Monthly Archives: October 2012

Too much stuff to talk about for one post

My life the last few weeks has been absolutely insane.

First of all, we moved. I meant to mention it before hand, but things were way up in the air kind of right up until the end.

This is our cute little rental house:


As impractical as it sounds, some of the first things we did were unpack books and put up decor. Six months without these things was tough for me.





We read Madeline and learned about France.



We cleaned our apartment.


My sister came down for one last hurrah visit before she and her husband head back to Korea for a few years (because there are no jobs here, get it together United States). We had a fun weekend with her and we took some sister pictures. So cheese ball.


Henry and Avory got sick. So much snot and drool and coughing and Vicks and sticky cough syrup and for my sister breathing treatments and ER trips to deal with.




The kids drew on their pumpkin patch picks and I carved them along with a couple drawings of my own.


I made an owl costume for Henry in two days with a hoodie, lots of felt, feathers and hot glue.





My kids did not cooperate for a group costume photo. Mainly because Henry will not be told what to do or be forced to stand in one place.



My sweet nephew joined us for some trick-or-treating after he said goodbye to Mommy that had to go to work.




This guy got promoted at work, but he’s still humble enough to help with chores and crazy kids.



We love him so much. He’s kind of a big deal around here.

I keep waiting for this whirlwind roller coaster we’ve been on for the last year to stop, but it just never seems to. I want to catch my breath and stop feeling so worn down and not in control. I suppose this just might be life for awhile though. I am learning to cope with it day by day.


Filed under Craftopia, Family, Kiddos, Parenting, Ramblings

Gluten Free Pumpkin Granola Muffins

It’s that time of year, time for all things pumpkin. Thanks to Pinterest I’ve been trying new things, but I really should whip out some of my tried and true favorites because there have been some seriously awful flops.

Today I was craving pumpkin muffins since I can’t enjoy the Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin anymore (sniff, sniff, tear). After a little searching on Pinterest with lots of dead-end and spam links (don’t even get me started on the problems with that site), I decided to try to adapt this recipe from The Yummy Life and it worked out pretty well. I decided to forego the granola streusel topping though and I cut back on some of her amounts for sugar and spice.

• 1 3/4 cup Pamela’s gluten-free baking mix
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
• 2 eggs from pastured chickens
• 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
• 1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
• 1 can (minus 3 Tbsp that I used in another recipe yesterday) pumpkin purée
• 2 Tbsp butter, melted
• 1/2 cup chopped (with a hand chopper) gluten-free granola (I used TJs loaded fruit and nut kind and it had a lot of big chunks which is why I chopped it first)

Preheat oven to 400. Toss all the ingredients in your stand mixer, mix until combined. Spoon into paper lined muffin tins. Bake for 20 minutes or less. (I recommend less. I followed the 20 min and wound up with some extra crispy tops.)


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Filed under Gourmet Lisa

Why I think “girl” Legos/Duplos are awesome

When Lego announced they were coming out with “girl” Legos & Duplos, part of which was in partnership with the Disney Princess branding, there was a lot of backlash from parents. I was still on Facebook at the time and I remember my newsfeed full of blog posts and opinion columns on why this was such a horrible, sexist thing that further enforced the lines between girls and boys. Lines, they say, should be more and more blurred to promote equality of the sexes.

This vintage (if one can really call 1981 vintage) Lego ad made the rounds quite a bit:


While I can kind of see the point, at the same time I also think, “Well, what about the girls that just really like pink and princesses and ‘girly’ things?”

Jilly might play Duplos occasionally, but mainly it was her brother that liked to build things with them. She preferred to play with her dolls, read books, color or practice her ballet moves. None of those are “bad” things, mind you. I just noticed sort of a division of interests developing in my kids on their own.

And then she decided to spend her birthday cash and some cash she had earned for doing things around here on two Disney Princess Duplo sets. First she bought Snow White’s cottage and a few days ago she bought the Aurora set. She has played Duplos every day since, a little over two weeks. She doesn’t limit herself to the confines of setting up things just the way they are on the box, either.





If Disney Princess girly Duplos get her to expand her interests a little and find new ways to express her creativity, so be it. That’s why I think they are awesome.


Filed under Family, Kiddos, Parenting

The hike to end all hikes.

