Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Midweek Randoms

I had a random Friday off and none of the kids had it off for school. Do you know how rare that is these days?!? I took advantage of that and cleaned (I know it's boring, but it needed to be done!). My husband and I snuck in a Mimosa Breakfast Date before he had to head off to work first though!

I hurried home and spent three solid hours on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor. Afterwards, I had actually rubbed my knees completely raw! Oops!
 I actually moved ALL the furniture too, so that I could sweep and scrub every single square foot of the floor! But the floors looked a million times better afterwards! Here was the family room afterwards:
 Here's the living room (including Miss Reese the pup):
Then, because I was on a cleaning kick and it wasn't time to pick up the kids yet, I bleached all the couch cushions and put them back on the couch. What a difference that made!
Poor teacher's kids. My kids have been coming after school, since hubby has had a lot of interviews, meetings, and appointments. Usually I can keep them entertained with blocks, coloring books, and flash cards - but I've had to pull out the big stuff lately - with Jake and the Neverland Pirate cartoons. Poor babes are over my classroom.
Mr. Howard cracks me up. He's got kids crawling on him, kids fighting, dogs barking and climbing - and he's watching Paddington. I was typing out a caption on this photo for instagram, seconds after snapping it, and I looked back over and he's sound asleep. Can someone please explain this to me? How can one sleep through that?
 Isabella is my little cuddler:
 The kids can play really well together at the park now - so on my weekends alone, we've been going to different parks and I've been throwing the tennis ball back and forth for Reese. It gives everyone a good amount of exercise and then everyone naps that day (including the pup)!
 We had a MONUMENTAL day on May 24th! Aiden slept in his big boy bed! We haven't been pressing the issue, because we figured if he wanted to sleep in his crib, let him! But every night before I put him to bed, I've been asking him if he wants to sleep in the crib or his big boy bed and on Sunday he just up and decided he wanted to sleep in the bed! Pretty exciting stuff over here! He was our last crib baby (maybe ever!).
 On Monday, I took the kids over to my mom's for swimming. Hubby had to work and I needed to take my little monsters out of the house and it was the perfect way to spend a morning!
 Aiden spent about 15 minutes in the pool and the rest of the time riding around on his little tricycle.
 Oh and laying with the dog. He really loves her.
 Isabella was super cold and kept shivering, so she layed in the sun a bit to warm herself up. 
 And Connor spent the whole time in the pool asking me when we can go to a water park this summer!
I finished Outlander Book 2 Dragonfly in Amber. I swore that this would be my last one, but with that ending, I now need to see what's she's going to do in the third one. Grrr. Darn Diana Gabaldon! Why do all the books have to be over 800 pages?!? Dragonfly in Amber was 976 pages in the paperback edition and took me about a month to finish. I already started the third one and am 230 pages in! Eeek. I'm obsessed. 
Afterwards, I finished Bright Orange for the Shroud, my sixth Travis McGee novel. I needed a break after my last one, since I wasn't a huge fan of the incredibly depressing fifth one. This one I liked a lot better and brought me back to my love for good ol' Travis McGee. I already started my seventh one!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Before I know it, they'll be thirteen!

Most of you know that in addition to parenting three littles, I am a Middle School Teacher! When I first started teaching middle school, my principal and I sat down and created a mandatory class that all our 7th and 8th graders would take on technology, where we focused on safety! Of course, as a parent of some-day teenagers, I am equally concerned! 

So when Amy Williams (Twitter @AmyKWilliams1) contacted me and asked if I wanted a guest post on this very important topic, I jumped at the chance! If you, like me, are a parent worried about keeping your kids safe on the internet, read this! I found the list of popular social media sites that teens are using, the most helpful! There were a few I had never heard of!!

Privacy and Social Media: What do teens look for?
How important is privacy to you?

As humans we value our privacy and the ability to seek solitude when desired. Children are no different when it comes to this need- although some periods of development, like the teen years, require more privacy than others. It is important for parents to understand how our teens’ desire for privacy is impacting their social media decisions.

Privacy Matters

This stage of development is usually ushered in with hormones and a desire to form a self-identity that is separate from the parents. Young adolescents begin this transition to adulthood by placing greater importance on friends and seeking activities outside of the family unit. This period can often be turbulent for a variety of reasons, but often the secretive nature of teens worries parents and fuels mistrust.

Surprisingly, with privacy being such a hot topic for teens, many fail to adequately understand how their privacy is violated when they log onto social media. Teens often heed little caution to strangers or third parties viewing their posts or personal information. It appears teens are more concerned with keeping their thoughts and actions private from the authority figures in their lives like parents and teachers.

Where Have All The Teens Gone?
Many experts believe teens are seeking other avenues for social media, because parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even their third-cousins are logging onto the social giant. Suddenly, a teen’s online world is visible to every living relative and they naturally desire their own space.

