To The Fair We Go

I may have to “blame it on my roots,” but I love a county fair.  I love the animals, the food, and, to be honest, the entire atmosphere.  To me, there is nothing else like it.  Granted, I am a Midwest farmer’s daughter!  For me, the county fair is a huge reminder of my younger days.  The county 4-H fair was in my hometown, and I went every day.  There was always something new to see, something new to experience. 

When I moved to Southern California and discovered there were fairs here, I was shocked.  And, overjoyed.  It was a piece of home that I could still experience in this otherwise different place.  Now that we have kids, Hubby and I make sure to take the family every year.  We only go once.  After all, the fair isn’t cheap.  But, we go for several hours and do whatever they want.  We eat with wild abandon, ride all the kiddie rides, and go through the exhibit and livestock barns.  Yes, we even watch the pig races.  It’s an annual experience, and part of what makes it special is that it only happens once a year.

Why am I telling you this?  Because I want you to find your closest county fair and take the family.  In an increasingly urban environment, it is the only way a lot of our children will ever get to experience agriculture.  There are handmade quilts, photographs (including some by The Photo Addict at the OC Fair!), works of art, and beautiful hand-knitted garments to peruse.  There is food you can experience nowhere else: chocolate-covered bacon, deep fried Snickers, and Krispy Kreme chicken sandwiches, for starters.   There is seriously good people-watching, and the rides are a fun departure from the character-driven attractions at theme parks. 

My family is going this weekend, and I know we will all have an amazing time.  Last year, Bugster was a newborn and really couldn’t enjoy it.  She’s a huge animal lover, and a total daredevil.  The Big Cheese loves, loves, loves rides.  And dessert.  There is no doubt they will love the county fair, 2010!

Leaving Babyhood Behind

Where did baby go?

Baby's first love.

It seems we began counting down the days until Rocky goes to school since we brought him home from the hospital. Now the day is near and it’s bittersweet. It’s a leap of faith knowing that I can’t protect him during his time there. There will be days of sadness and frustration throughout the school years that he will have to face and deal with himself. Have we prepared him enough?

He’s nervous but ready, I think. I will miss my daily companion but I’m excited for him to experience new things. I trust my child will be forthcoming about everything that goes on at school (he’s that kind of kid) but I’m now left without a child to take to my mom’s group meet-ups (they usually meet in the mornings). I could attend by myself but it kind of feels like a graduation. Going back just isn’t the same. Fortunately, I’ve made some great connections that I will continue to nourish and I can now look forward to forging new friendships with other moms of kindergarteners and participating in the classroom as a room mother, just as my mom did for me.

I have become so used to talking to him that I wouldn’t be surprised to be perceived as the crazy lady at the store talking to herself. If you see such a person, imagine that it might be another mom whose child just started school like mine. No, really, we’re just used to having little ears listening to us! Funny, I remember how awkward it was when I began talking to him as a baby and he wasn’t able to respond. Boy did that backfire, now I have a chatterbox with a big vocabulary he can use to sass me. Moms of infants, take note! I hope he can put it to good use in the classroom but I suspect I may be getting some calls from the teacher.

Summer Reading Program

Do you love your library as much as I do? Hopefully so! We go to the Anaheim Central Library. They have a fabulous children’s room and great storytime programs. Each library does their storytime a little differently, so it’s always a good idea to check different libraries in your area to see all your options.

Bubble wands are extra fun, if you can figure out how to use them

One of my favorite library memories as a child (in addition to the pride I felt getting my first very own library card) was the summer reading programs. I pretty much always kicked ass at those.

Of course, summer reading programs are still around, and last year when Mouse was about 6 months old, I was thrilled to discover even babies can participate! This year it was at the top of our list again. The tiniest library goers get credit for listening to a story, attending a storytime, singing a library song, or doing a fingerplay. Mouse is big on all of those activities so it wasn’t hard to fill up his chart quickly.

