Sunday, October 06, 2013

Are you still here?

Well now...time sure flies when you're having fun...or working full time...or raising three kids...or living a life...right?
We finished our summer, enjoyed spending lots of time together, and now we're back to school!  All the kiddos are with me this year!  I love it!  I get to see them every day at work.  The boys stop in on their recess breaks and sometimes I sneak over to Kendall's playground on my lunch break and say hi.  I love it!  School is going very well for everyone.  

Spencer is working hard in 5th grade and is on safety patrol, is a 5th grade senator for student council, and is taking singing and acting classes. He just auditioned for the Christmas show at his theatre.  

Cooper loves 3rd grade and happy his BFF is in class with him, too. He just finished his first session of water polo and was awesome!  He is hoping to start tennis lessons next.  He can be found sneaking onto his video games whenever he can.  Mama outlawed video games during the school's Cooper and me in his class. I am not his teacher this year!  I have none of my kids this year.  Miss them!

Kendall is a social butterfly in kindergarten.  She is excited to go to school everyday and see her friends. She is learning so much and leaves us little notes all around the house. LOVE. She started girl scouts this fall!  Friday night we hosted her first slumber party. I think it was a success!  3 little girls laughing, dressing up, playing "fashion", doing their nails 50,000 times...and finally falling asleep.  
Here's Kendall and Grandma at one of our fav after school spots-frozen yogurt!

I am in 4th grade again (wahoo) and love my class! Joe and I have been getting out a little more. Spent a weekend in San Francisco a month ago, and we went to see Depeche Mode last week.  Awesome show!  We have a few more upcoming date nights coming up, too. Life is good in the Brown household.
Hoping to update this ole blog of mine more in the upcoming weeks...stay tuned...
Summer flashback: camping at Pinecrest!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Food Glorious Food!

This month's book club choice was The Execution of Noa P. Singleton...

So this book is pretty serious, thought provoking as well...but my blog post is not...I saw a few other people decided to run with the "last meal" idea, so I did, too! (It's summer break for me-can't get too deep now!)  Joe and I would like to think we are foodies...we're not real, fancy food foodies...but we love a good meal!  Triple D is one of our fav shows!  Whenever we go somewhere new, we look to see if they are any places recommended by the food network! So, running with the "last meal" idea, I decided to blog about several places I'd choose, depending on where I was!

San Diego....ahh...this is hard, but I'd have to go with Phil's BBQ in Ocean Beach.  LOVE that place! We go every time we are there-yummy pulled pork sandwiches "The Bro-ham"-tangy BBQ sauce, crispy coleslaw...oh my mouth is watering!  The line is long-I recommend going right when it opens on the weekend or for lunch during the week.  If we lived there, I bet we'd eat there once a week.  Its very inexpensive, as well. Joe and I can make two sandwiches out of one 6.95 sandwich.  Here's Joe on Father's Day 2012-happy as can be.

Los Angeles (I'll eat work my way up CA)...well, this is hard too...Joe and I always make our list of places we have to eat when we plan trips to LA.  It changes depending on our mood, but Killer Shrimp is always on it!  Unfortunately, the one most convenient for us closed down, and we haven't been to the new location yet in Marina Del Ray, but we cannot wait to go. I always get the main dish...shrimp served over spicy sauce on pasta.  I hear they have expanded their menu...the shrimp on pasta, rice or just as is used to be the only thing they served.  We really wanted to go last time we were in LA (June), but it didn't I'll wait...not so patiently...for our next trip... (Just looked on the website-they are opening one up in Santa Barbara now!!!!)

San Francisco...our friend Steph has introduced us to some great places to eat!  When I went in May for my birthday weekend, we went to 1300 Fillmore for the fried chicken. Oh my word-delish!  The place is dark and fancy, with a jazzy vibe.  The drinks are stiff...a little too strong...but the chicken was one of the best things I've tried!  Finished with beignets for dessert...the best birthday meal ever!

Home...ahh, good old home town...what will I eat??? Either the Californian Burrito from Victoria's or the French Dip from the Branding Iron (with a side of gazpacho)...if you locals haven't tried those, you need to!!

And I will end with one last place that is found in many areas...The Cheesecake Factory...yes, it's a chain...BUT the Jambalaya is OH.SO.GOOD.  Spicy with tons of shrimp and chicken and veggies...I always order it, even though they have about 50,000 things on the menu.  Once I find something I like on a menu, it's hard for me to stray!

