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It’s Almost Haunting Time!

I can’t believe Halloween is merely 3.5 weeks away! Usually by now we’re well underway with the costume-making and the shopping and whatnot. This year, we at least got the decorations up, thanks to Maddie. As far as costumes… only two of us know what we’re doing and exactly zero of us has all the pieces for the costumes.

In the past few years, my kids have had amazing ideas for costumes that we’ve been able to realize.


Jan and Cindy BradyIMG_5566

A cute little cupcakeIMG_6894

Luke (and Yoda)


Emily, the Corpse BrideIMG_9680

Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas

This year, my youngest wants to be young Maleficent.

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I love that my girls are so creative! I only wish I could sew. That would make this process infinitely easier.

My son, the oldest, doesn’t like Halloween nearly as much as the rest of his family. He rarely makes a decision about his costume without suggestions, and never before October. Two months ago, after we started watching “Mork and Mindy” after Robin Williams died, I suggested he go as Mork.

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 4.07.38 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 4.03.44 PM

I think he could pull off either one of these!

As for my middle child, who usually has half her costume finished by now? She doesn’t know. I suppose that’s the middle school girl in her who just can’t make a decision, but we’ve given her several ideas.

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Elsa, only as a zombie!

(any Disney princess as a zombie, actually)

Monster Mash-up : part Mummy, part Frankenstein, part Werewolf, part Dracula

Fire queen: kind of the opposite of the snow queen. Would work well with her red-tipped hair.

(Apparently I’m not the only one who has thought of this: this is a smattering of images that comes up when I googled Elsa Fire Queen.)

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But, she doesn’t like most of my ideas. She’s 11. I suppose that’s par for the course. :(

I will say that I found the base piece of my costume this year. I found it by happenstance while looking for clothes for the kids.


If you’re not sure who I’m going to be, it’s Emma Swan, from Once Upon A Time.

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Granted, it’s not the exact jacket. Actually, she’s had several versions of that same jacket. But I think if I do my hair, wear skinny jeans and boots, and maybe a sheriff’s badge, I think Oncers will know who I am.

As for my husband, I’d love it if he dressed as Emma’s love interest, Captain Hook:

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but he’s not down with that. :(

However, he can always be his favorite go-to costume, the Jedi


OR, if Sean decides to go for Marty McFly, he can be

Screen Shot 2014-10-07 at 4.33.16 PM

1.21 gigawats!!! Dr. Emmet L. Brown.

What are YOUR plans for Halloween? Do you buy or make your costume? Have any ideas for my picky pre-teen? I’d love to hear it!!

I Love You A Bushel And A Peck (or at least a half a bushel)

Today we did our now famed annual apple picking outing. We’ve been going for years. Our first trip was back when the 13 and 11 were 3 and 1. Wow. Ten years. Seems like a lifetime. Before we went that year, I’ll be honest – I’d never been apple picking before. And I grew up in Fallbrook – just a few miles from Julian.

I did my homework this time and knew there would be lots of apples to pick, so we called our partners in apple-picking and headed up to meet them.


Surprisingly, we were early enough to beat the big crowds. Also surprising was the weather… it was in the 50s up there, which was quite refreshing!IMG_9290

Everyone’s heading up to the apples!IMG_9294

It’s easy to hold the box when it’s empty.IMG_9296

Always with the eyes and the rolling.IMG_9297 IMG_9299

I picked some good-looking apples, but brought back some kind of weird ashes, too.IMG_9306

Friends give you a lift when you need to get an apple high in the tree.IMG_9310

I… can… reach it!IMG_9313

“C’mon, kids! Stand by the pretty flowers. Look at me. Smile. C’mon, just look at me and smile.” sighIMG_9316

No explanation needed.IMG_9318

If you look closely, you can see Pat walking on the hill. He was told honeycrisp apples were there. Sadly, he was misled.


You could pay a little extra to make cider (we didn’t).IMG_9323

We came upon a big orchard full of Granny Smith apples, but they were off limits for today.IMG_9327 IMG_9329

I got one!


