Monday, October 23, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Guardians of Six

I honestly thought we were heading to a great birthday party this year. All summer Thatkid talked about a sports party in the park. I was excited.  And then, about a month before his birthday, he decided he wanted a Guardians of the Galaxy party at Chuck E Cheese.

As you may recall, last yer he had a Ninjago birthday party at Chuck E Cheese,  despite having never seen or expressed any interest in Ninjago.  Well, looks like that's become the new theme, because I've never heard him mention Guardians of the Galaxy before this declaration.

But it's his birthday, so he gets to pick.  So Guardians of the Galaxy at Chuck E Cheese it was.



He also requested a homemade cake - strawberry cake with chocolate ice cream.   I had a hard time figuring out how I was going to Guardians that thing up, and finally came up with a pretty good solution.


The kids spent the time playing arcade games and dancing with the mouse himself.


During the birthday show, he got called up to lead everyone in singing to him.  


And then that cake got candled, cut, and eaten.


One of the highlights is always the ticket blaster.  Last year he couldn't really figure out what to do. This year, he had it down.


As much as I hate these Chuck E Cheese birthdays, Thatkid really loves them.  And I love seeing him so happy.  Even still, let's cross our fingers that next year he decides he's over it, or interested in something cooler.


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Macaroni Salad


Like I said, October is a busy month. So much to do! So little time!  We started in the very first week, with a little help from Thatkid's school.  This is the first year the kindergartners had a field trip, and it just happened to be at the pumpkin patch.

For the very first time Thatkid boarded a school bus with a bunch of his classmates.


Because it was close, and his first field trip, and a pumpkin patch, I met up with them at the patch.


Then hung back and let him explore and enjoy the time with his friends.



They all got to go on a hay ride and explore the corn maze.


And they got to pick out a pumpkin to take home.



The pumpkin patch they went to is the same pumpkin patch we usually visit as a family. So last weekend we returned with everyone.  Going as a family meant we got to do different things than with Thatkid's class.  Like take goofy pictures.













And feed the goats.  I love that my boys love animals so much.










But eventually we stopped playing and got down to business. Pumpkin business.



We traded in these two little pumpkins for the more orangey kind.



We hit up the pumpkin patch in the morning, trying to beat the heat.  Because even though it's October, the heat wave has returned. By noon it was 95 degrees.  By the time dinner rolled around it was 98.  I'm really trying to embrace this fall season, but when the weather feels like summer, sometimes you got to do what you got to do.  Like make macaroni salad. It's a summertime staple, but its cool tang is welcome when the temperature keeps climbing. And the fact that it takes less than 20 minutes to put together is always appreciated.

Macaroni Salad (From Cooking Light)
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 cup canola mayonnaise
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
1/4 cup grated carrots
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain.
  2. Combine mayonnaise, sugar, cider vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir in pasta, celery, bell pepper, onion, carrots and chives.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Thatkid Turns 6!

October is always a crazy month here, although one of my favorites.  And of course this is the month my computer keyboard decided to go kerplunk.  I'm currently debating whether I've got the skills to replace it myself, if I want to pay someone to do it for me, or just splurge on a new computer.  Y'all love my inner musings, right?

So where were we. That's right, during my hiatus, Thatkid went and got another year older.   He's 6!
This is the first year he's been in a "real school" on his birthday, so it was a little different than years past.  We went out to breakfast the day before, since his favorite place is a little too far, and too sit-down for a weekend morning.

On his actual birthday, Thatkid requested pancakes.  I though I would make them extra festive by making him funfetti pancakes. He approved. He opened gifts while I cooked and was so thrilled with his new hatchimal that he insisted it join him for breakfast.



After breakfast came school. Although I offered to pick him up right after class, he wanted to go to the afterschool program.  So instead, Thatboy came home early and we picked the boys up at regular time and headed to his dinner choice (after stopping at home to get his hatchimal).

He chose pizza for dinner, I think mostly because they have arcade games, and he knew we'd let him play on his birthday.  Whatever the reason, we weren't going to stop catering to him, it was his birthday. And he had a great night, even winning at the claw game.



