.)  I could write a whole other post on car seats.

Once G could sit up we also used an umbrella stroller for quick errands and for walks.  They retail about $20.  I like having this option which is super light weight and when stored takes up very little space.  The issue with this stroller is that it does not lean back.  Which makes it a little harder when your baby needs to take a nap while you are out.  The handles are also a bit short for taller people, like my husband.  

After we bought a new convertible car seat we could no longer use the stroller frame with the car seat attached.  Convertible car seats stay in the vehicle and are not easily removed.  The umbrella stroller would work for quick outings but not for day trips or jogging.  So I set out to find a durable running stroller.  I searched craigslist for months and finally found a used BOB Sports Utility Jogging stroller for $150.  The retail for this type of stroller is $379.  It is in excellent condition.  It has a fixed front wheel which is awesome for running but not super easy at the grocery store.  I got the stroller of my dreams for less than 1/2 the price.

Sure I like new stuff but why pay full price for something that I will use for several years and then not need anymore?  I vote for used strollers.  We have been very happy and never regretted a used stroller purchase.  So within the first year of our sons life we have owned and used 3 different strollers, 1 new and 2 used.  I know it may seem extreme, but we have gotten good wear out of each of them.  I would love to hear about your stroller experiences.  How many did you use within your child's first year?  Have you found the perfect birth to big kid stroller?  What was the total cost of all your strollers?  I'm not even going to go into multiple kid strollers...Yicks!!!        

Note on buying used baby products:  If you are a parent you know full well about how infants love to spray poop everywhere.  This is something that concerned me when buying other people's used baby products.  The thought of that grosses me out, but the truth is that things wash.  If you are about to buy something and you notice huge poop stains then just don't buy it.  Easy as that!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is a Mom's Group?

Several people have asked me what a Mom's Group is so I thought I would write a post about it.  I started a so called "Mom's Group" when G was 3 months old.  My friend Lynne was my inspiration.  She had an amazing group that was growing rapidly and some of the moms already had 2 kids.  Since first time moms face different questions and struggles than second time moms I wanted to start a new group of first timers.  Women to share life with and encourage along the way.

It started out very informal.  I knew or had met several other first time moms and knew some pregnant ones that would soon deliver.  So I took a chance and invited them over for coffee and bagels one winter afternoon.  Of course, they could bring their babies and their questions about motherhood.  I would not be the "know-it-all" mom, just another first timer looking for advice, help and friends.  It was awesome.  We shared our birth stories, experiences with newborns, parenting issues, and so much more.

Since that day, we have met weekly at my apartment, the park, one of their homes, etc.  It has become a tad bit more structured but mostly is still very laid back.  I try to always make it cost-free.  The only expense is the snacks in which we take turns providing.  We have one topic of discussion per week.  We talk about everything from when to start solid food to how our lives were pre baby.  We celebrate milestones that our babies reach.  We give support to each other through babysitting and prayer.

It has been a wonderful way to push away the tendency to judge other mothers or to feel as if you are being judged.  We are all on the same team.  Even though we do not hold the same parenting philosophies we respect each others views.  We learn from one other, our children play, honestly it has become one of the highlights of my week.  These women and their babies are very dear to me.  G totally enjoys the time, too.  It breaks the isolation sometimes stay-at-home moms face.  If you are a mom, I REALLY encourage you to start your own group or join one.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Denim and Felt Wreath

This wreath cost me nothing.  I have been wanting to make one of these ever since I first saw one online.  I hesitated because I did not have a base wreath.  Well, yesterday I made my own base wreath and got busy creating.

Items needed:
  • paper towel roll
  • 2 empty cereal boxes 
  • clear packing tape or any other kind of heavy duty tape
  • left over denim from an old pair of jeans that are now cut-off shorts
  • Scraps of felt
  • hot glue gun and lots of glue sticks
 Step 1:  Create a base wreath using 1 paper towel roll and 2 cereal boxes cut into strips.  Start cutting at the top of the cereal box and cut around and around until you have 1 long strip from the entire cereal box.  Wind the cereal box strips around the paper towel roll and then secure with clear packing tape.  Pull the paper towel roll out and repeat winding process with the other cereal box strip.

