Family Summer Challenge: We Are Not Sucking At This

I’m not sure if I’m a genius or an idiot, but starting our family’s summer challenge on a weekend where we would need to eat out a couple of times is a little bit hilarious. These times were special occasions planned well in advance, but still. I guess I could view it as easing us into this slowly, but that sounds a little silly. I do have to say, we did things A LOT different than we would normally, so that’s an improvement right there. For example, we made a bag of snacks for our drive on Saturday while on our way to the Sunset Magazine event so that we only spent money on one meal instead of two. Sunday’s lunch plans with friends have been in the works since March, so I also let that fall under the “special occasions” umbrella. Since the major point of this challenge is that we don’t just stop by and pick up food on the way home from work or from practices, I’m not mad about our special occasions this weekend. One of my biggest goals in doing this is to get us organized so that coming home at 8 o’clock at night doesn’t mean we have to eat out…or eat cold cereal.

Starting all of this in the summer is the best way for our family to make better habits. No school means the kids have more time to help. (And they do.) It means that we can work together to set up meals and lunches and snacks in the mornings and/or evenings. It also helps that they can eat an early dinner BEFORE practices instead of after. We are still super busy, but we’re not quite as pressed for time. All of this makes it a little easier on me since the summer is my busy time at work.

Even though I said that official start date was June 1st, we had been working towards this goal for the past couple of weeks. And we had been doing pretty well. It helped me out a ton that The Dude has tackled the past few Costco trips since he has every other Friday off. And a couple days after his last trip, I took one of Sarah’s genius ideas and implemented it for our own family. It’s not as detailed as what Sarah does, but this list has helped us keep track and be better about meal planning:

 today_list

This has been a game changer. I’m not even joking. You would think that just opening your fridge would give you a glimpse of what food you can choose from, but if you’re anything like me? It doesn’t help at all. Having a list of what’s in your fridge and dinner ideas makes dinner planning so much easier. It also helps me keep track of what we have so that I can be better at making sure that food doesn’t go to waste. Because let’s not talk about how often I forget about that asparagus I bought and now it’s a slimy mess in the garbage. I mean, I know we won’t be perfect at this, but I couldn’t believe how much the list on the fridge helped.

Also, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that everything on that list is the epitome of health and wellness. ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME, MY FRIENDS. But it’s a huge start in that direction.

Now…if your family is like mine, they are more likely to each fruits and vegetables if they are cut up and ready to go. Even if that means staying up way past your bedtime to make a fruit salad.
 today_fruit

I also remind myself that nothing about this has to be perfect. So using a small scoop to do half-assed versions of melon balls is JUST AS GOOD as cutting the entire watermelon. When you’re rushing around making lunches, making the huge mess of cutting a watermelon is unappealing. Weird looking melon balls work fine. They just do.

today_watermelon

Also? Smoothies.

today_smoothies 
When we’re trying to get out the door to school or to a (very, very) early softball tournament, we can pack a lot of healthy goodness and even a bit of protein in our smoothies. (May I direct your attention to my new blender that works so well and I’m probably in love.) Smoothies are great when your kids don’t want to eat a full breakfast because it’s so damn early in the morning and they’re about to go play 34 games of softball. Or 3. Something like that.

SO. Those are the things that have helped us get started with our challenge so far. We’re supposed to grill up some ribs tonight, but since I’ll be driving across town to take a kid to practice, we may do that tomorrow. But the nice thing about having the ideas and the ingredients listed on the fridge is that a lot of the guess work is already done and I won’t feel so stressed about trying to figure out what’s for dinner. And one less thing to stress about totally makes my day.

It’s Time To Get All Pollyanna Up In Here

It’s hard to not feel like the world is completely upside down and bat-shit crazy. Because it kind of is.

Like most of us, I’ve spend a lot of time worrying about the world that we live in. Especially when tragedy and terror hit so close to home. Obviously, Boston and Texas have been on our minds a lot. But there are so many things that have happened this week that aren’t “breaking” news stories on every news source or channel.

It’s been a rough week.

I want to fill up my little space here with some goodness, light and happy. I want to make you laugh or smile. At the very least, I want to give everyone a giant, squishy hug. (And you know that I could. I’m a professional hugger, I GOTCHU.)

So, because you love to humor me, here are some of the things that have made this week a little lighter and more beautiful:

Paisley:

paisleypup
This dog. THIS DOG will warm the cockles of your heart. Yes, I totally just said cockles. I might even do it again if you’re good.

Beautiful Scenery:

sunset

One of my favorite pastimes is finding beauty in the world around us. I was walking the (cockle warming) puppy dog earlier this week when I was wowed by this sunset. I keep going to back to look at this picture because it makes me happy, ok?

