Tag Archives: comm couture

Our first children’s book: The Good Guy Lullaby

2 May


So – I’ve mentioned before that Good Guys play a pretty big role in our household. I use the term to help guide my kids’ understanding of right and wrong, and even to help them learn the alphabet (“G is for Good Guy.). It’s no surprise to me, then, that my first book incorporates Good Guys, as well.

The Good Guy Lullaby is a colorful bedtime story that allows young children to send the shadow monsters off to bed each night to ensure a peaceful night of sleep. The book features rich illustrations of sweet ― and sleepy ― creatures like dinosaurs, dragons and vampires. And with Good Guys always watching over, nighttime is more fun, and less scary, than ever before. (Click here for a preview.)

The book was illustrated by the amazing painter Hillary Scott and I had such a wonderful time working with her to bring these sweet and silly characters to life.



You can learn more about The Good Guy Lullaby at www.goodguylullaby.com. It’s available on Amazon.com.


PS: Go, us!!!


Sew your own Captain America shield backpack

24 Apr

So – with Captain America: Winter Soldier being released this month, I felt like it was time for our Captain America costumes to get a little re-vamp. We decided to start with the most important element – the shield – and to create a handy backpack while we were at it. When I say these Cap-Packs are easy to make, I’m not kidding. I started them Thursday afternoon, and they were ready in time to head to WonderCon 2014 on Friday morning. (Less than ONE DAY!)

Trifecta America: homemade Captain America backpacks

Trifecta America: homemade Captain America backpacks

The Cap Pack
It’s incredibly simple to create a Captain America backpack just like Captain Rogers. Just cut some circles, find (or sew) some straps, and go! A quick, cheap, *awesome* costume item that the kids can actually use!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 large red circles (I chose felt because it holds it shape and the colors really pop)
  • 2 large red circles (rip-stop/nylon) for lining
  • 1 smaller white circle
  • 1 smaller red circle
  • 1 smaller blue circle
  • 1 white star
  • 2 straps (sew or purchase – I used brown felt because it was cheap and easy)

A note for other mamas: don’t be afraid to create your own pattern! Once you find the right-sized circle to get you started, creating the other pieces is super simple. I started with a super large circle for me, and a smaller circle for the boys.  I lined my backpack with rip-stop nylon to make it even sturdier.

Total time: About 1.5 hours a piece!
Total cost for the Cap Packs: About $10 a piece

Um ... chills.

Um … chills.

The New Costume:
Captain America sports a darker costume and different chest design than the last movie. To keep it simple, I ordered navy blue tshirts from Target and glue-gunned some gray trim to mimic the new design.

Total time: About 10 minutes!
Total cost for the shirts: About $8 a piece

Busy bodies: Reading comics and saving the world at WonderCon 2014.

Busy bodies: Reading comics and saving the world at WonderCon 2014.

That’s it – you’re done!

Super Hero Mama

There are *always* warning signs

9 Apr

There are *always* warning signs. If you choose not to see someone – or not to see what’s happening – it doesn’t mean the signs aren’t there. “There might be bullying.” “There might not be bullying.” “They put ‘the kid’ in a police car and took him away.” If you don’t even know a person’s name, how would you know if he is suffering? I absolutely hate that this violence keeps happening. I hate just as much the media coverage that follows. Everyone is a hero once they stop a crazy person. Where is the hero who recognized this kid was suffering and stopped the pain in the first place?

“He was shy and didn’t have many friends.” Guess what – so was I. *So AM I.* Please stop saying “shy” or “introverted” like it’s a sign of mental illness. It’s not. And if you took more time to get to know us, you’d see that.

“His parents are partly to blame.” FYI: boys don’t always share the shit they’re going through, especially if they are being demeaned and humiliated. Even if he did, they can’t be at school to stop the harsh things that happen. We say the phrase “Kids are cruel” like it’s something we have to accept and get on with. How about teaching our children not to be cruel to begin with?