Teens are looking for authentic communication, peer feedback, and a place to express themselves without a fear of mom or dad judging. In an effort to avoid parental interference, many teens create fake profiles or dummy accounts to pacify adults and seek solace on different sites where their parents haven’t taken over. This explains why Facebook has dropped in popularity with teens and 71% of teens admit to using multiple social media sites.

Here is a look at eight popular social media apps our teens are using in an attempt to keep parental eyes off their posts:
  • Instagram- This app shares photos and short 15 second videos to the public or followers. Teens use this site to gain likes on their photos and often use their Instagram interactions as a way to validate their popularity.
  • Snapchat- This is a popular disappearing app where users put a “self destruct” time limit on the photos they send. The risk-free atmosphere may encourage sexting or cyberbullying. Parents need to be aware that there is no such thing as a disappearing app- anything online has the potential to be recovered.
  • Vine- This app features short six-second clips of videos that users upload. These are often funny and creative, but it doesn’t keep inappropriate material off the site.
  • YikYak- Is an app that connects users based on location within a radius of 1.5 miles. This app is known for cyberbullying, racy interactions, and questionable content that promotes gossip.
  • Omegle- This social media site selects two random users to text or video chat. This anonymous site allows people to develop connections based on interests, but it exposes children to strangers, adult conversations, and predator threats.
  • Twitter- Twitter relies on short, 140 character messages, that update instantly.
  • Tumblr- This is the hybrid child of blogging and Twitter. Parents need to be aware that privacy is difficult, because it often requires a second profile to get a password-protected account.
  • Kik Messenger- this allows kids to “text” without using his or her cell phone’s texting plan. Since this service is an app, there are no limits on messages, character counts, or hidden fees.

  • 5 Ways Parents Can Promote Social Privacy

Allowing teens social privacy can be difficult when we live in a world full of dangers. Here are five suggestions to help teens safely navigate social media while promoting their privacy:
  • Teach social media etiquette early and keep building on the conversation.
  • If a child demonstrates responsible choices, gradually allow them more freedom.
  • Follow the recommended age and guidelines when registering on social media sites.
  • Be honest and let your teen know you may monitor their accounts and profiles. After all, anything they post has the potential to be seen by everyone. Avoid snooping or sneaking around.
  • Help young teens adjust their privacy settings for all accounts.
For more information on ways teens are diversifying their social media usage, please read the following infographic:

Amy Williams is a free-lance journalist based in Southern California and mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Plummer Ridge Offroading Adventure

I've mentioned a million times before that when I met my husband in high school, he owned a CJ specifically for offroading. We had that third car for years and loved that we didn't have to worry about beating it up! Then, in college and the first few years of our marriage, we did light offroading in trucks that we owned, but couldn't do any REAL offroading for fear of breaking or  hurting them. A few years ago, we were able to transition my old car to an offroading vehicle and we try to go on trips any chance we get.

 My husband, who is always doing research about fun new places to go found a place called Plummer Ridge Trail in El Dorado National Forest. We wanted to check it out and check out the camping grounds, because it was on our camping list for this summer!
The views from the ridge were beautiful! Both sides looked down into a breathtaking forest! The best part about the El Dorado National Forest is that there are over 70 miles of Off-Highway Vehicle routes. The ridge we went on was pretty easy, although as it started raining towards the end, it got a little more fun and interesting! We brought a picnic lunch and stopped here to eat! 
I couldn't get over the moss growing on the side of the trees!
The kids do so well offroading, but when we can let them run around and climb things, it makes them beyond happy.
We snapped these photos right before it started raining. It then rained the whole drive down the ridge, which was beautiful!
 Connor is quite the climber. He got all the way to the top!
 Afterwards, we went to a Chinese food restaurant with our friends for dinner. P.S. We NEED a lazy susan on our dining room table. It was amazing to just swivel the food around and serve the kids. Why didn't I ever think of this?
Considering none of the kids had naps, they actually did pretty well at dinner. They all slept SUPER soundly that night!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Mother's Day '15 and a few little known facts about me

The un-glamorous, but oh-so-real side of mothering:

 One handsome three-year-old throwing up the night before Mother's day, into the evening. 
One baby girl with a night terror who needed to be rocked at 11:30pm. 
Hubby at work till midnight. 
Two littles up at 5:45am and in our bed. 
And one mama who just wanted five more minutes of sleep. 
Just. Five. More. Minutes. 
This was my Mother's Day Morning. 
I'm sure it goes without saying that I dreamed of being a Mama and, while I'd love five more minutes of sleep, it is every bit as rewarding as I dreamed it would be. 

