Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Trick's On Us

It's been really busy around here with lots of activity leading up to Halloween. Most recently we had some friends over for pumpkin carving and butternut squash lasagna dinner, mmm one of my favorite meals of the Fall season.

We had an early Halloween celebration at Miles and Liam's day care which included their last day at daycare celebration.

We had dinner with friends, supporting Aidan's school fundraiser, Red Boy pizza with %15 of the proceeds going back to the school.

I did lots of prep work for Aidan's kindergarten Halloween party, made these fun treat bags,

baked these yummy cupcakes

using this yummy recipe from Everyday Food. Was so excited to go to Aidan's Halloween parade and class party but....this is when things took a turn for the worse. Night before the party, Liam is suddenly overcome by a stomach flu. It's been two nights of no sleep, one late afternoon visit to the doctor and multiple clothing and bedding changes. I've lost count of how many loads of laundry we've had to do. And yet worse, we've had to cancel Miles and Liam's birthday party which was scheduled for Nov 1st. Thankfully I was able to cancel the cake order with no cancellation fees. Now we're on the road to recovery. Hoping you all have a Happy Halloween with lots of yummy treats!

Update: just as a I thought we were on the mend, Miles is now vomitting :(

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gluttony Games Not For Me

I really have a hard time with food related games. You know the kind, who can eat the most hot dogs, dumplings, pies etc. in a period of time. Or the kind they had today at our school event, eating a donut dangling from a string. I just find this to be completely wasteful and shameful behavior. With people starving all over the world and some in our own country, how can we think taking part in such activity is OK? I'm also disturbed about the message it sends our kids. That food here is in such abundance we can waste it engaging in repulsive games of just pure gluttony.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not the kind of parent that makes their kids clean their plates and forces them to eat food they don't like so it's not wasted. I let them make food choices, but I do request that they try things, if they don't like it they don't have to eat it. I also encourage them not to waste food, in doing so, that also means not participating in food games.

My thoughts are this, especially now with food banks struggling to keep up with the current demands of people in need of a meal, we as a society should think twice about engaging in this kind of activity. But yet, we still seem to see it on reality TV shows, at county fairs and school events just to name a few. These are all public events that send the wrong message to our kids. How about teaching our kids to be thankful for the food we have and the access to so many choices, teaching them to share with those in need...not how many hot dogs can I possibly gorge myself with.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mmmm Baking, Yummy or Not??

We're having a Harvest Festival as a fundraiser event tomorrow at Aidan's school. It should be fun for the kids, there will be games, food and haunted house fun. Of course, I volunteered to provide a baked good for the fundraiser. Simple request, right? Shouldn't be a problem, I bake often. I decided this was something Aidan and I could do together. I found this recipe for Halloween blondies.

Aidan and I had fun together, putting the M&Ms on and eating them too (insert grin). But, something went horribly wrong, they came out salty and greasy. Not sure what happened. I'm pretty sure I used the right amount of butter, I'm certain it was unsalted. I felt terrible when I had to tell Aidan they were bad. The look of disappointment on his face just pulls at me. If that weren't bad enough I now had to whip something else up to deliver to the bake sale coordinator house tonight at a decent hour (this gave me approximately an hour). So I went into "think quick, what do I have mode" oatmeal and some Halloween M&Ms...whaalaaa.

I quickly made 2 dozen oatmeal M&M cookies, let them cool just a bit, stacked them with wax paper in between so they wouldn't stick, called over the neighbor to watch the boys for 10 minutes (hubby was out) while I ran them over. Phew!! Got them to her house at 8:52, half an hour later than I would have liked but all in all not absurdly late.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Urban Farming: Our Neighbors The Chickens

Our neighbors across the street have become of great interest to the boys. They really enjoy going over there and visiting, especially when it comes time to looking for that special treat. I'm talking about the chickens the rooster and the baby chicks soon to be chickens too, they grow up so fast. Their owner Robin is just lovely too, and he's been so kind with the boys to share the whole urban farming experience with them. The biggest treat is when they get to check the coop for eggs. This last visit produced an extra large light blue egg that they were all fascinated with. Actually it created a whole scrimmage between them over who got to hold the egg, you would have thought it was golden.

Along with the chickens, he has a fabulous garden that has also sparked interest in the boys. Aidan was trying to guess what was growing on some of the plants which was a bit unfair to him I should add since he doesn't even know what some of them are. For instance, he was never going to guess tomatillo, not even part of his vocabulary. So truly it's made for a fun learning experience!

Yes, Miles has been there too but he's managed to escape the camera.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Skeletons, Tombstones, Jack-O-Lanterns, Oh My

Decorating for holidays is so much fun and a great activity you can do with your kids. Aidan and I have been doing a little decorating for Halloween. I let him pick out a new Halloween decoration, it's a little tradition we started a couple of years ago. This year he picked out this great string of lights for his room. They look like dancing skeletons. They're actually really fun and not scary at all despite what Miles might tell you. Miles is a little scared of them, although both Mommy and Daddy have explained to him they're "friendly skeletons".

And what would Halloween be without tombstones? We have a small tombstone in our planter on our porch.

Oh and of course the pumpkins which will soon be jack-o-lanterns. I just love the colors of Fall including the bright orange of pumpkins, they're so festive.

We also have the boys treat buckets, plastic jack-o-lanterns stacked on top of each other in the kitchen sitting under "La Calavera Catrina" a perfect addition to our Halloween decor. Actually though, "La Calavera Catrina" is a well known Mexican image that hangs in our kitchen year round.

