We walked precariously into an un-marked tan, brick building and were immediately underwhelmed. I should have known based on first impressions that this outing had trouble written all over it. Did I listen to my gut? NO! I did not. The Stuffington tour, which lasts about fifteen minutes, starts in this room where kiddos can check out a few of the items they have for sale. Parents beware: the bears are very expensive ranging from $24.95 all the way up to $99.95 and the quality is sub par. As we were waiting for JoAnn and her kiddos to arrive, Carson and Kurt took the opportunity to stroll around and check out the happenings. Shortly after our friends arrive Carson starts vomiting. Not just a little spit up, projectile. Kurt runs over to the waste basket and starts dry heaving…this is going great. JoAnn politely asked the woman in charge for some paper towel so that I could discretely clean up Carson’s mess and she gave me two paper towels. TWO! I couldn’t help but laugh. The tour begins in a small classroom where students are educated on the beginnings of the teddy bear, using washed out photos of Teddy Roosevelt and his teddy bear. JoAnn and I exchanged glances and had inner giggles. We were then led into the work room, which to be honest, was a little uncomfortable. It was a room filled with about ten workers sitting at their sewing machines watching us look at their expansive array of fabrics. The kids got to watch the workers, learn about eyes/buttons and then see the stuffing machines. This concluded the tour. From beginning to end, it was a debacle that one can only laugh at. It was a very short, but fun experience. If you would like to check it out for yourself, tours are at 1pm daily. Don’t be late…as they will be over before you know it. http://www.stuffingtonbear.com/tours.asp
I’ve been called bossy my entire life. Ever since I was little, it’s been “my way or the highway” as my dad would put it. He and my mom dubbed me “Queenie” from a very early age. I liked to dictate play activities, tell my little sister what to do and have full confidence that I was always right.
March always means Spring Training to our family. Here in Phoenix, we are lucky to host the Cactus League, which means we have a plethora of baseball games to choose from. The Chicago Cubs just built a brand new facility in Mesa which also boasts an accompanying park, lake and “innovative playground.” As we were leaving the rained out Cubs game this past Saturday, I suddenly exclaimed, “Look at that!” And by “that”, I mean the above picture. Innovative Playground indeed! This climbing structure is enormous! That small figure at the top is a 6 foot man! Honestly, it looked like all the dads were having a blast on the thing. Not many little kids dared to climb that high. I was thankful my five-year-old daughter had no interest, because honestly, seeing her up there would have given me a heart attack. However, climbing that is exactly what I would have done as a kid. In fact, I want to go back and climb it! The playground also has other very cool and much more sane climbing structures, such as this, My daughter handled this one with ease. My son wanted to. He’s the one we are going to have to watch when he gets older. Riverview Park also has a standard playground, a splash pad and even a mini zip line. It’s hard to believe that this a free, public park! With tons of green grass, picnic tables and really clean public restrooms (for now), this park is a great place. Be sure to check the CUBS home game spring training schedule if you plan to go in March. Parking is impossible to find when there is a game scheduled for the day. Riverview Park 2100 W. 8th Street Mesa, AZ 85201
Conversation with my daughter: Cam: Mama, I want to make a surprise for Daddy. Me: Ok, what should we make? Cam: Something with chocolate because Daddy REALLY likes chocolate. Since I knew anything we made, she (and I) would end up consuming as well, I wanted to keep this treat on the healthier side. A few years ago, I read in Runner’s World that chef Richard Blais (from Top Chef) dips pieces of clementine in dark chocolate for a mini indulgence. I thought this sounded easy and fantastic, so.. This is incredibly easy to do. All we used were dark cocoa candy melts and clementines. 1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper or parchment paper. 2. Peel clementines and divide into slices. Make sure to remove any stringy pith from the slices. 3. Follow directions on candy melts to melt the chocolate. I used the microwave. 4. Dip half of clementine slice in melted chocolate. Let the excess chocolate drip off into the bowl. Lay the dipped clementine slice on the baking sheet. 5. Place cookie sheet in the refrigerator to harden for half an hour. We like our clementines cold, so to store them I simply took them off the cookie sheet and placed them in a Tupperware container in the refrigerator. They lasted about 2 days…. because we ate them. Do you have any easy, healthy snacks to recommend? Please tell us in the comments below!
