Tag Archives: Family

Is Aiden the new Black?

20 Apr

There is an epidemic going on in this country right now, and quite possibly the world.  Celebrities like Kevin Costner and Britney Spears have fallen victim to it, and even I have been thrown into the mix of it all.  What is it, you ask?

It’s the ‘Aiden Effect’ and IT-IS-EVERYWHERE!  I like to refer to it as A.N.S., which stands for Aiden Naming Syndrome, as each year thousands, possibly millions of new parents become victims to this naming epidemic.

A.N.S has plagued my quiet suburban street where we have three 9 year old boys living right in a row, each with the Aiden variation: Kaiden, Hayden and Jaiden.  I can’t walk 2 feet without hearing it.  Boys and girls alike (because many are gender neutral) answer to the names: Aiden, Brayden, Kaiden, Hayden, Jaiden, Raiden, and we might as well throw in Saiden (though I haven’t seen that one catch on yet).

I get it.  Naming your child can be both exciting and daunting.  You want something special, something that describes them and something unique (although not too unique, sorry Apple).  And let’s face it, the name you choose can put your child on the fast track to success (I’m talking to you Donald) or racing to the stripper pole (a shout out to all you Bambi’s out there, you never stood a chance).  But what of all the A.N.S babies?  What course have we set them on?  No one knows yet.  The big BOOM of Aiden’s and their counterparts didn’t happen until 2002, yes the year I named my son Kaiden, so no one knows what’s in store for them.  Possibly a long life of looking over their shoulder every time their name is called (which is a lot).

It’s been on the top 10 list of baby names for 10 years running, and it’s still up there!  So let me just speak for all the mothers of the ‘Aiden Effect’ when I say

“STOP!  ENOUGH ALREADY!”

We get it, it’s a popular name, but it’s anything but original anymore.  It’s been done, and done to death.  So if you have already succumbed to A.N.S and named your little bundle, you are forgiven as I had yet to write this post alerting the public of this terrible naming epidemic.  However, if you or someone you know is expecting a child and showing the early signs of A.N.S., take action!  Help them!  Show them the top 10 names.  Stop them at all costs!

For those struggling to find an original name for their little ones, might I suggest ‘John.”  I guarantee you won’t find another for miles.

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Four Reasons Why Eating Healthy SUCKS!

23 Mar

When I was growing up, my parents owned a health food store.  They not only sold health food, but served it in their very own health food restaurant.  For many reasons, the business didn’t survive.  If you ask me, they were ahead of their time.  It was the 80’s, the age of Pepsi and Michael Jordan.  Nobody was concerned with eating healthy!  Well, nobody except my parents.  While the cool kids unwrapped their brown sacked lunches full of Dr. Pepper and Twinkies, I pulled out my all natural Hansen Soda from the first of its kind reusable lunch bag.  Yep, I was that nerd.  My parents were recycling and celebrating Earth Day like it was Christmas and my dad started composting back before they even had a name for it.  Instead we were just that weird family who put garbage in their garden.  Growing up with such Eco-friendly, health conscious parents could only lead me to one fate.  So naturally, when it was time for me to live out on my own I did what any responsible 18 year old would do.  I bought as much junk food as I could afford!

From HoHo’s to Ice cream, Lucky Charms to Doritos, I wanted it all.  These were forbidden fruits where I came from and I didn’t care what was in them, I was eating them.  Now, it took me years on this new found diet of mine to start reevaluating the food I was consuming.  It wasn’t actually until I had kids of my own that I began to resort back to the “healthy side.”

It’s no secret we should all be eating healthy.  The news is riddled with headlines of the benefits of having a healthy diet.  Hell, it seems everyday there’s some new recommendation of what’s in and what’s so last season when it comes to food fads: No Carbs, No High fructose corn syrup, no MSG, Gluten Free, All Organic, the Caveman diet, back to our roots, blah, blah, blah.  So, from someone whose enjoyed both ways of eating I’m going to go against the grain and tell you why eating healthy SUCKS!

