Tuesday, April 30, 2013

5 Awesome Bake Sale Goodies

I feel like it's bake sale season. Is there such thing?

I just baked for our church bake sale and will be baking again soon for another fundraiser. I'm not opposed to a bake sale. In fact, I love them. My problem always comes in deciding what to make. I'm not sure why I complicate the decision making process. It's just what I do! Honestly... there should be a guide to tell us what the best bake sale goodies are. I don't want to bring what everyone else is bringing. I don't want my baked goods to turn into an ooey-gooey mess in the sun. Most of all, I want the items I make to sell. Since no such guide exists I decided to create my own 'guide'.

I scoured Pinterest and found five great recipes for your next bake sale. Not too chocolate-y or frosting-y or generic-y. Here are five awesome goodies for your next fundraiser....

What is your favorite bake sale goodie?

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Monserate Mountain Preserve Fallbrook

You don't have to be a long time reader to know, hiking is kind of our thing. I love documenting our hikes on the blog. It's an easy way to keep track and look back on all of the trails.

Monserate Mountain Preserve is a nearby trail we checked out recently. A short but steep trail just off Interstate 15 in Fallbrook, CA. I will warn you the trail is rocky and a bit unleveled. I think each of us had our fair shares of stumbles. I wouldn't advise this trail for any children under age 8. On a positive note, the trail is heavily populated and has a great mountaintop view.

Wild Sage growing along the trail.

Wild Rosemary growing along the trail.

I'm loving this trail for a heart healthy and nearby hike.
But not loving it enough to visit again.


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Another Southern California Hike:

Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve Hike

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend of Service 2013

Just a quick post to share with you all. We've been so busy volunteering this weekend with our church for Weekend of Service. The church shut down for the whole weekend and went out into our community to serve. OMG...we are not talking plating up some pizza at Sunday Night Dinners here. My husband and I agree, we can not remember the last time we worked so hard. I spent five hours planting flowers in soil made up of rock and clay. Boy, how I miss the brown moist dirt in Iowa. Life could have been so much easier. It's so ironic to me that I was given the job of planting flowers. I do not have a green thumb. I kill marigolds and can't get succulents to grow. I wouldn't be surprised if my flowers don't make it. Just saying!

I'm posting some pictures taken yesterday at our site. Oh, I should tell you about our site. We worked at a low income middle school. Low income schools are a dime a dozen in Southern California. It's true. It's sad simple repairs go unfixed because of financial constraints. A great example is a clogged drain on the school campus which floods the grounds when it rains. The work order was submitted two years ago and it still remains clogged. So sad!

Our boys before volunteering. Zac wasn't too excited to go. 
Remember he is our lazy one.
In his own words, he surprisingly had fun and made a couple of friends. Yes, he slipped off to the mulch pile a time of two to get unbelievably dirty and he started digging a hole in pursuit of gold. Overall, it was a great experience for him and everyone.

Ky went into superstar mode yesterday. As she always does. 
Seriously the girl impresses me. 
Everyone really. 
This picture was end-of-the-day-I-need-a-shower-and-food kind of smile. 

So...we went to our favorite diner, The Pit Stop and got some grub.
Topped it off with milkshakes. Just to sooth our sore muscles.
Holistic Healing.

We got home. Did the shower and laundry thing. 
Watched Rise of the Guardians.
Went to sleep.
Now were just bumming around in our pjs until our shift today.

Of course, it's not Sunday on the blog without a gratitude post.
I'm thankful for everything you just read. 
Truly an amazing experience with the family.
I'm grateful for our church too.
It's a great fit for us. 

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Safeguarding Military Kids

Last week I shared my constant concern about how the military life affects our kids. It used to be a real hang up for me. I didn't want my husband to continue his military career because of my worries. In fact, I would bombard every adult "military brat" with questions. Growing up in a small, close knit Midwestern community was vastly different from the diverse ever changing military environment we now live. Honestly, the majority of my high school graduating class began kindergarten together. Here, we are lucky if we have the same neighbors when summer rolls around.

After my husband decided to make the military a career, I settled into raising 'military kids'. I became more proactive in creating an environment to safe guard them from the inconsistency of military life. A lot of what I've learned has been trial and error. But I credit my degree in Human Development for some of our success too. I feel a certain advantage in having studied the ins and outs of how people come to be who they are. I understand how psychology, sociology, and biology work together to shape a person. I also know culture and community play a big role. Simply put you may be the world's greatest mom but outside influences still affect your children.

I do not claim to be an expert in the area of military families or parenting. But I do have a few years of experience. Here are five things we are doing to help our kids thrive in the military community.

1.) Make civilian friends. They provide a consistency military friends most likely will not. Moving in the military cannot be helped. Honestly, you have no choice. If you get orders, then chances are you will move. Or your military friends will move. Which happens a lot, especially if those friends are absolutely wonderful and you have lots in common...they always PCS across country or the globe. Ugh! How many times have you felt this frustration? Now imagine the heartbreak for a child. You can multiply it tenfold if the only friends they have are military kids. I'm not advocating dismissing friendships with other military families/kids. I'm suggesting striking a balance. If you don't know where to look for civilian friends, here are a few suggestions. Community supported extracurricular activities like Mommy and Me or soccer, church, or co-workers with kids.

