Friday, May 29, 2009

Quick Takes: Parenting figured out to The Big Switch

You'll be happy to know that after years (almost two) of research. I have parenting figured out. Ok, maybe not totally figured out even close. But I read this really sad article about this child in Siberia who has been severly neglected. And it made me feel - a lot of things actually...sad, angry, indignant, confused...and like, as a parent, you could easily do muchmuch better. There are some very basic (and doable!) non-negotiables to being a parent. Specifically, here's what I'm thinking: 1. Love the baby. 2. Feed the baby. 3. Keep the baby clean. 4. Keep the baby safe and warm. 5. Try not to drop the baby. I know that's not all there is to it, but it's a pretty good start, wouldn't you say?

I heard that there was going to be a performance of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe at Bethany Worship Center. I don't really know anything about it except what's on their site, but it sounds like it could be good.

Did any of you end up going to the zoo on Monday? Did you tell them I sent you?

You would think that the fact that TV shows are in summer reruns would make it easier to kick our habit. So far, notsomuch.

Did I tell you I added more organic clothing to my shop? Yeppers. Fabulous new colors - check it out!

I didn't do the menu plan thing this week, because I didn't have time to do it before I went offline on Saturday. It's just as well, though, since I haven't actually cooked yet all week. (More on that Monday.) Tomorrow it's back to actual food though.

I'm thinking about making The Big Switch and getting a Mac. I hear they're reliable and better for design work. They have stores with real live staff for you to talk to. Plus, Macs don't come with Windows Vista, which is good. Vista = annoying. Speaking of annoying, I went into a Mac store to try to get some info, and the people I talked with were kinda snooty. But, at least they stay at the store, whereas your operating system stays with you. Thus, I'm still leaning towards a Mac.

There ya go! Those are my 7 Quick Takes on this week. More Quick Takes will be up on Conversion Diary around 6am CT.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Preparing for an epic (poem) adventure!

12 more days until the next Perfectly Poetical Tuesday! I'd said the style this time is "epic," but "mini-epic" might be more accurate. If you want to go on for pages, that's fine, but I'll be trying to insert the flavor of an epic into a much shorter poem.

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to write an epic poem.

You can also find some examples of epic poems on Wikipedia.

This may be a trickier one to get the kids involved in, but younger children can still help you come up with a topic or find rhyming words.

Happy writing!


Image is public domain.

Edited to fix link.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Life unplugged

Other than about 45 minutes yesterday, I was offline and off the computer for over two days. Not something I can do all the time (especially running a business), but I figured I could sneak in a break over the long weekend.

It was good. But it was funny how - even when I had my vacation message and everything set up - it was still a challenge to stay unplugged. I had to fight the urge to check on things and to connect with the online world. (Kind of like those panicked moments that sporadically occur for months after graduation when you're sure you're forgetting to do some homework, but there's none to be done.) But I would take a deep breath and the feeling would pass. By the end of the day yesterday, I felt like I was living a lot more in the moment and a lot less like I needed to know what/how the whole world was doing all the time.

So I think that little break was exactly what I needed.


Photos by me.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Phoenix Zoo for free

Briefly taking a break from taking a break to let you know about getting free admission to the Phoenix Zoo today.

They'll be announcing a secret password on their Twitter profile at 8am. That word is good for free admission from when they open at 9am (I know! superlate! hopefully it's not already superhot!) until 11am.

You don't need a Twitter account to see the Phoenix Zoo's updates - just visit after 8 this morning for their announcement about the password. (What is Twitter?)

You can tell them Bold Avenue sent you. Don't think that'll get you any VIP treatment - just thought it'd be cool to say that.

Memorial Day break

Remembering, spending time with family, taking a break - eyes off the screen, hand off the mouse, a breath of fresh air.

Wishing you the best this Memorial Day, however you choose to spend it.


Photo by me.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Making friends with a giant caterpillar and other summer fun

Since I started this blog and started paying more attention to children's products, I've gotten a lot hipper to what kids like. But I'm still light years behind parents and people who work with little kiddos.

So when my mom (the preschool director) (who's always up on the latest trends within the two- to six-year-old demographic) started telling me about the summer program she was offering at the preschool with that Hermie and Wormie curriculum, there was silence on my end of the phone for a moment.