  1. It’s confusing:  Remember when we were kids and we used to go down to the local farm and pick Doritos straight off the tree?  No?  Oh yeah, that’s because Doritos aren’t natural, yet pick up one of their packages and check out the huge “Natural” label posted on the front of it.  Whole Wheat doesn’t mean S—t unless it says 100% in front of it.  Cage Free Eggs translates to hundreds of chickens living in a tiny warehouse with no windows and crapping all over each other, but hey, at least they’re not in cages right?  It’s labeling like these that work to confuse us into thinking we’re living the Healthy way, but in fact we’re still not.  For more label info check out www.USDA.gov
  2. It’s time consuming:  I can’t remember the last time I made a home cooked meal for the family faster than I could heat up a hot pocket in the microwave.  Who wants to make homemade chili for hours in the kitchen when you can pop open a can of Staggs in a few seconds?  Eating healthy takes time!  Time to plan, time to shop, time to cook and time to eat.  Last I checked, “time” was something we were all short on.
  3. It’s expensive: I watched this show once called “Extreme Couponing” about people (mainly housewives) who rob the stores blind by taking home $500.00 worth of groceries for $1.00.  While I applaud their talent and effort, most of the crap they’re stocking up on is exactly that…crap.  I considered couponing once, but when I tried to find actual food in the coupon books I was at a loss.  Never once have I come across a coupon for broccoli or Pasture raised Eggs, but a 24 pack of Smuckers Crustables, where’s the scissors?  Times are tough, and we all need to cut costs where ever we can.  Couponing is a great way to save money and just another reason why eating Healthy SUCKS!
  4. It’s inconvenient:  Jack in the Box has a special right now “2 cheeseburgers for 99 cents.”  Seriously?  I don’t know about you but I can’t make 2 cheeseburgers at home for 99 cents.  And when you’re on the run and out and about, good luck finding a healthy fast food drive thru.  So now that we’re on the healthy side of living, if we want to eat on the go, we have to plan ahead of time and pack a lunch.  Talk about inconvenient.

I may have grown up eating healthy, but the word ‘healthy’ in today’s market is foggy.  Marketers use it to sell whatever they want and unless we have a PhD, figuring out how to read between the dirty little lines of the food labels takes time and effort that most people don’t have.  I’m not even going to get started on GM (genetically modified) food.  Oh yeah, those are out there.

So yes, eating healthy Sucks!  But despite all the reasons listed above I wouldn’t feed my family any other way.  What can I say, my body likes it.  Plus, I think there are a lot of other things that Suck even more: Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer.  We are what we eat, right?

Here are some resources I’ve found if any of you are interested in living the high maintenance way too.

www.USDA.gov :  this is the actual guidelines for labeling in the U.S.  You’ll notice there is no mention of genetically modified foods as there is yet to be a mandatory label of those products.

Food Inc. : Documentary of the production of our food in the U.S.  Informative and disturbing, but a real conversation starter!

www.localharvest.org  : Great website to find local farms in your area for veggies, meat, eggs, honey or farmers markets.  Just type in your zip code.

Eat This, Not That : books and a website with tons of information about substitutions and the dirty little secrets about the food you’re eating.

We are heading out to a local farm this weekend, Inspiration Plantation, to wave to the animals we will soon be eating.  Maybe we’ll see you there!

Oh the Places we Go…Glowing Greens

9 Mar

Destination:  Glowing Greens

Family Friendly: Yes

Cost:  Reasonable; $8.00 adult, $7.00 youth, 3 and under FREE

Is it worth it: DEFINITELY!

If you go: check website for directions, hours and any specials they may have

I love living in the Pacific Northwest!  An hour away from the ocean, an hour away from the Mountain and just a quick drive over the river to Portland, it seems Vancouver is the perfect place to live.  Granted, I don’t love the rain, but then again, who does?  Living so close to a big city has its advantages.  We get to enjoy the sights of the spray painted “human statue” collecting his hard earned money.  We get to listen to the soundtrack of the streets played by the very talented “bucket drummer.”  We get to witness humans in their natural habitat, humbled by the homeless dogs and their humans.  But perhaps the best part about living just outside of the city is we get to enjoy the weirdness of Portland without having to go completely native.

One of my favorite things about Portland is the little treasures one can find by just walking the streets.  One day, while doing just that our family stumbled across a curious Pirate statue standing in front of a store.  Now, I don’t have to tell any mother of boys that a mysterious Pirate statue is like the mother ship calling them home, so naturally we had to investigate further.  What we found was the most interesting Miniature Golf place I have ever seen.

