Category Archives: Holidays

A lot to be thankful for

It’s been ages since I wrote a post and I’d love to say that I’ll do a better job in the future, but it’s impossible to predict how busy life can be, especially with the holidays coming up. So what have I been up to these past few weeks? Months? I’ve mostly been working on expanding my career opportunities in the teaching field, by studying and taking several exams to work towards my teacher certification. My hard work has paid off since I passed my three exams with perfect or almost perfect scores and I can now get my foot back into the educational field. This is only the first step of a long process, during which there will be more studying and more tests to take, and even larger obstacles to overcome down the road, but I know it will be worth it in the end for my kids and myself.

Besides studying, I’ve spent more time on creative activities, including drawing and painting for myself, as well as teaching two art classes at my kids’ school as a volunteer. My goal is to create enough artwork and crafts to make them available for sale online sometime in early 2015. I’ve also recently created five new nature photography calendars for 2015 (the five themes are a year in Southern California, bees and other insectswater lilies, flowers and blooms, and water). The good news is that you can save 65% off on any of my calendars this weekend, so if you’re looking for a unique gift this holiday season, this is a great opportunity.

2015 photo calendar on San Diego

2015 photo calendar on San Diego

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving with your loved ones. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. Besides taking steps to realign my career goals with my personal aspirations, a lot of good things have happened (and a lot of bad things too, let’s be honest!). I have made new friends and strengthened existing friendships. I have made additional efforts to stay active and healthy. I have continued encouraging my kids to be curious and inquisitive about the world around them. I have challenged their thinking process and their academic abilities. I have taken them on an amazing vacation to the East coast, where they got to see and learn so much about US history with their own eyes. They enjoyed it so much, they can’t wait to go back and discover more. I also found great roommates, who ended up being way more than what I hoped for. It’s funny how life works sometimes. And of course, now that Thanksgiving is over, our favorite time of the year is coming! Today we’ll start decorating our house for Christmas, playing Christmas songs and reading more and more stories with a holiday theme. And I think our elf on the shelf will be back very soon too. All we need to feel more in the mood is for Mother Nature to turn down the thermostat so it’s not 85 degrees during the day anymore. I don’t think that’s much to ask.

When I say I have a lot to be thankful for, I’m not kidding. This is our jar of good things as it stands one month before the end of 2014. I can’t wait till my kids and I go through it to remember some of these great moments. What are you feeling thankful for this holiday season?

Jar of good things that happened in 2014

Jar of good things that happened in 2014

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Happy Mother’s Day

Believe it or not, we’ve been back from our amazing, super fun spring vacation for a few weeks. But… I’ve been so busy taking care of personal and work stuff, I haven’t found the time or the focus to share any of it with you yet. I’m hoping to write a post on Washington D.C. over the next few days, so I hope you stick around.

In the meantime, I want to wish every single mom out there (whether you’re a mom of human babies, or furry babies, or another type of babies if that’s possible) a very Happy Mother’s Day. Yesterday I updated our white board with my own celebration of our tree of love. Yes, that’s a lot of love. Can you feel it?

Have a very special Mother’s Day and enjoy it with your loved ones! Are you doing anything fun today?

Happy Mother's Day tree of love

Happy Mother’s Day tree of love

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure

Today I’m participating in the WordPress weekly photo challenge and this week’s theme is “treasure”. Today is Valentine’s Day and I thought it was a great coincidence for this theme.

Love and a loving relationship with the people who are closest to you is something you treasure. At our house, we’ve been anticipating Valentine’s Day for about a week, the time when we hand made Valentine cards for one another. I didn’t glance at what my boys were working on but my youngest couldn’t resist looking. Do you know how hard it is to draw and color when you have to cover your artwork with one hand? My kids worked on their card together and they created the biggest Valentine card I’ve ever received.

Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure - huge Valentine card

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Treasure – huge Valentine card

On my end, I made the same Valentine card for both kids. Nothing says love better than squirrels and nuts, doesn’t it? I complemented the cards with Toblerone chocolate and a couple of cute little monkeys with Velcro hands so the boys can hang them around the house. I think they were a hit.