The best part is that once your chart is full, you get a prize and a party. Mouse got the book Llama Llama Red Pajama for his effort, and today was the party. This year’s theme was “Make a Splash–Read!” so the party had a wonderful beach/water theme. One thing I love about the Anaheim Central Library is that they’re very good about breaking up different age groups, so today’s party was for readers 5 and under. Mouse had a blast. There were bubbles, sand boxes, face painting, popscicles, ring toss and ball toss games, and beach balls.

Fun with the sand!

And the best part is that it’s all FREE! Most Summer Reading Programs are already complete, but mark your calendars for next year. Older kids get credit for reading for 10-15 minutes or reading aloud to a younger child, among other things. It’s a great way to keep kids interested in reading and give everyone something to do during those school-less days.

Conveniently Green: Kitchen Spritzer

Sometimes non-stick cooking spray comes in so handy, but I hate the aerosol kind. First, it’s impossible to get the cap off and I end up spraying myself every time, second, the aerosol spray is just not Conveniently Green, and third, I always wonder what kind of chemicals end up on the pan along with the oil.

Pampered Chef Kitchen Spritzer

That’s why I adore my Pampered Chef Kitchen Spritzer. The Kitchen Spritzer works on a hand pump. You add your own oil, then pump the cap a few times, which builds up air pressure in the spritzer. Then when you hit the button, you get a fine mist just like with the aerosol cans. Not only is it environmentally friendly, you also can put whatever kind of oil you want in there with no chemical contaminants.

I use the spritzer for more than just a non-stick spray as well. I love to fill it with extra virgin olive oil and spray it over potato slices when I’m making oven fries. It’s just enough to crisp the outside without overloading the oil. You can use it wherever you need just a touch of oil, and as I said, since it’s your oil you know exactly what’s in there. And it’s not expensive, given how long you can just refill it!

You can order directly from the Pampered Chef website, but I would really encourage you to ask around your group of friends and see if anyone is a consultant, or use the “Find a Consultant” link on the Pampered Chef site. Many consultants are moms, and we moms gotta stick together and support each other!

The Pampered Chef Kitchen Spritzer: Conveniently Green, and works for me!

Works-For-Me Wednesday

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I’m reading Eat, Pray Love right now and absolutely loving it.  What a fabulous story.  I’m hoping to finish it before the movie with Julia Roberts hits theaters.  While I’m not a very religious person by nature, I do miss having spirituality in my life.  The last time I was religious was in the second grade when my teacher, Mrs. Milam actually impressed me so much I wanted to become a nun!  28 years later I have no intention of becoming a nun, but I do think I will take Elizabeth Gilbert’s lead and begin my own spiritual path.


Speaking of movies that are coming out… did you know they are making a live-action Smurf movie starring the one, the only NPH (Niel Patrick Harris)?!?! I am so excited I can barely contain myself. My brotheer and I were so into the Smurfs that we had all the little action figures and made a Smurf village in our backyard complete with a pool, well and ski slope. I just really hope they don’t mess it up and keep the nostalgia of it. And come on… Hank Azaria as Gargamel? I’m still geeking out over it!”

My youngest son little C has started singing.  He sings (or hums) everything!  We’ll be in the car and even if he doesn’t know the words he’ll mumble to the tune as if he’s singing.  His favorite song to sing?  Poker Face by Lady Gaga.  I think its all the p’s.  It too stinkin cute.

ARRRRR! I'm Godzilla!

And since I’m talking about little C, he is obsessed with Godzilla!  Lucky for me there are over a dozen Godzilla movies on Netflix streaming.  I thought it would be too scary for him but he loves them.  We started with the old 1950’s version and he was hooked.  I’m a little shocked though, Godzilla is different in every movie, sometimes he’s the bad guy, and sometimes he’s the good guy.  I wish the Japanese would just make up their mind how they feel about him!

