really breathe this time

By Tara Zandra | February 18, 2014

When last I left the blog, I had ranted about Friday. I had intended to talk about my lovely weekend. Guess I needed to get the bad off my chest first.

For most of the weekend it was just me and the Wee Miss. Hmm, she’s 9 now, she might need a new nickname. But she’s still more wee than the big kid so we’ll stick with it.

So we spent the weekend hanging out together. The first thing we did was work on her sewing. Daisy has been expressing an interest in hand sewing for a while now and we found some kits at Michaels. She ended up going with a cupcake- we’re all aware of her fondness for stuffed “animal” food. It’s precut felt, plastic needles, and holes already in the felt- perfect for a first timer! Other than tying knots she did it all herself and was quite pleased.

We then got dressed and went to Target so she could spend some gift cards. When we were home, of course we opened the new toys. We spent time apart while she played and ate and then we worked on her new Goldieblox dunk tank kit. Other people then came home so it was no longer just us.

But Sunday morning was back to Mommy and Me time! We went to Toys R Us and the mall, then Krispy Kreme and Lowes. When we came home it was time to paint! We worked on the cabinet in the laundry nook in the garage. It was ghastly, but now it’s yellow and gray. I didn’t really take before pics because that is not an area anyone needs to see. I’ll share after pics once the whole area is done- maybe another month. It will still look like a corner of a garage, but at least it’ll look like a slightly nicer corner of a garage.

After painting we hung out in the playroom. I built Legos for her (she’s not interested in building, just playing with the finished product), we had dinner together and eventually it was bedtime.

The loveliness carried over into Monday, which was also heavenly, though I had two kids once again (even nicer!).

It felt so good to have these past three days of zero obligations. Everything I did was my own choice with no chance of disappointing anyone if I didn’t do something. I really needed that. It was like hitting the reset button.

Here’s a picture of my cutie-patootie getting ready to paint. She had to kneel on the washer and dryer to do it.


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By Tara Zandra | February 16, 2014

Friday sucked- not in a Valentine’s way, but in a we had full makeup and dress rehearsal that lasted an hour longer than I was told, I felt berated for something that was not my fault, my kids were cranky, one of them could not breathe and had to drop out of rehearsal which also made me feel like I was being looked down on, the child who could breathe was snippy to me more than once, I got the makeup wrong on my kids, the hair wasn’t quite right and not only was I not on my A game, I think it was more my G game. Two kids, 7 dances, 9 costumes= 1 beat mama.

I don’t like to complain about dance. I mean, I do in a joking way in that we are there for hours every week, but I am joking because we choose to do this so clearly we can’t complain about it. And in general, I am very thankful for our studio. The good far outweighs the less than good. My kids really love it and the teachers are all very nurturing while also challenging. It’s a great fit for us.

But Friday, dance sucked, and I was not feeling warm fuzzy feelings about upcoming classes and competitions I can tell you that.

Then I go home and Chris met me with a serving platter and a cut out heart and he was dressed in a coat and tie. Why? To mimic what is possibly my most favorite card ever.


It’s not even a real card! It was just a graphic he sent me on Valentine’s 2013, but I so love it. It gets even creepier the more you stare at it. He freaks the kids out so of course I printed it and cut it out and it is prominently displayed on my craft table.

So yeah, Chris dressed up and gave me a heart on a tray and I promptly burst into tears (burst may be a bit strong, but tears did flow). I was so done and knew I still had a couple hours of sewing ahead of me. Oh, and for good measure, we had an extra child for the weekend.

You know, this post wasn’t supposed to be about all that. But it’s out there and I think I’ll leave it. I’ll get to the good stuff next time.

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By Tara Zandra | February 12, 2014

Our annual Valentine party hostess let us know that she could not put it together this year. I’m always swamped with birthdays and this year I’ve also got more dance obligations and let’s throw in sewing a costume- there was no way I was hosting the party.

But I felt bad and really wanted to do something at least for the little kids. Tabitha gave me her blessing.

And so I found myself playing hostess to six kids ages 5-9 today and I pulled it together in 4 days time. Because that makes perfect sense in my brain somehow.

I love planning so that was all good. Pinterest helped as did a handy mailbox kit in the dollar aisle at Target. Friends also lent their support so it wasn’t solely on me.

First we painted salt dough heart ornaments (those were provided by a friend). Next we constructed our mailboxes and had great fun learning how to use tape properly. I didn’t think it was a skill until I had to help this many kids at once. They partnered up though and were able to help each other.