Sometimes you gotta climb a tree to get an apple.IMG_9334 IMG_9337

This was one of only two Gravenstein trees. Sadly, so many of the apples fell before anyone could pick them.IMG_9339

A little help from Dad, “Jake – get the big one. See the big one? Not the little one.”IMG_9342

Maddie getting some help from Daddy (or is it the other way around?)

IMG_9348  IMG_9355


All done! We picked a half a bushel!


Afterwards, we ate at their “Publick House.” Some of us had better lunches than others. :)IMG_9363

I love this kid. Mother and son.


We have so many apples!! I’m looking up recipes for crisps and cobblers and caramel apples.

Happy Autumn, everyone!!


Look Down, Look Straight, Look Up – Neighborhood Walks

I’ve been taking a lot of walks lately. I’ve been logging between 2 (on a quick day) to 5 miles around the neighborhood. When I walk through the neighborhood alone, I always listen to a podcast (sometimes music) and try to find things around me to look at. It’s much different than when I’m walking with a friend, whom I can talk with the whole time.

So, I try to find interesting things to look at.

One thing I have found is the sidewalks in the three close neighborhoods are all different ages.


My neighborhood. 1949.


Neighborhood directly North of us. 1954.


Same neighborhood North of us – 1951.


Neighboring city. The earliest I can find is 1974, which is odd, because I know the city is over 100 years old.


Same neighboring city. 1987. They patch a LOT of their sidewalks with asphalt.


Same Northern neighborhood as before – stamp is on the side of the curb, rather than the sidewalk. 1955.


Last week I found a hidden treasure – a neighborhood I had NO idea existed. Much younger – on the curb. 1986.

Every now and then I find something pretty on the ground.

Every now and then I find something pretty on the ground.


Looking forward, I noticed the doors on the houses in the neighborhoods. I love unique doors. I love doors with color. And I’m fascinated by the variety of styles and eras of doors in all the surrounding neighborhoods. Here’s a smattering.


I don’t know that I could have these doors on my house, but theyre really cool!




The birds remind me of my grandmother, who loved birds.







Some decorations are cuter than others.

IMG_7283 IMG_7280 IMG_7270

IMG_6280 IMG_6278

And every now and then I get to see a view of the city.

IMG_7578When I look up, there’s all sorts of things to see.

IMG_7275 IMG_7505

IMG_7276 IMG_7262 IMG_7278 IMG_7293

What do you see around your neighborhood?




A Night With The Simpsons At The Bowl

Last night was our last concert of the summer at the Hollywood Bowl – The Simpsons Take The Bowl, Celebrating 25 years of the Simpsons. It was SO much fun (well, once we got through the One Direction traffic. I forgot they were playing at the Rose Bowl and that was kind of a nightmare).

Anyway, my husband is out of town (country), so my parents came along in his place, and we met our friends Eric and Mona, who we haven’t seen in FAR too long. It was a great night!

The Bowl was decorated all festive-like for the Simpsons.

It started with inflatable donuts.


There were two big inflatable Blinkies.IMG_7619

There were also cut outs everywhere. Two of my favorites together – Ned Flanders and Groundskeeper Willie.IMG_7623There were also two giant murals.


And several of the ushers had Sideshow Bob hats on.IMG_7627

My son, posing with the only clown he’s okay with. :)


The show itself was fantastic! Here are some highlights.


The first chair, along with a few other musicians, wore Marge wigs.


They animated an entire sequence of the Simpsons parking, walking to the Bowl, and heading to their seats.


They made their way through each section, with the kids asking, “Are we there yet?” (or something similar) with Homer becoming increasingly  frustrated.


This looks like our section. :)


I suppose it was very Meta.


Hank Azaria was one of the hosts, and he was hilarious. He sang in the voice of Chief Wiggum singing various songs, including “Let It Go.”