2.) Never hide your emotions about the military life and don't let your children do it either. Of course, these things should be handled with maturity and age appropriateness. Remember you are a model to your children. They will pick up many cues from you. Talk to your kids. Tell them when you feel sad and share with them how you will cope to feel better. Coping is a biggie! Don't placate negative feelings with unrealistic expectations. Avoid telling your child, "Everything will be ok" or "It is what it is". Tell your kids these times are tough and they make you sad too. And it's ok to feel these negative things but always encourage your kids to not get stuck. Always think ahead...ask yourself "How can I prevent myself from landing in this exact same spot again?" Then make a plan to move forward. Most important, know when you are able to help and when you need to seek professional help. There are many programs and counselors available to help you and your children get over the hump of military stress. Take advantage of what is available!

3.) Involve your kids in extracurricular activities. Give your children a focus outside of your family unit. Put them in sports, encourage them to pursue academic interests, join a club, or start a hobby. All of these things help your child gain a sense of self-reliance and confidence. Not only does it help take the focus off of the military schedule or absence but kids begin to find a certain independence when they must rely on their own capabilities and contribute to a team effort.

4.) Utilize your extended family to support your children. The majority of military families live away from their extended families so making use of extended family is tricky. I also think it's very common with military families to not have extended families visit their duty station. Regardless of your extended families' involvement, I encourage you to take the lead for your military children. Here's the thing...my parents aren't the most child friendly (sorry folks). Nobody is a school teacher or has a 'Parent of the Year' award. But my parents bring something to the table I typically do not. Namely, patience and acceptance, in the form of less rules and more laughs. Plus, they have bigger houses in the middle of nowhere so my kids can run free. We try to plan an annual trip to Iowa. When my husband is deployed I like to visit family at midpoint. By the time we visit, I'm sort of at the end of my rope with the kids and they with me. I look at the visit as 'filling my kids love tank'. When we can't be with family, I love to utilize Skype or Facetime. It really is the next best thing to being together. And my kids go crazy (literally) to be able to see and talk to their auntie or whomever we Skype.

5.) Reap the benefits. There are definite perks to being a military family. For me, it is being stationed in states and countries I would have to spend thousands of dollars to visit. I always point out to my kids how fortunate we are to be able to just go and do. And then, we just go and do. Why not?!? Those are the perks and military families should take full advantage. When we attend community sponsored events, I always make sure the kids know the group putting on the event is saying 'Thank You'. I want our kids to know the bigger picture. Their dad sacrifices for the freedom of the nation. And people recognize his work. As military kids, they also sacrifice and it does not go unnoticed.

Small as kids are, they truly do serve our country too. I think it's important to help make them as successful as possible. What are some things you do to 'safeguard' your kids from the stressors of military life?

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Best Teacher Appreciation Gifts Under $10

This week my friend reminded me Teacher Appreciation Week is already being celebrated at some schools. I was saving this post for a couple more weeks but it seems now is a better time to post. Our appreciation week is May 12-17th. But I am already pinning some creative options for my children's lovely teachers. I appreciate them so much. My undying adoration comes from having been on the teaching side of the classroom. I understand what it takes for these guys and gals to keep up with 20-35 kids every day. Yikes, for the 35 kid classroom! We had 22 tops and that number can be overwhelming! I wouldn't want to imagine adding another 13!

Teacher appreciation is just an excuse to do the necessary. Gift your teacher. However, don't break the bank. Keep it within reason for the sake of your budget and all the other parents who don't want to feel totally overshadowed by your generosity.

I hope we can all agree coffee mugs are out dated. And "Best Teacher" anything should be avoided. Here are some Pinterest inspired gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week. For the price of a morning coffee and bagel, you've got yourself some amazing teacher gifts.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Griffith Observatory & Park Los Angeles

One of my favorite places to visit in Southern California is Griffith Park. The park is home of the Griffith Observatory and the best view of the world recognized Hollywood sign. The observatory houses many interesting astronomy exhibits which will keep all ages entertained. On the outside, the views of the city and surrounding area are pretty spectacular. Over 50 miles of well maintained trails utilized for running, hiking, and horseback riding surround the observatory. It's the perfect location for a full day of sightseeing and exercise for your family. If you manage to have a little extra time, then Hollywood is only 4 miles down the road. It's a perfect inexpensive day trip.

I can't recommend this day trip enough.
LA gets a pretty bad wrap but there are some cool hidden gems.
This is one!

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Monday, April 22, 2013

10 Signs You're Raising a Military Child

...Your children have at least one souvenir from a Middle Eastern country.

..your child has a red/white/blue outfit to wear to military functions, pictures, and/or on the 4th of July.

...Your child can name every military vehicle on your base.

...Your baby can nap through live fire or jets flying overhead.

...Your child's best friend lives at least three states away.

...Your child stands still as a statue when he/she hears the National Anthem.

...You child has been scolded for not standing at attention for the National Anthem.

...At one time your child thought his deployed parent lived in a computer.

