Thursday, May 30, 2013

A bite of the Big Apple

I didn't have much time to linger on the loss of our Disney World trip that was never meant to be this year before something pretty exciting came along!

I received an email last week saying that I was the grand prize winner of the Armitron Mother's Day Contest on Pinterest!!

Here is my winning Pinterest board.

It's for a whirlwind weekend trip to New York City, a stay at the W Hotel, $250 at Lavo restaurant and $300 at Bliss Spa. OH MY GOODNESS, I cannot wait!!

If you have a suggestion for a must-do in the city, let me know. I'm not sure how much we can squeeze in a fast few days, but we're going to try and do a lot!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A little summer trip - Disneyland 2013

I tried and failed.

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I wanted to badly to negotiate our first big family vacation, cross-country to Walt Disney World at the end of the summer. Unfortunately my husband has a job that doesn't allow him time off and taking an entire week (without pay, mind you) wouldn't work out so well with his bosses. There is also a possibility that he'll be working out of town during that time, so despite major begging on my part, we both knew it just can't be done at this time. Phooey!

So we are arranging the next best thing...a weekend at Disneyland! We were there in December for The Boy's ninth birthday and I'm really excited to be headed back. Not as excited as being able to spend a week in Florida, but excited all the same.

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About 5 years ago, inside the lobby of the Paradise Pier Hotel

We are going to stay at the Paradise Pier Hotel, one of the Disney resort hotels. I've stayed there a few times in the past but Danny hasn't. He was thinking we'd do the Grand Californian this time, but with a cost difference of $140 a night, we couldn't really justify the splurge. We were sent a coupon code for 20% a one night stay in the mail a while ago and have been holding onto it. If you would like to get those kinds of coupons in the mail, you can sign up onto the Disney mailing list by requesting a vacation planning DVD.

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The Boy, way back when, going down the slide at the Paradise Pier

Paradise Pier has an great rooftop pool with a twisty waterslide. We are planning on spending the day in the Parks on Saturday and then lounge around poolside on Sunday before heading home.

On the checklist for this trip:

--First off, make my kids something special to wear. I love making them fun boutique clothes to wear at the Parks that really make them stand out. Last trip was on short notice and I didn't have a chance to make anything but this time I have a few weeks, I'll come up with something cute.

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I made this dress for The Girl to wear last summer, but didn't have time for The Boy. This year I'm making something for everyone!

--Get the kids in the Jedi Training Academy show. Poor Boy has been passed over every time, though once his brother was chosen to participate and was even the featured kid to defeat Darth Vader!

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The Boy's older brother in the Jedi show

--Make sure Baby D gets to ride It's a Small World at least once. He is certifiably addicted to watching YouTube videos of the ride online and I think he'll be thrilled to see it in person. He's been on it before (at 9 months and again at 12 months) but now he's REALLY into it, I think he'll be so excited!

--(Maybe) see the new Fantasy Faire area. Maybe, only if it's not obscenely crowded since it's the newest part of the Park.

--Watch Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. They are my favorite show and I've not seen them in a long time. They always make me laugh until I cry!

--(Possibly) see the new show, Mickey and the Magical Map. I say possibly, because it's going to be opening shortly before we go and it's probably going to be a madhouse.

--More character interaction. I loved how tickled Baby D was last time, I'd really like him to get a picture with Mickey this visit.

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The Boy with Mickey...awww, he was so little!

--Take more pictures of the gorgeous Buena Vista Street in California Adventure. I got a few pictures of the kids there around Christmastime.  photo 155-1.jpg The Red Car Trolley goes down Buena Vista Street

--Baby D would love the Disney Junior - Live on Stage! show. He knows the characters now and watches the shows a bit, so I know he'd get a big kick out it. And I love that my older two are still young enough that they still love and watch the Disney Junior shows (they still watch Clifford and Barney, for heaven's sake! I'm in no hurry for them to grow up!).

--Get on the Radiator Springs Racers as many times as we can!! The kids rode it four times last trip, we love it!

--Get The Girl's Duffy Bear teddy bear an outfit...poor bear has been naked since our trip last year.

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The Girl and Danny with Duffy Bear

--Take a great family photo. It's hard with three kids to get everyone looking at the camera at the same time and for nobody to have a weird expression on their face, but I'm hoping for something decent enough this time to put in a frame!

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We looked decent here, but it's all blurry!

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As good as it gets, though the baby has something in his mouth of course!

--I'm hoping that Danny will hang long enough to see the fireworks show. Last time he fell asleep in the hotel and the kids and I sat in the esplanade and watched them from outside the park. I'd love to get a decent spot inside near Main Street and be able to see them all and hear the music.

