Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Vacation Pics-Father's Day & Legoland

Munch and her cousin D are such pals, it was great fun having her over for sleepovers during our trip. We spent Father's Day on the beach and later AudioDad and I enjoyed massages and treatments at the spa.
The next day was spent at Legoland and this place is incredible! It was our first visit and we just loved it! Munch quickly lost patience with digging out "fossils" in Dino Land, so instead, we worked on covering them up!

We had eleven of us in our group, so we split up into three teams for firetruck races-

and we all piled into boats, where Uncle Nick taught Munch how to drive-

Munch & I loved all the people and animals built from Legos- this giraffe is one of my favorites-

as is this recreation of the Presidential inauguration-

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Munchkin Mini

AudioDad is relaxing on the couch with the dogs. Munch has arranged numerous stuffed animals over the coffee table, as she often does; some are on stepstools or little seats, a little like this, but more elaborate-

"I'm the bus driver," she announces, "and I'm taking everyone to school!"
Munch hands over the soda can AudioDad has placed on the coffee table.
"Oh, thanks," he says with a smile, "that's really sweet of you!"
"No drinks on the bus!" is Munch's bossy response!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

I Love Birthdays!

Yes, today is my "special day". And there's usually so much drama around any kind of celebration whether it's a birthday, holiday, or whatever. But AudioDad and Munch did a terrific job of making today drama-free and extra wonderful. I woke up to some adorable cupcake-themed ceramics that I saw recently and LOVED. Munch made sure to help me open my cards-

We met up with my family for brunch and I had an awesome crabcake benedict with my favorite soy latte.

Next up was swimming at my aunt's where Munch had a great time with her cousin and grandma-

A few games on the Wii, where my nephew kept switching controllers with me every time I won, and a little princess cake-

Birthdays, family & cake- the simpler, the better-

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Vacation- Part 2

After spending the night in Buena Park, we have an awesome breakfast at The Original Pancake House. They make incredible oven pancakes (they're called German pancakes on their menu) which I like making at home until I see the number of eggs that goes into them! More like a huge popover, these were larger than our plates!

We continue on down the highway to San Diego. I just can't get over how crowded Southern CA feels. We're staying at the Catamaran Resort which is right on the bay and across the street from the ocean.

On the bay-side beach, which is nice and calm, Munch quickly gets to work finding shells-

Later that afternoon, the rest of AudioDad's family gets into town and we have dinner at Casa de Pico

and we end the night with Munch's cousin coming back to our hotel for a sleepover-

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Big 'Ol Southern CA Vacation- Part 1

We got in late last night from our trip to LA and San Diego (Munch & Daddy are still asleep). It was a great trip with lots of family time. We began our trip with a day at Knotts Berry Farm and met up with my sister and my dad there. I was thrilled that Munch had a recent growth spurt and could get on the rides with a 42" height limit. She was so excited about finally going on a "big roller coaster"!
Watching the sun rise on I-5 (she did NOT sleep until we reached LA!)

Ready to tackle the park-

Getting to snuggle Snoopy

Surprised by the first drop-

Splashing around back at the hotel-

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Summer School: Letter F

Today was F day (no special reason except that it was easy to get the materials together & there was no leftover mess to deal with with our upcoming vacation- note to readers, I won't be posting for a bit. But I'll think of you as I spa & sun in San Diego!) After practicing writing upper case F, we worked on cutting.

Munch also got to do a little painting, which she loves-

She enjoyed a snack of fish crackers while the paint dried and we also worked on our F collage-

Once the painted plates were dry, Munch glued on the cut up bits of paper-

and I cut up the second plate, attached it to the first, and voila! A paper plate fish!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer School: Letter A

Munch has been so excited for A day because it's the next letter in her name that she hasn't yet mastered writing. After making the upper case A with wood pieces, we practiced writing it-(the ones on the left are my demonstrations)

Next we made a collage of things that start with A's sound- (those are little fingerprint ants)

Next came apple printing. Munch always likes to bring the paints out-

We moved on to our cooking project- homemade applesauce- and Munch got to wash and slice the apples up.

Ready for the stove (by the way, it smells amazing as it cooks!)

While we wait for the applesauce to cook, Munch tried a new snack- apricots!

I never knew it was so easy to make applesauce at home, but really if you can make mashed potatoes, you can make applesauce- it's the same technique. AudioDad loves it and a batch is usually gone in a day. These quantities make about 2 cups, but you can increase it as much as you want.
3 apples (I use Granny smith, they cook up well)
1/3- 1/2 c. water
1/4- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 c. sugar

Peel, core, and slice up the apples into chunks. Add the apples to a saucepan with the water, cinnamon, and sugar. Cook over med-high heat for about 20 minutes or until apples are soft. Mash with a potato masher, and continue to cook (lower heat if needed) until liquids reduce and texture is how you prefer it. Add additional sugar or cinnamon to taste. Cool and serve.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Summer is Almost Here!