Next we played a bean bag toss game for a bit and then I took them one by one to deliver their Valentines to the mailboxes. I had made a mailbox for Tabitha so each of the kids gave her a Valentine too. She really likes these kids so I figured she’d appreciate it. They enjoyed sharing the cards with each other after they were all delivered. Our emphasis was on simple and not treat bags. I was happy to see completely homemade cards (even if my kid’s were from a kit- she still made them!).

Tabitha then took the kids outside for a heart scavenger hunt she had set up earlier in the day. Meanwhile, I put lunch together. Once they were back and washed up, it was time to eat.


Heart shaped quesadillas, strawberries cut into hearts, pretzels, raspberry lemonade, and heart cookies (provided by a friend). I also couldn’t resist the large paper straws and there was more than one child who mentioned liking them. They oohed over the various shapes and decorations and frankly, it made me feel good like it was all worth the trouble I went to.

After lunch they made a Valentine’s card for their mom and dad and then we made owls out of toilet paper rolls. Lastly they played Hot Valentine (hot potato but with heart bean bags I whipped up). They enjoyed the heck out of the bean bag games and it’s too bad we didn’t even get to the other two I had planned.

All in all it was a great day. I gave them a wand party favor that Daisy and I made yesterday and ended the party.

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By Tara Zandra | February 10, 2014

Birthday season is done for another year! We had Daisy’s party on Saturday and it was A-dorable! We went to a party place and they do a rockstar theme. The girls dressed up, had their hair and makeup done, did a fashion show and sang karaoke. Very fun! One thing I thought was wonderful is no two hairstyles were alike- and we had 10 girls! Here’s Daisy’s style, which I thought was lovely.


Sunday it was off to Six Flags for Tabi’s party (it was postponed from 2 weeks ago due to her illness). She took 4 friends with her and as best as I can tell, they had a blast. She had one friend who rode everything with her, one friend who rode most of the stuff, and then the 2 friends who never met before but bonded over their shared fear of roller coasters. Chris and I spent the day there as well with Miss Daisy who is intent on facing her fears and rode stuff that I won’t ride. I don’t know how she does it, but kudos to her.

Today I rhinestoned dance costumes, prepared crafts for a Valentine’s party, ran errands, ran more errands, squeezed in dinner out with the hubby, made a prototype of a prop for dance, cleaned a bit of the garage, oversaw Daisy’s thank you cards and Valentine’s cards and made 6 bean bags. I filled them with actual beans because I didn’t know what else to use and I needed them to have heft and not just be stuffed with fluff. It seems less than it felt like now that I’ve typed it out, but I think it’s because I still did regular household and child-related stuff as well.

Anyway, I feel good about what I have accomplished and am on track for finishing the rest. Come Saturday I will be able to breathe. I have the whole weekend to pretty much do whatever I want as it will just be Daisy and I are on own for most of it. Maybe I’ll actually manage to pick up some crocheting (pipe dream!).

One more pic of Dee, this is her pose for the fashion show at her party.


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By Tara Zandra | February 6, 2014

Today I was behind a work truck that had its company name, logo, and phone number on the back. It was faded rather badly on the left so it wasn’t easy to make out but it struck me as beautiful for some reason. I want to find things and places in disrepair and take pictures of them. That would be an odd thing to search out on weekends, and goodness knows we have zero free-as-a-bird time, but I can dream.

Today was a bit about regrouping. I didn’t work on my projects, but I worked a bit on the disaster that is known as the living room.

I also helped Daisy more with her roller skating because I do happen to have my priorities straight. Fun fact (that many probably know): I took a roller dancing class when I was about 8 years old. Alas, it was not helpful in my trying to teach Daisy how to skate because I don’t remember learning that part. I remembered how to stop so taught her that first thing the other day. But I couldn’t even remember how to start off.

Youtube to the rescue!

We watched a basics video and then she did real well before she got tired of it. One thing about her, she’s got perseverance so she’ll keep working until she succeeds.

It rained this afternoon and continued into the evening so I guess we’re not going to park tomorrow. Though I feel bad for Tabitha and I’ll miss my friends, it feels like a gift of an extra day.

Today’s picture was taken on our vacation last month. It’s from the day we went to Islands of Adventure and is, of course, Hogwarts.


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Short and sweet (like my Dee)

By Tara Zandra | February 4, 2014

Daisy turned 9 today. When Tabitha was on the verge of turning 9 I had a mom-crisis of her getting too old for so much. And perhaps she was as she has always been a bit mature. But Daisy doesn’t seem that old.

Baby of the family syndrome I guess.

Here she is this morning after opening her Kit doll from American Girl.


