Monday, February 28, 2011

After Dark!


It's always a challenge to figure out what to do after dark. In the winter, it gets dark here by 5:30, which leaves us with hours (and sometimes hours and hours) before bedtime.

The biggest hit in our house is playing Dance Party. We crank up the dance music and just go crazy. Paprika loves pop music more than anything in the whole world. Her favorite singer is Lady Gaga, but she'll dance to the Go-Gos, Gwen Stefani...people like that. Somehow I got some old Mellencamp on my playlist, and she about threw up on the floor. She looked at me very seriously and said, "That music is not for me. Please, please turn it off!"


Her favorite thing to do during dance party is to turn off ALL the lights in the house. Then she puts on sunglasses. I got these pictures just before she turned out the last of the lights. I guess it's a lot more fun to dance around in the dark!

Here is a picture of her favorite sunglasses. I couldn't get a picture of her dancing with them because it was pitch black in the room!

She found these glasses on the ground at Disneyland (they are Princess Tiana glasses). I have to say that of all the glasses she has, these remind me the most of NASCAR. But she loves them, so that's what's important!


We have been playing tea party, too. We use a mixture of a kid's tea set and the real deal. Both girls are really careful with the dishes, and love playing pretend together. On this night, we were having an Alice Tea Party!


The matching Alice In Wonderland outfits are from the 80% off, after Halloween sale at our local Halloween Superstore. I love having dresses that fit both girls.


Ginger's dress actually fits her- usually she is wearing a princess dress far too big for her. So, it's a nice change!


Before bed, we always spend some time winding down with the DoodlePro before storytime. I put Ginger to bed first, and then Paprika and I sit up and talk, I watch her draw, and lately we've been practicing her reading skills. One thing that has helped so much with her reading is that we use the DoodlePro to practice spelling and sounding out words. In the past two weeks, Paprika has advanced so much in reading just from these 20 minute sessions practicing. She is now able to sound out pretty much any word she sees, even long words like "Nutcracker." She can also write out a lot of words without any help like: ball, doll, fish, plane, ballerina, lion, baby, rocket...stuff like that.

It's worked well for us because she always wants to stay up later, so she is really motivated to work with me on her reading (since she knows it buys her an extra half hour before bedtime). Then, after that I read her stories and sing her songs...just like I do for Ginger.


I have started to cherish all of the quiet, after dark times we have together. Even though it's sometimes challenging to always be finding a craft or something fun and creative to do at night (instead of just going outside to play like we do during the day), it is so worth it! I know that when I look back, some of my favorite memories will be our crazy dance sessions in the dark, our tea parties, and learning to read before bedtime.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What Is Worth Saving


I have a bunch of pictures from this week to upload to my computer. We've been busy...the good kind of busy, and I have photos forthcoming to prove it! ;-)

These photos I found kicking around and I realized I hadn't posted them. They are from a month or so ago...a trip to the park to feed the ducks and sleep in trees!


The weather has all of a sudden turned rainy again- those bright days of sunshine from earlier this week are gone. It is pouring buckets!

I had to get out of the house today for a little bit. Mr. Mustard had a guy's night planned tonight (Laker's Game!), so I slipped out for an hour by myself this afternoon for some "me" time. I don't get to do that very often, so when the opportunity arises, I take it!

I decided to check out a different Salvation Army...the one down in Rancho Palos Verdes. I read on Yelp that it is a treasure-trove of designer and high-end cast-offs. So, I went down there. It was not good. The place was so huge I felt swallowed up by it, and everywhere I looked, I just saw stuff, stuff, stuff. Like some kind of hoarder's nightmare. It was packed with people (I think it had something to do with it being 30% off day), and after looking through the racks for a few minutes, I realized there were no gems there.

I have been decluttering a lot lately. Just getting rid of stuff. It's one of those things that comes pretty easily to me. After being in the Fire where I lost every material possession, I like to travel light when it comes to belongings. I realized back then that you can get caught up in the material stuff and it will take over your life. After the fire, I had nothing (well, nothing but my LIFE)...and it ended up being kind of freeing.

I am not saying that I want to go through that type of loss again. It was really horrifying on so many levels. But in the end, all of the stuff we have is just stuff. I was asked awhile ago what I would take out of my house in the event of a fire now, and besides making sure everyone got out safe, I told them that the one thing I would take would be Vivian and Annemarie's urns. The irony is not lost on me that the possession that I would save from a fire would be something that had already burned.