Have I made you hungry yet? I know I am hungry now...hungry and needing a vacation to scout out some more food places!  Share your fav with me!

This post was inspired by the novel The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver. Mere months before Noa’s execution, her victim’s mother changed her mind Noa’s sentence and vows to help stay the execution. Join From Left to Write on July 30 as we discuss The Execution of Noa P. Singleton.. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Technology love/hate?

This post was inspired by the novel Those We Love the Most by Lee Woodruff. Every family has its secrets and deceptions, but they come to surface a tragic accident changes the family dynamic forever.. Join From Left to Write on June 6 as we discuss Those We Love the Most. You can also enter to win a live video chat with Lee Woodruff! As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.


The accident happens right away in the book, and it involves a mom on a cell phone. That kind of took my breath away. I am a mom who uses her cell phone quite often. More than I like, to be honest. I know we've all probably read those posts berating moms (and dads) for playing on their phones while kids are at the park. I've even seen the posts about people saying to give them a break. I truly have a love/hate affair with this technology. While I love my Iphone-checking my mail saves me from getting on the computer and the GPS is amazing, I am also aware of when I am just playing on it while I'm in the same room as my kids. It's something that I personally want to work on.

I do think we, especially parents, need to put the phone down more often. Interact with our kids, actually help them with homework instead of sitting there on the phone while they work- true story told to me by a grandma. And now that it is summer, and I am home all day with my kids (wahoo!), I plan to keep my phone in my purse all day! Well, as much of the day as I can. Technology is great, but it scares me, too! I can see the interactions changing between people. My teenage niece tells me that sometimes her friends will sit side by side and text each other. What?! First we are losing actual written letters-people are emailing-now we are missing out on face to face conversations for texting? Will we have any history to save?
How do you feel about all this???

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just Be

This post was inspired by Raising Cubby: A Father and Son’s Adventures with Asperger’s, Trains, Tractors, and High Explosives by John Elder Robison. Parenting is a challenging job, but what challenges does a parent with Asperger's face? Join From Left to Write on March 12 as we discuss Raising Cubby. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.  
 If anyone knows who the lovely photographer Tara Whitney is...or stalks follows her instagrams as much as I may know her philosophy is "Just Be".  I may have dismissed that idea off in the past as a kind of hippie, laid back concept...but after mulling over what to write about after reading this book, I realized how profound that concept of "Just Be" is!

The author had many decisions to make in raising his son-as we all do-but coupled with his son's issues, (as well as his own) he seemed to have decisions coming every which way.  A few years ago, I stumbled onto the "mommy blogs".  You know, those pretty blogs with gorgeous pictues of children and neat as a pin darling homes and special traditions and celebrations almost every day.  I admit, I fell for them, hook, line, and sinker.  I scoured them for ideas, tried to keep up, and felt dismayed when I looked at my messy home with the never ending tornado of legos and socks and sneakers (and no granite countertops-eek!).  I admit, I may have tried to even copy that here on my blog at one point or another.  But the truth is-that's not me.  And honestly, that's not anyone!  I've met many moms, been in MOPS groups, work with families everyday, and there is no family that compares to the blogs.  I deleted those glossy blog from my feeds, but every once in while, I do check one or two.  It seems like they have moved away from trying to showcase the perfect lives (that they don't really have), and they are starting to show the cracks and the not-so-perfect behind the scenes.  That's healthy-that's realistic-that can make their blog readers sigh with relief.

So this is where the philopophy "Just Be" comes in...just be...the best you can be.  The best mom you can be, the best you can be...I may not win any parenting awards, but I know I am a good mom.  I still struggle with how to assign chores (I've pinned about a million ideas) and wonder how to handle this whole computer/ipod/video games/tv debate...trying to implement a "Screen Free Sunday"...trying being the key word...mama needs a little screen time, too!  But I know every day is a new start and I can try again to be the best me I can.  We mamas need to support each other, share our feelings, share both our triumphs and our failures, and start again.  And since this book was written by a dad, who I think did his best, let's include the dads...just be the best parent.  Just Be.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

February is Health Month...what?

