Sunday, December 25, 2011

'Twas the Week Before Christmas

(please enjoy my 3rd grade rhyming abilities)

'Twas the week before Christmas and we headed out
To wait to see Santa. To pose and to pout.

The squeals of a toddler were heard through the town
As Grandma got in her car and drove down.

We saw choo choo trains and played till we dropped
We ate pie and drank cocoa until we all popped!

We danced in the street and sang Christmas songs.
We wished for the loved ones we missed to sing 'long.

When Christmas was near we played games all day
We dressed up like reindeer who pull Santa's sleigh.

We dressed up in costumes and put on a play
About baby Jesus who was born Christmas day.

We unwrapped our presents and squealed with delight
As each shiny package revealed a new sight.

Santa came and he went, that jolly old man,
but we are counting days 'till it's Christmas again!

May this new year be full of blessings and family.
May our days all be peaceful and healthy and happy.

Until in 365 days
We can celebrate Christmas again in new ways.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The First "Nowhere" ...

Larkin loves to sing Christmas songs. I am amazed at all the songs she knows this year. Granted, we have Christmas songs playing every day at our house in December, but still ... she knows the words to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells (she learned this one last year), Deck the Halls, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, Silver Bells, Away in a Manger, Up on the Housetop, White Christmas, The Hippopotamus song, and a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

I had to laugh yesterday when The First Noel came on the radio in the car and she belted out the chorus from the back seat, "Nowhere! NOWHERE! Nowhere! NOWHERE!"
I still smile when I think about her singing "Nowhere" instead of "Noel" :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Lights

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is doing a Christmas lights tour. Some years we drive, some years we walk, but whether they are fancy, over-the-top, or simple, looking at Christmas lights is a magical way to spend an evening during the Christmas season!

This year we made the trip back to Rocklin to spend the evening with our good friends the Mills. It has been WAY too long since we have gotten together, and it was wonderful to spend the evening visiting and driving around spying houses donned in lights.

(These two monkeys LOVED the lights ... the third back-seat-monkey declined to have his photo taken :)

The highlight of the evening for Larkin was holding baby Emmi! She talked about "that sweet baby" all the way home, and has begged every day to go back to our old house so we can walk to baby Emmi's house. (Walking to the Mill's house was a regular thing when we lived in Rocklin, but how she remembers this is beyond me!)

I am so grateful for good friends and family to spend the holidays with!

and as a PS:
Thank you to everyone who will double their PG&E bill for December because of all the lights they hung this month ... I appreciate this pricey but fun tradition!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What happens when Grandma and Grandpa Rice come to visit?

Grandma reads you lots and lots of books ...

You get your hair done ...

You do a little yard work ...

You get to act like a monkey at the zoo ...

You get to ride on a train ...

You take a carriage ride with all your cousins ...

You play with your food ...

You get to eat treats as big as your head ...

You get to help decorate the Christmas tree ...

Friday, December 2, 2011


I love the holiday season!
How can you not love a holiday that is dedicated to an amazing dinner and acknowledging your blessings?!?
This year we were blessed with a house full of family for Thanksgiving!

Scot made dinner, and it was fantastic!
We had pie coming out our ears! It was out of control!

The whole day was magical!
I always forget to take pictures of the decorations before we dig in and start having fun, so here it is ... our Thanksgiving spread in pictures ...

I am so grateful for the blessings I have received this year. Having family fill our house for the holiday season brings me such joy!

I will post pictures of Grandma and Grandpa Rice's visit soon ... it was a busy ten days filled with lots of adventures!

Friday, November 4, 2011

SuPeR gIrL!

Halloween was a blast this year!
Look at this girl go ... it was her first year trick-or-treating, and she loved every little candy coated moment of it!

... and I have enjoyed helping her eat her fun sized snickers bars ...
I love this funny little super hero!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Little Things

It has been a crazy week.
I have found myself searching for little things, simple things, to find joy in. This morning it was this ...

