Red Lips and Rosy Cheeks {The Week in Me: Weeks 29-36}

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This was the summer of yes, the summer of sand and sunsets and ice cream and long-term memories. We did a lot in three months, yet it all went by so fast. My iPhone photos took me on a trip back, and these were some of the small moments that added up to a great summer. New York, New Jersey, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, work, so much work, camps, and the best concert I’ve ever attended, the one that turned me into a serious Swiftie. We have one more adventure planned before school begins, which means that while my friends are posting on Facebook about pumpkin spice lattes (blech), we’re headed to SoCal to wring the last little bit of fun out of this summer.

Here, There, Everywhere {The Week in Me: Weeks 4-17}

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Somehow this year, I have resisted the urge to type, but put that sign up on a typewriter and I just want to touch all of the keys at once, creating a horrific jam that always happened when typing too fast on my mom’s old typewriter. It would require untangling the keys, one by one, leaving my hands coated in black ink.

The craziness started when I last left off, which was right before Trixie ingested marijuana while at Dolores Park in San Francisco. We don’t know what she ate or how much, but by the time we took the picture of her in front of the mural, she was not able to focus at all. Tired puppy, we thought. High as a kite puppy, it turns out. After a few scary hours and time spent at the vet with fluid and charcoal tablets, she was fine. She’s still high maintenance, with skin allergies requiring a specialist and a special diet, but that has nothing to do with the marijuana. Oh, Frenchies, you aren’t cheap.

The year has plowed on, full of activity and lots of work. The fortunes came true with a big trip to five states, and an invitation to the Disney Social Media Moms conference next month (another state!). Everything is good, even with the hiccups of life. The hard part is not letting the moments rush by without pause.

We haven’t done any gardening yet this year, but this little tomato plant is determined to live. Some of the tomatoes went to seed at the end of last summer, and this guy burst forth in February. That’s what one needs to do to get attention around here.

Portland Road Trip: Cheese & Crack

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We’ve been back from Portland a few weeks, but last Saturday night we were looking for light food that we could take with us to sit outside. That’s when Kevin said we really need a Cheese & Crack. Everyone needs a Cheese & Crack.

Our first night in Portland, I had a list of food trucks to visit for dinner, opting to plan a traveling meal with different courses at different trucks, beginning with Cheese & Crack as our first start, serving as fancy appetizers. Not only was it the star of the night, we went back the next day for lunch. Each of us loved it, despite each person have strong likes and dislikes. It was easy to put together something for everyone, it was fun, it was really, really good, and it’s only $8 a box.

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Here’s how it works:

1. Pick one type of cracker. We chose between butter crackers, gluten-free rice crackers, and oatmeal cookies, and we always picked the butter crackers. Made by owner Will, these crackers are the crack. They are so good. We quickly had to count and evenly divide them to avoid the frantic grabbing for more.

2. Choose two items from the meat and cheese list. The menu at the time was a Mycella Blue, brie brulee, salami, cana de oveja, fromage blanc, garlic and herb curds, and sardine pate. The blue was amazing, and the brie brulee was out of this world. Oh my god out of this world. I think we tried everything, but the fromage blanc, and everything was a winner.

3. Choose three sides from olives, cornichons, dried fruit, seasonal fruit, pickled shallots, and house jam. I think we tried everything, but the dried fruit. Again, everything was awesome. The blue cheese with the pickled shallots was such a winning combination that we plan to make it at home.

4. Finally, pick from the “optional options.” We tried all three: honey, Dijon, and chocolate.

There is a picnic table to eat on site, which we did, with Cheese & Crack’s homemade sodas, which were as popular with our family. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the drinks. Over two days, we each had cherry and peach, both were good, but I think peach was the winner.

Location: SE 33rd Ave & Hawthorne Blvd, Portland. There is a sandwich board on the main street, but the cart is down the alley a little.