Happy February! Hope everyone had a sweet Valentine's Day!  We sure did-it's family day in our house...though it was a bit crazy. Spencer is in a local play and he had rehearsal that evening until 8:30. We had pizza (without him), though Daddy ate another slice with him when he got home.  Now Cooper has gone down to San Diego for his yearly trip with Grandma.  Lucky boy!
Joe and I planned to go out alone for a belated Valentine's Day, but with Grandma out of town and Grammy hurting her back, we decided to do a "double date" with Spencer & Kendall. We got dressed up and went out for Chinese food at our favorite place. Spencer was ever the gentleman, learning how to open car doors and be courteous to the girl.  It was a lot of fun!  One of these day Joe and I will enjoy an evening alone!
So this month was supposed to be HEALTH month. Ha, notice I said "supposed"...well, not off to a good start. Honestly, life has been so busy that going to the gym has been impossible to do.  I started running, taking Spencer with me, but that's about it. I want to start eating healthier...darn Valentine candy! No fast food, more water...gotta work on it.  I will keep you posted.
I decided to continue the HOME theme for the year, as well. Even though we live in a rental, there are things I can do to make it more homey.  I found some material to make curtains-and found this awesome tutorial on NO SEW curtains-YAY!  Later this month, we have a trip to IKEA planned to get Kendall's new big girl bed, which means new bedding for her.  And I just might finally break down and order the Pottery Barn bedding I have been drooling over for years for the boys' room. One set is not too bad, but when you need two, it sure adds up!  Hoping to paint their room this weekend...or at least start. :-)

So, that's our life right now....looking forward to moving onto March-I have some new photography books that I am perusing.  Trying to pick up my camera a little more.  My iphone camera is the one that gets used daily!  And even that one has not been connected to my computer in a while...these are two from Joe's...our super kid at preschooland helping Daddy paint!  Can you tell they spend a lot of time together???

Tuesday, February 12, 2013


This post was inspired by Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman. After being kicked out of her widow support group for being too young, Becky creates her own support group with an unusual twist. Join From Left to Write on February 14 as we discuss Saturday Night Widows. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.
This month, my online book club read the memoir, Saturday Night Widows by Becky Aikman, about a group of widows meeting once a month to meet, talk, and just be there for one another. Becky led the group (she was kicked out of her first grief group!) and planned outings for the group to help stretch themselves in their healing process. After all, as they said in the book, the worst thing that can happen, already happened. I found it very interesting and very heartbreaking to read the widows' stories and the pain they felt.  I really truly felt for them.
The widows' were all in different stages of their lives-newlyweds, young parents, parents of college aged children, no children-but I really found myself drawn to Dawn. She was a young mom with two small children. As I read, I kept thinking about my own mother.  My father passed away when I was four and my sister one, leaving a huge hole in my heart.  For years, I wouldn't speak about it, and I never, ever asked my mom about how she felt.  Now, I look back and think how strong she was. Yes, she must have been hurting, but I don't remember seeing her pain.  She kept going, got up everyday,  mothered my sister and me, took us on vacations, brought us to see our grandma in Los Angeles, and honestly, I don't remember her sadness or her tears. Wow, now I think back and just am so thankful that she was strong for us.  Me, I think I would fall apart in the same situation. Hide in bed with the covers over my head and mope. But with children, you cannot. You have to be strong. You can't fall apart-for them, and I think, for them alone.  I am so glad that I have had such a strong role model in my life.
Saturday Night Widows by Becky AikmanMy mom and I have a good relationship today-I adore how she treats her grandbabies (my babies)-but after reading this book, I have a newfound appreciation and gratefulness for her.  I still don't like to talk about my father's death, but I am going to try to talk to my mom about it and see if she'll share her heart with me.  Thank you, Mom, for being you-strong, loyal, and brave. I love you! And thank you, Becky Aikman, for helping me see my Mom in this new light.