The back story: my mom planted some sunflowers in our yard-o-rock this summer. They grew and grew and then died. Scot tied them up and left their dead heads hanging on the fence. It felt like some cruel torture spectacle, and I thought several times about cutting them down and giving them a proper burial.
Then one day I noticed a little bird pecking away at the sunflower head. Larkin and I watched with excitement as big birds and little birds came and ate from our dead sunflowers for weeks ... then daddy brought home this little feeder and helped Larkin fill it up with seeds and hang it on the fence. It has been hanging there for a week with little to no action ... I was starting to think the birds didn't like the new menu.

... then this morning two little birds perched on our bird feeder and ate at our little bird buffet. I squealed, and Larkin and daddy and I watched as the little birds ate and ate.
It was such a little thing, but it made my day!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

H-A-Double L-O-W-Double E-N

We threw a little costume party.
We decorated the whole house.
We dressed up.
We carved pumpkins.

We had so much fun we forgot to take pictures.
(Below is one of the only photos of the evening, and I think Scot took it)

I heart Halloween!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bangkok Garden

I fell in love with Thai cuisine in Salt Lake City of all places. We lived in Sugar House for a few years, right down the street from this tiny little whole in the wall Thai place called Tasty Thai. I was skeptical the first time we walked up to the refurbished gas station turned Thai restaurant, but one bite of my Tamarind Chicken and I was in Thai food heaven!
Since living in California I have hunted and hunted for a good Thai restaurant ... who would have guessed that I would find another fantastic Thai place within walking distance of my house!?!

Bangkok Garden (3230 Arena Blvd. Ste 215) is a fun little whole in the wall that serves up delicious Thai cuisine for a reasonable price! Love this place! This summer I ate at Bangkok Garden regularly. The soups and noodles were just the thing that my pregnant tummy needed.

Saying that I eat at Bangkok Garden is a little misleading. Since I live so close, I always call ahead and order my food, walk to the restaurant, and bring my food home to eat it. I'm a bit of a home-body, so this set up is perfect for me. The restaurant is adorable though. It's a tiny space packed with rich colors and decor, and the staff is always super friendly.

I heart Pad Thai, and Bangkok Garden's pad thai is fabulous! Their Tom Kha soup is delicious, and the Tom Yum soup is to die for! I love the menu at Bangkok Garden because it is broken up to allow you to put any sauce on any meat or vegetable for your entree. Genius!

If you are hungry for Thai food I recommend Bangkok Gardens if you are in Sacramento ... be sure to stop by my house while you are in the neighborhood!
The best Thai food I've had is still Tasty Thai in Salt Lake City, but Bangkok Gardens is a tad closer these days and yummy enough to blog about!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pumpkin Hunting

Pumpkin hunting is a tradition at our house. We love to tromp around in the dirt and pick the pumpkins we will adopt and bring home to spend the holidays with us.
Picking a pumpkin is serious business, but we try to have a little fun while we are at it ...

Larkin wanted to sit on every big pumpkin she found.
She told me before we headed to the pumpkin farm that she was going to pick a yellow pumpkin ... she looked at a hundred pumpkins (at least), and finally found the perfect yellow pumpkin, which she promptly traded for my green pumpkin as soon as she saw it.
But, I'm getting ahead of myself ...

First, we did some rocking horse riding ... Yeehaw!

We posed for a family picture.
Take a moment to appreciate this picture ... I never post pictures of myself while I am pregnant. I'm sure you think I look exactly the same, but please don't ever say that to my face. Some women get cute little prego tummies- I get prego EVERYTHING ... prego arms, face, legs ... so appreciate this one. It's a rare gem!

We climbed a few trees ...
well, really Larkin clung to the branch where daddy perched her.

We ran and jumped in the hay!
We rode the train, and fed the goats, and played some more, and finally we found our pumpkins. Larkin stole mine, but I found another one, and Scot picked three, so all in all it was a successful pumpkin hunt!

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Greatest Show on Earth!

The circus came to town just in time for Scot's birthday this year!
We were a little concerned about how Larkin would like it, so we talked it up all week.
The day of the circus, I don't know who was more excited ... Scot, or Larkin!

Just look at their faces!

Larkin loved the circus! She was entranced by the costumes and lights and music and loved every moment of the night!

Happy Birthday Scot!
Thanks for letting us tag along for such a magical adventure!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Perfect Day

Do you know those perfect days? ... the days when everything goes perfectly? ... Yeah, I don't either most of the time, which is why this day is worth pausing to note.
There was nothing all that amazing about the day, but in it's normal unfolding it just turned out perfectly!

