Archive for December, 2012

Interactive map: From the farmlands, to National Parks, to San Francisco, explore California with our family

California-Google-Maps

View Our Family Trip Through California 2012 in a larger map

(How to use the map above: Because Google Maps is not playing nicely with WordPress you will have to either click the image or click the link below it to get into the interactive map. I have laid out our trip on the map in chronological order. Start on the red peg and head to the right and up towards the green peg. At the green peg head back down the coast toward the purple peg. The purple peg is the last stop before heading home. You can also read the pegs on the left-hand side.)

We spent almost two weeks traveling by car through California this summer. We saw the farmlands in central California and explored three national parks — Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite. We camped, canoed, hiked and swam in rivers — all with only an occasional internet connection! (I am definitely recommending Curry Village in Yosemite for camping for those who don’t know how to camp. It’s kind of like the Disney World of camping. They …

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A parents’ getaway: Experience the beauty of Oregon’s forests, beaches and inns without kids!

We took a trip last May to celebrate my 40th birthday, our wedding anniversary and just to have some time alone. We wanted to visit a place completely different from any place we had ever been so we chose Oregon. (Michael had been to Portland on business but never the Oregon country or coast.) I cannot say enough about how spectacular the forests, parks and beaches are in this state.

We landed in Portland but immediately drove up to the northwest corner of the state. We started exploring in Washington state following the Lewis and Clark Trail. We saw where they first glimpsed the Pacific Ocean. We loved thinking about their expedition experiencing the land and sea.

(Tip: You can get a multi-day pass for all the state parks and recreation areas so don’t pay at each individual parks. However, the Oregon ones don’t work in Washington even thought the parks are so close together.)

We worked our way down the coast visiting Astoria, a port town where the Columbia River meets …

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Holiday Fun: What have you been up to?

Sorry I haven’t posted in a couple of days. I’ve just been enjoying Christmas with my family. Michael had a bunch of left-over vacation days and we have family visiting from out town so we’re just hanging out and relaxing.

Here’s what we’ve been up to the last few days:

Sunday we went to an excellent neighborhood Christmas party. The host rented a karaoke machine and the kids had the best time singing together. She also did a dancing game where the kids had to make up dance moves for everyone else to follow (kind of like horse for dancing). Then they did charades.

After the party we picked up family at the airport. Lilina made a sign like a limo driver. She was so cute!

On Monday: I took my 5-year-old to see Santa. It took two hours because I left it until the last day. We actually saw Santa in 45 minutes but then had to get in another line and waited more than an hour to purchase the photos. If they had let me take one photo, I wouldn’t have waited in that …

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Where is the best place to get tweens’ ears pierced?

My 11-year-old has chosen getting her ears pierced as one of her Christmas presents. She asked around at school and all the girls said they got it done at Claire’s Boutique.

I have also heard of people going to the Piercing Pagoda or Merle Norman at the mall but I don’t see ear piercing offered as a service on the Merle Norman website.

When I Google searched “ear piercing” a bunch of tattoo and body piercing places showed up in the search so that was a little bit scary.

I liked that the Piercing Pagoda website had a lot of information about safety and cleanliness. (They write that they use single-use piercing earrings that are wrapped up when you get there. No needles.

(From the Piercing Pagoda: “one step, single use, sterilized, prepackaged piercing earrings that meet or exceed FDA (Food & Drug Administration) guidelines. that means, no needles!”)

But Claire’s site also offer care information.

This is Claire’s site about piercing.

I was around 6 or 7 when I …

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Should parents who didn’t provide the alcohol but knew their teens were drinking at home still be punished?

It’s known as a social host ordinance and Kennesaw is the latest city in many across the nation to pass one.

The ordinance means that adults can be punished with fines or jail time if they know or should know that teens are drinking in their home.  Experts say the social host ordinances fill a gap in underage drinking laws in which cops have to prove that parents “dispensed” the drinks for the teens.

From The AJC (I bolded the meat of the article at the bottom):

“Adults in Kennesaw who let teenagers drink alcohol at their home might feel less hospitable now that they could be penalized with fines or jail time.”

“A new social host ordinance, sometimes called a teen party ordinance, enacted Wednesday night by the City Council makes it a misdemeanor to allow youngsters to imbibe. Adults who knew or should have known such activities were occurring under their nose can be punished by up to six months in prison or a $300 fine in addition to a possible civil penalty.

The …

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Holidays: Give those middle school teachers some love!

Every year we talk on the blog about holiday presents for teachers and based on what everyone had written in the past I figured once my oldest got to middle school I wouldn’t be doing teacher presents for those teachers. (It seemed like no one bought gifts for middle school teachers – partially because there are so many for each child.)