Throughout the night, he would change costumes to be Apu, Duff Man, Frink, and Moe.IMG_0150

They brought out the Kwik-E-Mart for “Who Needs the Kwik-E-Mart?”







There were several couch gags by other directors/animators, such as Sylvain Chomet



Banksy, and even Guillermo del Toro, as well as a live-action version. All have been shown on various episodes, but we had never seen them.


Beverly D’Angelo came dressed as Lurlene to sing “I Finally Bagged Me A Homer.”IMG_0171

Yeardley Smith (Lisa) told a story of Michael Jackson when he was on the season 3 premiere. Although it was his speaking voice, it wasn’t his singing voice. The song, “Lisa, It’s Your Birthday” was sung by Kipp Lennon, and he and Nancy Cartwright (Bart) sang it live. One thing they did that I don’t remember ever seeing before is animation ON the actual bandshell.IMG_0181

A family favorite of ours, Weird Al, came out to sing “Homer and Marge” – a parody of “Jack and Diane.” He ended with an accordion solo which morphed into the Simpsons theme song.IMG_0187The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles was there to sing “Spider Pig,” “The Stonecutter’s Song” (I got lucky with this photo)

IMG_0200and “See My Vest.” It was a great rendition of the song, though it would have been awesome if Harry Shearer could have been there.


They stayed on stage to help Conan O’Brien sing the Monorail song he wrote, originally sung by the great Phil Hartman.IMG_0207

Lisa and Bart sang a song from the Sherry Bobbins episode.IMG_0215

John Lovitz came out to talk about his friend, Phil Hartman, and then sang his song from the Planet of the Apes musical.IMG_0227

Vaud and the Villains (a band featuring director and animator David Silverman on tuba) played “We Put the Spring in Springfield.”IMG_0232

There were fireworks (notice again the animation on the shell).IMG_0241IMG_0246

and as an encore, Nancy Cartwright (with the help of everyone else there) sang “The Bartman” which was written by Michael Jackson.IMG_0254It was a great night, and a great way to end our season at the Bowl. The only things that would have made it better were if my husband, Harry Shearer, and Sideshow Bob were there.

See you next summer, HB!



Is Chocolate Keeping Me From The Life I Want?

Recently I’ve made some big changes. Most of the summer I was pretty sedentary. I went from working on my feet most days to chilling with the kids, driving them to places, sitting, and doing housework. I tried to work in some swimming with them and some dancing, but for most of the summer I didn’t do a lot of exercise.

Since August 3rd, I’ve started walking. I’ve logged 33.5 miles in the 11 days I’ve walked.

Since August 1st, I’ve cut gluten out of my diet, in hopes that it’ll help my thyroid issues.

I’ve been eating fairly healthily since then. No late night Cheez-its. No mindless snacking on pretzels during the day. No bread. No pasta. No flour tortillas. No cookies. No pancakes, brownies, sandwiches, muffins… none of my husband’s homemade buttermilk biscuits.

My husband said to me “You’ll lose weight without gluten!”

You’d think so, right?

You’d think that between cutting out gluten AND walking 3-4 miles several times a week that I’d at LEAST lose a pound or two.


I understand you, Betty.

I understand you, Betty.

I don’t get it. My only vice right now is chocolate. I eat it every day.

Is that enough to KEEP me from losing weight?

Is that enough to screw with my metabolism?

I think I’m going to have to give up chocolate – at least for now.

What’s weird is I’ve had NO problem giving up Gluten. Maybe it’s because I am doing it for my health, not to lose weight.

Maybe if I have a legitimate health issue, I can give up chocolate.

I do wonder if I gave up chocolate (and maybe even sugar), would my headaches disappear? Would I feel less sluggish? Would I sleep better? Would I lose weight?

Or would I just look like this all the time?


Any opinions? Any first hand knowledge you’d like to share?



Is It THAT Time Already?

School, glorious school. It’s already back to school time. It’s AUGUST 18th. Are you serious, school district?!?!

When I was a kid, we didn’t go to school until the day after Labor Day. We got out of school around mid-June. This seemed like a perfect situation – at least when I was a kid.

