Sunday, December 29, 2013

Holiday themed bentos

We love to add creativity to meals, especially bento time! Chef Johnny (a.k.a hubby) heads that department around here. Check out previous nummy posts here and here.
Halloween Bento
Mandarine orange pumpkin with seaweed face and a green bean for stem, sushi rolls with egg and veggies, and rice colored with carrots
Thanksgiving Themed
Rice Turkey: Seaweed eyes, cheese nose, apple skin gobble, pretzel legs, and candy corn feathers
Christmas Themed
Rice Snowman: Seeweed for buttons and face, pretzel arms, and gardetto's rye chip for hat
Rice Candy cane: seaweed for stripes
I should add, these are John's perfect versions (that man has a gift) and these are mama's ideas of fun kid food: pancakes with marshmallows and grapes! That's fancy right?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Baby Sensory Board

Exposing your little one to a variety of textures and sensory stimulation, sensory boards are not only classified as educational, they are wildly entertaining as well. What's great about this project is that you can use items that you already have around the house! The main thing is providing things to look, touch, and feel- soft, bumpy, shiny, rough, etc that can be fixated down securely. As with any play, you want to make sure you give them plenty of time to discover the different things on their own but with direct supervision.

How to get started:
Poke holes in sheet of cardboard & securely tie ribbons & pipe cleaner
(make sure there are no rough edges)

Supply List:

  • Cardboard sheet, Hot glue gun, Stock Paper
  • A Variety of ribbon, Pipe cleaner, Leash (shortened)
  • Zipper, Fake flower , Fake jewels
  • Foil, Fabric swatches, Pinwheel
  • Magnets backed with foam sheet
  • Pom-Pom balls

Cover with stock paper
Fixate flower with hot glue after poking through cardboard
Add fabric swatches, foil "mirror" & pom poms
The J & ? are magnets that I backed with foam for safety before
hot gluing them on
Remove the top portion of the pinwheel, poke through the cardboard, and glue securely.
Trim the pointy edges of the pinwheel so they are rounded 

The Finished Sensory Board:
It has been such a hit around here that the older girls wanted to make their own boards too! We will have to share what they came up with as they used things that were challenging for each of their age (preschool & elementary). I may just name them Bored Boards!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sexual Abuse: A girl's journey to finding her voice

This. This is a hard one. A post that makes it hard for me to swallow. Hard to breathe. Hard to be vulnerable and share from a place of STILL healing rather than being completely healed. A place where I can't say that after all of these years, I am not still in the trenches, dealing with the aftermath of a war in which for so long I felt my only choice was defeat. For deep down I was damaged goods and had somehow deserved such a status even if it was one that I had only given to myself. So here I am sharing from a place of transparency rather than expertise and that is HARD for me in and of itself.

It started small. As a young girl, in the form of unwanted touches in-between the halls. Unbuttoning my blouse somehow so slyly in a classroom full of people and yet no one saw. And yet I said nothing. I had had a crush on him so maybe I had asked for it? Because I liked him. I meekly tried to ask him to stop and he did not. My voice didn't matter. At that moment, my innocence felt taken from me.

Then there was the supervisor. The one that was more than twice my age. But he didn't really mean what I thought he meant right? He worked with children and everyone TRUSTED him. I trusted him. He told me that he "wanted to know...what boys and girls are supposed to do" as he cornered me all alone. Had I asked for this again? I didn't want to make waves but felt as though I needed to speak out for other kids' sake. If he was saying these things to me, was he saying them to other girls? Younger girls? I told my boss and felt like a fool. I still had to awkwardly work with him. I ended up leaving one of my first jobs as a teenager.

At the age of 17, I was raped. When I confided in someone close, I was told that "That's what happens when you put yourself in bad situations". For years, in my mind, I believed them. It was my fault. And I had lost my voice.

My ill attempt at facing the situation (after a few self-destructive paths) was deciding I would never be a victim again. I was self-sustaining, tough, and trusted no one. I became a master at hiding my heart. I also had a very skewed perspective of who I was as a girl/ woman outside of being a sex object. Those lines were very blurred for quite some time. For awhile, I swung from being what I felt like men wanted me to be to being a complete man hater and not even allowing the opposite sex to open the door for me.  I was never going to let it happen again. I was never going to lose my voice again. I would just speak LOUDER and STRONGER and FIGHT HARDER. I. I. I.  All by my awesome self-sufficient self. Because if I would have just done a, b, c, and wouldn't have happened once. Let alone the next time and the next and the... I tried to protect myslef and heal on my own.

