So You Athletes Think You Can Dance? Yes, We Can!

Haka face paint

When friends and family think of my sons, the first words that come to mind are probably: IdenticalTwins. Soccer. Tough. Solid. Maybe Cello and Videogames and Drawing and Athletic. Maybe Dark Haired. I would add Handsome and Brilliant and Imaginative and Loving and a million other complimentary adjectives that make it obvious I'm their parent.

The Pea goes to Japantown

Japantown, SF
I'm proud to introduce my new guest blogger: The Pea!  She went to Japantown with her friend last week, and I bribed asked her to do a write up of her day trip because it has been years since I've been there. After reading her post, I can't wait to go back for sushi and stickers...

Hi! It’s the pea, bonggamom’s daughter, and today I’m going to be doing a guest review/travel document on Japantown, San Francisco. I went with my friend to Japan Center Mall in Japantown, and we had a really great time!

Show your DisneySide with a Mickey Paintball Party

Mickey Paintball party

The boys have wanted to try paintball for some time now.  They've always loved Nerf and laser tag, so I guess paintball is just the next step.  But I've always been hesitant because I've heard lots of stories about paintball being painful.  I've seen photos of bruises from paintball pellets and I've read stories of little boys sitting out birthday parties because they got hurt.

Fortunately, our local paintball place has a gentler option: Splatmaster, which features guns that release the paintball pellets at half the speed of regular paintball guns.  Since 3Po wanted to celebrate his 11th birthday with a paintball party, I figured Splatmaster would give everyone a good first experience while minimizing the bruises.  And since I had recently been selected to host a DisneySide party, I figured I'd combine the two and throw a Mickey Paintball party!  I was a bit nervous that the boys would think Mickey was a bit babyish, but 3Po was delighted with the idea. How could I have doubted?  The party was a big hit.  You're never too old for Mickey Mouse!

How to Decorate Mickey Paintball Rice Krispy Treats with Royal Icing Transfers

Mickey Mouse rice krispy treats

Any time there's a party in our household, there's a good chance that it's going to include rice krispy treats.  They're easy to make, they don't cost much, and we could eat them all day.  I knew I wanted to serve rice krispy treats at 3Po's paintball party/DisneySide party, but I didn't want to make another set of Mickey head rice krispy treats like I did at last year's DisneySide party. Fellow DisneySide blogger Dawn recently posted about how she uses waxed paper, buttercream, and an image printout to create amazing buttercream designs, and I decided to use that technique to create some royal icing designs to decorate my rice krispy squares. Here's how I did it:

How to throw a fuss-free Indoor Soccer Party -- Jammy's 11th birthday celebration

When I asked Jammy what kind of party he wanted to throw for his 11th birthday, his answer was immediate: a soccer party at Sports House, and indoor soccer venue.

"Okay," I asked.  "Let me get this straight.  You play soccer with your friends Every. Single. Day.  And for your birthday, you want to play..... More Soccer".



"Anyway, it's different. I want indoor soccer.  The ball just bounces off the walls, so it never goes out of bounds."

"Ahhhhh.... I get it".

Actually, I don't get it.  But it's his party, and  I tell my kids they get to alternate between "splurge" parties and "home" parties.  This year is a splurge party, so if indoor soccer is what he wants, that's what he gets.

To be honest, I like "splurge" party years because it means less work and less mess for me.  The party place takes care of the food, the entertainment, plates, the cups, utensils, napkins, goody bags. They do everything... well, not quite.  Hey, I'm still going to put a personal spin on it!

Disney DIY: How To Make a Mickey Paintball Bandana

Mickey paintball bandana

When you sign up for a paintball birthday party, you'll probably be told that the paint is washable, but you probably don't want to be wearing your best clothes. Recommended clothing includes long sleeved shirts, long sleeved shorts, close-toed shoes, and bandanas.

Since 3Po was celebrating his 11th birthday with a paintball party, I thought it would be fun to make bandanas for all his guests. And since we were giving the party a Disney theme, I decided to add a Mickey silhouette to the bandanas!  I bought 4 yards of plain white cloth, cut them into 20-inch squares, and hemmed the edges.  Then I stenciled the designs on with freezer paper.  Freezer paper stencil designs are so easy to do and the produce such great results.  I used freezer paper stencils to make Mickey shirts for last year's DisneySide party, and the project went so well, it was pretty much a given that I'd use the technique again this year.  Here's how I did it:

My 2015 Reading List

I love reading Young Adult novels.  I think it's my favorite literary genre (well, maybe fantasy is my favorite, but the two can definitely overlap!).  Some of the best books I've read over the past several years are ones recommended by The Pea (I've recommended more than few of my own favorites to her, but she is stubborn, and I'm pretty sure I've read more of her recommendations than she has read of mine). I still enjoy reading books from my childhood, and there are so many great YA novels that come out every year, there's always a huge list of books for me to read!  I haven't even finished reading all of the books on my 2014 To-Read List (although I've read many more that were not on that list, such as the Mortal Instruments series, the Blackwell Pages series, the Vampire Academy series -- yes, I succumbed -- and the Bloodlines Series), and I've already got a list for 2015!

This year, I'm using Time Magazine's list of the 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time as inspiration for my own To-Read list.  I know lists are always subjective, but based on the books on that list that I've already read (41 of them!), I'm going to trust their recommendations. Besides, many of the books on this list are ones that I've been meaning to read anyway!  Check out the list -- which ones have you read?  Which ones do you want to read? Do you agree these are the top 100 YA books of all time?

Ghirardelli Square Ice Cream Fountain

Ghirardelli Square

Ghirardelli Square is one of those tourist places that you know are touristy but you just have to visit.  After all, Ghirardelli Chocolate is as much as a culinary symbol of San Francisco as sourdough bread and clam chowder. Yes, it's touristy -- but that doesn't mean it isn't good!

Holiday Greetings from American Girl's Samantha

American Girl Samantha holiday card 2014

My annual American Girl holiday card is late -- but better late than never! This year's card features the newest member of our AG family, the adorable Samantha, who made a much-welcome comeback to the historical doll line in 2014. Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season!!

Check out my American Girl holiday card for 2013
Check out my American Girl holiday card for 2012

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Easy Holiday Stocking Stuffers

Today is Boxing Day, and after all the craziness of Christmas Day, you finally have some time to take a deep breath and do everything you meant to do before December 25, but didn't have the time for!  Here are 3 fun holiday crafts you can do with your kids -- and you can gift the results at your next holiday party!  (where I come from, the holiday parties last all the way till January, so it's totally not too late!).