2 of my brothers and me on the first day of school, circa 1980.

2 of my brothers and me on the first day of school, circa 1980.

Just 5 years ago, my kids were starting school – not just in September, but – mid-September.

Now, we go back in August. My first question is… why? Someone told me that it’s so we stay on the same schedule as colleges. COLLEGES. Really?

The UC system starts September 29th.

Cal State classes start anywhere from 8/19 – 9/25.

Stanford starts end of September.

Harvard starts September 2.

Cal Tech starts September 29.

MIT starts September 3.

So, I’m not totally convinced this is why they’re starting us so early.

Is it so we can go on vacation and hit theme parks before the summer rush?





Is it because they want to make sure the kids are in nice air-conditioned classrooms when it’s so hot?

Not likely.

I’m not entirely sure why.

What I am sure of is that true summer isn’t over for another month and change. What I am sure of is it feels wrong to be in school when it’s weeks before labor day and you’re not a year-round school. What I am sure of is it’s harder and harder to be a kid these days, and starting school in the middle of summer isn’t the best way to help that.

The upside is that we haven’t increased our school year by number of days in school. At least in California, the length of the school year has been 180 days since the 60s. I suppose it’s just the early start that bums me out – it’s still summer.

Nevertheless, here are my kids on their first day this week. Fortunately, the first few days have gone really well. They’re all glad to be back with friends and they all like their teachers. Here’s to another year in the books!




Why blog?

Why do people blog? Is it to share information? To connect with other people? To have a platform for practicing your writing? To hear yourself think?

I started blogging when my kids were little, partly so I could remember the cute things they did, partly to share parenting stories with other parents, partly to share these moments with friends and family. Here’s an excerpt from my first blog post in 2004:

“Despite making his sister a bird, he is patient, shares everything, and is very attentive with his sister. He lets her play with his most prized possessions, holds her hand, plays “Ashes Ashes” and runs around the house with her, laughing their heads off. I have to remember this when they’re teenagers, fighting over the phone or the car or the bathroom.”

I do have to say that although at least 50% of the time they argue, the other 50% is pretty good… so far, anyway. :)

this is a face that mostly her brother and I get to see. :P

this is a face that mostly her brother and I get to see. :P

In that first blog I talk a lot about not only the cute stuff, but the minutia. The day to day of parenting, the adjustment to parenting two children, the trials of dealing with other moms who sometimes think they know best, or tell you outright what you’re doing isn’t as good as what someone else is doing. (No, I no longer subject myself to people like that.) The blog moved to topics of recovering from a scary visit to the hospital and adjusting to mothering 3 children, things I’m thankful for, and post-baby bodies.

 I was posting about my WW progress after having Maddie. Look at my camera! lol

I was posting about my WW progress after having Maddie. Look at my camera! lol

I left that blog and started a new one mostly for grandparents to check in on the kids without needing to read about my own trials and tribulations. At some point, I started blogging about knitting. Then I blogged about current events and did a “week in pictures” section, and a section where I’d review local places to take the kids.

milestones, like first sports teams

milestones, like first sports teams

I like to connect with people. In a world where we are all on our cell phones and hardly talk anymore, I often feel like the computer is the only real connection I get with most people. This makes me sad. When I’m actually in the company of other parents at school, I really enjoy it. I like talking to people – I’m an extrovert by nature – but I rarely see anyone over the summer. I hear about other people’s meals, outings, and even vacations with each other and can’t help but feel… unconnected. I know it’s something within myself that needs to reach out more, but if you aren’t sure the people you’re reaching out to will respond, it’s hard to make that first move.

I don’t pretend to think that everything I say is so important everyone should read it. I like to write and relate to people. If someone out there can relate to something I write, that’s great! If I can give someone some encouragement, or some ideas for taking the family on an outing, or review a product, or introduce them to a new tradition, then I feel my “job” as a blogger is done.



What do YOU blog about? Why do you blog?


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