Down winding stairs, beneath the city street is Glowing Greens.  A mini golf course themed in only the best theme imaginable, Pirates!  18 holes, each with their own set up of sharks and treasure, pirates and skeletons, and all painted in neon paint glowing brightly beneath strategically placed black lights.  Why drive your ball into a boring old windmill when you can shoot it beneath the jaws of a Great White Shark?  We quickly paid the reasonable prices and were handed our (yes) glow in the dark golf balls. 

Our first hole required our balls to pass under a ferocious crocodile, all while an animatronics’ pirate mocked us from his perch high above.  The boys were bursting with excitement, so distracted by the atmosphere of the place, that they quickly forgot we were even playing a game.  My favorite hole was #5, where our ball had to disappear beneath a realistic looking great white shark.  I won’t give it all away, as discovering it for yourself is part of the fun.  I will, however, warn you about hole #16, where a very real sounding monster pounds on the gates behind the hole.  Tristan had a hard time with that one.  No detail is out of place, from the reggae music in the background to the 3-D images popping out all over the walls; this is our new favorite place to golf. 

 

Tips if you go: 

  • Don’t bring a purse.  You are golfing and there is no place to set it down permanently.  Instead bring a back pack with your valuables in it and wear it comfortably on your back as you play. 
  • Don’t go if your kids are easily scared.  It’s not terribly scary but there is hole #16, and some weenies may not be able to handle it.
  • Go during the day.  Something tells me it’s a hot spot for dates and teenagers at night.

The boys dream come true

 

 

 

So, RRRRRRR you ready to go yet? (Come on, you didn’t think I could write about pirates without saying “RRRR” did you)?  If you have kids, boys especially then Glowing Greens is the place to go on a rainy day.  It’s active, exciting and they won’t easily forget it.  Sorry girls, no Jack Sparrow at this Pirate set.  

I AM AWESOME!!!

1 Feb

My litle Science Experiments.

Sometimes I can’t believe I actually MADE people…living, breathing people!

And it really wasn’t that hard.  Yes, there was the pain and the endurance my body underwent to grow the little beings, but seriously…I put more brain power into my fourth grade science experiment.  And now, here they are; talking and thinking and creating all on their own.  And I did that.  Sure I had help, but let’s not get into the whole chicken or the egg argument because the point is… I created life! 

OK, we…we created life.

That’s it…just wanted to stop and observe my greatest achievements EVER!

I’m a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Mom!

13 Jan

It’s nearly 3 weeks past Christmas.  19 days after the biggest day of the year, where my boys got enough toys to supply a small country.  And yet, I’m watching the two of them as they roll around on the floor…bored.  The newest and latest in gadgets and plastics are gathering dust in their rooms and all my kids want to do is play the Wii, watch T.V. or play computer games.  Sure, I could give in and allow my kids to become technological zombies, but what can I say, I actually care about their brains.  I want them to discover their imaginations; to create an invisible friend, to role play, problem solve, and discover the secret joys of silence.  And I want it all without the aid of a Nano-chip or Gigawatt or whatever the hell the inner workings of technology are called.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great things that have come from this hi-tech age: e-mail, cell phones, digital cameras and let’s not forget this wonderful little blog.  But there are also a lot of disadvantages with technology, the main one being… it’s made us lazy.

Now this is the part where I reminisce about the ‘good old days’ and say things like “when I was a kid” but sometimes, it’s true.  When I was a kid, which really wasn’t THAT long ago, my little brother Justin and I wanted one of those battery powered cars.  You know the ones with the gas pedal and stirring wheel that actually drove.  There were convertibles and jeeps and only the truly spoiled kids had them.  We used to watch those kids drive around the sidewalks with envy dripping from our faces.  But whenever we put it at the top of our lists for birthdays or Christmas, it never seemed to materialize.  Now I know they were expensive, but to us the only logical explanation was simply that our parents didn’t love us as much as those “other parents.”  To us, our parents were terrible, horrible, no good, very bad parents.  I mean, we didn’t even have one of those Flintstone cars where you sat inside and used your own legs to power it (which my best friend had by the way).  So, determined to have some sort of transportation, my brother and I set out to make one.