The thing is, we can't do it on our own. Too often sexual abuse is something we chalk up as a norm for girls. Every one of us know of someone who has been abused or harassed in some way and so if it's normal it must be ok. If I've learned anything, it is that it is NOT ok. But it's not about woman power and banning together and burning our bras together and man bashing.

It's about coming to the feet of Jesus, in our brokenness, in our despair, in our desperation, in our cocoon that we have spent years and years and years building around ourselves for protection one thread at a time. Maybe. Just maybe, we can allow God to strip away each thread of false strength. Each self- built bandage and let the healing really begin. At our core. Because deep down out of that suffocating cocoon, comes forth life. Beauty. And Freedom.

So here I am, by the grace of Jesus, getting one wing out at a time, for my husband, for my little girls, and for me.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mommy Truths: How you know you have a toddler

*  Being a mom with a toddler is "like having a blender without a lid" as pinterest so eloquently stated. Dang it. At times, I have to agree. BUT having a toddler is SO much more. They are full of life and wonder are constantly full of surprises.

*  You know you are a parent to a toddler when you have said "use your words" so many times in a day that you accidentally catch yourself saying it to an adult and better yet your spouse. Oops.

*  If little sticky fingers hand you wrappers, gum, jackets, cups, bugs, backpacks, broken toys, snotty tissue or tissue with other residue on it, are a human trash can mama. And then two seconds later turn around for snuggles, high fives, tickles, thumbs ups, blown kisses, "presents", pictures of their scribbles and masterpieces, and their little hand to pray =)

*  When everything out of your mouth is taken literally. "Ruby you crack me up!" "But mommmmmmmyyyyy! I didn't break you into a bunch of pieces!"Or when those adorable responses turn into a somewhat embarrassing moment... Me to a friend: "I can't wait to spoil her!" (referring to her soon to be baby girl). Cute adorable literal toddler then becomes nearly hysterical: "Mommy!!!!!!!! You can't!!!!! You can't BOIL her!" Even after an explanation, apparently spoil and boil are the same thing. Good to know.

*  You know you are a parent to multiple kiddos when going to the bathroom is a license for the kids to bicker. And here you are sitting on the john (to which I imagine my toddler's response would be "Why are you sitting on Daddy?????") disciplining through the door...."Be nice to your sister!" But that just happens to other people.

*  A toddler having a fit (I call it being passionate) is a small glimpse at what I must look like to God at times. I had one right along with my 3 yr old the other day. We both shed a few tears together after a rough morning which thankfully is few and far between. Even if it's just down in my heart, how often do I have an adult "tantrum" of my own? When I dig my heels in and refuse to do what He asks because "I can do it". May I extend to my girls the same grace that He gives me. For their I- WANT- TO- DO -IT- MY- OWN- WAY moments.

* And last but not least, you know you are a mom to a toddler when you don't want to admit that your little one is no longer considered a toddler at all! Welcome to being a mom of a preschooler.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Repurposed wood art

Art on wood is nothing new and it seems that now it has made it's way from the world of pinterest and etsy onto the store racks and after seeing them, I went home eager to make my own version for my bestie. I'm a words kind-of -gal. Words that fuel the heart and soul. Words that speak life and not death. My bestie is the queen of words and is ALWAYS encouraging those around her so it was something that I was hoping would bless her!

I started with a few pieces of scrap wood that we had in the garage. All were the exact same size and had that distressed effect from the paint peeling so they were all ready to go.
Next was adding wood glue in between each panel and firmly placing them together,
and lastly, adding the hand-painted quote:
To make it extra sturdy & for hanging purposes (the glue is not enough to hold it together for a long period of time as I found out the hard way) add metal brackets to the back =) Is it bad that I ended up liking the version that was created at home better then the one in the store??

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bento day is back!

Ladies and gentlemen, bento Friday's are back in session now that the little (and now little-s) are in school. Last year, we started a tradition of creating special bentos for school lunches for Nevaeh. Here is a recap of some of last year's bentos!
Chef husband Johnny has time and patience that baffles me but here is what he did to kick of the first  Friday:
The frog is insanely cute!  Like so cute I want to kiss the little froggie! 
We try to use all natural dyes- beets, celery etc can be boiled down or even added to the rice while boiling in fine pieces. BUT when you are in a hurry and have to get up early to make sushi rice and and and... a drop of food coloring works just as well as you can see! Can't wait to share what's for lunch here and there along with some tutorials. Stay tuned =)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

In a blink: A letter to my daughter & capturing her faves each school year

My Dearest Daughter-

My how you have grown. Your inward beauty, your determiniation, your creativity, your attention to detail, your let's play chase and tickle each other side and let's see how to push mommy's buttons stubborn side, your crazy love and natural ability of sports and your artistic eye, your imagination and let's build a house for fairies and let's make daddy's car into a bat-mobile side and your logical black and white side. Your ability to make something out of nothing, your excitement of learning and school, your organized let's create a pattern and do everything like so side (like making check lists for drawings- "Draw the leaves- check, draw the flower- check...") and your caution to the wind/scribble side, your let's clean everything perfectly side and let's get messy side. Your big sisterly protection and teachers' heart with your little sisters. Your leadership. Your HEART. I see YOU.