Monday, January 21, 2013


So...this month, I am not doing too well on the resos...oh wellll....there are 11 other months! The hallway is half painted...thanks to Joe still being down for the count. But it will be done...maybe today???
I have been thinking about my cleaning and purging, and trying to figure out what I am drawn to when I look for inspiration. I like clean...not a lot of clutter...I like little whimsical bits (colored frames, words on the wall, etc.). So I went through half of the kitchen yesterday-the eating and table area, and tried to make it look "clean"...took off the tablecloth, made a place for keys and sunglasses in a drawer, not out on a counter, cleaned out my kitchen baskets that get stuffed with mail and receipts and I have an empty one ready for a new home. Organized my home binder. Cleaned out part of my closet. Filled up a trash bag-LOVE that feeling! Now, I feel like I am on a roll.
Starting the boys on their plan tomorrow. They will have a container of quarters on their dresser. For the first week, they get to keep their daily quarter if they make their bed before school and do their homework before bed. Last week, they were so bad about getting homework least 3 mornings, they were finishing in my classroom. Then, the next week, I will add a "zone" that daily needs to be cleaned to keep their daily quarter (like bathroom, or family room, or playroom,etc...). Starting small! Will keep you posted. Hope to have 4 things they have to do daily.
Anyway...hope our new work pans out. Still trying to get more home stuff done before the end of the month. Today, off to replace fridge filter and buy a new flag pole for front of the house. And take my kids on a McDonald's date and park time. Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! Wish I had a magic fairy to clean up my house!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Week 2

Checking in here-hello, Marie (a new friend and reader!) did I do? It was back to work this week for me. And...Joe was laid up pretty much all I didn't do as great as I wanted. I did clean a bit each day and felt that if someone came over, I wouldn't be scrambling around. Please tell me I am not the only one who feels that way! So, this week I will try to stay even more on top of my cleaning schedule. Didn't get to painting or taking down the Christmas lights (that's my man's job), but we'll do that this week. We don't have plans any evening except Monday.

I thought a lot about my resolutions, and even though keeping a chart worked well for Gretchen Rubin in her book, it's not working out for me. Though I do find myself mentally checking things off. I also starting keeping track of my gratitudes with an app on phone. On track there. I took facebook off my phone-what a time waster! No, I am not getting rid of my account-that's how I communicate with my bunco group and new book club-and I love looking at my friends' and family members' photos, but I really don't need to read about so and so's sore throat or trip to wherever. I don't miss it. :-)

Haven't started a chore system for my kiddos yet-hello, back to work and swamped with report cards AND common core training-feels like we've been back for ages! But, have some ideas. I really am interested in this plan from the 71toes blog. (Love her photos, too!) I want something simple and motivating. I also like this idea which was inspired from Cleaning House by Kay Wills Wyma which is about a mom was trying to get rid of the entitlement her children felt. Except Kay Wills Wyma was rich and paid her kids LOTS of money to make their beds. This quarter idea is more doable! Ha!

Tip-if there are blogs you find yourself interested in, subscribe to the email feed and save yourself some time. I subscribe to about 6 and when the email comes in, if the topic doesn't interest me, I delete it. I rarely get on the computer anymore (even though we are now a 2 computer family! We bought the kids an inexpensive laptop for Christmas. It stays out in the family room and they take turns. They love it!) so I don't blog surf, but just picked the blogs where I got the most ideas. I like: How Does She, Simple Mom, Make & Takes, Eighteen25, Teaching in Room 6, Busy Kids=Happy Mom (links are on right hand side).
I really am digging this idea of starting my resolutions slower...instead of jumping in all at once. Yes, I am wanting to get to more stuff...but I need to go slow to see changes. And as I drive by the packed gym...whoo...hopefully it will be cleared out a bit by people quitting by Feb.
Leave you with some pinterest inspired ideas for your classroom/ my class, we did a mug exchange and hot cocoa, and we decorated "Christmas trees" instead of gingerbread houses for our Christmas celebrations! Easy and fun! I even had some of the kids friends over the day after school was out for a Christmas tree decorating event, too.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

I am blogging again!

Can you believe it? Several posts in one week! Whoo-hoo! am I doing with my HOME focus? Pretty good, if I may say so myself. I've cleaned out a few areas, thrown away things, rearranged Kendall's room, looked online for the the new bed we are buying her (probably Ikea), bought paint for the hallway-ready to start painting, found a color for the boys room (Behr's Cloudy Day), cleaned a lot, figured out what other small projects to do...and now tomorrow it's back to work. I will try to keep to my cleaning schedule as best as I can.