It's the last week of school, which means that on Friday, I officially switch to my OTHER job- Munch's full-time, stay-home mom. Vacations with her are always something I really look forward to, and this summer is no different. I know we'll have many days to hit the amusement park, to run around exploring (and eating!), and that if there's something I want to teach her, this is the perfect opportunity! Last June's adventure was starting the potty training- a year later, Munch is almost 3 1/2 and I feel so satisfied when I hear her little footsteps in the early morning hours to potty, flush, AND wash! Next I taught her to write her nickname, and she already knows most of her letters and several sounds. I've spent the last couple of weeks researching other sites so we can begin more preschool-type activities- and they've been a wealth of ideas!
My plans for the summer include doing "letter of the day" activities- we'll make a craft for the letter of the day (for example, glue buttons around the letter B- I got some great letter templates here), we'll do an activity that starts with that letter (bike rides on the new bridge around the corner), and we'll cook/eat something that begins with that letter (did I mention B day is scheduled for my birthday? I think we'll have Birthday cake!) AudioDad's been encouraging me to pick up painting again and I recently saw some great artwork techniques that the kids did on J&K Plus 8 did, so I grabbed some canvases and we may bring out the easel soon. So with my hauls from the local art store, office supply store, and craft store, everything was really starting to overflow the small cubby I had in Munch's play area (this is the after photo)-

and I really needed to get organized- down came a bookcase and lots of my plastic storage containers (I DO love a plastic tub!) I have no idea how all this fit in those little cubbies before-

Munch still has easy access to all her games, puzzles, and Play-doh. She now has drawing paper, crayons, stickers, and coloring books handy without needing me to get things. The newest additions were a special "cutting box" so she knows what she's allowed to use her scissors with and a little tray for her display her day's "treasures". Here she is working on the fine motor skills :)
-using her animal sticks to transfer pompoms between containers- kept her busy for a good while!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mac & Cheese

I'm telling you, it's feast or famine around here. After going for weeks with little inspiration for posting, I now find myself with a backlog of topics (and I'm trying to pace myself). That's Munch and her Daddy at her preschool carnival/fundraiser last weekend. It was a lot of fun- jumpy house, live music, BBQ, and projects for the kids to do. I ended up winning a photo session in their silent auction- we'll probably do it after we get back from San Diego. This photographer did their school portraits, which turned out adorable, and we've never done a photo session as a family yet.\
For dinner that night, I made a dish of macaroni and cheese. This recipe went over better than the last one I tried (supposedly "the best recipe" from Wondertime)- Munch turned her nose up at it, so I went back to an old favorite (Martha's, I think). Munch liked this one quite a bit more (even though it's not her beloved Annie's that Grandma makes for her)- don't fix what ain't broke, I guess...

Macaroni and Cheese
4 tbs. unsalted butter
3 slices good white bread, torn into 1/4-inch pieces- about 1 c. crumbs (I usually set aside leftover french bread, tear it into crumbs, and store it in the freezer)
2 3/4 c. whole milk
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 1/4 c. grated sharp white cheddar (about 9 oz.)
1 c. grated Gruyere cheese (about 4 oz.)
1/2 lb. elbow macaroni

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-inch square casserole dish and set aside. Melt 1 tbs. butter, pour over bread crumbs. Toss to coat and set buttered bread crumbs aside. Place a small saucepan over medium heat and heat milk. Melt remaining 3 tbs. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When butter is melted and starts to bubble, add flour. Cook, whisking, for 1 minute, then slowly pour in hot milk. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and begins to thicken. Remove pan from heat and stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 1 1/2 c. cheddar cheese, and 3/4 c. Gruyere cheese. Set cheese sauce aside. Follow package directions for boiling/cooking pasta, drain well, and add to cheese sauce. Transfer macaroni and cheese to the buttered dish and top with the bread crumbs and remaining shredded cheese. Bake until browned , about 30 minutes.

True to form, Munch ate all her cantaloupe and veggies FIRST, and still needed a bit of coaxing to get moving on the "cheesy pasta"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Munch's new bed is THE place to hang out in our house. I can't resist its squishy-cozyness. Neither can AudioDad. With the big shams lined up against the wall, it's a perfect "daybed" for sharing a book and a cuddle. It took "the girls" a bit to feel brave/nervy enough to attempt to jump up. While Munch tolerates them reasonably well, she's not all THAT close to them- I think it's a sibling rivalry thing, except with dogs. Cricket is the cuddlebug of our two dogs. She sleeps in our room and she's pretty good at staying on her own dog bed until about 5 in the morning. At that point, she's usually jump up and snuggle my feet- not a bad way to wake up, especially in the wintertime. She has a thick, soft coat that sheds like crazy (and drives me bonkers because I can NEVER keep up with the fluffs all over our floors), but it also means she's a walking stuffed animal- I can't resist just squishing her around the neck! At least I know that even if Munch grows up, my goofy, playful, puppy-like Cricket will always be my baby!