We acquired a large cardboard box, about dishwasher size (probably from an actual dishwasher) and one of my Dad’s four wheel dollies.  In case you don’t know what a dolly is see one here.  So, with our box and our dolly we went to work.  We used a box cutter to carefully carve out a space for the windshield and two doors that opened and closed.  We cut out windows  and we even used markers to draw designs on the outside of it.  After the initial cuts were in order, we put our custom box on top of the dolly and we took our new car for a test drive.  But of course, without a battery or even a place to use our own foot power, our test drive consisted of me sitting inside the box and my little brother pushing me from behind.  But the wheels carried us well and in our eyes it was a success.  In fact we had such fun making it, we wanted to do more.  I made curtains for the windows using scissors and old towels and my brother used saran wrap to make an actual windshield.  I think by the time we were done with it, it resembled more of a motor home than a battery powered car, but you get the picture.

Sadly, this is not the actual "box car."

 

We worked on it for two weekends straight, and yet I think we only “drove” the thing for a total of twenty minutes (mainly because my engine/brother would tire easily).  I’m sure it wasn’t nearly as glorious looking as I remember.  I’m sure it was probably quite sad to see two poor children pushing a box up and down the neighborhood but to us, it was everything we wanted.  And to my Mom, it kept us out of her hair for a while.

So now, as I lock my kids in their rooms and demand they play with their toys I can feel secure in being a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Mom.  I know they’ll thank me for it later.

Which by the way, thanks Mom and Dad for not loving us as much as those “other parents.”  We had a blast.

You know it’s time to bleach when…

6 Jan

Kids have that certain bluntness about them that only a child or a senior can get away with.  They say what they’re thinking and hell, most of the time what you’re thinking but have the reserve not to say.  And most of the time I can take it.  From bad breath to bad cooking, I’m not as sensitive to their criticism as I used to be.

But when my four year old comes to me and says:

              “Mama, I want to have yellow pirate teeth like you.”

It’s time to break out the bleach and limit the coffee.  I mean come on, I’m not made of steel.

The BEST Christmas gift…ever!

23 Dec

With Christmas just around the corner, literally, the stores are filled with last minute shoppers.  This year why not get the kids in your life the gift “that keeps on giving the whole year?”  A gift that doesn’t require batteries, won’t be outdated in six months and will never wind up in the land of forgotten toys.  What am I talking about?

Why, a Book of course!

Now, it’s no secret that I love books.  To me, the smell of a new book is right up there with the scent of a newborn baby, the ‘new car’ smell and the fresh ocean breeze.  A good picture book can capture the wonder of your childhood between its pages, becoming a sort of time machine back to when you were young.  Because let’s face it, as adults…we change.  We see less, we laugh less and we think we know everything.  We lose our sense of wonder.  But between those pages of our past we can go back to a time where each day was new and everything was possible.

So, I have compiled a list of my favorite little time machines.  I’ll spare you the classics like “Goodnight Moon” and “Dr. Seuss” and focus on the gems I’ve stumbled upon through my journey with my boys and the lesser known ones I remember from my past:

 The Water Hole by Graeme Base – Follow the animal kingdom as they drink from the waterhole until the   very last drop.  Each page is full of hidden creatures for little readers to find in the most breathtaking illustrations you’ll ever see.  The bonus of this book is the hidden meaning of how connected we really are to one another.

 One by Kathryn Otoshi– Every once in a while a book comes along and steals your breath away.  This book does just that.  Its drawings are simple, as is the story, yet there is something there that opens your mind to something greater.

 

 When I was a Boy I Dreamed by Justin Matott– A young boy describes all the wonderful things he wanted to be when he grew up.  From a great explorer to a dragon slayer, the illustrations by Mark Ludy include a mouse to find on every page.  Also check out When I was Girl I Dreamed.

 

 

 Where’s the Dragon? By Jason Hook– A grandfather goes on a dragon hunting quest with his grandson.  See what they don’t see in this dragon filled book.  Beautifully illustrated and creative story.