I asked if he wanted a cake, or cupcakes to celebrate. His request? "Ice cream. And mom, not frozen yogurt. Real ice cream."  And so we ended the day at Baskin Robbins.



It was a very mellow sixth birthday, but it was a good one! And we're looking forward to a pretty great year!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Mommy Mondays: Fall Bucket List

I don't get overly excited about Christmas, although I do love the activities surrounding the winter holidays, and I love the family time and the music.

But you guys, the calendar switched from Summer to Fall last week, and I feel like I've been floating on a cloud.  Just the notions of fall is enough to lighten my mood.  The weather this past week has gone right along with it, shuffling off the oppressive heat that marked the end of the summer hear.  And while word on the street is that oppressive heat is returning this week, I can still look at my calendar and remind myself of what this season really is.

I've already brought out some decorations for the tables, and am plotting turning my window box into some form of graveyard (fake - I'm not going to bury anything living above my sink).  And every time I walk past, I smile.

We went for a walk as a family last weekend and started brainstorming our Fall Bucket List.  And we've already started knocking things off!  My biggest problem is that there is always too much to do, and our weekends are packed.  And some of these events overlap with each other, which means we're going to have to do things like choose between going to see Nightmare Before Christmas and the Spooky Aquarium.

*Apple Picking
* Drink lot of apple cider
*Visit a Pumpkin Patch
* Go on a Hay ride
* Cook with pumpkin (pumpkin bread and pumpkin pretzels are first on our list!)
* Halloween Events (Legoland's Brick or Treat, Haunted Aquarium)
* Decorate the House for Halloween
* Watch Halloween movies (at home and at events)
* Carve Pumpkins (at home and at our fave pumpkin carving event)
* Trick-or-Treating
* Attend one of the many Oktoberfests in the area
* Explore Old Town San Diego's Dia de los Muertos
* Take family photos
* Attend a football game
* Attend a Fall Festival

What am I missing?  What's on your list?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday Runday: On My Own

I joined "Moms Run This Town" because I was running a lot of half marathons.  Which meant a lot of long runs.  And a running club allowed me to meet other people to run with.  The group, full of moms, was ideal, because no one understands the schedule complexities of a mother, like a mother.

And I met a lot of great running friends this way.  Which made my long runs so much more enjoyable.

When I got pregnant with Thatbaby, I wasn't running long runs anymore, but I was still able to find people to run with at my new, slower speed who became great friends.

But the pendulum swings both ways, doesn't it?

I'm currently training for a half marathon next month, and I've purposely headed out on many of my long runs by myself.  I'm so used to running with people, it's almost novel to have my thoughts to myself during this period.  Yesterday I ran for 9 miles with a smile on my face the entire time.  I got to run at my own speed without worry about faster or slower companions.  I listened to podcasts and became so engrossed, the miles flew by.

I don't think I'll ever give up on running with friends.  I love the companionship, and the time to catch up.  But going back to the beginning, when I only ran by myself is also refreshing.  And even after this half marathon is over, I might keep up with these long runs on my own.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Crave Wednesday: Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges


Early in the summer I had mentioned to Thatboy that we should plan a beach trip.  We discussed that fact that it had been so long since we'd been to the beach that Thatbaby didn't even remember what the beach was like.

We live in Southern California.  This is unacceptable.

So while we were still battling the heat wave, we escaped to the coast.  After a brief dip in the water with Thatkid, Thatboy abandoned us to get some surf in while I entertained the kids on the sand.











Thatboy had tried to coax Thatbaby into the water, but he wanted nothing to do with it.  Thatkid was antsy to get in, so while Thatbaby and I stood at the very edge of the white water, Thatkid bravely splashed in the waves.



It wasn't long before I had Thatbaby jumping over waves while holding my hand, which gave him the confidence to actually go in the ocean, as long as I was holding him.

When Thatboy got back, he brought Thatkid out with his boogie board, so he could do a little surfing of its own.



Thatbaby wasn't quite brave enough to go in the water with the board, but he was just as happy to be pulled along in the sand.



The beach was an excellent way to escape the heat, which has finally passed.  Now the weather is PERFECT.  It feels funny saying that since it is usually still in the 70s, which is warmer than I like for the fall.  But with temperatures in the 90s and 100s for so long, I'll take 70s!