Stargazing with kids is a spectacular event. Here’s where to find it in the Phoenix area and how to get the most out of it. The Phoenix sky didn’t quite look like that on Saturday evening, but we still had a lot of fun at this event. After following night-glo signs pointing to Stargazing, we pulled into the Usery Mountain Regional Park parking lot at 7:10 PM on Saturday. My daughter was super excited to look at the stars through telescopes. The sky had been overcast all afternoon, but out in East Mesa, away from the most glaring city lights, I could spy a few stars poking through the clouds. The Stargazing event is free. Our only cost was the $6 per car fee that we paid to get into the park. This company, Stargazing for Everyone, hosts multiple programs in many of the Phoenix regional parks. Tonight, there were five telescopes set up at one of the picnic areas at Usery. She is so excited to see the stars! We brought our own chairs for the presentation. At first we were worried about being too early, however, this event was pretty packed for a cloudy Saturday night. After a quick talk from Ranger B. about the variety of programs offered at Usery (there are a ton!), our host, Tony La Conte, gave us a quick rundown of upcoming space events. There is a lunar eclipse on April 14 starting at 9:55 PM. Following this, Cam asked if she could stay up late to see it My husband answered, “Of course you can stay up late for Science.” Tony also described cool phenomenon such as the Grand Moon Illusion. This happens when you see the moon first coming up over the horizon. It looks large and orange, but when you go to photograph this spectacular moon, you get this: INSERT HARVEST MOON OLIVE TREESFascinating stuff! The presentation was also cool, because each time Tony talked about a star, he used a laser pointer to point to that exact star. A thin, clear beam of light extended from his hand to the sky. It was as if we were in a giant planetarium and the stars were within our reach because the teacher could just reach up and touch them. Fun with lasers? Yes. Lasers are cool though. Following the presentation, we queued up at each of the telescopes to see Jupiter, Betelgeuse and the Six Sisters. Jupiter was the most fascinating because you could see four of Jupiter’s moons in the shot. In fact, one of the moons, Europa, was eclipsing Jupiter which was evident by a very small, black dot on the massive planet.My husband and daughter drew pictures of what they saw through the telescope on my husband’s tablet. We finished with the program around 9PM. A few helpful hints if you plan to attend one of these stargazing events: Bring your own lawn chairs or blankets for seating. The presentation is long enough that it is best […]
How do you get back in shape after baby? For me, its me, my son and a running stroller. I want to run fast. Well, not Olympic fast. Just fast enough to break 30:00 in a 5K (3.1 miles). I am a mediocre runner. I started running when I was 20. Completed my first marathon when I was 22. Now, 10 years later I’ve done several more marathons, some half marathons, dozens of 5ks and a triathlon. The problem is: I haven’t trained seriously since my last marathon (2010). All of my attempts to run after the birth of my son have been thwarted by…myself. I’ve quit part way through the Couch to 5k training program because one bad running day got me down. I quit through my running streak because running was making me a ravenous beast and I wasn’t seeing any weight loss. Now, I’m ready to try again. I want to be strong. I want my pre-pregnancy pants to fit nicely again. I want to show my daughter that her mom can be fast, which means she can be fast, too. Here’s what I’m doing differently: I’m not going to weigh myself for 7 weeks. I’ve become obsessed with the scale recently. I weigh myself everyday (sometimes twice a day) and let the number dictate how I eat on any given day. If I lose weight, I give myself a little extra leeway in nutrition. That means, I might justify cashing in my free Starbucks for a Grande Caramel Frappuccino. A tenth of a pound means nothing. My goal is to focus on how I feel and how my clothes fit, not the number. I’m purchasing a training plan. When I did my marathons, I ran them with a running group under the guidance of a coach. We had a set training plan that was realistic to our goal and adaptable. Runners World has an awesome running site for Beginners called The Starting Line. I’m starting on Step 2: Start Running. Even if you don’t purchase a plan, they have a lot of helpful articles for free. I highly recommend the site! I’m pushing a stroller. This is harder than it sounds. I am seriously winded after running for just a few minutes with the stroller. I’m hoping this works in my benefit though. My cousin, Jessie, pushes her two littles in a stroller. She is seriously fast and places in most of her races. Here’s to the stroller providing a little resistance training! My Starting Line: Weight: 158.4 lbs (Next weigh-in: April 12) Loop around the park (close to a mile): 11 min 8 sec Running starts tomorrow Read on: Mid-Week Update