 

 

 Have you Filled a Bucket Today? By Carol McCloud– All about happiness and others, this book explains how easy it is to bring someone up as well as tear someone down.  A must have for all humans in my opinion.  I love this one so much, I developed a project at home for my boys based around it.

I Love you Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt– A story about how unconditional a mother’s love is.  Funny text and illustrations, this one keeps little ones interests the whole way through.

 

 The North Star by Peter H. Reynolds– The perfect gift for any graduate, this book tackles the difficult journey of life through simple text and illustrations.  I love this story for its subtle way of guiding the reader on their own path.

 

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein– I couldn’t go without mentioning the book of poems that trapped my laughter within it’s pages.  Shel Silverstein has that magical way of remembering the thoughts of children and drawing them out in silly images and poems to match.  My favorite was The Crocodile Dentist, though my brothers favorite was Sister for Sale!

There are of course hundreds more I could go on about, but I’ll leave you to discover those on your own.  I hope you find the magic on the pages as I did with my boys.  Happy Reading!  Merry Christmas!  And may your childhood always be just a page turn away!

Let me know any of your favorite childhood books so I can share them with my kids.

Oh, the Places we Go…Sky High Sports

18 Nov

Destination:  Sky High Sports

Family Friendly: Yes

Cost:  Spendy, $10.00 per hour, per person

Is it worth it: Yes

If you go: check website for directions, hours and any specials they may have

As Mother Nature goes into her annual PMS cycle in preparation for her looooooong Winter Period, we are already seeing signs of the unpredictably cold and rainy weather headed our way.  Many of you may go into hibernation mode, breaking out the sweat pants, blanket and cozying up with a good book.  You may be prepared to say goodbye to the sun and with it, physical activity.  And don’t get me wrong, I love lazy winter days just as much as the next Mom, but in our house, my hibernation mode lasts all of five minutes; and for good reason, or rather two very loud reasons.  Growing two young boys in the Pacific Northwest can be challenging.  Just because the sun goes away, doesn’t mean their energy level does.  On a rainy day in my house they usually have cabin fever by 10:00 am and are bouncing off the walls of my sanity.  Thankfully, I found a place where they can literally bounce off the walls. 

Seriously, it’s required.

Just a quick thirty minute drive South to Tigard, in the heart of Portland is a place where young and old alike can bounce off some energy.  Yes, I’m talking about Sky High Sports.  Our family visited the trampoline hot spot on a very blustery day last spring.  When we first arrived, we were greeted by the usual gymnasium smell, you know the one, a musty cocktail of old socks and sweat.  But the size and cleanliness of the space more than compensated for the scent.  After purchasing our wristbands, which are good for an hour of what Tigger would refer to as “Heaven,” we were off to the first of four sections. 

We chose the family trampolines, where most families with little ones could jump together, throw Nerf balls, and feel secure that the big kids weren’t going to flatten our babies.  Then, it was off to the “Pit;” a long trampoline leading to a seemingly bottomless pit of foam.  After a few dives into that, we headed towards the dreaded Dodge Ball Zone (dum dum dum).  The line was long and the faces on the “field” looked less like easy going tramp. hoppers and more like warriors from the epic movie Braveheart.  By the time Kaiden got out on the battle field, one quick ball to the face confirmed that Dodge Ball should be left to the nerds over twelve.

We never made it to the Free Jump station, it was basically the same as the Family Trampolines except less rules and more “Big Kids.”  All in all, the kids had a blast!  Nate found his inner “boy” and discovered how far he could launch himself off the slanted walls of the trampoline.  And me?  I remembered how much fun it can be to just kick off your shoes and go wild, even if it’s only for an hour.

So, if my words persuaded you at all and you’re planning on making Sky High Sports your next destination, here are a few tips: 

#1.  Wear gym clothes, after all, it’s kind of a gym. 

#2.  Wear socks.  Not only are they required to jump, but you get to bring your own sock smell to the mix.

#3.  Check their web site.  They have some weird hours and they sometimes have specials going on. 

And the most important tip!!!

#4.  Ladies, go pee BEFORE jumping.  This tip is crucial for any woman who has had any sort of offspring or is simply over the age of thirty.  Seriously girls, a full bladder to a trampoline is the alcohol to pregnancy, they simply DO NOT MIX.