We started out by grocery shopping. I made Larkin a shopping list with pictures of milk and eggs and some of the fruit and other food we needed ...

As you can see, she was busy writing on her list while I cruised around the store filling the basket with our goodies. As I would pull something off the shelf I would say, "Okay, we got the olives, cross olives off your list." and she would scribble with her pen on her list. It was the best shopping trip we've had in months!
We spent some time in the afternoon walking over to the park and collecting leaves and swinging and collecting more leaves.
When we got home had dinner and a family home evening on listening. We talked about using our ears to listen and made a silly listening hat with giant ears ...

We played "Mommy Says" and sang "Do as I'm Doing" and had brownies and ice cream for a treat.
Then it was into the bath tub and scriptures and prayers and bed time ...

Doesn't that sound like a perfectly ordinary day. It was. But everyone was happy and as we moved through the day together I was grateful for so many perfectly simple happy moments.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ernesto's Mexican Food

This is the first post of many to come where I will feature restaurants in the Sacramento area that we try and either like, or dislike. I always love a referral for a yummy meal, so if you have a favorite place you think we should try, let me know. I love hole-in-the-wall places that surprise and delight. I love local favorites with a loyal following. I love up-and-coming restaurants with the power to exceed expectations ... I just love good food!

First on my list: Ernesto's Mexican Food at 1901 16th Street in Sacramento. Mexican food is always a crowd pleaser at our house and Ernesto's came through on so many levels. My favorite part about Ernesto's came right as we walked in the door ...
#1 the hostess gave Larkin some little dinosaur toys to play with instead of crayons and a lame placemat maze! If you have ever taken a toddler to a restaurant, you know the power of a simple kid-friendly gesture like this one! Larkin was entertained the entire time we were there with those little guys and even got to take them home with her when we were finished!

{You will have to excuse the lame photos. I had to use my phone to take these since the battery on my good camera was plugged into the charger at home ... yep I walked out the door with a camera minus the battery. Genius!}

Ernesto's had lot's going for it besides the kid-friendly toys.
#2 It was super easy to find. Two turns off the freeway and we were there. I suggest bringing change for metered street parking, but there was plenty of street parking, even on a Saturday evening.
#3 Our food came quickly {as in lightning fast}, and my glass was almost always full.
#4 The food was reasonably priced and the portions were not huge, but large enough to fill me up and then some.
On the FOOD: I ordered chicken enchiladas with a tomatillo sauce {pictured below after a few bites}. The green sauce was a little acidic, but overall the flavors worked well together. Scot ordered a combo plate with carnitas and enchiladas with red sauce. He was a little disappointed in his red sauce as well, but inhaled his carnitas, so it must have been yummy.

On the Ambiance: Ernesto's is on the smaller side, but has a fun atmosphere with paper flags hung from the ceiling, a little outdoor patio for dining and a bar with a big screen for watching the game if that's your thing. The music was modern and quite enough that we could talk over it comfortably {Don't get me wrong, the restaurant was noisy, but it was packed with people who chatted happily, and I kind of like that pleasant background noise- it helped to cover up my daughter's torrential dinosaur roars and screeches!}.
Scot and I both agreed that Enresto's is officially on our list for dining out when friends or family come to town!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Labor Day Time Warp

Labor Day weekend was a little bit of a bust at our house. I was deathly ill {that's an exaggeration} and Scot and Larkin had to fend for themselves most of the weekend. Finally on Monday I made myself get out of bed so we could say we did SOMETHING fun for the holiday.
We decided on Gold Rush Days in Old Town Sacramento.

It was so fun! They have people dressed in period costumes who play instruments in the street, act out gun fights and fires, and sell root beer among other goodies ... such fun! I had never been before, and I have to say ... this is a must next year!

This picture's for you Grandpa Rice!
We watched firefighters put out a fire in one of the buildings in Old Town. Of course the fire wasn't real, but I was reminded of how grateful I am for all those who labor to keep us safe and free!