(**thinking, thinking**) "Who?"

"You know...Max Lucado...Hermie and Friends...Splash..."

(Still silence on my end. All I could think of was that '80's movie with the mermaid. )

"Oh. Maybe you don't know."

Nope. Sorry. That's a new one for me.

I don't follow Max Lucado's career closely enough to have known that at some point switched from writing inspirational Christian literature for adults to doing DVDs and curriculum for children involving a 3D caterpillar and other assorted crawling critters, i.e. Hermie and Friends. (Wikipedia says that happened circa 2003. So...yeah...I'm on top of things...)

Anyway, once I got it all sorted out, I found out my mom's preschool is doing this really cool summer program where Hermie and Wormie come (in puppet form) and teach the kids Bible stories. And, of course, there are all kinds of fun activities and crafts that go along with each day's theme. It's based on the Splash curriculum by Max Lucado, but, knowing my mom and her creative teachers, I'm sure they've added their own fun twists!

Summer programs like this are a great way to give young children some structured (but playful!) time a few mornings a week, so parents can spend some time with older siblings who are out of school for the summer or just to get some errands done.

If you live in the Phoenix area, here's the info on Mom's Splash summer program:

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
June 1-19

3 1/2 (potty trained!) to just-finished kindergartners

Trinity Preschool & Kindergarten
Mesa, AZ

sign up/more info:

call the preschool at 480.834.9120

If you don't live around here, check out preschools and libraries in your area or give your local Parks and Rec Department a call.

So, what's fun in your neck of the woods this summer?

Photos: Hermie by b r e n t painting by merebearlandon girl by Pixzamillion phone by

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Is this summer?

Wind chimes singing, sky heavy with gray clouds, cool air fragrant with the scent of rain-soaked creosote bushes somewhere outside the city limits.

Doesn't sound much like May in Arizona, does it?

Just when we thought we were thoroughly in the grips of summer's oppressive heat, we are granted a lovely respite. Again, rain reminds me of grace.

Today is full - quoting for a t-shirt order, revising a web page, brainstorming marketing strategies and more. So I'm posting late and not posting the summer-themed post I'd planned. But it doesn't really feel like summer. And it does feel like a good day to contemplate rain and beauty and grace.

...I go to find the post where I talk about rain and grace and realize it was just this time of year. Maybe I shouldn't be so surprised at rain (or grace). Just thankful.

Photos by me. Taken just a few minutes ago.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Water safety beyond the pool fence

I thought we should have a theme for this week. And I thought it should be...summer! It's certainly hot enough here already, and there's plenty to talk about!

When it comes to water safety, I'm assuming you know the basics. The abridged version: children can drown in even a very small amount of water and in a very small amount of time, so watch them like a hawk and keep the pool locked down like Fort Knox. (Need more of a refresher? Check how this "How to prevent drowning" article from Mayo.)

One very practical tip that doesn't get a lot of coverage is simply teaching children some basic swimming skills. Knowing how to hold their breath, how to float, etc. can help keep them from drowning. (You still need to watch them like a hawk around water, though.)

My friend Becky is a swim teacher and she wrote this fabulous post about how to get your kids ready to learn to swim. It's amazing how young they can learn. But they can't learn if they're still freaked out about the water. So before you take them off to swim class (or take them to the pool yourself), there are some things you can do to prepare them - no pool required. You can read all about it here.


Photos by the Hubs and I.

Monday, May 18, 2009

On the menu: food phases?

Do you go through food phases? Sometimes I'm really excited about trying out new recipes. Other times, I'm on a quest to figure out the healthiest or most budget-friendly or quickest set of meals I can make in a given week. Then, there are times where I just don't want to think about it.

Like now. I haven't been really in the mood to fuss with food lately. Still planning, still cooking, just want to keep it simple and be done with it really.

So here's the plan this week. There are some gaps, because I haven't had a chance to check out the ads and see what veggies, etc. are on sale yet. But, in my experience, having even a skeleton of a menu plan is waaaaayy better than having to do the whole "yikes! What am I making for dinner?" thing every night.