“Good thing he didn’t have a gun.” Yes – yay! And it’s actually kind of amazing. Especially in PA, where (from what I remember) we actually got the first day of hunting season off each year as a holiday. Unfortunately, guns clearly aren’t the only problem. *WE* are the problem. *WE* are the only ones who can fix it.

After the shooting at Sandy Hook, I was on Xanax for months. I could barely leave the house without having anxiety attacks, worrying someone was going to mow down my children. I would lie in bed at night crying because I literally couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop imagining what the children had gone through. How scary it must have been – and even worse, how some of them were so young, so innocent – they didn’t even know how scared they should have been. Then, I was heartbroken. Now – two years and however many shootings/killings/stabbings later – I’m angry.

This week I’ve been working in New York, interviewing kids at an international high school about their lives. I literally sit down with them one by one and probe them with personal questions. “What’s the hardest part about being here? What’s the best part? Is it hard to make friends? Is it fun? Does it suck?”

What I want to do right now, more than anything else, is to go to Franklin and sit down with every single student who goes there. I want to ask them. No bullshit. No lies. No cover-ups. Was he struggling? IS ANYONE ELSE STRUGGLING? Because if they are, we need to know now.

Ewok love

7 Aug


So – since seeing Return of the Jedi at Comic Con 2013, Blake has developed an intense love of Ewoks. I decided to make him one, inspired by this simple pic I found online.

I started out with a quick sketch and ordered some supplies. It wasn’t long before the fur was flying … and I was falling in love with this little fuzzy and Force-ful creation.

The plan.

The plan.

Once I got my vision pinned down, it took about 1.5 hours to finish the project. Some quick lessons learned for those seeking to create an Ewok of their own:

  • Unless you have an industrial-sized sewing machine, plan to become besties with your glue-gun. It’s the only way to secure the hole used to insert stuffing (at least with the extra-shaggy fur I chose for the project.)
  • Head outside. This specific fur sheds like crazy. Go outside to avoid a fur-storm on your floors and clothing.
  • Rather than adhere your stick to the Ewok’s hand, give him a wristband so that his stick can be easily inserted/removed as needed. (Cuddling a stick = ouch!)
As they say in Ewok-ese, Nuv! (Love!)

As they say in Ewok-ese, Nuv! (Love!)

Time: About 2 hours
Budget: $20
Supplies: ½ yard shaggy fur, ¼ yard wool felt, two eyes, 1 nose, 1 stick, yarn


Lowe’s Build and Grow: The Month of Monster Mutt

11 Mar
Uber proud: Blake Dean and Monster Mutt

Uber proud: Blake Dean and Monster Mutt

This past weekend, we had a chance to take Blake Dean to Lowe’s Build and Grow for the very first time. In theory, I guess I’ve always known that the various home improvement stores in the area hold kids’ clinics throughout the year – but it took a Monster Jam theme to get our family out to this month’s clinic. (And I’m so glad it did.)


Hanging out in a room full of hammer-wielding tykes … it definitely could have gone either way. :)

On the whole, I was incredibly impressed by the quality of this project. Not only was the Monster Mutt kit free, kids also got a free apron, patch, and certificate of achievement when they finished building it. I’ve truly never seen Blake Dean so proud of himself – so proud that he literally hasn’t put Monster Mutt down since he came home. (Seriously – eating … sleeping … bathing – never.)

The only down side: these events fill up FAST. As soon as we got home, I checked for upcoming events in March/April, and they were both already booked within a 50-mile radius. I guess I’m not the only mama to realize what a cool idea this is for little boy and girl kiddos alike.

Overall mama rating: 5/5. But you best book quick if you’d like to share this experience with your little monster.


Learning Legoland

1 Mar
Rawr! Welcome to Legoland!

Rawr! Welcome to Legoland!

Honestly, Legoland has never been on my personal Bucket List. I’m not a huge amusement park girl (even Disneyland doesn’t do it for me), but I knew the boys (all three of them!) would love a weekend in the building block capital of the world. So when a deal came up on Plumdistrict, I jumped. Two nights at the Grand Pacific Palisades (on the Legoland California campus in Carlsbad) and two-day park hopper passes … all at about half the price we’d usually pay for a weekend at the resort. Here’s my take as a mama of two boys as I learned the ins-and-outs of the Legoland adventure.