It means I'm back to actually using the oven again.  It means as much as I love salads, roasted vegetables are back on the menu.  It means our french fries?  They're baked.  Coated in Parmesan cheese and baked.  This recipe calls for both Russet and Sweet Potatoes, although you should feel free to use just one or the other if you want.  I like the mix of both.  These are especially good with some spicy sriracha dip!


Parmesan-Coated Potato Wedges (From Cooking Light)
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup flour
3 egg whites
1 Tbsp water
3/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup panko
2 Russet potatoes, each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
2 sweet potatoes, each cut lengthwise into 8 wedges


  1.  Preheat oven to 425.  Combine salt and flour in a shallow dish.
  2. Whisk egg whites and 1 Tbsp water in a shallow dish.
  3. Combine cheese and panko in another shallow dish.
  4. Dredge potato wedges in flour mixture.
  5. Dip in egg white mixture.
  6. Dredge in cheese mixture.  Divide between 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper for 30 minutes, rotating the pans after 20 minutes.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Mommy Mondays: A Night at the Theater

Friday night, Thatkid and I had a special date night.  We went to see "In the Heights."  It was our annual trip to the summer program run by the Moonlight Amphitheater which performs outdoor theater.  Every year they do one production especially for kids.  This was not that production.


The kids production this year was The Little Mermaid.  Which Thatkid is going to see with his dad through Broadway San Diego, so it didn't make a lot of sense to send him to see the same production twice in a matter of weeks.

"In the Heights" may not seem like a production geared for kids, but we've been expanding our theater selections this year with Thatkid.  Which brings me to the point of this post - how to raise a theater lover.

In short, like most of my wisdom, I have no idea.

But I feel incredibly lucky that Thatkid loves theater so much.

I'm sure part of it has to do with the fact that his parents love theater so much.  Which is also lucky.  I grew up in a house where both my parents listened to, and sang, musicals on a regular basis.  There wasn't a show they didn't know.  My father even auditioned for the original Broadway cast of Jesus Christ Superstar.  And while Thatboy did NOT grow up in a similar household, he loves live theater, especially musicals.

He doesn't have the same background as I do, but he gets enough of the references that I teased him yesterday morning as he tried to tune a guitar that he sounded like he was starting the opening of Rent. And he didn't look at me like I was crazy.  He smiled and nodded.

And then there's exposure.  Thatkid loves theater, because is exposed to lots of theater.  My very first Broadway show was Peter Pan and so when NBC did their "Peter Pan Live" we tuned in.  I thought he would love it. Love might be strong.  But he didn't mind it.  He was very confused that Peter was a girl, but he was definitely interested.  He had just turned 3, which we thought was a good time to introduce him to live theater since he was finally able to sit through a movie....earlier that day.

This was also the period when he started watching Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang all the time, both of which are full of singing.  And that's when we started bringing him to live theater, beginning with the Moonlight Amphitheater production of Shrek - one of his favorite movies.

We play musicals at home, Thatboy and I take turns bringing him to shows, and so far, he hasn't found one he doesn't like.  His current favorite is either Into The Woods, which Thatboy took him to a couple weeks ago (seriously, hearing a 5 year old sing Agony might be a life changing moment) or Hamilton, which he hasn't seen yet, but requests to hear the cast recording all the time  (And if you're not won over by Agony, then you should hear his "Hear Comes the General.")

Neither of those shows is especially kid friendly.  There's sex and death in both of them - themes we avoid in most movies he views.  But a lot of that goes over his head, which makes me feel a little better about bringing him.  And why I thought he might like In The Heights, which is far from a fairy tale.  (He asked if there was a bad guy in the show during the first act, to which I replied "Only the heat and life.")

And although he is much to young to sit through a production, I think we're bringing Thatbaby right along with us.  He doesn't have all the lyrics to Hamilton memorized like his older brother, but he "da da da da daaaaaahs" with the best of them in "You'll Be Back."  And mention "Into the Woods" and he'll tell you all about the witch.  And the wolf.  So hopefully next summer we'll be able to attend Moonlight Amphitheater's production of Newsies as a family!