So, if you’re looking for a place that really is fun for the whole family, try Sky High Sports.  You’ll thank me that night when your little ones are passed out in their beds and you can finally go into hibernation mode.    

Oh, the Places we Go…

28 Oct

Destination:  Sauvie Island Farms

Family Friendly: Yes

Cost: Free + what you pick

If you go: check website for directions, crop availability and hours

When I was a kid growing up in Bakersfield, we used to pile into the old minivan and head out to one of the many farms encircling where we lived.  If you don’t know Bakersfield, there were a few things it was never lacking: one hundred degree days, ants, and farms.  Our favorite farm was called Al Bussell Ranch and IT…WAS…HUGE!  Known for its “U-pick” produce, families would spend their weekends climbing aboard the many tractors driving out to the orchards growing a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Peaches, nectarines, strawberries, apples, apricots, corn, squash; you name it, they had it.  My personal favorite as a child were the bunnies.  They were everywhere!  Hopping through the fields, around the checkout lines, and some even in cages where you could reach down and pet them.  And these weren’t your standard, wild, never-gonna-catch-them bunnies.  These bunnies were well fed, used to people and to be honest, fat.  The farm also had one of those glass casings where when so inclined, one could watch the secret workings of bees busy doing what they do best…making honey. 

It was a cherished tradition of my youth, but I didn’t realize just how much I loved it until I had kids of my own.  I wanted them to experience the “U-pick” adventure; to see where their food comes from, to taste fresh blueberries straight from the bush.  And thankfully, living in Washington, there are a plethora of “U-Pick” choices.  But my new personal favorite is Sauvie Island Farms; located where else, on Sauvie Island (and no, this isn’t the crazy one with the haunted corn maze).  It is a large farm growing anything that will grow in the Pacific Northwest.  With more than 30 acres of Pumpkins alone, Sauvie Island Farms is spacious, family friendly, and everything one would want in a farm.

My family and I stumbled on it this year in search of a new Pumpkin patch.  Like so many families in the area, we used to go to Bi-Zi Farms.  But it seems Bi-Zi Farms lately has become, well…busy.  So off we went in search of a new patch to call our own.  We knew what we were looking for; space, freedom for the kids to run around, and most importantly, CHEAP.  The answer… Sauvie Island Farms.  With a small parking lot and plenty of extra wagons, we were greeted by a nice older woman who simply said “Welcome.”  There was no loud holiday music, no face-painting in the corner tent, or tickets to be purchased and then exchanged; simply the smell of hay in the autumn breeze and acres and acres of Mother Nature’s finest.

The boys had a blast running through the humble corn maze and climbing the hay pyramid.  We walked to the Animal Area where the boys got to feed chickens and bunnies (and yes, they were fat) and climb atop a large stationary tractor.  Then a real tractor offered an authentic hay ride around the farms.  With only five other families there, we had the hay ride all to ourselves.  No seats or benches, just a tractor pulling a trailer layered with, you guessed it…hay.  Then it was off to pick our pumpkins.  We spent quite a bit of time deciding on the perfect one.  Not because the pickings were slim, but because there were so many perfect pumpkins, it was hard to choose just one.  I finally settled on a pear shaped one.  So with our four pumpkins in toe we loaded up the wagon and headed for the end of the patch, where we stumbled across two pumpkins that had grown together creating the perfect Halloween butt.  So naturally, we had to buy the butt.  All in all it was a great day. 

 

Everything we experienced was FREE, except for the pumpkins which totaled $20.00, including the butt.

 

 

 

 

 So for you procrastinators out there, there is still time to get a true Fall experience before Halloween.  If you already have your pumpkins this year, no worries, they also have a Christmas Tree Farm.  For the rest of the year depending on the season, they have Peach trees, corn, bell peppers, blue berries, raspberries, black berries, zucchini, and many other seasonal crops.  For directions, hours, seasonal pickings, visit Sauvie Island Farms website.

Putting our BUTT to good use!

What you never want to hear your husband ask your 3 year old…

25 May

While our family was getting ready to go on a hike the other day I heard my husband in the other room call out to our 3 year old:

 Tristan, where did you put Dadda’s knife?

Has your mouth dropped yet?  Mine did.