Good to know:

Check the calendar. Legoland is closed Tues/Wed throughout the winter months. We knew this well in advance, but there were lots of angry parents showing up at the gates on Tuesday assuming the park would be open. If you do happen to arrive on a dark day, just head over the Sea Life Aquarium. It’s open even when the park is closed and was surprisingly awesome despite some lackluster reviews I’d read online. (Lots of interactive exhibits … tastefully designed … perfect size for small legs … and still lots of Legos – everywhere you look.)


Take a break? Never. Lego playstation at SeaLife Cafe.

Wait until they’re 36 (inches). There are a few rides at Legoland that smaller monsters will enjoy, but most require kids to be at least 36 inches tall (and 40-42 for the larger roller coasters). If you’re taking two kids of different ages, make sure you take another adult with you in case one kid has to wait on the bench until the ride is over.

Blake Dean got his official "Driver License" after finishing this ride.

Blake Dean got his official “Driver License” after finishing this ride.

BYOF. Some parks don’t allow you to bring your own food, but Legoland is cool with it. Save yourself some way overpriced water, juice and sandwiches by packing your own.

Allow 2 days, especially if you have kids under 4. The park isn’t overwhelming large, but we definitely started skipping attractions in the late afternoon to get through it all (the park closes @ 5 p.m.). If you really want to 1) enjoy it, 2) not stress, and 3) shop for Legos without screaming at your kids to hurry up, plan for at least some Legoland fun on Day 2.

Get ready to get active. One of the coolest things about Legoland (in my opinion) is that the rides were all super interactive, forcing you to pedal your way over a roller coaster, pull your way up a rope, or drive your own car around a racetrack. This is not a sit-back-and-enjoy kind of park. You’ll get a workout on every single ride.

Beware the sales pitch. The Grand Pacific Palisades resort is a timeshare and came with some prompt pressure to attend a sales session as soon as we arrived. (Literally – we didn’t even have our room key, and they were already trying to pressure us to listen to their pitch.) Though the resort itself was nice, this really rubbed us the wrong way. (“Um – do you not see that I’m holding a hungry/screaming 2-year-old right now, and that my 4-year-old is trying to throw himself head first into the pool???”) Not the most parent-friendly situation in my opinion. They did upgrade us to a two-bedroom villa, however, so I can’t complain too much about service overall.

No matter what you do – don’t overplay the Star Wars card! I knew there was a Star Wars component at Legoland, but I didn’t realize it was just a display of Lego-ized Star Wars characters and space ships. Oops! Don’t get me wrong – the displays were cool – but I had definitely told my sons there’d be rides and interactive Star Wars exhibits. Get it straight, mamas! Or your kids will be as disappointed as mine.

Mini me! Millenium Falcon @ Legoland California

Kids: “Mommy, can we ride that?!?!?!” Me: “Um ….” Millenium Falcon @ Legoland California

Last but not least: do your best to get a bargain. A hopper pass is $82 a pop for kids 3-12, and even more for grown ups (i.e. Legoland is NOT a cheap way to spend the day). Try to find a deal in advance if you know what’s good for you.

buildin’ mama

*Such* a granola mom …

4 Feb


So – joining our local CSA inspired me to go even more “granola” in establishing a healthy SoCal lifestyle. I decided to buy a dehydrator to make sure none of our fruits/veggies/herbs go to waste. Turns out, it’s good for a lot of other things, too. Case in point: homemade granola. This is a recipe we use loosely to create our own way-better-than-store-bought granola cereal. One of the best parts of the recipe is that you can change it up to fit whatever you have in the cupboard or fridge.

5 cups rolled outs
1/2 cup honey
1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 wheat germ (I substituted baby oatmeal b/c I had it on-hand)
1 stick butter, melted
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 chopped apples (fresh, optional)
Handful of nuts (we had walnuts on-hand, but almonds are great, too)
Handful of sesame seeds

Super mama tip: The first time I made this, I waited and waited (days!) for the granola to dry. Rookie mistake. Turns out it’s only necessary to dry it partially; it actually gets crunchy in the fridge during storage. Now I run it about 18 hours (usually starting at lunch time), and it’s ready the next morning. Warm and delicious goodness.