About a month ago, I was cleaning photos off my iPhone and I rediscovered a bunch of photos from a series of hikes I took the kids on right before we moved from Thousand Oaks.

I guess I never blogged about it because it was kind of a weird time. My head space was so full of thoughts and processing our move that I found myself needing to just get out quite a bit. I still didn’t know what to say or what I could say here. So many things were really up in the air and confusing. There were long drives along PCH with stops at Point Mugu to look out on the vast ocean and let the crashing waves try to drown out my thoughts and there were these hikes.

In retrospect, many of the hikes were much, much too difficult for a 2- and 3-year-old and a Mama with a baby strapped to her in the Ergo.

Our hikes had a lot of tears by Jilly who would throw herself on the ground and say that she hated hiking and hills and she was afraid of hills and couldn’t do it. And me saying, “Fine, I guess you’ll have to stay here in the forest,” walking a few feet away and her screaming and finally following.

I read this New Yorker article around the same time about spoiled American kids and how American kids compare from an anthropologist’s perspective to other kids around the world.

So I’ve debated whether these hikes were really a good or bad thing based on that article. I guess in a certain light they could be viewed as terribly dangerous, an example of reckless parenting, and maybe just a little bit crazy. The thing is, if they fell and got a scrape they learned to be more cautious. If they made it to the top of hard part, they always felt really proud and would say, “Look how far we’ve come, Mama! Look how high we are! Look at all the things we can see!” They learned perseverance even when things got tough, completing a task you set out to accomplish. I am sure there were other life lessons too, but those are the few that come to mind.

It got so that they started to like hiking and when we moved to Bakersfield, Jilly was disappointed and complained about the lack of interesting hills to hike on when we walked around the park one day. And then today happened.

Yesterday, Lorie texted me, “Ok. So since your kids miss ‘hiking’ wanna meet out at the bluffs tomorrow at like 8ish and ‘hike’ up and down them with our kids?” Lorie said there was a hill that made her a bit nervous. When I told Stephen about the plan, he said he was concerned and not sure it was such a good idea. I had scoped out some of the trails before from up above and figured it wasn’t anything too scary compared to some of the stuff we’d done in Thousand Oaks. I was totally on board.

At the very least we could do the walking path along the top which would be easy peasy. Except we wanted an adventure.

Adventure is what we got.

When we got to the top of the trail, Jillian threw herself down on the ground, per her usual, and started throwing a big fit about how she didn’t want to go on that hill and hated hills. The boys were all about hiking on a mountain though. So Lorie took the boys a little ways down to have a lookout. Once Jillian saw them make it and saw that they were OK, she wanted me to hold her hand and head down too. Next thing we know we have decided to go for it and we are headed down to the canal.

And then Ethan stepped off the side of the trail and rolled and Lorie dove after him and rolled too. Farther than him. Total panic and freak out. She was OK. Ethan was OK and clinging to the side of the mountain. And crying. And I couldn’t reach him. And I had a baby strapped to me. Would I put the baby down? Hand him off to the oldest kid of the bunch? Poor Ben (Lorie’s youngest, just a few months older than Ethan) screaming, “Mommy!” and inching closer to the edge. “Everyone back away from the edge, closer to the mountain!” Lorie is up behind Ethan, scoops him up and is back on the trail.

A photo op, because we take photos and everyone was OK. Just dirty. And covered in foxtails and thorns.

Now I guess it’s also worth mentioning that I’ve had a bit of a “friend crush” on Lorie for quite some time. Crafty. Lovely photog. Awesome style. Our shared love for the Pacific Northwest. Thoughtful and interesting. She turned me on to Mumford & Sons. We were just blog buddies. Though we had many mutual friends (it’s part of the Bakersfield charm that everyone knows everyone through someone), we’d only really hung out once at a Bunco night a mutual friend hosted before we moved three years ago. This was our first real hang out besides the Internet. And she just saved my kid! What an introduction! Seriously so grateful she was there. I have no idea what I would have done if she wasn’t and it makes me feel truly grateful that nothing like this happened on my other trips by myself.

Anyway, our adventure did not end there. Because we apparently don’t know when to stop. We make it to the bottom. The boys throw rocks in the canal. They would have done it all day if we let them.