  • Monday - corned beef, potatoes, cabbage
  • Tuesday - We'll be eating burgers and potato salad at a family get-together. I'm bringing some type of salad or side dish, but I haven't decided what yet.
  • Wednesday - angel hair pasta with chicken, kalamata olives, tomatoes, basil and lemon juice (borrowing some of the elements from this recipe)
  • Thursday - super easy rice and beans à la Jen at Conversion Diary
  • Friday - chicken sandwiches with black beans and cumin on whole wheat buns (this may have been on last week's menu, too, but we didn't get around to eating it) from the Flavors of the Southwest Cookbook
Happy menu planning! There's more at the Chive Talkin' Menu Plan Blog Roll.


Photo by me. (From a couple weeks ago when I was in a totally different food phase.)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Quick Takes: Open windows to epic oxymorons

Already another week has gone by somehow. The good news is it's time for 7 Quick Takes! So here they are, in the order they popped into my head this morning....

Our high temps this week have been in the 100's (today's supposed to be 101 F/38 C), but I'm grateful we still have cool mornings (for now). I can keep the windows open until about 9:30 or so. This morning there's no breeze, but I'm listening to the birds chirp away. And kids playing outside. Is the bus not here yet? Why do I hear kids? Oh, I think I hear its brakes now. Nope. Must've been the neighborhood shuttle. (Didn't stay long enough.) Hmmm....

Tonight is NU at the Heard Museum. The first 100ish people to the Women and Art discussion will get goodie bags with a really sweet Bold Avenue coupon in them. But I won't be there. Our friend Mariano, who got his PhD in things waaaay over my head last fall, will be walking/going through the official graduation ceremony tonight, so we're very excited to go cheer him on.

Last week I mentioned re-evaluating some things about the blog. One thing I've noticed is that as things got busy the last month or so, I feel like things here got a little more impersonal than I'd like. I'm hoping to change that. (I'm hoping I've already started.)

Thanks for the feedback on Trends & Topics. A couple people told me it was hard to understand what was going on, so I've worked on streamlining it and (hopefully) making it easier to glance through. The news headlines there refresh every 30 minutes. So if you like to keep an eye on the news, perhaps you'd like to make it your homepage--?

Ugh. The air conditioning just kicked on. (I had to go switch it from "auto" to "off".) So much for 9:30. C'mon breeze!

I don't hear any more kids playing now. The bus must've come while I was downstairs adjusting the thermostat and refilling my coffee.

The next PerPoTues will be June 9. The style is epic. But maybe we should call it "mini epic," since they don't have to be super long. Do you think that's an oxymoron?

More quick takes at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Are you ready?

I haven't really discussed the swine flu here much (if at all). The thing is I kinda felt like it was getting enough attention already. I did toy with the idea of a post on decorating face masks, but, by the time I was getting around to that, the (real or perceived) threat to North America was dying down.

This morning an article about the media and people's reactions to the swine flu caught my attention. On Exurban, Inc., Ted Villa wrote:

"One of the most interesting things to me has been the reaction to the 'pandemic' as defined by the WHO on places like Twitter: skepticism, lack of concern, some outright mockery. Meanwhile, compare this to some of the reaction in the print and broadcast media where it seems it’s time to stock the water, rice and beans and line up for the Tamiflu vaccination."
Good article. (And worth reading the rest of.)

But I'm wondering: what's wrong with stocking up on water and rice and beans? I mean, pandemic pandemonium aside, isn't it just generally a good idea to keep some of that stuff on hand just in case of...whatever?

I'll admit, we're not always so great about that emergency preparedness stuff around here. (My parents - good scouts who are very into Being Prepared - are cringing as they read this.) Maybe it has something to do with living in Phoenix. We don't have a lot of natural disasters here. No blizzards or hurricanes or earthquakes (if there's a biggie over in L.A. we might get a little swimming-pool-sloshing tremor, but those don't really count). So we tend to get a little lazy and put off filling the water bottles or stocking up on staples.

But hearing about how one of the world's biggest cities basically shut down because of a little teeny virus made me think. And, flu or no flu, I think we shouldn't be quite so reliant on being able to zip out to the store at any moment. You just never know.

So, we're gonna work on that. And I bet my dad could help us come up with a check list.


Photos by me. Apple pie filling bottled by Mom, who is most likely ready for anything.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What I learned from PerPoTues

Let's see if I can get this post typed up before I have to get ready to go to my dentist appointment. (Ugh.) (It's just a routine cleaning. But I think I'm still traumatized from getting fillings last time.) (Did I tell you about that? No, I think I was too traumatized at the time. I'll put it on my list of Stories to Tell You Someday.)