So, being at the Salvation Army today with throngs of bargain shoppers reminded me that every material possession I have is replaceable. Do I need to hang on to clothes that are too small? What is the replacement cost of those things? Judging from what I found at the Salvation Army, around $5 for a pair of pants.

Mr. Mustard likes to keep everything just in case. So, it's a balance in our house. And one that is probably for the best (you know, so we're not living in a house with 4 plates and 2 spoons). In the end, we both know what really matters. The best way to spend one's time is not shopping or fretting about the material stuff or even decluttering. Nope, the most precious times we have are with those we love. Doing stuff like pretending to sleep in trees. And not pretending very convincingly either! Ha!


Those are the memories that are the true treasures in life.

Hope your weekend is a good one! We'll be trying to stay dry here and getting ready for my dad and stepmom's visit next week. I am soooo excited!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Monster Chase!


Know what Paprika loves to do more than anything else? Play hide and seek in the backyard. Nevermind that there are only four places to hide.

Her other favorite thng to do is play monster chase, which is basically just tag while acting like a monster. I think she probably runs 5 miles/day doing this...and no, she hasn't taken a nap since she was 16 months old.

Endless energy, I tell ya!

Papirka is also dressing herself now. And what does she pick to wear? My sweatshirts! Do you think they might be a little too big? We took the girls out for dinner the other night and she wore her new favorite sweatshirt. Let's just say we got a few looks. When she has the hood up, she kinda looks like an Ewok, so I get why people were staring. Ha!


I think this is only the beginning of her borrowing my clothes. Hopefully someday I will be borrowing her clothes. Isn't that a funny thought?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This and That!


Monday (President's Day), we spent most of the day at the park. We love going over there to feed the ducks and let the girls play on the enormous (fenced!) playground. The park was packed because of school being out...which actually made it better since there were lots of kids to play with.


Because of all the rain, the park was really flooded in parts and Paprika ended up getting soaked! Thankfully we could drive home real quick and let her change, then bring her back to the park, so she could be mostly dry for the rest of the day. Ginger got her feet wet in a few puddles, but didn't seem to mind.

We came home and picked lots of oranges and made fresh squeezed orange doesn't get any fresher than this! Overall, it was a really relaxing day!


Today Mr. Mustard had lunch with one of his buddies, so I took Ginger to the beach while Paprika was at school. I put Ginger on my back in the Ergo and she fell asleep about 3 minutes into our walk. I ended up walking with her for about two hours because I knew if I stopped she would wake up. Ha! So, I got a good workout in...but no pictures because my camera was in the Ergo pocket and I couldn't reach it while she was on my back. Oh well. It was a nice memory for peaceful. It's so much easier to carry 25 pounds of sleeping toddler than it is to chase after her!

Then, I stopped by the Salvation Army. I hadn't been to one in years. This mom from Paprika's school was telling me that she always finds designer jeans there, so I thought I would give it a try. Lo and behold, I found 2 pairs of Seven for All Mankind jeans, one pair of Chip & Pepper's, and one pair of Lucky Jeans. All for $4/each! So that was really fun! And yea, I think I will be shopping there again! ;-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Here Comes The Sun!


It rained hard most of the day on Saturday. We discovered that parts of our ceiling resemble swiss cheese, and had to put buckets to use to keep dry. That was kinda fun- felt almost like camping...indoors!

I also got to use my new rainboots. I bought them a month ago and this was my first chance to wear them!

On Friday night, I did a huge re-organize of all the girls' toys. Mr. Mustard was at work really late, so I stayed up until about 4am working on it. I got rid of stuff, put everything back where it really belonged (as opposed to where it usually gets thrown at the end of the night).


I know it will eventually go back to being the disorganized pile it was...but hopefully I can keep it all in order for awhile. The next morning when the girls woke up, they played with all different toys than they usually do! It was almost like they got a whole new set of toys overnight. It is amazing what a difference being able to find stuff makes! Seriously!

So, the first part of the weekend we just hung out inside mostly, except for our family dinner out on Saturday night. Sometime on Saturday, Ginger demonstrated why it is soooo important to strap your furniture to the walls when you have a toddler. Good thing we did that!


We found her like this after she walked into another room and we hadn't heard her for 30 seconds. She was pretty pleased with herself.


On Sunday, the rain stopped and we were able to get outside for some sunshine. Here are a few pics from our afternoon hanging out at home:





Paprika had to water the plants, even though it had rained about 10 inches the day before. She insisted on it...said they were still thirsty! I think she just wanted to use her pretty watering can that Mimi gave her for Christmas. Can't say I blame her!