But (her) Henry had to get to school. We got a little lost on the way back. Lorie carried Ben and Ethan up the hill for part of the way back. We wound up going up a way that was super steep because we took a bit of a wrong turn somewhere. But we made it back and we all collapsed on the grass. Then we had to walk back to our cars.

We both agreed that next time we’ll just do Lego Duplos at her house. After I told him what happened, Stephen said that hiking really isn’t appropriate for kids under five and that we’d better do Duplos next time. Lesson learned.


Filed under Kiddos, Parenting, Ramblings, Travel

First pumpkin patch visit of the season!

Friday I took the kids out to Murray Family Farms for some fall fun. Now that it isn’t five million degrees outside, I want to make the most if it.

We walked around the pumpkins they had on display out front for awhile. The kids rearranged them, sat on them, got excited over the giant ones, and asked me to take pictures with some of their favorites.





Sparrow was strutting (this kid does not walk, he struts very matter-of-factly like he is in charge) all over the place, stopping at every pumpkin that was at least as big as him to exclaim, “Whoa! Wow!” and smack it with his hands.




We went inside and had lunch. This was only a few days into my elimination diet and as soon as I got out there I started to feel really dumb about planning our lunch out there, I wound up getting a platter of roasted veggies and some marinara sauce. One of my only options. The kids were easy and had their Mac-n-Cheese. Then it was on to the rest of the farm to explore the kid-size ant colony, the dried corn pit, the gourd tunnel, the corn maze, the sunflower maze, the cherry tomato maze (where my kids discovered that hey, they do like tomatoes afterall), the giant jumping pillow they had all to themselves, the water pump duck races, flower gardens galore, a hay ride farm tour that left Bean in tears clinging to me for her life, picking out pumpkins in the pumpkin patch with spiders and bugs and thorns, a sweet treat and then home.






We’ve got another trip planned with friends for Monday and we’ll probably go at least once more before the end of the month with Avory & Co. We’re also planning to go apple picking soon. This is hands down my favorite time of the year!

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Filed under Family, Kiddos, Parenting, Travel

Henry’s last breastmilk coma



A chapter of my life closed, nearly 4 years of my life. Please forgive me for not being the least bit sad. I am so ready to move on thankyouverymuch. Time to bust out the push-up bras. Ha!


Filed under Family, Kiddos, Natural Living, Parenting

I might be allergic to wheat


About 10 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease. She encouraged all of us to get tested since it is genetic. One of my sisters had a positive test and I decided to avoid doctors because I hate them and went on an elimination diet instead.

I didn’t really notice a difference in how I felt, got a blood test and it was negative so I went on my merry way stuffing my face full of processed crap food full of (likely GMO) wheat gluten.

When Bean turned a year old, we found out she was allergic to wheat, eggs and dairy. My little world was rocked and I had a huge freak-out over what I would feed my picky eater that only really ate crackers and yogurt.

In many ways it was a good thing though because it got me back on track with paying attention to what was in our food and where it was coming from. We made it through that hurdle and last year we were done with food allergies for awhile. When I introduced eggs to Sparrow, he had a reaction and so we’ve been avoiding those for him. It’s not really that big of a deal though and now he’s at the point where he can tolerate baked goods with eggs in them so I think he’ll probably outgrow it like his sister did.

When I started looking into food allergies somewhat seriously after we found out about Bean and started reading a whole bunch of food allergy blogs, I found out that food allergy blood tests are not valid unless the item in question has been in your system recently. It was then that I realized that my blood test for wheat allergy was not valid since I’d been on an elimination diet.

I still didn’t think–or want to think–I had a problem with wheat though. Sometimes I would wonder when a symptom would pop up if maybe wheat was the culprit. When we were all almost constantly sick from shortly after Sprout was born until we moved back to Bakersfield, I really started wondering if maybe a wheat elimination diet would be a good thing since I’d heard and read so many things about wheat being implicated in immunity problems. I still wanted to believe that we were fine and there were no issues with wheat. Dealing with food allergies was HARD work and I didn’t want to do it again. Besides, I had blood tests on the kids to back me up.

A couple weeks ago we were at a friend’s house for dinner and I kind of binged on wheat. She made homemade bread, I made homemade chocolate chip cookies. A few of my friends had been blogging/posting pictures of baked goods all week so I was craving it bad. I had 2-3 slices of that bread and a few of my cookies.