I Love You A Million Horses Nevarooni-



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Art Wall Makeover

For my awesome Mama's (A.K.A "Mimi's") bday present, I decided to surprise her by creating an art wall full of her grandbabies' masterpieces! There was a PERFECT emptier then empty wall in the hallway in between the living room and kitchen that needed some TLC. Although I didn't get a "before" picture, I'm sure you can use your noggin to imagine a completely blank tan wall and now THIS:

 My parent's house has a lot of bronze hues and a tropical vibe (we were raised on Kauai before we moved to the awesome Northwest) so I wanted to incorporate that feel into the frames. Not so much my "style" but it was all about blessing my Mama. 
The frames and large wooden A-R-T letters were snagged at the good ol' craft warehouse. 

 I am over the moon with how it turned out and what was so special was the look on her face when she saw it! Truth be told, it was hammered up in close to 20 min. before she got home so I could surprise her and because I never ever ever use any form of measurement it was all done very scientifically....I eye-balled it.
Behind those sentimental frames filled with her grandchildren's time, sweat, and imagination are multiple holes in the wall from mis-attempts at hanging them properly. Soooo it looks like for my Mama's next bday, I will be buying her some spackle !!!!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Growth in pictures: Part Three

You can catch up on miss J Part One and Part Two. Eventually I promise to re-name them so they make more sense with her weeks/age but right now I'm just stoked to be able to weekly record what's going on even with the piles and piles of clean/dirty/clean laundry of three little busy girlies....that for now, can wait another day =)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What to expect post-baby: little truths I never knew

Nevaeh Aubrey July 6, 2006
Becoming a mama rocked my world. It is by far the BEST thing that has ever happened (besides falling in love with Jesus & marrying my sweetheart of course). But I have to say it was not the natural process that I thought it was going to be where my maternal instincts just automatically kicked in and I magically knew exactly what to do in every situation. At times, I felt like a fish out of water and very alone in that feeling. The goal of this post is not to pigoen-hole mothering experiences but merely empower other mamas in the ups and downs of the journey. There were so many moments where I wondered "Why didn't anyone ever tell me?????" These are a few things I would have filled my pre-mama self in on....

* Your Body: your tummy will feel like jello for awhile. It is NORMAL (although it doesn't feel normal). Make a batch of jello while your at it. Maybe you can eat it while you nurse? Hey, you need the extra calories right?

On a delicate note, jean shopping within the first month post-baby will bring on unnecessary tears. Not worth it. Give yourself and your body (and your emotions) a break and sport your comfiest stretchy pants and give yourself some credit. Your tummy was JUST the size of a watermelon. And we're not talking about the mini cute watermelons. You are a rockstar mama.

* Leaving the house: because we all know that when you finally manage to get out of the house, the very exact moment you are ready to leave & you buckle that cute little seat belt on your cute little angel who is in their cute little outfit, your little angel is going to, well, poop. Truth: leaving the house is your baby's innate cue to fill their diaper. Trust me on this. So bring extra clothes for the up-the-back times when you are out shopping & an extra top for you (it's easy to keep a spare in the car) because nothing says being a new mom like having throw up on your shoulder and poo on the front of your shirt. You are a rockstar mama.

Side note: You also know you are a new mama when your baby pees on your shirt & you simply throw it in the dryer because you don't have time to wash it before heading out the door. Besides it's not like you have perfect fitting tops! New mama fail.

* Snaps: Yep. They get their own category. Ha ha. Snaps are a mother's worst enemy. Maybe that is a little extreme but I guarentee that when you are half asleep, stumbling (quietly) into the nursery, putting together snaps on a onesie that are placed in the shape of a trapezoid is going to feel like doing the rubik's cube in the dark. So if it is more then 3 cute little nifty snaps, buy the zipper version instead! Best invention ever for quick diaper changes. You are a rockstar mama.

* Sleep: This is the area I was probably the most unprepared for. Ok. This WAS the area I was the most unprepared for. You hear that newborns wake up every few hours to feed ("my baby isn't going to REALLY wake up that often to eat...right?") you envision what that may look like but to actually have such a interrupted sleep pattern is nothing short of nutty. And at times you may feel that way!!!! "Wait did I shave both legs or one? Did I wash the conditioner out of my hair? Did I just put our milk in the pantry instead of the fridge? Where are my keys???" (I say that one all the time without being sleep deprived!). You are a rockstar mama.