However, now that are here I am finding that I want to do something to show appreciation to those teachers ESPECIALLY.

I am so impressed with my daughter’s group of teachers this year (six teachers). They challenge her, they love her, they appreciate her and they are concerned with how she is adapting and growing in middle school.  They encourage her and give her confidence. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.

I am buying presents for 11 teachers this year so I have had to reduce the amount per person but I do want to give them something so they know we appreciate their work.

This year I settled on $10 gift cards to the movies …

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Best gifts for teachers? Truly the notes of thanks!

This is a note from one my college students from fall semester. It made me cry. I appreciated it so much. (I took the student's name off the note for FERPA. I didn't know if that violated anything so just to be safe)

This is a note from one my college students from fall semester. It made me cry. I appreciated it so much. (I took the student's name off the note for FERPA. I didn't know if that violated anything so just to be safe.) Her note will always be special to me.

The kindergartener made lots of thank you notes for her teacher. One of the envelopes includes stick-on plastic jewels and the other include change. She is truly giving her teacher her treasures.

The kindergartener made lots of thank you notes for her teacher. One of the envelopes includes stick-on plastic jewels and the other includes change. She is truly giving her teacher her treasures.

I was thinking the other day about teacher presents that I have given through the years.

I remembered that when I only had one child in preschool I gave the both preschool teachers certificates for HoneyBaked Hams. They must have thought I was crazy.

My teacher gifts have gotten less extravagant over the years but only because I’ve had to buy for more teachers.

In most recent years, I have given movie passes so the teachers could take their families over the holiday break. I used to do $25 a teacher but now that we’ve added …

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Would you buy an Easy-Bake Oven for your son?

APNewsBreak: Unisex Easy-Bake oven on the way

FILE — This is the current version of Hasbro's Easy-Bake Oven. The company is moving to make it more gender neutral so boys can feel free to bake too.

Hasbro has announced that it will be selling Easy-Bake Ovens in gender-neutral colors so boys can get their bake on without being embarrassed. A little girl from New Jersey started a campaign asking Hasbro to offer a boy version and puts boys in the commercial but it seems like the company was already thinking the same thing.

From AP:

“McKenna Pope, 13, of Garfield, N.J., got more than 40,000 signatures on her online petition at Change.org and the support of celebrity chefs including Bobby Flay, who backed her call for Hasbro to make a gender-neutral oven and to include boys in the ads.”

“She was prompted to start the petition after shopping for an Easy-Bake as a Christmas present for her 4-year-old brother, Gavyn Boscio, and finding them only in purple and pink.”

“…Hasbro has been working on the new color scheme …

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Connecticut shooting: Hurts too much to even think about

I heard the basic headline Friday morning that there had been a school shooting in Connecticut. I heard it was bad, and I didn’t want to hear any more.

Michael texted me about it that morning. I told him I didn’t want to know details. I turned off the radio. I didn’t watch the TV, and I stopped looking at Facebook. It’s too awful, too terrible and I just don’t want to know the details. It’s just too painful.

I finally read one one account on Sunday morning and I just couldn’t read any more.

I am praying for all the families – including the shooter’s family. I keep tearing up, and I just can’t deal with it.

I didn’t want to tell the kids but I felt like we would rather them hear it from us than kids at school. Michael told Rose and I told Walsh. I just told him the very basics – no details. We didn’t talk to our sweet 5-year-old about it. I have kept her close in my arms all weekend loving her and squeezing her.

If I blog on other topics this week …

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What are your favorite holiday traditions?

We used to always visit a crazy lit house in the Smoke Rise subdivision in Atlanta. Now we have a new crazy house to visit each year in Phoenix. It has a workin train that circles the yard and brings candy to the kids that visit. It also has a working ferris wheel. Imagine their power bill.

We used to always visit a crazy lit house in the Smoke Rise subdivision in Atlanta. Now we have a new crazy house to visit each year in Phoenix. It has a working train that circles the yard and brings candy to the kids that visit. It also has a working ferris wheel. Imagine their power bill.

Last weekend we visited an outdoor mall where they blow fake snow at kids. It is actually soap foam. What do you think of the lit palm trees?

Last weekend we visited an outdoor mall where they blow fake snow at kids. It is actually soap foam. What do you think of the lit palm trees?

Since moving and as the kids have gotten older we’ve had to develop some new holiday traditions.

We used to always visit that crazy house in Smoke Rise that is so lit up every year. Many of our friends still do and post about it on Facebook.

Now we have a new crazy house to visit. This guy has less space to work with but he is more mechanized. (See photo above.) The kids enjoy seeing that one.

Last weekend we went to an outdoor mall where they blow “snow” at the kids. It was soap foam. It was a little bit disappointing. Next year we have to …

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