...Your child casually mentions he could hear the bombs going off all day at school like it's normal.

...Your toddler calls the iPad "Daddy" or "Mommy".

BONUS...your child makes friends faster than anyone you've ever met!

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Gratitude Journal

This weekend has been busy. I did not plan out my gratitude post. When this happens, as it sometimes does, I usually don't post. But I'm trying to keep on a schedule. And gratitude post is really about the daily, the moment. I'm keeping this simple.


I'm thankful for our Saturday bike ride. We took the boys to the convenience store for ice cream pops. 
I love sharing simple pleasures with the kids.


I'm thankful for sunny days. We've been taking full advantage. I'm seeing photos of my family back home in scarves with snow on the ground. That just ain't right. 
It's April. Almost May. There should not be snow...anywhere! 


Today we went to a Mustang car show in Buena Park. It's something my husband wanted to do.
I'm not a big car fan. But I don't mind walking along with him. I took pictures. That keeps me busy. I know my husband enjoys the company. I'm grateful the car show was close enough for us to visit.


I'm thankful for our family volunteer project. Serving Sunday Night Dinner at church. 
Always a good time.

I am thankful for random interactions God plans in my life. 
He has this way of coming in from left field, completely blindsiding me, 
and leaving me absolutely amazed.
For example, tonight I sat on a bench eating my pizza with another volunteer.
She was telling me about how her family found our church and 
how far her husband had grown in his faith during that time.
She told me 'He has changed so much, he isn't even the same person'.
And I automatically replied, "That's exactly how I feel about myself".
It was a simple confession but so profound for me.
I'm a private person. I'm growing... but I still struggle with sharing myself with others.
Those simple words uttered were like a release.
There was no thought behind them. They were just spoken.
I am so thankful for a God who does not give up on me. Who has slowly changed me into this person I barely recognize.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pinterest Fail: Baked Zucchini Chips

Beware of this beautiful Pinterest pic, lovely friends. I hate to be the nark on this highly popular recipe. But the picture is deceiving. Or I am completely inept at making baked zucchini chips...on two separate attempts. Either way, be warned! There is a distinct possibility THIS:

Will turn into THIS:

My advice is to 1) not make these or 2) buy the biggest round zucchini you can find and don't follow the recipe. The zucchini shrinks to half the size during baking. And following the recipe will result in overcooked chips. It's too sensitive of a recipe to waste your time. Skip it! 

If you want true success, then pin this Nutella Mug Cake recipe. A handful of ingredients in a mug and cook by microwave. It really really works. And it tastes like cake. Ok, maybe dry cake but it's Nutella. In a cup. As a cake. In the microwave. A little dry can be overlooked!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Meet Our Military Child, Derrick

Meet Derrick! Voted most likely to join the Marine Corps in our family! 
He already makes a good Marine: rough and tumbly, super motivated, 
and has no fear.
 There was a time when Derrick wanted to be a Marine. I believe it was after the invisible ninja phase and before wanting to be a stunt man.
I always wonder if being a son of a military man makes them more likely to join.

Derrick was born a little over a month after my husband deployed for the second time to Iraq. He was 6 months old when he met his dad. A simple picture but one of my favorites. As a baby, Derrick was leary about new people and cried for just about everyone. But he knew his daddy and had nothing but smiles for him that day.

Q: Your dad is in the military. Do you know what branch of service he is in? And what his job is?

A: I don't know what that means. ( I tell him.) Marines! His job is to tell people how to fix the helicopters. 

Q: Do you think that is a cool job?

A: Sure. (3 for 3. I don't think they are impressed with Dad's job)

Q: If you were in the military, what branch would you choose? And what would you do?

A: Um...Marines and I would fly helicopters.

Q: If you joined the military, what do you think you would be the best at?
A: Probably shoot the guns because I know how to shoot guns. Like my Nerf guns.

Q: What do you think would be the hardest part of being a Marine?
A: When you are in the war and you have to carry people on your back if they are injured.

Q: Where is the best place you have ever lived? Why?

A:  I don't know. That's a hard question. My favorite part of living in Japan was we got to go to Saipan,  there were parks near our house, and in Saipan we got to go to the beach a lot.

Q: What was your least favorite part about living in Japan?

A: I didn't have any friends in our neighborhood.

Q: What is the hardest part about having a parent in the military?

A: He has to be at work for a long time. And he deploys.

Q: What helps make deployment easier for you?

A: We go to deployment parties.

Q: What do you think makes the military so special?

A: I don't know.

Q: What do you think makes military kids so special?

A: There dads go on deployment and they learn new things. Then they can surprise their dads when they get home.

Q: Do you think you will ever be a Marine?
A: Yes.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What Should I Bring???

Help! It's my snack week for Bible Study. I can't decide which yummy Pinterest treat to make. Can you help me pick one? I've got six gals to spoil, so it has to be good! Please vote in the comments section. I promise to make whatever gets the most votes! Then I will post the winner for my See It. Pin It, Did It. Pinterest post next week.

The following pins can be found on my Keep Calm & Bake On pinboard. You can follow the link HERE.  I would love to have you follow along!

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