Besides this granola, we love making turkey jerky and fruit roll ups (just mix up some apple sauce and yogurt and spread it on the tray!). Super easy. Super tasty. And I love knowing *exactly* what’s going into my kids’ tummies every day.

granola mama

Monster Trucks Redux

30 Jan


So – it wouldn’t be winter without Monster Jam. We went for the first time last year, and given Blake Dean’s over-the-top response, we decided to go again with both of our own monsters in tow. (It didn’t hurt that both Captain America and Iron Man monster trucks were both scheduled to compete at this meet – *swoon*.)

Monster Tire Ear Covers - a must at any Monster Jam event.

Monster Tire Ear Covers – a must at any Monster Jam event.

One of my fave parts about Monster Jam, as a mama, is how well the entire franchise seems to treat its fans. Drivers are constantly going out into the crowd – as in, *way* out into the crowd – to give away tshirts or even trophies to adoring spectators. There are tons of give-a-ways. And there is never a moment where screaming at the top of your lungs seems like a bad idea.

There was high drama at this Monster Jam. One truck lost its tire – another caught on fire. And this one – The Legend of Grave Digger – actually lost his entire truck body after a tough landing (check around min 1:04 below). It was monster madness – just what my own little monsters love most.

Because Rhett is at an anti-containment stage (20 months), we weren’t sure how well he would do at a lengthy (and seated) public outing. Turns out loud crashing monster trucks are just what a toddler needs to stay focused for 3 hours straight. I’m pretty sure he didn’t take his eyes off the trucks once the entire night … except for this quick pic :)


FYI – this mama loves Monster Jam – almost as much as my kids. I never thought I’d say it. But there it is.

Monster Mama

Speaking of Christian rock …

9 Dec


Last Sunday Blake Dean had his very first Sunday School class. I’ve been feeling like my spiritual self needed a bit of attention so we headed up to Redondo Beach Center for Spiritual Living, where I’d been a member before moving to Long Beach. It’s been years since I’ve visited (again – time passes quickly with kids!) but I was glad I made the trip.

For one – it was more emotional than I expected to see Blake attend his very first Sunday School class. He was so mature and independent – creating this interpretation of “Footprints on the Sand.” I was so proud of him for trying something new – spreading his little wings and meeting new people. I’m not sure I would have been willing to do that at his age.

For another thing – it always amazes me that no matter how long it is between trips to the church, the message they discuss always seems to be just what I need to hear at that time. Talk about spirituality that rocks. I always come away feeling like a better, stronger person for the experience.



Pedro the … Daddy

9 Dec


Oh, my lord. I can’t believe it’s been more than three months since my last post. Life passes quickly as parents. It’s been just about the same amount of time since we’ve gone out sans monsters, but last night we had a chance to see Dave Bazan/Pedro the Lion at the Constellation Room at the Observatory. Pedro is one of the first bands I saw live when I first moved to California. They’re a mainstay on our playlist, so I’m always happy to get a chance to see them play.

Dave announced that he’d be playing the entire “Control” album as part of this tour, mainly to help folks connect the dots that he and Pedro the Lion are the same band. With that in mind, we had anticipated an older crowd but we couldn’t have been more wrong. I’d guess about 75 percent of the folks attending were under 20 years old. We were basically the only ones who didn’t need to wear a bracelet to prove we were old enough to drink. (Check out these laugh lines, friend! I’ve got at least 15 years on most of these kids!)

One of the best parts of this show was Dave’s banter, and his tradition of asking the audience if they have any questions throughout. He gave some very heartfelt thoughts on raising children (he has two), which I’ve never heard him discuss before. It made leaving early to pick up our own kids feel kind of … special. Who knew – at midnight at a punk rock show in Orange County – we’d get a simple reminder of what we’re really here for.

sleepy rockin’ mama