Tips for Taking Road Trips with Kids

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Road trips and summer naturally go together. Almost every vacation from my childhood featured my sisters and I – sometimes grandparents and other relatives, too – crammed into our Volkswagen van. This was a long time ago, where it was okay to walk around the car while it was moving or even better, let your kids sit on giant coolers, allowing more people to fit into the van. The road stretched on forever, especially because not one radio station could be found on the four button manual AM radio in the car. Those were long rides, and while I remember being bored, I learned about geography and it helped developed an awesome sense of direction. Flying to destinations sure is convenient and my family travels that way all the time, but we add road trips into the mix, as the best way to really see the country and get to know a place. With two weeks of summer left, we’re loading up the car to head north up the California and Oregon coasts.

Here are some of our best tips for a road trip with kids:

1. Charge everything. Make sure phones, iPods, Kindles, Nintendo DS, cameras, and anything else that runs on a battery is fully charged before you walk out the door. Then pack labeled chargers (label them just in case…). Bring a charger that can be used in your car, too, if you have one.

2. Download fresh entertainment. Get some new music, a few new books for the kids (paperback and electronic), some podcasts, and games. Discovering new entertainment is something my kids look forward to, and when the road gets long and attitudes are stretched, it’s a great time to trot out the new stuff.

3. Clean your car before you go. This seems odd because your car is going to quickly get dirty. Most people factor in a car wash post trip, but not before. If you are going to be practically living out of your car for awhile, start with a clean car. My kids thrash things so quickly that it makes me feel more relaxed when my environment is clean, including my car. Also, think about whether it’s time for an oil change or any other maintenance before you go.

4. Don’t pack everything. This is difficult because it is so tempting to throw everything you just may need into your car. Don’t. It makes it difficult to get out what you do need, it adds to weight in the car which decreases fuel economy, and if you are like me and insist on not leaving anything worthy of being stolen in your car, it means you have to unload and load a lot of stuff at each overnight stop. Plus, you want to keep room for fun treasures you find along the way.

5. Map out your route ahead of time to search for points of interest or fun stopping places along the way. GPS is great, and while we rely on that, too, our friendly voiced lady doesn’t tell us about the gorgeous Elk viewing area, and it’s too late to stop once we blow by it at 65 mph. Last year’s side trip to a drive thru redwood tree is something my kids still talk about excitedly. It was five minutes off of the main road on which we were traveling, but had we not know about if before, we never would have stopped.

6. Wear comfy clothes. I always have the kids dress in comfy shorts and t-shirts, and I make sure to have a back up set that is easy to reach. Spills happen.

7. Bring snacks, but don’t go overboard. My family can remember the one trip to Tahoe where I was sure we’d get stranded in the snow for days. They remember because they were sitting, wedged between granola bars, peanut butter packets, water bottles, and so much more. When not going into extreme weather situations, I pack a few snacks in case it turns out lunch is farther off than we thought or we get stuck in traffic. I don’t over pack because we tend to stop regularly for meals and pick up local specialties to go. (My kids are already planning their purchases at Voodoo Donuts in Oregon.) Also, Advil, hand wipes, Kleenex, and sunglasses for all.

8. Arm your kids with cameras! This is the best electronics gadget to give them. My kids love framing photos and trying to take pictures of what they see from their backseat vantage point. Usually, these turn out as blurry landscape photos, but sometimes they get great landscape photos, or fun family pictures documenting the trip. Most everything comes with a camera. My kids used to shoot with their Nintendo DS, but now they prefer the cameras in their iPods. Cameras help make the trip memorable for them as they get to document it all from their perspective.

Next summer, if I’m brave enough, we may head out on a multi-week, half-country road trip. I’ve already chickened out twice since coming up with the idea three weeks ago.

How to Make Everyone Happy on a Long Flight

This is how the kids fly:

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Nintendo DS, new books, candy, Tegu Blocks, a Pluto pillow pet I managed to wrestle into his backpack, and on Virgin America for TVs.

This is how I fly:

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Giants game, Pringles and Blue Moon. Best flight ever.