* Emotions: your heart may explode with all the crazy love you experience when you see your little alien baby for the very first time. The love and bond you will have is the most beautiful thing on earth. Mind blown. At the same time, after sleepless nights and ups and downs, you may feel like you are on a roller coaster of emotions. Am I doing this right? "No one ever told me....". You can do this. You are a rockstar mama.

* Baby blues: How can you feel bummed when you are holding such a little miracle? For starters you are not a bad mama or a bad person for feeling this way (Studies say 80% of mamas experience it)! You are not alone. I so remember at times not knowing to do anything else but cry right along with my newborn. It happens and it's important to talk it out & have a support system. You are a rockstar mama.

* Boobies: They get huge. When they are not engorged (ouch), enjoy them- your hubby sure will. TMI? But seriously they will go back to a normal size...eventually. Which leads to my next topic....

* Breastfeeding: Moooooo. Sorry couldn't resist. At times it may feel like that, especially if your little one has a strong sucking reflex. And if a nurse tells you that when your baby latches "correctly" then it SHOULDN'T HURT AT ALL, gently call her on her BS and get to know what feels right for you and your munchkin. Whether they are light sucklers, a barracuda, or a Purana, each mama is going to have different levels of sensitivity. (I had to pump exclusively for nearly the first year with my oldest after the first week. Fortunately, my two other little ones were able to breastfeed successfully as newborns as well as bottle feed for medical reasons). You are a rockstar mama.

Also, whether you had planned to bottle feed since day one or breastfeeding didn't work out despite you and your bambino's best attempts, You are a rockstar mama.

* Advice: Yes it's great to hear the latest swaddling technique & how to rock your baby to sleep in 10 easy steps or to "sleep when the baby does", but it's important to take what works and gently leave behind what doesn't. That's the hard part. It's way too easy to look at the other mama who's baby doesn't have colic and who sleeps through the night at 4 months and wonder what you are doing wrong.

Likewise, it's also way too easy to cast judgement on other mamas "well at least my baby doesn't ______fill in the blank)" so you can pat yourself on the back because you have this new mama thing down right? As women we have the ability to build each other up or tear each other down. Your baby may not be doing a, b, or c now but maybe when they are two years old, they are the ones crushing cheerios into the carpet and jumping off furniture and you are going to wish you had that mommy friend's support on those off-days or crazy phases. So lets TRY, attempt, to be real with one another about how awesome, rewarding, mind blowing, comical, and at times batty this thing called mothering is. Hopefully this is a start =)

Because you truly are a rockstar mama.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

It's a Pony Party!

This was a fun one and the highlight was seeing our daughter light up like a christmas tree with her special surprise we have been keeping for months and months and months (all of the family pitched in to make it happen). She was in shock and she was soooo blessed. As you may have heard me say numerous times before, Nevaeh is in love with horses and now the color purple! Anything purple. Anything resembling a horse. So her 7th bday party had both....LITERALLY....

When she walked into the backyard there were two decked out ponies waiting for her!
She even got to decorate & brush her mane for the party!
Ruby helped out with the other pony (it was hard work but someone had to do it) & they had a whole hour to themselves with "their" ponies before guests arrived.
Oh yes & little little sis got her chance to sit on a saddle
As far as the party details, here are a few little ah-ha touches:
A "watering hole" filled with mini water bottles. Each bottle had some ribbon tied to the top for flare. Let's not forget about the peanuts- what would a party be without peanuts??? Nev likes them so there you go.
 The horse was a word document image and was printed off for the decor.
The rest of the time the kiddlets took turns riding the ponies, being silly, and painting water color pics (all horse themed from the dollar store).
And then there was the cake which was John & I's first attempt at making a fondant cake- or fondant anything! It has always seemed very intimidating to use but it turned out to be funner & easier than I thought! The base of the cake was made from white cake (straight from a box) which was coated in frosting with rolled chocolate fondant placed on top to finish the look and create the shape. The eyes & flower were made from air heads that were molded by hand.
All in all not that bad of a horse cake- or as one cutie pie referred to as a "cow" cake =)
Look at all of those girly personalities! I have to say this was a far cry from my little Nevaeh who use to sleep in a spiderman costume, who hated pink and dresses & out of all the things she could ask santa for a few years back, asked for transformers....but I think I can get used to it =) Just maybe. Love you sweetie.

PS. If you are live in the NW, look up "Dazzling Pony Parties". They were seriously amazing! Helmets & safety instructions were also provided along with a lot of genuine fun!