How to make a Lego minifigure case

When we moved 3Po and Jammy into their own room, we told them they could set it up and decorate it however they wanted.  Unlike The Pea, who has grand plans of wall organizers and posters and beaded light fixtures in her room, the boys asked for only 2 things:  they wanted their room to be green and blue (their favorite colors), and they wanted shelves to display some of their Lego Star Wars sets.  I found the coolest Lego minifigure display cases on Pinterest, so I decided to use them as inspiration to make some of my own. Here's how I did it:

Contemporary children's book series I love

The book that inspired this post, The Mark of Athena, is coming out on October 2, 2012.  If you need to contact me on October 2, please don't.  I intend to be home sick with a cold.

One of the best things about having kids is rediscovering the joys of children's literature.  I read voraciously when I was young, and my love of children's books has not faded one bit.  I can still lose myself in the books I read throughout my childhood, like The Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables or the Tintin comics, and there are many newer books that I love to read again and again -- Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Twilight, and so on.   I'm amazed at how many wonderful books have become available for kids since I was a kid!

To bike or not to bike?

When it comes to my kids' independence, I don't think I'm all that uptight . I have never been the type to hover over them at the playground; I preferred to sit on a bench and let them play on their own, and if they grazed their elbows or skinned a knee (or, during one memorable time, slipped, did a face plant on the metal stairs and got a black eye) themselves, well, all the better to learn their lesson the next time. As they grew older, I had no problem with drop-off parties, sleepovers or camping trips.

There's only area where I am completely paranoid, and that is letting them walk or bike to school by themselves.

Star Wars Miniland Experience at Legoland Windsor

If you're a parent to a boy 5-10 years old, chances are he's crazy about LEGO Star Wars. It's one of LEGO's most popular themes, and every day you'll find millions of little boys busy building speeders and x-wing fighters and AT-AT walkers and dreaming of flying through a galaxy far, far away.

Fortunately, you don't have to be Richard Branson or a former N'Sync boy band member to be able to afford a visit to the Star Wars galaxy.  You just have to visit your nearest Legoland* , where the Star Wars Miniland exhibit is wowing fans with their detailed models, massive sets and cool light and sound special effects.

How to make S'mores Pops

Fall weather has arrived, and even though we often find ourselves roasting during the day, the temperatures drop at night, so it's too chilly for a more enjoyable kind of roasting: roasting marshmallows for s'mores, that is.  But only wimps let a bit of cold weather get in the way of an ooey, gooey s'more, so we make them in the microwave instead.  I recently discovered an even better way to enjoy s'mores -- S'mores Pops -- so I decided to try them out myself.

What's for lunch?

I wish I could say that all my kids' lunches are this healthy -- garbanzo nuggets, broccoli spears, Snappea Crisps and dried pineapple -- but the truth is, I sometimes pack fairly junky lunches.  Leftover pizza.  Cookies.  Cupcakes.  Halloween candy.  Even (gasp) Lunchables!  Sometimes I was too lazy forget to stock up on healthy foods at the grocery store.  Sometimes I oversleep and resort to prepackaged foods.  Sometimes I just feel like surprising my kids with a treat.  When that happens, I just try to include a fruit or a vegetable, and tell myself I'll make up for it with a more nutritious dinner. Unless we go to In-N-Out :)

Overscheduling The Pea

Overscheduling.  All the parenting magazines and parenting experts and parent groups say it's bad for kids. Everyone says loading up on too many organized activities leads to too much stress and not enough family time.  Everyone yearns for the carefree childhood of long ago, when kids simply played in the yard all afternoon.

Everyone, it seems, except my daughter.

How to make a Halloween Treat Bag from Duct Tape

Halloween is just around the corner, so I'm keeping an eye out for fun, fab Halloween craft and decor ideas. This year The Pea is all about patterned duct tape -- she has been using it to create everything from wallets to hair ribbons.  So when Scotch duct tape sent me some Halloween-themed rolls, I decided to try my hand at creating a craft of my own.  I came up with cute Halloween gift bags.  Here's how to make them:

What's for lunch?

The kids aren't the only ones I pack lunch for; most days Alfie takes a packed lunch to work as well.  He likes it because he can eat while he works through lunch, which lets him leave the office earlier, and I like it because it saves money!  Most days I pack exactly the same lunch for Alfie as I do for the kids -- the only difference is that I leave the juice boxes, yogurt tubes and Dora the Explorer ice blocks out of Alfie's lunch.    One of his favorite lunches is  Branston Pickle and sharp cheddar cheese on buttered white bread; in this photo I served it with cucumber slices and plain chocolate McVitie's Digestive biscuits.  It's a very English lunch, and in case you need translation, "plain chocolate" means dark chocolate, and "biscuits" are cookies.

Things I must have for my next party

Last night I attended a friend's birthday party, and even though I didn't know too many people, I had an amazing time.  The celebrant really went out of her way to plan the perfect party -- people were entertained and well-fed, the conversation kept flowing and the smiles were in full force.  She thought of everything!  I made lots of mental notes about all the cool stuff that went on at her party, and added them to my wishlist of attractions for the next party I throw (whenever that may be). Here's my list of "party-tractions" that I think would make any party memorable:

What's in our lunch?

It has been a while since I've done a post about what we're having for dinner.  Although I'm happy to note that I've been really good about making most of our dinners from scratch, and about keeping us meat-free most days of the week, the truth is that I've found myself too lazy lacking the inspiration to post about it week after week.

A room of their own

When we first began thinking of adding a second story to our bungalow, The Pea was an only child.  3Po and Jammy weren't even a twinkle in Alfie's eye, let alone two.  So our plan was to add 2 upstairs rooms, one for The Pea and another for us.  I suppose we could have changed our plans once the boys were conceived and born, but we didn't really have the space or the money for the third room, so we decided to let all 3 kids share a room.

That's how it has been for 8 years.