Category Archives: Play

So This is What a Real Winter Feels Like
Back to school for the new year and already at home for a snow day
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We finally got the kids back into the groove of going back to school after the long holiday break and BAM! A SNOW DAY! A real snow day, we had about 4 inches of snow in the area, which is more snow then we had all of last year and the most snow the kids have seen.

So we decided to venture out into the snow and even got Grandma to join in on the fun.

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Of course there is always a wipe out or two!

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This is the face you make while snow is rolling down your back under your clothes.

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No day out in the snow is complete without a snow ball fight.

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Just when you think Mrs. M has the upper hand, this happens.

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Overall it was a fun time for the first 30 minutes, then it was time to head home as our toes were starting to go numb.


Have you ever noticed how everyone seems glued to their little phones? I find even catch myself as I’m passing by windows, my elbow craned and my nose buried in my phone. I wonder if we’re all addicts, or if much has changed over the years.

Once, not too long ago, we were all gathered around small black and white television screens. Before that, it was a box that carried sound across America, and before that it was newspapers and talking. We’ve always been predisposed to media, so perhaps this new trend of multi-screen viewing isn’t all that new. Still, it did seem to happen overnight and it’s enough to wonder where we’ve been and where we go from here.

Home Networking
Advances in the technology we use in home networking are driving the trend in multi-screen viewing. Because little Sally and Johnny aren’t forced to use one device, they seek entertainment elsewhere. The variety of routers and broadband speeds enable these devices to stay connected and deliver top notch service to the end user. In other words, your turbo speed broadband and Wireless N router enable children to be in the same room and enjoy what they want to watch.

The faster broadband speeds are what keep everyone connected to a high quality stream. Broadband powers everything from your photo storage to your phone service, so that’s a lot of consumption for heavy usage households.

Streaming Services
A variety of streaming services integrate with cable and are available as third party resources. Streaming services deliver content to a variety of devices, but services are currently splintered. The family Xbox may run HBO Go, but the iPad could be a device for watching movies and shows on iTunes or Amazon. The advantage is that families can take these services with them on vacation, or anywhere there is a Wi-Fi connection.

Lower Costs
Lower costs make it possible for families to subscribe to more services, thereby pleasing everyone in the household with personalized content. The cost of broadband is also dropping, and on top of that, places are still offering FiOS double play promo codes. Even introductory rates can help give you leverage for negotiation down the line.

The cost of third party services are also not as high, and often come with perks. Amazon offers its Prime service over broadband for a moderate yearly cost, and the package comes with free shipping.

Different Devices
The prevalence of more devices in the household also contributes to multi-screen viewing. Devices like the iPad and various Android and Windows tablets encourage kids and family members to lounge around without gathering near the TV. The same portability that drives your ability to reach your loved ones also keeps them invested in their own shows.

Why it’s Not a Bad Thing
Aside from different watching habits, it’s actually encouraging to know more time is spent at home with family. It may be happening on different screens, watching different things, but there are ways to skirt around this new way of viewing and sneak in some family time:

  • Suggest a digital-free dinner space. Have all cellphones placed at an end table and put on some music to set the mood.
  • Find one show everyone can watch together, even something from the past, which will drive interest and encourage discussion. Rather than talking about stars, talk plot and intrigue.
  • Go outside as a family more often. Take morning hiking trips and make it fun by packing delicious snacks.

It can be tempting to go into a panic when it seems like everyone’s absorbed in their own screen. Instead of losing patience, try to realize that everyone has different tastes. Ask questions or find other ways to communicate.

Being a mom is a lot of work, now imagine taking care of an entire group of 4th graders on a field trip, now that’s hard work! Sure, being a chaperone has its perks, you get to have fun with your kid and you get to see how your child does in an educational environment.

For some parents, their first field trip could be frightening. How can you counter these fears? Preparation and anticipation! Thus, I have compiled a list of suggestions on how chaperoning for your kid’s field trip can turn out successful! Who knows, the kids might end up considering you the cool mom.

Know What’s Expected
Usually before departure, parents are briefed on where they’ll be going, what the schedule will look like and what will be expected from them and the students. Sometimes, teachers give chaperones a first aid kit, which is important because most kids are accident prone. If the teacher only has one first aid kit, it’s recommended for chaperones to bring their own, which could save you time if a kid in the group scrapes their knee and you end up looking for the teacher throughout the field trip location.

Some classes sometimes coordinate colors or custom-made shirts, which makes lost kids a lot easier to spot, especially if your destination is a theme park. Create some custom t-shirts to confirm solidarity between your group – you can always take the reigns, with the permission of the teacher and approval (donations) from the parents and order a few shirts for the class. The other chaperones and the teacher(s) will thank you.

Get To Know Your Group
Shortly after arriving to the destination, chaperones will be given a group of students before separating. Make sure to get to know the needs of the students and know their names before continuing the field trip. If special treatment is needed for a student (i.e. medication), make sure you understand proper field trip health and safety procedures. Also, take this time to establish yourself as an authority figure and restate the schedule and what will be needed (rules) from them.

Stay Together
I can be tricky keeping an eye on several students at a time, though, a group usually is no bigger than five. Sometimes, even with color customized shirts, it’s possible to lose a student, that’s why it crucial to keep track of everyone in your group. If someone needs to go to the bathroom, make sure everyone accompanies the student.

Some students, though they may not appear it, are natural born troublemakers and use field trips as excuses to venture off by themselves and misbehave. Usually the teacher assigns these kids to his/her group (unless the parent is the chaperone), but if the kids is assigned to your group, make sure he/she knows about the rules and consequences of breaking those rules. Make them see that classrooms rules still apply on a field trip.

Have Fun
It’s a field trip! It’s supposed to be fun! Listen to the students in your group. If acceptable, take their interests into consideration, whether it’s another turn around the dinosaur exhibition or another spin on the tea cups at Disneyland.

Being a chaperone at a field trip can be hard work, but if properly prepared and taking these suggestions into consideration, you’ll be able have a wonderful time with your child and his/her classmates.

A half-ton truck tows its way into history
On October 13, 2012, the Toyota Tundra will tow Space Shuttle Endeavour to its new home at the California Science Center

A few weeks ago I missed my chance to see the shuttle fly through the air in route to Southern California. I’ve always wanted to see it in motion and it would have been awesome to experience it with the kids. There were so many people posting pictures of what they could capture. One of my photography friends Catherine Lacey Dodd, captures some amazing pictures of Endeavour.

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An Extended Drive Event
San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento, driving across the state in the FJ Cruiser

Last week I spent way too many hours strapped inside a car, it started with my typical 2 hour round-trip drive on Monday, then a three hour trip to San Diego and back on Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday I drove to work again and then drove to Sacramento that same night and came back to LA on Sunday. That is just too many hours on the road for me.

The only plus side of doing so much driving is that I was able to do some of it in the Toyota FJ Cruiser. For our trip to Sacramento we tested out the FJ Cruiser to see how it handled as a family vehicle. The kids instantly fell in love – but who doesn’t driving a new car.

Even though our trip was only a weekend turn around for me, I had to pack extra clothes for the kids because they were staying in Sacramento with their grandparents for a week. And the Hubs well we had to pack ALL his clothes because on the way home I had to drop him off at the airport.

I was impressed with the amount of trunk space the FJ Cruiser had, we were able to store our large roller bag, a carryon roller bag, duffel bag, camera bag, camera equipment, and three backpacks. And we still had plenty of room left over – something that never would have happened with my small SUV.

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