“I can do this. I can do this,” I tell myself as I peel myself up from the couch. My son has a fever, I feel achy and cooking dinner does not sound fun. “Mmmm.. Someburros,” briefly crosses my mind and I mention it to my daughter. After my afternoon with a very discontent 7-month-old, I really want to get frozen yogurt tonight. I can’t justify greasy, delicious Mexican food and frozen yogurt. So, frozen yogurt wins and I get up. Thankfully, this recipe is really easy and incredibly healthy (which really means more calories for frozen yogurt). I found it on the Fitness Magazine website and have adapted it from there. You need: 4 crushed garlic cloves 2 limes 2 tsps chili powder 2 tsps cumin 1 lb salmon, cut in 4-5 oz portions (I like the skin still on, I’ll tell you why) 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (defrosted) 1/2 red onion, sliced 1 red bell pepper, sliced 1 Anaheim chili sliced 1 Tbs olive oil 1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream 2 tbs chopped cilantro salt Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare two baking sheets by covering them with aluminum foil. I do this because I hate clean-up and this simple step just makes it easier. First, mix the garlic, juice from 1 lime, chili powder and cumin in a shallow baking dish. Stir until it resembles a thin paste coating the bottom of the dish. Place the salmon skin side up in the dish and let marinate (at least 15 minutes). Next, mix the corn, red bell pepper, red onion and Anaheim chili in a bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. In a seperate bowl, mix the sour cream, juice from 1 lime, and cilantro. Salt to taste. Place this in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Remove salmon from marinade and place skin side down on baking sheet. Do not spray this baking sheet with cooking oil. The skin of the salmon will stick to the foil, thus letting you serve a perfect skinless filet of salmon. Toss remaining marinade from salmon with vegetables. Spray second baking sheet with cooking oil. Spread vegetables out on cooking sheet. Place both baking sheets in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes. Remove and plate your entree! Spoon a large helping of veggies on a dinner plate, place a filet on top and spoon sour cream sauce on top. Yum! My 7-month-old loved the salmon. Even though he was feeling sick, he kept asking for more little bites. My five-year-old complains about all food these days (unless the food is covered with cheese. She was very upset when I decided against Someburros). She ate a little bit of this with very little complaining. Victory! Comment below to let us know if you try this recipe. Also, let us know any helpful cooking tips you might use!
When you need some cute laundry room decor, this DIY wall sign will fill that empty wall space.
What is it like when your child needs special education? Part 3 of this story is how one mom felt when her child entered preschool.
Mmmm.. chocolate in the morning. I can’t think of a better way to start the day. My daughter was off for President’s Day, so we decided to take a tour of the Cerreta Candy Company. Cerreta is a family-owned Phoenix based business. They offer free tours Monday through Friday at 10AM and 1PM. We arrived a little before 10AM. Parking was a breeze. This left us plenty of time to sign up for our tour. The guided tour is free, but it offers two upgrade options. One is a Chocolate Tasters tour ($5) where you get additional samples and the second is a VIP tour ($10) catered towards kids. With VIP status, you go on the free guided tour, get additional candy samples of a taffy, marshmallow caramel and chocolate, plus you get to make a chocolate pizza at the end! We were sold 🙂 I only bought one VIP pass. One chocolate pizza for our house is enough. The tour was fun and informative. Cerreta has a replica of the chocolate machine that appeared on “I Love Lucy.” The machine was making candy-coated marshmallows while we were there. Of course, we got a taste! Walking around this machine to get a close-up view was the best part of the tour. We also got insight on how they make their famous French mints, where their chocolate comes from (apparently Cerreta’s own recipe manufactured by Guittard) and how they make caramel. At the end of the tour, kids with VIP passes lined up at tables on the side of factory and made chocolate pizza. Some words of advice if you plan on going: Bring a water bottle. This candy is sweet! After her first bite of marshmallow, Cam started begging for water. They do have a water fountain, however you may not want to break away from the tour. Bring some healthy snacks for after the tour. We brought apples which prevented the post-sugar crash nicely. If you need to use the restroom, make it very clear to your five-year-old that the chocolate pizza needs to remain in a horizontal position when she holds it. Else, it will look like this: Still tasty though 🙂 Cerreta Candy Company 5345 W. Glendale Ave Glendale, AZ 85301 http://www.cerreta.com