This picture of my kid:

hairsdid

She got to get her hair done for the very first time last weekend for her birthday. As you can see by the look on her face, she is not exactly pleased by the moment I chose to take a picture. I’m trying not to laugh just looking at this. She’s hilarious. Often.

Mike Wazowski

mike!

I don’t care what anybody says, a coffee mug can brighten your mood. I highly (HIGHLY) recommend a coffee date with Mike.

Cockle warmer!

pup!
You know you were needing another picture of the puppy. Outside, napping(?) during spring break a few weeks ago.

You Drive!!!

So this kid is hilarious. I will be forever grateful to SueBob for posting this yesterday when we all needed it the most. WORRY ABOUT YOSELF!!

 Love

love

Go love on some people today. And this weekend. Basically, love all the people all the days. Just do it.

Cockels!

I Should Really Start Taking More Fridays Off

Here’s what I’m going to tell you. When one of your dearests asks if you can take a Friday off to go wine-tasting, you are going to want to say yes. Because DUDE. Are you kidding me with this view?

VINES
Stunning view of one of the vineyards near DK Winery. And one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken on the iPhone.

I have no business pretending I am any expert on South El Dorado County wineries and wine country, but I have to pretend I’m an expert on South El Dorado County wineries and wine country for a minute. Because it is so lovely up there, I just can’t keep it to myself. That’s rude.

Fair Play wine country is the best kept secret, let me tell you. I had no idea that this little wine country nestled in the Sierra Foothills existed.

WINEGLASS
Perry Creek Winery – the beginning. (Also, please don’t remind Sara that there’s a decorative snake on the back counter. Just, don’t.)

My dear Sara had a Living Social deal for a lunch experience at the Perry Creek winery in Fair Play, CA. What we didn’t know before heading up there, is how amazing our experience would be. You started off with a couple of tastings before being lead on a personal tour through their winery. Our new friend Hadrian took us through the wine-making process. (We all seemed to geek-out on all the steps and information we learned yesterday. IT. WAS. FASCINATING. NO JOKE.)

BARRELS

 

Once we made it through the various processes and visited the barrel room, we headed back down the hill to the tasting room for actual barrel tastings. Fascinating and amazing.

BARRELTASTING
YOU GUYS, this was so great. (Everyone got a turn serving wine out of the barrels. I declined because KLUTZ.)

 

Ok, so I know that timing is everything. The four of us were scheduled for this deal, it was a Friday at noon and they were not overly busy…but it was so much fun. We had an absolute blast. Well taken care of…the wine is fantastic. And, word on the street, is that this tour is free to wine club members, or so I have heard. Harvest time is in September/October and I would love to go back and see some of the wine process in action. But can I tell you again how much fun we had?

GALS
Me, Elena, Sara and Courtney: my partners in crime

No one asked me to write this post…no one cares. But when you have such a great time in such a beautiful and stunning location, you want to share. I still can’t get over how beautiful it was up there. There are so many wineries to visit and gorgeous views to see. Even on the ride home.

ROADVIEW

Seriously. Perry Creek and other Fair Play wineries? A must do. You’ll absolutely love it.

wonderful

 

easter

I’d be lying if I said that I feel completely relaxed after this Easter weekend. In fact, I think I am more tired than when I started it.

But there was so much goodness and awesome, I’m actually having a hard time writing it all down.

Family
So much time spent with family. I enjoyed every second of it. Saturday afternoon BBQ to welcome visiting family. Easter brunches that last all day. It was pretty fantastic to spend so much time with everyone. And it was good to see the kids having such a great time!

Friends
One of the best things about living next door to one of your best friends is being invited to their epic Easter egg hunt Sunday morning. Even the adults get to participate! We weren’t able to stay very long, but we had a blast with all of some of our favorite people!

Coolest Easter Weather Ever
Thunder…lightening…giant rain drops…sunshine and warmth? This weekend’s weather had it all. It’s been a long time since I enjoyed weather so much. (What a nerd.)

Lazy Saturday Morning
It’s not very often that we have the luxury of taking our time on Saturday mornings. So of course that means bacon and pancakes. And the most delicious berry and lemon topping, if I do say so myself. We took turns playing tic-tac-toe as we ate and just enjoyed the laziness for a bit.

Easter Basket Stuffs
A little before Christmas we became a household where everyone now knows that Santa, Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are all part of the mom and dad gig. I felt a tiny bit sad over it during Christmas, but we were all so excited about the puppy. However, as The Dude and I shopped for Easter, I missed buying stuff for the littles. It was a bit weird, really, when you realize you’ve passed that part of parenting. Filling Easter baskets will still fun. Just…different.

I have a lot coming up this week, and starting it off so tired is probably super ridiculous. But you know what? How can you regret so much awesome all crammed  into one weekend? You really, really can’t. I loved every second…and I hope you all had a wonderful weekend as well!

Weekend Update: Bullet Point Edition. (Because connecting sentences and paragraphs are hard.)