Unfortunately my husband had to work this past Mother's Day. I actually do not think we've spent a single mother's day together yet, since his working weekend seems to always fall on Mother's Day Weekend. Such a bummer! But, he didn't have to go into work early, so we all went out for breakfast before he headed into work. We attempted a Mommy photo and failed miserably. Well, we suceeded at capturing real life. But failed at my happy staged/everyone smiling photo. I think maybe the fails are my favorite, anyway. 
My adorable husband arranged to have Aunt Katie come watch the kids on his next off weekend. We get to go out to dinner, go see Pitch Perfect, and have some alone time together. Honestly, the best gift anyone can give me in this stage of my life is a Date Night (that or cleaning my house). So I'm thrilled!
Because I'm spoiled, he ALSO got me a headboard for our master bedroom. We haven't had anything for our bed ever since we got our King mattress a few years ago (we had a sleigh bed for our Queen, but now that's in our guest bedroom), so we really needed something!
I just love the tufted headboard and had planned on making my own (I had even pinned about a zillion how-to tutorials), but obviously this is better than any I could have made. We're going to do a turquoise throw on our bed, to break up the colors! And now I can finally do a picture above the bed (I'd waited until I knew how much space I'd have!). 
After a day filled with lots of fun with my kiddos, my husband met us after work at Buca Di Beppo. My mom chose that restaurant this year for HER Mother's Day celebration. This is the first time she's ever wanted to do it at a restaurant and it was definitely nice to not have to cook and clean on this special day! (I love this photo - do you see three photobombers back there?)
 Oh my goodness. The italian food! We had mozzarella sticks, salad, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken saltimboca, and fettuccine.
 My mom and Me:
The next morning we realized that we had forgotten to open the presents from Pre-School. I say, "we" because the kids don't yet quite understand that the presents aren't theirs. They made adorable picture frames! 
 Mr. Howard then took the twins to preschool and I got to take Connor to school for the first time! He and I went to Muffins with Moms at his school. They did a performance and served us muffins and juice. We had some time to read together and he was able to show me his classroom and the information sheet he had written about me. (Do you see his adorable invitation he made me on the bottom right photo below? That is one delicious looking muffin)
Here are a few little known facts about me. (1) I weigh 7 pounds. It's true. I wear a fluffy suit under all my clothes to give the appearance I weigh MUCH more than that. (2) If I had time, I would LOVE to go to the park. I mean. Duh. Nothing says relaxation and excitement like a trip to the park. (3) I am 11 years old, which means I had Connor at 6. My goal at 5-years-old was to be a young mom, and by 6 I felt ready to start a family. Obviously.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Trip to Manhattan Beach - (and that time Connor had to be dragged a quarter of a mile)

Because Jen and I were supposed to run the Orange County Half Marathon together and then I sadly got injured, my hubby and I decided to still go down there and cheer her on. (Honestly, up until a week before the half, I held out hope I might be able to run it.) Sadly, that did not happen, but we did get in a fun visit with Jen and Brett!

This was Connor's first 7 hour car ride where he was cognizant of time. We could actually tell him how many hours or minutes and he could grasp it. This was simultaneously amazing and horrible (because he knew how long it meant when we said we still had 7 hours to go).

We did surprise him with a bag that gave him a clue about where we were going. Here is the video:
Every morning we were able to start at Starbucks and Connor got a "coffee" (AKA a hot chocolate with whipped cream) and he was thrilled to be a big boy.

On Sunday, before we went to watch Jen cross the finish line, we went to my old sorority house! I felt like such an old lady driving around UC Irvine, since I had no idea where anything was anymore (there has been so much growth and new buildings!). Here was my home for four years!
Afterwards, we watched Jen cross the finish line - which was so much fun, since it's actually the second race I've been able to see her finish! I want to look as good as her when I finish a half marathon:
My brother is now a deputy city attorney near Palm Springs, and he and my sister-in-law were able to make the 2 hour drive to see us at Jen and Brett's, which was so much fun! We all went out to lunch!
And then we went to lunch and the beach for a little while.
  Because Jen had just rocked a half marathon like a boss, she didn't want to walk down (and then back up) the hill to the beach. I don't blame her tired calves. So it was just the Kirkpatricks who went to the beach.
 We let Connor strip to his boxers and play in the waves, but it was pretty darn cold - so he was afraid to take off his shirt!
 Connor with his Aunt and Uncle:
This was actually the first time we've taken Connor to the beach! I don't even know how that's possible, seeing as though we've gone to Southern California a bunch since having kids. But with our limited time down there, we just never have time to go spend it at the beach. Connor LOVED the beach. Love, love, loved. CAN YOU SEE HIS FACE?!?
In fact, he was so pissed at us for leaving, he pitched the hugest, most embarrassing fit ever as we left. It was equal parts HILARIOUS and horrifying, but thankfully all the beach-goers were laughing so hard, they didn't have time to gawk and be embarrassed for us. My brother joked that this is pretty much how he feels when he leaves the beach too.
My adorable husband was PISSED at me for laughing. And, honestly, I get it. But how can  you not laugh? It really was so ridiculous. 
The twins were loved by my sister and mom. We missed them, but boy they sure didn't miss us. I so believe it's good for them to be loved on by more than just their mom and dad, once in a while!

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