That night when I got home I felt awful. Bloated. Nauseous. Really bad headache. I brushed my symptoms aside. I did not want to believe it was because of wheat.

The next morning I felt mostly fine. I made pancakes. My symptoms returned. While I wanted to believe it was a bug of some sort, I kind of started to realize it probably wasn’t. So I was contemplating another elimination diet. After only 24 hours of no-wheat, temptation, in the form of those leftover cookies, called to me from my kitchen counter. I popped just one in my mouth and a few minutes after consuming it, my tongue swelled slightly and felt like it was being pricked by needles (No, there were not any nuts in those cookies. To preemptively answer a question I’ve been asked several times since retelling this story. I guess other people also want to believe it isn’t wheat).

Time to take the elimination diet seriously.

I’m a little over a week in. My plan is 2 months and then try it again. I’ve been tempted by pizza, bread, crackers, cookies, scones, and every manner of chewy, wheat-filled goodness. But things really are much better in the wheat-free goods area since the last time I dealt with it. Some gluten-free bread actually tastes pretty much like bread now, especially if you toast it.

I made some muffins and pumpkin pancakes last week with Pamela’s mix and couldn’t really tell the difference.



I really like these Pepperjack Nut & Rice crackers by Blue Diamond Almond company.


We’re back to eating our Ancient Harvest Quinoa pasta.


A lot of restaurants have options now too, not that we really eat out all that much. It isn’t so much that I miss wheat, it’s just finding myself in certain situations unprepared and needing something to eat. When everyone around you is eating pizza, a salad doesn’t necessarily compare to, or satisfy one’s craving for, that warm, melty, aromatic deliciousness. I don’t want to be the “problem diet” person though either. I want to go with the flow and be able to hang out with friends and family without making it an issue or talking about it constantly. Because that’s annoying and I don’t want to be annoying.


Filed under Ramblings

It was so much easier when they both fit in a single shopping cart seat

I have a whole folder of these photos on my computer because I thought it was just that important to document 50 times. Or more. Let’s not talk about my weird obsessions.

We all love unsolicited parenting advice, don’t we? I thought so.

So Mondays are shopping day around here. And because I’m kind of a freak show in the food department that means at least two and sometimes three different stores to get everything I need and the best bang for my buck.

Have you ever gone shopping with a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 1-year-old? In other words, Monday is “hell day” around here.

Ok, not really, but a lot of times it is. I have really tried to schedule shopping so that I could go by myself, but it just never really works out that way. It either requires giving up my very precious and small amount of free time, zooming through the store at lightening speed before they close at 8 or 9pm (I realize a lot of other stores close later, but I don’t shop there, freak show in the food department, remember?), trying to argue with someone about why I need to go shopping by myself which does not go with my non-confrontational introvert personality and also wastes my time, giving up family/free time on Saturday, leaving the house after I am already “done” for the day, etc. Like I said, it just doesn’t work out. So I have to take the whole entourage with me.

Thrown into the mix today was a very, very grumpy, canine teeth on the verge of busting through swollen gums, 1-year-old, a Mama not feeling great at all due to some sort of bug that only I have been so lucky enough to acquire as of yet, and two older kids that caught the hyperactive bug right when we stepped foot over the store’s threshold.

At first it seemed to be going well enough despite the jumping beans. They were happily grabbing things I told them to and actually helping to put them in the cart.

We round a couple aisles and then find ourselves in the aisle that has both individually packaged meal replacement/protein/granola bars and two large poles in the middle. Within a few seconds, one kid starts spinning around the pole while shrieking and the other is gathering up an armful of bars and running down the aisle towards my cart, dropping bars every foot while I am trying to decide between chicken and vegetable broth for the meals I have planned this week. Decision made in a split second and as I am headed to deal with my munchkins, I catch “the LOOK” from two other shoppers that says, “Why are you only dealing with this problem now? Why is your child interrupting my peaceful shopping experience with shrieking? Do something! People should not be allowed to bring children into grocery stores! Gah!” Point taken. I am sorry. Please be understanding. Doing this is very hard work. I am trying to keep them in line and actually get everything on this list of mine.