We have lots more Halloween decor dispersed through the house, these were just a few I decided to share.

A little Mexican art history side note as summarized from wikipedia: "In 1913 Jose Guadalupe Posada first created "La Calavera Catrina" as a zinc etching to portray the image of the rich and fashionable in death. He wanted to depict that the rich fashionistas were just as susceptible to death as anyone else, despite their pretext to self importance."
Politically it's a great statement. It's also important to us to have some of our heritage in our home....but that's another blog entry in itself ;)

Hope you're all having just as much fun getting ready for Halloween!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tolay Fall Festival - Worth A Go

Today we drove to Sonoma county to attend the Tolay Lake Fall Festival. So glad we chose to do this because it was so worth a go, a two thumbs up by far! Parking is $6 dollars and the rest was free (except for food, but you can pack your own picnic). Even free Arrowhead water, anywhere else you pay $2 for water these days. Free hay ride, come on can't beat that. The last pumpkin patch we went to was charging $4 a head for a hay ride. Hard to believe but true. Also a hay bale maze the kids loved,

There were several craft stands that included, candle making, corn husk doll making, potato stamping, scarecrow making plus more.

There were lots of critters to see too, including a bee keeper enclosed in a tent, llamas, horses and the sort, you know your traditional farm animals but, they also had the non-traditional variety that included a vulture, falcon, snakes, tarantulas, scorpions plus more in this huge dark barn called the night time creatures exhibit. You even got to hold and touch some of these creatures, the nonpoisonous of course.

There was also a Native American exhibit with real traditional dwellings that the kids got to explore.

The kids participated in a pumpkin spitting contest which we all had a hoot watching.

We were there from noon to 5 pm and still did not hit every exhibit, there were a few more we just didn't get to. Instead, we lingered at some of our favorite sights enjoyed sitting on the lawn listening to music and eating kettle corn for awhile. Lots of open space for the kids to run and frolic. It really was just plain ol' traditional family fun outing.

I believe tomorrow is the last day, so if you get a chance to go, you should take the opportunity and enjoy!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is it a Party You Want?

Insanity! Just realized I'm coordinating 4 parties in 2 weeks. TBB Halloween party tomorrow (yes I know I should be finishing up on some details or trying to get some sleep), Miles and Liam's last day at daycare/b-day party on the 29th, Aidan's kindergarten Halloween party on the 30th which of course I have taken it upon myself to coordinate/plan that event too (what was I thinking)! Finally on Nov 1st Miles and Liam's birthday party at home with friends and family. The good thing is I've purchased everything I need for all 4 parties. Now I just need to start putting treat bags and favors together and bake cupcakes just before the events. What's a mom to do when you want your kids to have good and memorable times?

Well I'm on a roll now, do you have a party you'd like me to plan for you? Just kidding!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Aidan Climbs

This past weekend we attended the local Oktoberfest. They had a section of kid oriented booths, with crafts and the sort. What they also had was this tall rock climbing structure that kids lined up for a turn. Aidan surprisingly said he wanted to climb it. I was surprised because he's really not the most physical type. Since he's started kindergarten I'd have to say he's gotten a little more involved in real physical play, jumping, monkey bars, climbing etc...but rock climbing, really!? Well he did it, he took his turn and he did well. He wasn't able to make it to the top, which most kids his size didn't but he made it halfway. He was disappointed for not making it but we all gave him kudos for trying and for making it as far as he did....and for trying something new!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Starting Off Fall With Pumpkin Patch Fun

I absolutely love Fall and all the changes that come with it. Crisper cool days, changing leaves and the beginning of Halloween fun. We've kicked off our Halloween count down with a visit to Joan's Farm and Pumpkin Patch. This place is so much for family fun, and the kids could stay all day.

We fed the farm animals,

ran through the fort maze,

found our way through the corn maze,

boys rode the patriotic express,

enjoyed the outdoors,

and had fun with all the pumpkins and attractions.

Indeed it was a delightful day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mid-Autumn Festival, Celebrating the Moon

This past Saturday (I know I've been so busy I haven't blogged) we celebrated Mid-Autumn Moon Festival at home with some yummy moon cake that grandma got for the boys.

This is a celebration I've come to know as an adult and celebrate it now since it's part of our families cultural background. As a family, we are making an effort in teaching the kids about their mixed ethnicity and culture, this includes celebrations such as Mid-Autumn festival. To my pleasant surprise, Aidan's kindergarten class also learned about the Mid-Autumn Festival and moon cakes. I imagine only in the Bay Area does this happen or maybe the LA area too. I surely don't remember learning this in my farm town I grew up in. Cultural diversity is one of the many great things about living in California.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Talking Numbers

Thanks to Aidan's friend Parker, we now have lots of conversations about numbers. Today's went like this:

Aidan: Infinity is bigger than a google.

Me: Yes Aidan I think you're right.

Aidan: So when you count out loud, google comes before infinity.

Me: That's right.

Aidan: Except Infinity is too big to count to...I think a google is to big for me to count to too.

Me: Yup, those are some big numbers.

Aidan: But I can count to one thousand, that's a pretty big number too. Actually, one thousand is a really cool number. I think it's one of my favorites.

Me: Yeah Aidan, one thousand is a cool number.

I can't believe I'm saying that I think a number is cool. I've never been a fan of math or anything math related. Wondering how many of these conversations we're going to have.

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