I'm just going to do the best I can-I am reading an awesome book called:
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead-and it's a slow go because it's a lot to take in (I keep finding myself rereading passages and thinking about my own life). Brene Brown is dismantling the common conceptions out there that we women have to do it all (be sweet, super mom, super wife, super thin, etc). She says no one can do it all-duh-but we need to be vulnerable and admit it, and just do the best we can. No sense in feeling shame. LOVE it! Don't let those voices tell you that are failing as a mom, as a wife, as a women...just do what you can and be who you are. Well, those are my words-what I am taking away from her book. It's freeing. I admit, I don't have it all together. I wish sometimes I did, and I do sometimes pretend I have it all together-but I never have, never will. I know I am a good mama, but I am not super mom. I cuddle with my kiddos all the time, read to them daily, help with homework, tell them they are loved ten times a day-but I also let them watch too much TV, don't make them take baths and showers every day, serve them mac and cheese from the blue box at minimum once a week for dinner, clean up their toys too much (instead of making them), and the list goes on. I'm on the computer right now while they are playing video games...ahhh, that feels good!
Not sure where this post is's been hijacked by this book! Have you read this???
So...anyway, this year, along with my monthly focus and resolutions, I will try to be the best I can, but not beat myself for not meeting my expectations.
Here's some Christmas and New Year's pics to share. Aren't they cute kids???

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Day 2 in the books!

Ok, so here's how my first month is playing out. *Cleaning schedule-I made one a few months ago and even laminated it and stuck it to my fridge. I did follow it for a while and found my house was much neater...then life got in the way. I hate the big mad rush to clean when someone is coming over-I want people to come over anytime and not be worried the toilet has a ring around it or the carpet has papers strewn all over or the sink is full of dirty dishes...please tell me I'm not the only one with a house like this! So, I want to keep a neater house. I printed out Clean Mama's schedule: click HERE for your copy.

Day 2-not started...BUT I did clean out and rearrange the pantry yesterday and I've been spending lots of quality time with the family. So, tomorrow I will start!
I plan to keep track of my resolutions through a chart system-Gretchen Rubin said that worked very well for her in The Happiness Project, so I printed one from HERE.
So, there you not so splashy start. But it's a start, right???
Leaving you with some pics of my babies from December (student of the month, Kendall's dance & singing recital, and my boys actually posing together-believe it or not!).

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

2013 Resolutions

Wow! 2013 is here! Happy New Year! I love the new year-new start, new beginnings, hope for the upcoming year... I always make resolutions, but like most people, don't keep them much after March.
This year, I started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin (see right before New Years. Perfect timing! I have decided to pattern my resolutions after her happiness project.

*Each month, I will focus on one area of my life (preferably one that will make me happier). Each month will have a set of "resolutions" to start trying to live by. When the month is over, I will start a new area of focus, but continue to do the resolutions from the previous month.

*January is HOME. I plan to *stick to a cleaning schedule *do a few home projects that have been put off (make benches for the playroom table, paint, polish the doorknobs, get bark for the front walkway) *set up a chores schedule for my children *declutter

*February is ENERGY. I hope to *go to the gym or run 3 days a week *drink more water *eat healthier (cut out soda, snacks, sugary foods) *get more sleep (8 hours a night?!)

*March is HOBBY TIME. I want to focus on leisure activities-what is fun to me. Gretchen's book about her leisure time-what makes her happy was fascinating to me. She discussed that some of the things we do for "fun" aren't even really fun for us. Her new rule of life (well, one of them anyways) is: what's fun for some people may not be fun for others. Food for thought... *focus on my photography, practice!!! *do more scrapbooking-catch up on boys' school albums (though "catching up" stresses me out, I do enjoy the creative process) *read about creativity *set up office to be more efficient for Joe and me

*April is FAMILY. *implement family night weekly *check in/tweak chores schedule *Put phones away more often *start Technology Sabbath (something I read about recently in Sunset break from Friday night sundown to Saturday night sundown (personally the computer/ipod/iphone/tv situation drives me crazy!)

The next months include:
*I am working on the specifics of those months, including mailing birthday cards to friends, starting bi-weekly date nights, doing some of the pinterest projects I've pinned, join a Bible Study, family volunteer activities, etc...

I thought if I blogged about how I was doing, it might keep me more accountable. Even though there are only about 2 of you out there reading this...:-) That's OK. I blog for me. ONE of these days I will make my blog book...maybe July's resolution???

Anyone else read this book? What are your resolutions???