And just because, here’s when she was born- I think this is actually the next morning so about 12 hours old.


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By Tara Zandra | February 2, 2014

Title of the post comes from the picture I was going to share. It’s two scoops of ice cream side by side and Daisy topped each one with a cherry so naturally, b00bs was the first thing that came to my mind. From the looks of Chris giggling, he clearly thought the same. But my picture does not do it justice and it’s kind of weird and well, no picture today- just a story on how I’m apparently still 12 (except at 12 I would have been far too embarrassed to use the word b00bs or any word referencing any sort of body part. Because preteen bodies= gross).

Last night Tabitha attended a masquerade ball thrown by a semi-local homeschool teen group. It’s the first event of theirs she has attended and it went pretty well. She definitely looks forward to future events. Though she attended dances previously with a different program, this one was more formal so it was fun to shop for a dress and heels and such. Okay, I overcame my laziness and took the pics off my camera. I still won’t share the ice cream one, but here’s my Tabi ready to go to the dance.


Life tends to be a series of ups and downs, of course. I understand it’s a yin and yang and we need one to balance the other. None of my downs the week have been bad, but I also foresee more consistent downs than ups in the coming week. I’m also experiencing some frustrations with current projects that are time sensitive and important to others. I feel a lot of pressure not to screw them up which is leading to fantastic levels of procrastination in order to avoid possibly screwing them up.

Now, picture a spinner from a game and each sector is something that needs to be done. In my current case, each sector is equal in size if we use size as a correlation to importance. But the spinner is just spinning around and around and won’t stop anywhere and if it won’t stop, nothing will get done.

That’s how I feel all the time right now. I worry about all the new worry lines I’m putting in my forehead and frankly, after last year’s illness-palooza, I don’t think I can afford more lines.

None of this is to say I feel unique and oh poor me. I’m merely explaining why a lot of my posts these days may seem like I’m not even trying. I’d rather half-ass the posts instead of disappearing though.

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just one of those days

By Tara Zandra | January 31, 2014

Overslept, ran around and around for errands, forgot silly things, was late (twice), felt off my game as the resident “dance mom” (I kid!), power was out- just lots of things that added up. There’s more, but I gotta stop sometime.

I did take care of a few projects so that makes me happy. We got fabric for a skirt I need to sew, I mounted a picture for the laundry nook, and made a dance accessory box purtiful. I tried to do the other child’s box, but found out the lid is broken so I’ll need to return it first. Oh I also went to purchase heavy ceramic bowls for the bunnies and they are in the shape of cabbage. Cute! Made my day, as silly as it is.

The children had a good day at their friends’ house though. They got to go exploring on a nature walk. It’s nice when their friends are sisters too, especially when the ages line up so beautifully. Though we’re losing these friends soon to a move so that’s kind of sad. We’ve known them forever it seems, we’ll miss them.

These pictures are from our day at Animal Kingdom two weeks ago. The first is a giant hippo. The second is to prove that hippos look like naked mole rats.



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day 2 of this week

By Tara Zandra | January 28, 2014

Things have not been going as planned around here due to an illness. A party has been postponed, classes canceled, and general laying around by the ill one.

But it’s not me and I was productive as hell today. I literally got down and scrubbed the floor of the hallway bathroom on my hands and knees. Took me an hour and you know what? Linoleum from the 70s just can’t look good in 2014 no matter how hard you scrub. I mop it pretty regular but it never looks really clean so I figured a superty-duperty scrubbing was in order. Since it looks roughly the same as when I started, I’m a little cheesed that I wasted my time and also my knees have not forgiven me yet. I think it’s finally time to update that room and I need to look into finding a tile person.

Oh I know, I was going to write about sensory memory.

When I was a kid, my paternal grandparents lived on a farm in the state of Washington. When I was 3 years old, my great-grandmother took me to visit them during the summer. Eventually this changed into me flying to WA by myself every summer to visit my grandparents. That occurred practically every year through age 16.

It wasn’t a large farm in that it was just for them. A few heads of cattle, a dozen chickens and a couple ducks, and decent size vegetable garden made up the acreage. The neighbors next door had a couple horses and pigs as well and it was a fairly rural area at the time.

I started my days gathering eggs for breakfast and ended with picking vegetables for dinner. Idyllic in many ways. There were always dogs and barn cats as well and when I visited sometimes I would get a pet for the summer. One year I had ducklings and a couple years I had a rabbit. Never did get that pony that I begged for every single year :)

I spent my days out in the woods at the end of the pasture or up in the hayloft of the barn. Sometimes I hung out in the attic poking around or I would wander the greenhouse in awe. They were good summers and as I always looked forward to them, I like to think I knew enough to appreciate them in the moment.