Second store, I instate a new rule: hand on the cart, no touching anything. No touching anything is generally the rule anyway, but today they need extra reminding. So I find myself constantly repeating in the mean-Mommy voice, “Hand on the cart! Get your hand back on the cart! Don’t let go! Stop touching! No touching anything! Stay with me! Calm down! Stop being crazy! Hand on the cart! Get your hand back on the cart! I will leave my groceries here and go home and come back by myself after Papa gets home if I have to!” (Side note: Why did I say the part about going home 2 or 3 times? Why did I think it would make a difference? Because it really did not and they probably thought that was a swell idea.)

We make it through the store where I’ve collected my 7 or 8 things that I buy only at this store and are at the checkout. “Get your hand on the cart! Stand by me! Hand on the cart! Don’t let go!” The older gentleman in front of me turns around and says, “Mom used to say that to us kids in the 50s, ‘Hand on the cart and don’t budge.’ Don’t you know parenting has evolved since then? Let your kids be kids. They can’t help it.”

Seriously people? I can’t win.

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Filed under Family, Kiddos, Parenting, Ramblings

My sweet girl turned four!

It seems slightly impossible to me that four years have already gone by. And then it doesn’t.

We went down south to celebrate Bean’s birthday with a last hurrah trip to Disneyland. We probably won’t be going back before our passes expire in November.

While packing for our trip, the kids were in and out of our room and Bean spied her presents that luckily were wrapped already. She said, “Mama, I walked by the closet and I saw the closet!” then proceeded to walk by the closet several more times that day. Hidden present fail. Ha!

Stephen’s mom went with us because she’d been basically begging to go for awhile. Stephen’s dad is an introvert and as she put it, “Disneyland isn’t the happiest place on earth for him.” It wound up being pretty great having an extra set of hands around for the day.

We started the festivities with a family birthday party at my aunt’s house. My sister and her husband came up from Oceanside. We had my aunt’s famous turkey tacos followed by cupcakes and gifts.





My mother-in-law is one of Bean’s favorite people. She was very excited to have grandma sit by her in the van and hold her hand everywhere we went. She was also very happy with the Brave doll grandma got her. Bean is inexplicably obsessed with Merida even though we haven’t seen the movie.

Disneyland had ups and downs. We had just recovered from the stomach flu. So the biggest downer moment was at lunch when Sparrow barfed all over himself and the stroller. We thought, “Oh great, day over.” But we decided it was a combo of being overheated (it was hotter down there than in Bakersfield that weekend which seems impossible) and a still sensitive post-flu stomach. I bought the boy a Lightening McQueen onesie at Sarge’s. We got him changed and everything cleaned up. He seemed happy enough afterwards. I did my first batch of laundry in the bathroom sinks for the day and we dried stuff on top of the stroller canopy since it was hotter than the face of the sun outside (The first batch of laundry being because the one-day-shy-four-year-old peed her pants four times that day. Her two-and-a-half-year-old brother? Zero. Fun times.)


We finished the day feeling like despite some setbacks, that “we came and conquered” so to speak. We managed to get in more rides than previous trips and I didn’t leave feeling like we spent the whole day dealing with bathroom trips, napping children, eating, grouchy children, and walking back and forth all over the park. I think the fact that it wasn’t super crowded helped. We saw the newly arrived Merida, for example, in under 15 minutes.


Hanging on to grandma for dear life on the ladybug ride. She was not a fan.


The next morning we woke up back home. I asked Bean what it feels like to be four and she said, “It feels like to be big.”


I took the kids out for a special treat of birthday donuts (very rare!).


The next day was ballet class. At the studio in Camarillo (that we loved and miss so very much), the classes were divided by age and each of the classes wore color coded leotards. Bean’s three-year-olds class wore pink and the four-year-olds class wore purple. Since we had hand-me-down leotards from her cousins that were at the same studio, Bean knew about the leotards and wanted to wear them. When we switched to the Tuesday afternoon class, there was a four-year-olds class at the same time as her class which fueled this even more. So all year it was, “When I turn four I get to wear the purple leotard.” Bean would tell everyone this. She even told the checker at the grocery store once and when we saw Santa at Disneyland last Christmas, she told him too. Our new studio isn’t picky about dance attire in the slightest (kind of one of my peeves, but no studio has everything I want) and no one except me, my sister-in-law and maybe a few others really gets why she was so excited to wear a purple leotard that day. It was the icing on the cake to turning four!



Filed under Family, Kiddos, Parenting, Travel