I'm nuts about you squirrel Valentine card

I’m nuts about you squirrel Valentine card

And now I’ll be treasuring these Valentine cards by storing them in our “special boxes” for the memories.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Meet Wink, our elf on the shelf

A few years ago, I was tempted to get the popular Elf on the shelf. I thought, what better way to motivate my kids to be good the month before Christmas? But thinking of it, I wanted them to try their best every day, not just a few weeks before toy overload day. I never thought the day would come when BOTH my kids would ask me to get them an elf on the shelf. Apparently, there’s a lot of peer pressure at school, and when a bunch of kids in your class have their own elf on the shelf, you’d better get one too. Ah, what a brilliant marketing idea…

So a couple of weeks ago, we visited our local Target and purchased our elf. Of course, it had to be a boy (once again, I’m outnumbered). We brought the packaged book/elf box home, carefully took our elf out and put him up above our fireplace. After a few minutes debating, the kids decided to name him Wink. I’m a little disturbed by the fact that Wink doesn’t have feet but I understand that frostbite can be a result of living at the North Pole.

Wink, our elf on the shelf

Wink, our elf on the shelf

Doesn’t he look cute and innocent? I asked my kids if they thought Wink was nice or mischievous. They wholeheartedly agreed he was NICE! Apparently, all elves who report to Santa at the North Pole every night have to be nice. And for the first few days, I enjoyed catching my kids talking to Wink once in a while, asking him to report some things to Santa, even ask him for “the force”. I figure, when kids can believe in the magic of Christmas, why wouldn’t they think that the force is real too? Hey, I’d like some of that!

Wink was busy on his first night at our house. When he came back from his visit to the North Pole, he made the boys some paper snowflakes and left them a note. How nice!

Wink makes paper snowflakes

Wink makes paper snowflakes

I guess Wink saw us putting together the walls for our gingerbread house because during the next night, he took a look at the candy decorations for it. I should add that he didn’t eat any.

Wink helps us with the gingerbread house

Wink helps us with the gingerbread house

Another night, Wink couldn’t resist playing with the balloon decorations the boys got. Riding an airplane while holding a sword, how fun!

Wink on a balloon airplane

Wink on a balloon airplane

Wink discovered we were doing a Christmas countdown on our white board, so he decided to update the picture for us. The boys were very impressed with his idea!

Wink draws on our Christmas countdown white board

Wink draws on our Christmas countdown white board

We have so many Lego at our house, I guess it’s hard for an elf to resist. Here he is, playing with a Lego Legends of Chima speedorz. Zoom zoom!

Wink with Lego Chima speedorz

Wink with Lego Chima speedorz

After we finished our gingerbread house, Wink stopped by to inspect it.

Wink checks out our gingerbread house

Wink checks out our gingerbread house

He must have realized there was something wrong with this house’s decorations. Yep, that’s because Son #1 turned into Hans and started eating them one by one. The gingerbread house actually looked like this when we finished it. I’m so glad I took a picture of the intact model! Do you know how hard it is to make that stuff with two boys that try to sabotage your artistic efforts?

Gingerbread house decorations

Gingerbread house decorations

I guess all that candy made Wink hungry because he eventually found our candy stash in the kitchen. Yum, gummy worms!

Wink finds our candy

Wink finds our candy

My son left his book overnight on the couch. I hear it’s a very funny book and I think Wink agrees. Look, he even got to read it with his friends the polar bear and the husky.

Wink reads a book

Wink reads a book

And when I added more presents under the Christmas tree, guess who was there to tell the kids?

Wink under the Christmas tree

Wink under the Christmas tree

All this time, Wink stayed downstairs. Well, that was until last night, when he finally ventured upstairs into the boys’ bedroom (Mama, how did Wink open the bedroom door?). He must have been very excited to see a Lego Star Wars X-wing fighter.

Wink rides a Lego Star Wars X-wing fighter

Wink rides a Lego Star Wars X-wing fighter

And now the big question is, where will Wink be tomorrow morning? Will be stay upstairs in the boys’ room or will he go back downstairs? What do you think Wink should add to his list of adventures?