Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend: Off the Grid


This past weekend, Mother's Day weekend, we went to the desert.  Not that desert, not the glamorous desert, but about 20 miles North of Kramer Junction off of 395.


It was my dad's birthday and a few of his long-time friend's birthdays.   My parents have been going camping with the same group of friends since they were teenagers.  For his birthday my dad organized this camping trip.


Stories and jokes were told around the fire pit, just like they were when I was a kid.


The only signs of a little civilization were these markers and


loosely maintained roads.



Camp.  No power.  No hookups.  No TV.  No blogger.  No Instagram.  No Facebook.  No feeds.  You get the picture ;)


To give you some perspective of how far out there we were.


I was a little hesitant to go.  I was nervous my girl would get bored.  She was going to be the only kid among 12 adults.  I didn't want to bring a bunch of toys or entertainment because I wanted her to unplug too, but I wasn't sure how'd she do.  My parent's friends were laughing because this was basically me 25 years ago.  My parents had me way before any of their friends had kids, so I was always the only kid in camp.  My girl brought a few toys and I did not here the words "I'm bored" once.


We rode bikes.  I had my own dirt bike before I could ride a bicycle.


My girl got to spend quality time with my mom and dad.  She had so much fun, she didn't want to come home to San Diego.  She wanted to go home with them.  There was a time when I trained myself not to cry when I had to say goodbye to my parents.  That all went out the window when my girl started crying when saying goodbye to them.


This is a sign of a good time.  My girl never, ever, sleeps in the car, especially during the day.  I'm so glad we chose to go out.  The best mother's day gift I could ever get is seeing my girl connecting with my parents.  Hope you all had a nice weekend!

XO,
Amber

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thank You to the Teachers


It's teacher appreciation week and to give an extra thank you to my daughter's teachers, I made them Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake.  They patiently soothe her every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning when I drop her off.  They deserve way more than lemon cake for hugging her, holding her hand, and just being patient with her.


 Another mom has asked us parents to donate money towards gift cards for the teachers, but I wanted to do a little more, nothing extravagant, just something more personal.  Sutton and I had a great time making these cakes.  She even shoved lemons in her dress and pretended they were her boobies.  Yep, already starting that monkey business.  After the lemons, she switched to lime boobies and then apple boobies and she was having a grand ol' time laughing at her reflection.  Do you do anything special for your children's teachers?  My friend Ashley, who also just started a blog, came up up with a great TEA-cher appreciation gift.

I hope your weeks are cruising along nicely.  It's nice to get back to a normal pace again.  We've been slowing it down a little over here and it's been great.
XO,
Amber

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Simple and Special


This bubble wrapped package has been taunting my girl for years.  We walk by it everyday when we get in my car.  I told her I would give it to her when she turns five.  Over the past year or two, I've been scaling back on the material goods my girl gets.  I knew we needed to make a change when my husband and I took her to Disneyland for the 10th or so time and she was ho-hum about it.  I kept thinking this is not good.  When I was a kid Disneyland was magic.  She was not excited about it, she was over it.  Then again as we approached her third Christmas, I had no idea what to get her.  She had everything and then some.  She was completely overindulged, having tantrums in stores, getting in fist fights with a boxes of cereal at the grocery store (no joke).  She got mad at me because I wouldn't buy her something at the grocery store and punched a box of cereal.  She was three!


This year for her fifth birthday besides the actual birthday party (which I consider a gift) her dad and I gave her two things, a bike and this dollhouse.  This dollhouse was mine.  It was made for me by my grandmother, my grandmother who taught me to sew, the one who'd do crafts with me all day long, the grandmother that took me on road trips, just me and her.


Getting everyone else on board with the less is more approach has been a little difficult, particularly with my parents.  To my parents, giving is how they show love.  It's actually been a huge point of contention over the last six months.  I want them to give my girl what my grandmother gave me, their time.  That is it.  Life is so short.  Time is the only luxury in life I crave.  I could care less about designer handbags or fancy cars.  I want time to spend with my girl, time for her to spend with my parents, time to be with my friends, time to be with my parents, time to be with my husband, and time for just the three of us to be a family.


My girl was thrilled with the two gifts we gave her.  She was incredibly thankful for the bike.  She still got tons of gifts from everyone else but my parents definitely pulled back in the gift giving department and actually came to her birthday party, something they haven't done since she was two.


The dollhouse needs a little fixing up still, but it was a very special gift for her to receive and also special for me to give to her.

For those of you reading who are parents, there is a great discussion going on at Fern and Feather.  I highly encourage you to check it out.  The basis of the discussion stems from the book Simplicity Parenting, however even if you haven't read the book, there are some great points that can be taken away from the just the comments.  I have not read the book but plan to soon.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Play by Play of a Picnic Party


My sweet girl's birthday party sort of exploded.  I had a good idea most of our close friends would be coming, but what I didn't expect was all of my family that I invited to come.  Remember I'm an only child, but have a ton of aunts, uncles, and cousins and almost all of them showed up, which rarely happens at family functions.  I try to manage the flow of traffic in my house and since my yard is small the party flowed from the front yard to my side yard to my backyard and I had different stations setup to help manage the traffic.


Vintage quilts were provided for those who wanted to have a real picnic (they ended up being used to keep little babies warm once the sun went down).


I made these little pouches to hold flatware and napkins.


The play station


A place to eat


The drink station.  I like to use potted plants more than cut flowers, especially for an outdoor party.  They are cheaper and I like that they can stick around for a while.  Also, I bought those galvanized drink holders under the table for $20 from Home Depot.  They are way bigger than what you can get at Pottery Barn and way cheaper!


I taped up large strips of paper to my garage for kids to color on.


The food station


The best orzo pasta salad ( my friend Ashley will be sharing the recipe on her blog soon!)


A few of my family members


I took about 50 shots of this and as you can imagine they are all very funny.  I wish I knew how to animate my pictures because that would be pretty cute!


As promised, the kids got homemade ice cream sandwiches for participating in the chalkboard picture.  I'm not a huge cake fan, so I made chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.  They were a little messy but I was able to make them a few days ahead and I didn't have to fuss with slicing cake and dishing up ice cream.  I like to enjoy myself at parties so I try to plan the food accordingly.


Moms did flips in the jumpy!

Moms took their picture with chalkboard signs!


This is a party on wheels right here!


My girl got some amazing, personal gifts.




A good time was had by all!