After dinner it was feeding time for the cows which consisted of my grandfather calling the cows home (that’s a thing!) and hoisting a couple bales of hay into their feeder.

This brings us to my sensory memory. As I’ve shared here, we currently have two bunnies whom I dote on and adore. We make sure they have an abundance of fresh hay every day. When I got out to feed them or when the sweet smell of hay wafts through an open window on a breeze, I’m taken back to my summers on the farm. They are such pleasant memories and I cherish the times they are brought back to me. I love getting that little reminder of my childhood on a daily basis.

I don’t have a picture of me on the farm in my possession, but here I am around 6 months old being held by my grandfather. Notice his coffee cup on the side table. Coffee is another scent that I will forever associate with my grandparents- though I am not nearly as fond of it as I am hay :)


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checked off

By Tara Zandra | January 24, 2014

Had an abundance of things I put on my to-do list today and though I did not finish, I think it’s because I was too ambitious. Also, one item took about 2 hours and I anticipated 20-minutes tops.

I also got a tad distracted trying to figure out how to redo my laundry, um, lets go with nook- sounds better than “corner of garage.” First I scrubbed the area down, which was on my to-do list, then I decided to quickly look up “laundry art” and then I decided I needed a poster here, and a magnet there and next thing you know, an hour on the internet and time for lunch. And if I’m already eating lunch, might as well check facebook and crush some candy, right?

I’m going back to I was just too ambitious for the day, it makes me feel better about the unchecked items :)

But I also got my desk completely cleaned out and I took care of regular chores and then the 2 hours task so I really did get a decent amount of stuff done before doing the dance class run.

I had a terrific headache before dinner so I took a hot bath to help ease it, but dinner also made me nauseas so I’m currently waiting for the Tums to kick in. That appears to be a lost cause.

Today’s picture is from our first night in Disney World. We explored Downtown Disney and one stop was Goofy’s Candy Co. So this photo is appropriately titled “Kid in a Candy Store.”


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By Tara Zandra | January 22, 2014

Just got back from 11 days in Disney World. Tomorrow we return you to your regularly scheduled irregular blogging :)

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Me and my girl

By Tara Zandra | January 10, 2014

Dee and I had some time just the two of us yesterday. We went to the bookstore, which is always a fun endeavor, then made an impromptu stop in a bakery for some morning goodies. Eventually we had to stop wandering the shopping center and go to Target for real stuff, but it was lovely while it lasted.

Then today I had neither child. Which is good as I had boring errands with the bank and the post office. Throw in the DMV and it would have been the boring errand trifecta!

Actually I went to Target again too. Yesterday Daisy and I tried to exchange her new bathing suit, but we were at a different Target than the one where it was purchased. They had swim suits in the misses section but none in the girls. Can’t imagine why. So back to yet a different Target today and they had them out, as they should. The cashier said to me how odd it was they were selling bathing suits in January. So I pointed out that I was buying one because we needed it so I was glad they were selling them. “Oh yeah,” she said. I mean, it’s expected to be 81 on Tuesday here, why wouldn’t they sell swim suits year round?

Not that 81 means much to me, somehow I’ll still manage to be cold.

Here’s a picture I took yesterday of my Dee watching the fountain. Yes she’s in a sweater and fuzzy boots. Yesterday was a cool 68. Up until about 20 minutes after I took this and then she was sweating.


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By Tara Zandra | January 9, 2014

I was going to share a Daisy story and then I abandoned ship. I don’t even know if I can do it justice now.

When last we left my blog, I mentioned we had spent two of the longest hours ever at Disneyland. If you follow me on Instagram or are a facebook friend, you might have seen a picture of Daisy with the Dapper Dans.

While we were watching them sing, they approached the boy next to us to see if he would volunteer. He declined and they took Daisy up instead. The fact that she willingly went is amazing enough. Afterwards she told me she was hoping the boy wouldn’t do it so she would get picked.

That is pretty much a miracle.

This is the child who has sat on a bench in the front row while every other child joined in some pre-show fun at California Adventure. When they asked her to join in she said, “I’m good.”

This is the child who one year ago was chosen by a hand bell choir member to ring some jingle bells. She looked pained the entire time and was mad about it afterwards.


But this year, finally! She was picked, she smiled, they dressed her like a snowman and she looked happy! They said dance- she danced. They said dance faster- she tap danced. They said take a bow- she curtsied.

