How I rescued The Pea's Cupcakes, or How I turned a Bad Morning into a Good Blog Post

I knew it was going to be a bad day as soon as one of the kids entered our bedroom and tattled on a sibling that had spilled milk all over the kitchen. Having to go downstairs to make sure everything was wiped up properly is not the way I want to be woken up. I warned my kids they'd better be on their best behavior from now on, as this was sure to keep me crabbers for the rest of the day.

What's in your pantry?

People love to post about all the junk that's currently in their wallet, purse, diaper bag, fridge, car trunk, closet, or any other storage space. This morning I checked my cupboard to see what I could whip up for dinner, and found myself wondering if most other families had the same things in their cupboards.

Here's what's in our cupboard today:

Birthdays, Boudoirs, and Bonggamom

Figuring out what to get Alfie for his birthday is not an easy task. Clothes? He prefers to pick them out himself. Music? Same thing. Gift cards? Too boring. Electronics and other big-ticket items require a joint approval, and birthday celebrants in our family always get to pick a restaurant for dinner anyway. Unless there's something I know he really, really wants, I usually just end up giving him a card and a kiss.

I know, how boring. So this year I decided to give Alfie a birthday present that's far from boring -- a set of boudoir photos.

Face Off: how to emphasize your best features and put your best face forward

This week, BlogHer is talking about Looking Your Best, and they've asked me to share my own tips for framing and showing off your face. I'm no expert, but I do happen to have less than perfect skin -- so I've come to rely on a few old standbys to help draw attention away from any breakouts I'm having, and put my best face forward. Here's what I like to do:

See soccer grow

As a soccer fan, it really makes me happy to see the way the level of soccer is improving in the US. Our women's national soccer team is ranked #1 worldwide, and our men's team has qualified for the last 6 FIFA World Cup tournaments in a row, making it to the 2nd round in 1994 and 2010, and to the quarterfinals in 2006. Frankly, Alfie and I think it's only a matter of time before the US wins the World Cup.

Racism rears its ugly head

The footballing world is in shock... earlier today, Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed in the middle of a game, seemingly from a heart attack. Paramedics rushed to the field to resuscitate him after he stopped breathing, then took him to the hospital, where he remains in critical condition. Needless to say, everyone was shocked and upset. The game was abandoned, and fans left in stunned silence.

I found out about Muamba via, where else, Facebook and Twitter. Friends, fans and football stars have been leaving messages of sympathy and support. Sadly, while I scrolling through the search results for "muamba", I found this:

Take The Pea's Mythconceptions quiz

The kids have borrowed the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records, and they are having the time of their lives discovering all the superlatives that exist in this world. They were somewhat disappointed that the picnic table that The Pea and I ate off, which qualified for the World's Longest Picnic Table last June, did not make it into this edition, but I told them they'd probably see it in next year's edition. In the meantime, they're getting a real kick out of announcing such trivia as the longest loaf of bread (3975 feet), the most expensive kind of truffle ($1350 per pound), the longest time a male can hold his breath underwater (20 minutes, 21 seconds).

The Pea even made a little quiz about some of the trivia she discovered from the book, and she asked me if I could share it with everyone. I'm somewhat chagrined to confess that I only scored a measly 40% on the quiz, but I'm happy to post The Pea's quiz below (and you can thank me for giving you a clue to question number 10!):

Mythconceptions: you don't know everything!!!!
1) What is the worlds tallest mountain?

Mount Everest

Mauna Kea

Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Mckinly

Good luck on her quiz!

What's blooming in spring fashion

Spring is just around the corner, and while a young man's fancy may lightly turn to thoughts of love, a young woman's fancy is more likely to turn to thoughts of.... fashion. Spring has always been my favorite season, and not just because of the longer days and green hills. I love being able to shed my bulky coats and show off my bare legs. I love that you can wear sandals and sundresses along with boots and sweaters.

How to entertain kids on a road trip: the tips no-one tells you

How do you keep kids occupied on road trips? That has to be the most boring, uninspiring, over-blogged topic ever. In case you don't know how to keep kids occupied on road trips, here's what you need:

Snacks. Treats. Drinks. Books. Toys. Videogames. DVDs. Music. Books on Tape.

Most parents with sense will have figured that out. All posts that address this topic (and OH there are many) list those items, because, well, that's what works. That's why it's a boring topic. And that's why I'm blogging about it today.

Homemade trail mix

Trail mix has got to be as close to the perfect snack as you can get. There's a reason why hikers and bikers and sailors and other intrepid explorers take it along on their hard-core, death-defying journeys. It's delicious. It's filling. It's a concentrated source of energy. It's healthy (for the most part, anyway). You can portion it according to the person's size and appetite. It's easy to pack and store. It stays good for a long, long time. Grownups and kids enjoy it. What's not to love?

Alfie through the years

Today is Alfie's birthday, so I thought it would be fun to feature some photos of him when he was a boy. He looks like he's about two in this photo. Looking at the color of his hair, you can sort of understand why The Pea came out blond, despite my dominant dark-haired gene.

The Big Reading Experiment: checking in

It's time to update you on the progress of the Big Reading Experiment that The Pea and I decided to undertake at the end of January. I'm proud to say that I've finished most of the books on her list -- and I even enjoyed quite a few of them! She assigned me first four books of Wendelin Van Draanen's Sammy Keyes mystery books, and I enjoyed them so much that I read the rest of the books. I also loved the Newberry Honor-winning Savvy, as well as its companion book Scumble. The Pea is quite crafty, really; she has pulled me into her reading world and she still has 4 open spots on her book list. She even got me to read Revolution is Not a Dinner Party and Waiting for Normal on the strength of her enthusiastic recommendations, without even adding them to her list. Not that she had to twist my arm too far; both books are California Young Reader Medal nominees for 2011-2012, and deservedly so.

Seven Days of Dinner, March 5-11

Alfie likes to say I'm a control freak, and I do admit that I, um, enjoy planning things out. That's one of the reasons why my Seven Days of Dinner experiment has been such a success. It feels good knowing that our dinners are all planned out for the week. But even though I've gotten lots of inspiration from blogs and websites like BlogHer, CityMama and This Week For Dinner, I've never actually followed any of their meal plans.