Ringling Bros. Circus Review: Circus Funundrum

Traditional circus faire blends with more modern acts in Funundrum

Thinking about taking your children to the circus? Yesterday my family went to see the Greatest Show on Earth in the LA area and it did not disappoint. I had not been to the circus since I was a child so my expectations weren’t all that high but this new edition of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus was contemporary without losing the old-fashioned elements that I recall from long ago. There were the familiar trapeze and high-wire acts along with some impressive body bending stunts and 7 motorcyclists rotating around inside a somewhat compact sphere. That part just made me nervous but Rocky loved it.

Although we splurged for front row seats, all the seats in the arena had a pretty good view. If I had to do over, I would spend a little less and sit in the next price level down. Once I saw just how much work goes into a production like this (it took hundreds of people to run it) I didn’t feel too bad about contributing to the continuation of the show. I would not recommend the celebrity seats ($100 per ticket) unless you have a huge desire to sit on stage for a few minutes of the show. From what I saw, these guests weren’t particularly engaged, just placed within the action for a short time.

Torres Family in Funundrum

Motorcross bikers go 65 mph in a small sphere

Yes, everything they sold was costly ($7 popcorn, $15 program, etc) but you could see that everyone involved, from the impressive ringmaster, Jonathan Iverson,  to the  elephant pooper scoopers, put their all into it. It was almost as much fun observing the set changes as it was watching the show. It took so much organization to prep and dismantle each part of the program but they made it look balletic. The costumes, the effects, and the choreography – this circus has evolved into a Vegas act on the road. At times the show was a little long for my 4-year-old’s attention span but the constantly changing acts helped keep him from getting bored too much. And the cost of the ticket included a pre-show for those who chose to arrive early. We saw an elephant paint!

I’ve heard some complain about the poor treatment of animals in shows like this one. I recall one performance of the Moscow Circus where they made a polar bear ice skate. I don’t even want to know what goes into making an animal like that do such a stunt! I did not see any evidence of that here. The animals looked healthy and I did not witness any whippings. The whips the animal trainers held hit the ground, not the animals. Animals were rewarded with treats and the tricks weren’t quite as outrageous as jumping through fire or skating. In addition, this circus now boasts an elephant conservation program and their newest baby elephant, Baby Barrack, does no tricks but is already a star. He’s just so darn cute.

We’re definitely considering another trip to this circus next year. We can’t wait to see how they top themselves.

For more information, you can go to Ringling’s site at

For discounts on tickets, try You have to sign up to access their discounts but if you like going to plays, concerts, etc, it’s worth checking out and it’s free.

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Review – Swim Ways Power Swimr


My little one was ready to jump off the diving board before he learned how to stand. He’d eye the all the big kids hopping in as we waded in the baby side of the pool. Thanks to Swim Ways Power Swimr (really, it’s their spelling, not mine), he was able to join the big kids before he was two! Here’s a recent video of him giving it a go.

The vest consists of two pockets (one as the front and one as the back) that hold several flotation pads in each pocket. As my son got better at swimming, I could take out pads to help him develop his swimming skills. The back of the box details how many pads to place in the back and the front pockets to help children develop that horizontal swimming position. There are three sizes, the largest fitting up to 80 pounds so chafing from the straps (two shoulder and one crotch) should not be an issue if sized correctly.

Full disclosure, the Power Swimr is not a coast guard approved vest. In terms of learning how to swim, I am not a fan of coast guard approved vests as they are super bulky and facilitate that action of swimming. They basically are made to keep a kid afloat. Having said this, I will emphasize that I always keep a close eye on my son when he is in the water not because I do not trust his vest, but because I know that the Power Swimr let’s him develop his fins and that he still is a guppy…an exuberant, water-loving guppy.

You can find the vest on their website, here.

Starting Preschool

If anyone knows little C, they would agree that he is “spirited”.  Don’t get me wrong, he is an absolute sweetheart, but he wants what he wants when he wants it, and nothing will stand in his way of getting it.  I know this is a trait that will only benefit him as an adult, but as a 4 year old, its rough on the parenting front.  I really wanted to skip preschool, I loved being home with him and felt that going to play dates was enough interaction for him with other children to help socialize him.  However, since I needed to go back to work due to financial issues, I decided to put him in preschool two days a week.