  • I am ridiculously tired and I have no good reason for such exhaustion. I blame the hormones. Which, now that I think about it, is a pretty damn good reason to be so tired. Well, it’s a reason anyway.
  • I spent a million hours folding laundry this weekend. A million hours is an estimate. As luck would have it, when a softball game and practice get cancelled, you do laundry. Lots of it. Because you actually have time to do it. You also watch a million hours of Oprah-related television. If you know me at all, you know this is strange, unusual and HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. I’ve never been the biggest Oprah fan (ever) but when I wanted to watch more Brene Brown? Well, that means you put up with Oprah. And then that means that you keep watching Oprah because she was interviewing the Wayans family. And LL Cool J. And Dave Letterman. And Jenifer Hudson. I think that’s it. Please note that I did NOT watch entire episodes of these interviews. I did, however, watch ALL of last week’s Once Upon a Time. (There was a lot of laundry.)
  • Paisley had her first trip to a dog-park this weekend. It was also the first time that she got to meet her doodlest friend ever! It’s crazy how alike they look! (Allie is the very reason that we have a Paisley. And I’m so, so glad that we do.) We had a blast hanging out with Allie’s family. We just adore you guys.

    pups
    Paisley & Allie. So cute!
  • I’m really grateful for my mom. I’m grateful she called me right after she got home from her trip to Utah to see when she needed to watch my kids. I’m so, so, so lucky that she’s my mom. (THANK YOU, MOM!)
  • I’m still thinking about the amazing dinner I ate last night. Wonderful and lovely company, of course. But I’d like another expensive steak dinner, if you please. Y*U*M. The only downside of things was that my dear husband took ill and stayed home. I actually think he had some sort of migraine. (Which he’s never, ever had before.) I really like hanging out with that guy, though…and I really missed him at dinner. But I’m pretty grateful that I could still have a great time with some of my favorite people and I never felt likea third (or seventh) wheel.
  • Poopy mornings happen every once in a while. And I think poopy mornings have to happen to remember what good mornings feel like…and also to practice ridiculous amounts of patience. I had about five minutes of completely losing it with my children, but then I pulled myself together and told them to go sit in the car and wait for me. (I wasn’t even dressed at that point, but I just figured that if they continued fighting, I wouldn’t be able to hear it if they were out in the car.) Hooray DAY1 of spring break! I’m hoping for less fighting, more listening tomorrow morning. FINGERS. CROSSED.
  • Remember how I told you about saving my sister’s life when we were little? Well, after she read my post she wondered which time I was referring to. Apparently, I saved her life on the regular when we were kids. Okay, there was ONE other time. (That I didn’t remember. Of course.) But I figure that twice in our childhood counts as “on the regular.” Also, hard candy is dangerous. In my sister’s words:

“As soon as I read the first line, I thought, ‘which time?’ You were also there when I choked on a piece of candy. You pounded on my back and Pop! Candy flew out of my mouth.”

What I’m trying to tell you is that I’m handy to have around when you are swimming or eating hard candy. Of course, I may only be helpful if you are my little sister. I’m just not sure.

I’ll keep you posted.

Green Weekend

Nothing says spring like the opening day of softball for Little League. Ramona’s first game of the season was a huge success! I was so stinkin proud of that kid.

photo
Playing third base LIKE A BOSS
photo 3
SWING!

It’s hard to believe that this (almost) 11yo kid in these softball pictures, is the same kid who once wore her daddy’s Guinnes hat to cheese it up for the camera. I stumbled across this picture last week, and it became my St. Paddy’s Day inspiration.

photo 1
Happy Saint Paddy’s Day, indeed!!!

We didn’t do much in the way of celebrating the luck of the Irish, but I did paint my nails a lovely odd shade of green. I wasn’t sure that I had much green in my closet, so why the hell not?

photo 4
Please ignore the messy cuticles

But as it turns out, we were able to celebrate like the Irish of yore with cupcakes from our favorite spot. Tradition might be recorded differently in your books.

photo 5
yummy, yummy luck

This weekend was surprisingly low-key. Well, I mean low-key for us. There was plenty of things and events going on. But it was nice to not be double or triple booked for once!

We have a lot going on this week (nothing new) and I feel completely unprepared for it. (Could someone PLEASE take care of my grocery shopping?) But you know what? We’ll take on this week just like we do every week: flying by the seat of our freaking pants.

Have a great week, everyone!

 

I <3 CA

california

I’m a California girl at heart. And driving an hour and a half to Sausalito for brunch makes perfect sense to our family.

But with views like this, can you blame us?

The Dude

bdayflan

March 5th is a pretty popular birthday. Especially in my family. My dad, my husband and my late grandmother were all born on this day.

But today? Today was all about The Dude. I just love the hell out of that guy and I’m pretty proud that he’s mine.

Birthday flan for everyone.