Larkin loved any and all music at Gold Rush Days! She sat and listened to this man play his hurdy gurdy forever. He was very sweet singing "Old Suzanna" and "Yankee Doodle" completely off key!

We had to sit a few times for different musical concerts ... Larkin insisted, and I was grateful for the break. This girl loves to clap and sing along to almost any song!
Sometimes I love to look at the world through her eyes. She is so fascinated by life. I read somewhere recently that wisdom is the result of wonder. If that is true, it should be no surprise that our children give us a run for our money!

Happy Labor Day!
May we each take a moment to wonder at the many freedoms and pleasures we enjoy!

First Day of School

Larkin was so excited to start school this year! She loves everything about school, and I love to hear all about her adventures while she plays and learns with her friends and teachers!
She is in the same classroom as last year, but she has two new teachers who are AMAZING!

{this is what 6am looks like at our house ... Larkin woke up and hour and a half early because she just couldn't wait to get to school!}

Here's to a new year of learning and growing!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sand and Surf and Seagulls

Summer has been too short at our house! I am not ready for school to start again! Scot is starting a new degree program at school this coming weekend and will be gone every Saturday for the next year (AAAaaaaHHHHHhhhhh!) so we snagged our last Saturday together and headed to the coast!

Have I mentioned how much I love the beach?
I LOVE the beach! I could spend every day for the rest of my life at the beach!

In truth, the heavy winter coat was a little overkill for this busy girl, but in northern California you have to head to the beach prepared for a snow storm (even in August)!

The water was so cold but Larkin could not stay away from it! She and daddy braved the icy waves, but I steered clear!

Larkin had such a great time chasing and feeding the birds, collecting rocks and sticks, and people watching!

It was a successful day with lots of family time and laughs!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Matching Mania

We love colors at our house!
Larkin is also getting pretty good at matching games, so we pulled some little toys and trinkets from around the house and played a color matching game this morning.

I wrote the color names on each of the papers for an added literacy component to todays adventure. I always like to combine a few areas of development into one activity to get as much bang for my buck when teaching and playing.

Next up on our list ... counting games. If you know any good counting activities, please share!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

At The Car Wash!

Our cars were in desperate need of a bath!
It has been a little cooler the last few days (lets say 90 instead of 98), so we decided to spend our afternoon playing in some water and bubbles ...

I love washing cars with toddlers. It is always ten times the amount of work but also ten times the fun! Car washes are a great time to break out the bikes and wash them too, but this afternoon we decided to call it good with the cars.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Clean Mud

This project is not for the faint of heart. Maybe I should post a big WARNING message at the top:
WARNING This project is a big mess, but totally worth the sheer bliss on your child's face!
I love making messes with kids. So much of life is about order, and following directions for kids, that it only makes sense that more mess = more fun in a child's world. When I pick Larkin up from school and she is covered in goo it makes my heart happy because I know she had a blast that day.

Clean Mud is cheap and easy to make:
1 roll of toilet paper {tear into tiny pieces}
1 bar of white dove soap {use a cheese grater to get it into tiny bits}
warm water {add a little at a time until you get a thick mixture, anywhere from 2-3 cups}

The water needs to be warm enough to melt the soap, so in the beginning I do a lot of the mixing so that Larkin wont hurt her hands {she is pretty sensitive to things that are on the warm side, so know what your child is up for}. You want to add enough water so that the mixture is the consistency of thick whipped cream or thick waffle batter. Be careful not to add too much water. A little at a time will help you get the ratio just right.

The cool thing about this stuff is that the more you play with it, the fluffier it gets! The soap bubbles expand and work together to make this goop crazy cool to play with, and like I said before, messy! This goop gets everywhere and when it dries it leaves little toilet paper bits on everything it touched {Larkin's hair had little bits of toilet paper in it when I washed it later that night}. I recommend donning an apron or paint smock, but this stuff washes out of clothes easily and wipes off counters and floors quickly, so no permanent damage done!

This picture was taken after adding most of the water, but not all of it. Larkin wanted to play with it at each stage, and as it changed she got excited and made little observations like, "where the soap go? I smell it but it's all gone." and, "It's getting mushy and mushy and mushy." and, "It's squishy on my hand momma." ... my budding scientist! :)

I love good clean fun ... clean MUD fun!