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All-you-can-eat ribs at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ!

--Try a new restaurant. We loved the places we ate on our last trip and have already talked about trying something new this time. I'm going to angle for the Paradise Garden Grill for a kabob lunch and the Plaza Inn for a fried chicken dinner.

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And the countdown begins...can't wait!!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Project Log - Bathroom Organization

We have a tiny house, just over 1000 square feet. With five of us here, things are tight. But I've been putting to good use all of my baskets and bins and have been aquiring new organizing tools to keep things in place.

The house is small but we don't want it to look cluttered or feel cramped. We are making good use of the garage, storing items that aren't needed frequently. Extra diapers, wipes and toilet paper rolls (thank you very much, Costco) are kept in a cabinet in the garage as are our shoes and the kids' backpacks. We have donated so much to the thrift store lately in the hopes of being able to live spartanly and keep clutter at bay but still keep the house looking warm and inviting. We hung two pieces of art work this week, that helped give the walls a bit of character. More to come...I have ideas!

The bathrooms were one of the first areas I had to work on. We have two small bathrooms in the home. The guest bath (or the "kid's" bathroom) is slightly bigger than ours with a deeper sink and a bathtub.

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Guest bath

The shower curtain, towels and floor mat came from the apartment. I have extra towels rolled up nicely in a basket next to the toilet because inevitably one of the kids forgets the towel they keep in their bedroom.

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Making use of my basket collection

The only thing I purchased for this space was three plastic baskets for under the sink from the Container Store, green for The Boy, pink for The Girl and blue for Baby D. We keep a plastic drinking cup, their toothpaste, toothbrush and mouthwash inside. They know to pull out their own things and put them away after each use and so far, it's keeping the counter clean and everything under the sink looks organized. And the bins are plastic, so they can be washed out very easily.

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My little "helper"

In our bathroom, I did have to purchase a new shower curtain liner and will be making a shower curtain for this space. I found this pretty lacy looking wastebasket at Bed Bath & Beyond, along with the tiny bath mat. A wire basket from Target holds extra toilet paper. Under the sink in here is a two-tiered pull out drawer from the Container Store that holds Danny's shaving stuff and my hair things. I also have a large basket for ahem, feminine products and my make-up bag. Toothbrushes and paste stay on the counter. I would like to have some shelving put up on the wall next to the toilet for extra storage.

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Teeny-tiny master bath

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The not-so-grand Master bathroom...I had to stand in the shower to take this picture!

So, bathrooms...organized but still a work in progess. Still to do, a shower curtain for the master bath, some shelving and hang some art. But still, organized and pretty much clutter-free, yay!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You Belong in the Zoo

This weekend we took a break from working-around-the-home stuff and had some fun in the sun!

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I had won two San Diego Safari Park tickets in a radio contest a few months ago and then was able to get the kid's tickets on a Living Social deal and saved about $30 that way. It was a pretty day, nice and sunny but not terribly hot.

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Mapping out the day.

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Watching the gorilla mama and her almost-two-year old baby

Baby D was not impressed with the safari tram tour. He just wanted to snack on granola bars and Craisins the entire time. The giraffes were plentiful and he liked watching them briefly but I think they weren't close enough for him to realize that these were "real" giraffes. There weren't any elephants on the safari this time...I could have sworn they used to have elephants.

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Baby D loved the goats.

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On the playground with Daddy.

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Hanging out on the playground.

One of the coolest things that the kids did was walk through the lorikeet aviary. I love birds, I think they are so beautiful and I actually collect bird things. However, I cannot be around an un-caged bird, it's my phobia. So the baby and I waited outside the aviary while The Boy and The Girl went inside with Danny and one cup of nectar.

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A heap of lorakeet

The keeper was adamant that only one of the kids feed the birds, something about transferring germs or something so only The Girl held the cup. We are planning a trip to Sea World in a few weeks and promised The Boy a tray of sardines for him to feed to the seals!

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I did suck up the bird phobia and we attended the Frequent Fliers Bird Show. The Boy wanted to sit high but I remembered that the birds swoop really low over the crowd so I told him we had to sit closer to the stage and fortunately we picked a good spot...a great view of the show but no birds over my head! The baby loved this show too, cheering and clapping in all the right spots.

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Keeping cool in hats and shades

After more walking and a stop at the animal nursery, we left the park and drove down the road for lunch (Mexican food at the taco shop, yum!).

Came home and got back to busy on the house. We unloaded a ton of sewing and craft stuff from my parent's garage, set up my studio in our garage and pretty soon I'll be ready for crafting again! We are really coming along with the house, I'll share some photos soon. We hung our first artwork on the wall last night. Now I just need to convince Danny that we need to paint soon too...