Anyway. I thought I'd share with you what I learned from yesterday's Perfectly Poetical:

  1. You like reminders in your inbox - not just on my blog and Twitter. I hesitated to email reminders 'cuz I didn't want to be annoying, but a couple of you have requested them. If anyone else wants an email reminder a week before June's PerPoTues, let me know (in the comments or via email).
  2. You like me telling you what to do. I know at least one more poem is on its way (it'll be posted in yesterday's comments), but, so far, there were more responses for that tricky limerick than this month's open-ended theme. So maybe I should work on being a little more bossy: Get to work on your epic poems STAT! (hee hee! That was fun!)
  3. Sometimes life just happens, and you don't get your poem posted. Yep. I get that. I still think you guys rock. :)
Ok, gotta go finish my teeth-staining coffee and then brush my teeth reeeeally well. Do stop back by yesterday's post, as more poems may pop up there throughout the week.

PS Sorry for the lack of photo. I took some cool ones of my toothpaste, but the camera won't talk to the computer for some reason this morning, and I don't have time to resolve their little spat right now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Perfectly Poetical: Your choice

Welcome to Perfectly Poetical Tuesday (PerPoTues) in its new spot, the second Tuesday of every month!

If you're new here, you're welcome to join in by writing a poem and posting it on your blog with a link to this post. Then stop back by, link up, and check out everyone else's poems!

You can read more about PerPoTues here.

This month's style: Your choice! You can write any type of poem you'd like this time around.

Next month's style: Epic - but I'm using the term (verrrry) loosely. Write about your everyday adventures (maybe tales of bravely fighting a mountain of laundry or squishing a scary bug--?) in a rhyming form that's more than six lines long, and we'll call it good!

Edited to add: The next Perfectly Poetical Tuesday will be June 9.

For now, let us know what your life's poem says.

[Here's mine, written in the poetry magnet genre. ;) ]


this world:
always hot, cold, warm.
ice is puddling.
seasons turn.
flowers take off.

i sing freedom eternal.


Photo and poem by me.

Monday, May 11, 2009

On the menu: week of 5/10/09

This week looks a little like last week.

Only I scanned the list crooked.

As usual, I've already done some switching around, and more might be on the way. There sure was last week. I didn't make the chicken or the tuna casserole I had planned, so they're up this week.

Here's the most current incarnation of The Plan:

  • Monday - soft tacos
  • Tuesday - pasta with cabbage, bacon, sage and onions (loosely based on this recipe)
  • Wednesday - garlic chicken and mashed potatoes
  • Thursday - tuna casserole (probably some version of this one)
  • Friday - maybe southwest chicken sandwiches with black beans
So what's on your menu? Let us know, then link up at the Chive Talkin' Menu Plan Blog Roll.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quick takes: Yesterday's post to the expected unexpected

    This week's Quick Takes:

  1. So what did you think of yesterday's post by the Hubs? It was The Little Stuff of Life's first guest post and the first blog post he's actually written, and I think he did a great job!
  2. I've really been wanting to go to the Desert Botanical Gardens while the Chihuly exhibit was there. Felipe's day off yesterday was the perfect opportunity. We went in the morning before it got super hot. We walked in just in time for a fabulous tour by a funny and informative retiree who's been volunteering there since the '60's, had lunch at the cafe, and then wandered around enjoying the plants and nature-inspired glass art. It was a beautiful place and a beautiful day. Chihuly's sculptures will be there through the end of the month, I would highly recommend you go if you can!
  3. While I'm recommending places you should go....the place to be tonight is the Urban Tea Loft in Chandler. My friend (and very talented photographer) Chanelle Richardson will have some of her fine art prints on display there. So from 6-8 p.m. tonight (5/8), you can check them out, say hi to her, eat and/or drink something delicious, and...yeah...all kinds of good stuff!
  4. Here's something you can do from anywhere: I have a new web project in the works that I'd love for you to check out! It's called Trends and Topics, and it pairs current news with relevant t-shirts. There's also a couple extra things like places to debate whether you think taxes should go up or down, or why you're a Mac or a PC. The headlines are updated every 30 minutes, and I'll be changing up the topics regularly, as well. I'd love to know what you think! If you have a suggestion for topics or products, you can email topics[at]boldavenue[dot]com.
  5. Things have been busybusy lately (as you've probably heard me mention some time or another), which is fabulous. Having work = good. But it also means I'm doing some serious thinking about time and that includes evaluating of this whole blogging thing. Not that it's gonna stop. But just thinking about how LSL should look in the months to come. I'll keep you posted, of course. Just wanted to give you a heads up.
  6. Are you working on your poem for Perfectly Poetical Tuesday yet? It relaunches this coming Tuesday, and the poem style is your choice this month. (But save those epic poems for June! ;) In case you're wondering, I wrote mine with the poetry magnets on my fridge.
  7. Today seems like it would've been a good day for the Mother's Day post that's rolling around and taking shape in my head. But I think I'll actually do it after Mother's Day. Since when do I do what you expect? ;)