Step 2:  After you have two cereal box cylinders and 1 paper towel roll you are ready to put them together to form the wreath.  Secure them all in place with clear tape, duck tape or whatever you have.

Step 3:  Your paper towel roll section will probably be smaller than the others.  Just add pieces of newspaper and apply tape on top to obtain uniform size throughout the wreath.


Step 4:  You need to cover the base wreath.  I used an old pair of my husband's Kavu pants.  They had a rip at the knee so we cut them into shorts.  I used the scraps.  Cut the denim leg into one long strip but save the bottom hem for later.   Do this by starting at the top of the leg and cut around and around until you reach the bottom hem.  The idea is to have one long strip from one pant leg.  How wide the piece is really just depends on what you want.  Wrap the denim around the entire wreath.  Secure ends onto wreath with tape or hot glue.  Once it is wrapped hot glue the denim here and there to make sure there are no gaps and it is secure.  
***Btw, I know this is all a little ghetto but it works and you will have a beautiful product at the end that did not cost you one penny.  It is all about just using what you have to create what you want.

Step 5:  Cut your felt into circles of all different sizes.  Then cut into a circle as if you were creating a circular path to make a spiral.  Then roll the spiral back together and bam you have a flower.  Hot glue the back to keep it together.  Continue this process with each circle.
Step 6:  Cut leaf shapes out of the remaining denim.

Step 7:  Put a dab of hot glue on the bottom of each leaf and pinch the bottom together.  This creates a more 3d effect.
Step 8:  Use the hem from the denim pants to create more flowers.  I cut the hem lengthwise to have a total of 8 strips.  I just wound a strip together to form a flower.  Hot glue the bottom to keep it from coming undone.
Step 9:  Arrange your felt flowers, denim flowers and denim leaves on your wreath.  I used some of the denim flowers as pedestals to elevate the felt flowers.  Hot glue them into place.  

Step 10:  Use some scrap denim to create a hook on the back of the wreath.  I took a piece twisted it and secure it with two safety pins.

As you can see, I like to do crafts my way.  I sort of invent things as I go along and create based on the materials I already have.  It works for me.  Hope you will try it.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vroom! by Leo Timmers - Library Pick

This little book is a charmer.  The illustrations are very well done and unique.  Leo Timmers is the author and illustrator.  He lives is Brussels.  I was happy to find out he has created many more books.  


Monday, September 12, 2011

1st Family Vacation - Camping

This Labor Day we decided to take a family vacation.  It was spur of the moment to go with our "Summer of Spontaneity" theme.  I did not book the campsite until Friday afternoon.  Of course, all the campsites in the whole state of California were taken.  But with some digging I found a KOA in Santa Margarita, CA.  Thankfully someone canceled on Friday morning and we were able to take their spot. The cost was $41 dollars a night for a campsite with shade but no water or electricity.  The KOA was great and family friendly.  There was a live concert on Saturday night, a pool, a bouncy pillow, and a bear sighting 2 weeks ago.  It took almost 4 hours to get there because of traffic and carpooling with a 10 month old who required frequent stops to crawl around.  It was so breathtaking to be out in nature all weekend.  I was reminded of my childhood adventures.  We savored being together as a family and soaked in God's goodness.  We hiked, swam, tried to nap (but it was way too hot), build camp fires, roasted marshmallows, tried to sleep (but it was way too cold), walked up a hill to the bathroom and all the other wonderful things that go with camping.  I don't know why we have not been camping sooner.  We just might have started a tradition.

Tips for next time:

  • Make sure G has at least 4 layers of clothes to sleep in at night.
  • Bring a rake to remove all rocks and sticks from under tent.
  • Hobo dinners were awesome.
  • Bring our own firewood.  Yes, it's true and something I hate to admit but we bought firewood.  

 Concert under the stars!
Just could not keep those eyes open for the pic.

 Good Morning Guys!
 Playing with Dad
 Bouncy Pillow
Tent Time
View on our hike

Together Time
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