Hope your three day weekend was happy and sunshine-filled. We did some fun stuff today (President's Day), so I'll post about that later!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Celebration of Little Milestones!


Last week Ginger and Paprika both had little milestones to celebrate. Paprika had her half birthday on Wednesday, so now she's officially 4 and a half. Closer to 5 than 4. Sigh.

Ginger turned 20 months on Friday...which I guess is not really that big of a milestone, but it just means she's that much closer to 2. What?!


We tried to go for a walk again down at the beach. This time we had a new strategy. We ditched the stroller and instead I carried her on my back in the Ergo for as long as she would allow. Then we let her walk.


Paprika was at school when we took this little walk, so we only had Ginger to watch...which made things so much easier. Isn't it amazing how when you have one child you think it's the hardest thing in the world, and then when you're juggling two you wonder...what was I thinking?! That was so easy! I guess it's all relative! I know people with three think two is a piece of cake...and so on!


It ended up being a great little walk- much better for us all, including Ginger. One thing I've learned is that by working with what your child wants instead of against it, we can all be a lot happier.


Afterwards, we went to pick Paprika up from school. Ginger loves it because she gets to play on all the equipment and with the bigger kids.


Paprika is so fiercely protective of her little sister. She kept chasing the big boys away from Ginger and saying, "Don't worry, my sweetheart. I will protect you!"


I should probably write a post about the new things they're doing now since this is a milestone post. Maybe just a quick little bit here (this is more for me than anyone else):

Paprika: Writes words, can sound out words, and read some words by sight. Loves to draw elaborate pictures and play hide and seek in the backyard. Loves to sign her name to everything and write me and Daddy little cards. Loves soccer and running. Loves to stay up late and sleep in. Doing better with eating more foods and trying new things. Will now try some foods (take a bite) even if she doesn't want anymore afterwards. Her favorite foods are crunchy and of course, anything chocolate! Remembers anything and everything.

Ginger: Saying a lot of words and some short sentences. Wants to be a grown-up (or at least do everything a four and a half year old does!) Climbs everything. Tries to jump off the ground with both feet but not quite there yet (but looks adorable trying). Loves fruit, turkey, cheese, and anything with mayo. Adores chocolate. Very picky about her clothes and shoes. Loves dogs and cats, and knows all her animals and the sounds they make (even fox, owl, and macaw). Knows and can say all the major body parts. Loves baths (but she makes sure to tell me: "no bubbles"). Understands everything. Favorite things to do are kiss, hug, nurse, and snuggle.


So, there ya have it. The four and a half year and 20 month update! They are growing up so very fast...

Friday, February 18, 2011

When The Sun Goes Down!


I've been trying to come up with creative things to do inside when the sun goes down. We've been baking things, and of course, Ginger is all over that.

The only problem is that I have yet to learn that baking is an exact science, not something you can just wing. Let's just say that this batch of cookies turned out...interesting (another word for inedible).


Watercolors before bedtime have become a little bit of a tradition around here.


One of Paprika's favorite nighttime activities is putting on makeup...especially my makeup!


A little heavy handed? Or not?


Other big recent night activities have been playing Alice In Wonderland, fancy tea parties, blowing bubbles (indoors!), playing "dance party" in the living room for hours, and of course, very very long baths!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bounce, Bounce!


We've been taking full advantage of our bounce house. So far it's still holding up. Mr. Mustard even took a turn in it this weekend and got thoroughly attacked by the girls. What can I say, between him in the bounce house and me in the stroller, we're voiding warranties left and right.


Paprika told me that Ginger is her best friend. They are so cute together and I am so glad that Ginger can really play with Paprika now.


Mr. Mustard took both the girls to soccer this weekend because I was up all night with Ginger (who woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep). Anyhoo- he told me that Ginger is quite the little soccer player. I totally believe him. She is the most active, fearless child ever.

Apparently she was kicking the ball, dribbling with with her feet, just in the middle of the whole practice...and the other parents were like, "How old is this child?!" So she may end up giving that two and a half year old boy in Paprika's class a run for his money. Ha!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sunsets and Seagulls!


We've been making it down to the beach pretty much every day. The weather has been just too good to miss it.

Since it's still winter, we practically have the place to ourselves!


The girls love running on the walk path...


relaxing in the stroller...


performing impromtu dances...


and even pushing yours truly! If that's not an ad for the BOB stroller, I don't know what is! Ha!


Watching the sunset and the seagulls just never gets old.


Well, not to me anyway!