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Edited to add: Chanelle's awesome art (see #3), which we did go see last night and confirmed its in-person awesomeness, will be displayed at the Urban Tea Loft through the end of May. If you're too far away to go see it, this is the next best thing to being there.

Meet the Hubs...

So you've heard about the Hubs. Isn't it about time he spoke for himself? I asked him to introduce himself, and here he is...

Hello. You can call me Felipe (aka the Hubs). I'm ditching work today so while I'm here Steph thought I should introduce her second half to the public: I like hiking, gardening, traveling, and reading (if you've followed this blog for a while you've seen the pictures). It's a good thing she does too. Maybe that's why we get along so well.

Considering this is my first ever blog post I will not post anything bombastic (for now). While I have the world as my audience perhaps I can share a few of my thoughts:

  • With the exception of the summer heat, I am beginning to think the deserts of Arizona are some of the most beautiful places in the world (and I've done a fair bit of traveling).
  • Steph got me The South American Table for my birthday last year. If you're not familiar with the cuisine of South America I recommend you find the nearest Peruvian restaurant and give it a go. Then go back again. It took me a while to appreciate food from this continent. There's so much to like: just imagine the best of Spanish, French, Italian, Creole, and Native American foods thrown together and you're just getting started. There's a lot that's similar to our food but then they'll throw in a common ingredient in an uncommon fashion and come up with something new and delicious (ex. a beef stew made from squash, peaches, and pears!!)
Thanks for letting me introduce myself, I look forward to doing some more blog posts in the future!

P.S. from Steph: Isn't he great?! "ditching work" he means it's his scheduled day off. :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Perfectly Poetical: Relaunched!

We had fun with Perfectly Poetical Tuesdays in April, didn't we? Too much fun, I think, to quit there. So....

Perfectly Poetical Tuesday is now a monthly event, and you're invited to join in!

About Perfectly Poetical Tuesday (a.k.a. PerPoTues):

  • Hosted the second Tuesday of the month at The Little Stuff of Life.
  • Each PerPoTues features a different poetic theme - either an actual poetic form (i.e. limerick) or poems in the style of a famous poet (i.e. Dr. Seuss).
  • You don't have to follow poetic forms to the letter. As long as your poem somewhat resembles the theme, no worries! That's why they call it poetic license, right?
  • Each PerPoTues, I'll announce the theme for the next one.
  • The topic/subject matter of your poem is up to you. (Just please keep it family-friendly, as we do have kids that participate with their parents.)
How to play along (assuming today is the second Tuesday of the month):
  • Write a poem in today's theme/style (announced the previous Perfectly Poetical Tuesday).
  • Create an original work on your own or get the kids/family involved. (Beyond that, please do not post another person's poem. Email stephanie [at] boldavenue [dot] com if you have questions about this.)
  • Link from your post to today's PerPoTues post.
  • Buttons are optional. But cool.
  • Visit today's PerPoTues post, leave your link and a comment.

Coming up:
  • May 12 - your choice! Maybe you missed out on the acrostic, limerick or Dr. Seuss poem in April and would like to write one this time around. Maybe you want to write a poem and don't want to worry about following a particular form. This one's up to you!
  • June 9 - epic poem. More on that next week! here!
Remember, every life writes a poem. Have fun telling us what yours says!