Little C doing "Creative Play"

The first day was a little rough, he did in fact cry for me when I was leaving.  I didn’t know if it was best if I slip out the door, hug him goodbye and leave with him crying, it was so difficult.  His teacher told me I should just kiss him goodbye, let him know I’ll be back in a few hours and leave.  Gosh was it tough, I could hear him crying down the hall.  I was so worried all day.  How is he doing?  Is he still crying?  Will he bully the other kids?  Will he yell at the teacher the same way he yells at me?  When it was time to pick him up, just 4 hours after dropping him off I peeked into the classroom.  He was playing with one of his classmates at the table.  When I walked in he shrieked MOMMY ran over, gave me a hug and then told me “just a minute”.  When I told him it was time to go, he started crying again, this time he wanted to STAY!  He got his taste of what preschool was all about and loved it!

I can honestly say I have seen a huge difference in little C since starting preschool.  He plays better with other children, he no longer bullies his cousin and actually shares.  He potty trained which was a huge power struggle and his speech is getting better.  There has been no tears since that first day of preschool, just praise and happiness.  According to his teacher he is “Mr. Personality” and is the welcome wagon to every child  that arrives.  When we leave he waves goodbye and tells every child by name, “see you  tomorrow Parker”.  He loves his teacher and asks for her by name.

Preschool has been a blessing to us.  I’m certainly in no rush to put him in 5 days a week, but if I did, I’m sure he would have no complaints!

If I Play By the Rules, You Should, Too!

My child is a tattletale. Oh the injustice of having to follow the rules when other kids aren’t cooperating! Why should they get away with bad behavior?

I can relate, as I was the pesky little sister who was always scolding my older brother and sister for doing what I knew they shouldn’t. Even as an adult, I can’t say I wouldn’t love to rat on that jerk who passes me on the shoulder in a traffic jam because, apparently, his/her time is more valuable than mine. Over there, police officer! Or how about that neighbor who doesn’t keep his dog on a leash and looks the other way when it poops on the beach. *#!*

I know being a snitch will not win Rocky friends and I try to explain this to him. But I also have to teach him that there are exceptions, like when someone is doing something dangerous or potentially damaging someone’s property. So far, my boy just gets confused and frustrated. He’s learning but it’s been trying for both of us.

And what about when he breaks the rules? For now, he even tells on himself. “Mommy,” he explains, “I ate that cookie before lunch even though you told me not to. Am I still in trouble? I told the truth!” What do I respond to that? Yes, you are still in trouble but the sentence is reduced to community service because you were honest?

I know the day is coming when he masters the art of being sneaky and I don’t look forward to it. As for the tattling, I’m hoping he figures it out before driving his new teacher, classmates and coaches bonkers.

Kindergarten looms. Wish us luck!

The Librarian

WFMW: Price Scanners

Conversation at the frame store where Rocky was pointing out the graduation signs:

Cute young employee says, “I can’t believe it’s already been two years since my graduation!”.

“I know what you mean,” I reply. “I graduated in 1990!”

“Wow,” he says. “I was born in 1990. Not to make you feel old or anything.”

Too late!

So anyways, here’s what saves me when I take my 4-year-old shopping with me. Price scanners. Not the handheld ones but the kind you find on posts around the store at places like Kohls, Target, Macys and Sears. Rocky loves them. He could scan items all day and not get bored. I try to pick an off peak hour when there’s not likely to be anyone around to bother and I give him stuff to scan. He busies himself reading off the prices for me and I get precious time to look around. Plus I know where he is because I can hear him calling out the prices.

Last week when I was looking for a purse, some were on sale but the signs were confusing. Rocky scanned all the ones I was thinking about and then some. Then we picked out something that was under my $20 budget but half off. Works for me!

The Librarian

Works-For-Me Wednesday