I mean come on! If I told anyone who knows her that a child got up and did those things, they would guess a hundred other children before my Daisy. At the end she told me she is getting over her “Disney stage fright.”

So here’s to many more opportunities to see her participate in Disney shows and stuff :)

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By Tara Zandra | January 2, 2014

So today the girls and I went to Disneyland.

During winter break.

It sucked. We couldn’t even walk but glued ourselves together and could only shuffle along and pray we’d make it.

We lasted less than 2 hours.

But there was good! The whole reason we went was for Tabitha to get a case for her iphone. I had told her she could get any one she wanted and for her that meant one from Disneyland. That accomplished we went off in search of fun, adventure, and Daniel Radcliffe!

True story.

Tabitha saw him and it was definitely him as not only did it look just like him, but she heard him talking and it was him. So Daisy and I sat on a bench while Tabitha ran all over Adventureland and New Orleans to see him just one more time. She wasn’t successful but once was enough to fill her fangirl heart.

While she was gone, Daisy was eating a giant pickle and I snapped pictures, as I tend to do.

She started cracking up and asking me why I would take pictures of her wiping her face off and I got one that is so natural and pure. When she poses for pictures she tends to put up a guard and her expression doesn’t radiate joy. This one does, I think.


Tomorrow I’ll tell you a story about Daisy. I already typed it up once tonight and it erased itself before I could publish. I don’t feel like repeating myself yet.

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By Tara Zandra | January 1, 2014

I am so happy to usher in this year.

14 is double 7 so it must be extra lucky. Not to mention not only will both Chris and I turn 40 this year, but come May, we’ll celebrate 20 years together and I will have officially been with Chris for half my life.

Very cool :)

Last night was wonderfully fun, as always. We danced, we sang, we ate. Man did we eat! I wanted to make so many things and there was so much food I eventually had to decide not to cook two dishes just so we wouldn’t be up until 3am eating! As it was, Tabitha went to bed feeling less than wonderful, but we’re not sure what it was. She did not get sick, but apparently she feels that was a miracle. But she’s fine today and has been eating semi-cautiously to be extra sure.

Chris and continued getting stuff done in the organization process of the home. We finally broke down and bought a portable closet for the garage to house all the dance costumes as well as Daisy’s off-season clothes. Her closet is small and her wardrobe is large. I just love to dress this kid :)

Not much else for to report for today. We’ve gotten through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chris’s birthday, Christmas, and New Years. Next up is a big thing and then immediately into both girls’ birthdays. At that point, we can relax for awhile (though we’ll then start competition season which is anything but relaxing).

Today’s picture is of various foods I made for last night put together in a handy-dandy collage, thanks to my handy-dandy iPhone.


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By Tara Zandra | December 29, 2013

Some kind of home bug hit.

We set up a an easier recycling system in the garage.
We had new mattresses delivered today.
We put a TV in the bedroom (haven’t had one in there since Dee was born).
We put together a new DVD/Blu-Ray rack.
Chris got a mini-fridge for the garage to keep his craft beer.
I bought a colorful rug for the dining room.
There’s the TARDIS in the living room, of course.


This was Daisy’s Christmas gift to Tabitha. It’s about 5-feet tall (Tabi must be slouching in the pic since she’s 5′ 7″) and pretty wide. I had intended for it to go in the corner of the living room for the next few days, but man is it big! Especially when it’s opened up. When I was done putting it together, the girls immediately grabbed pillows and watched a Doctor Who episode inside. Eventually the shifted to playing Mario Kart together as Daisy now has a 3DS. It was some good sister time, though loud and screechy because- girls.

Chris also took down all of Christmas today. We haven’t even come close to finishing putting away the new stuff, but we’ll make it happen over the next week. We need to reevaluate a lot of the toys in the playroom (much to Daisy’s dismay).

Chris has been home since 11am on Christmas Eve- I’ll be sad to have him gone tomorrow.

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Or not a relaxing day

By Tara Zandra | December 28, 2013

Just reread my Christmas post and it says that tomorrow (which is now two days ago) would be a relaxing day- ha! Chris and I were running all over the place and relaxing definitely did not happen. We had two returns, bought a new mattress, a stop at my mom’s, another stop, my in-laws’, and Target. That isn’t a super ton, but this was spread out over a giant circle which had us driving all over the place so when we got home I was D-O-N-E.

Yesterday we headed out to Hollywood to watch Frozen at the El Capitan. The last time we saw a movie there I said “Never again!” But I drive to Hollywood at least twice a month now and it’s fine. Plus Tabitha really wanted to go to the Disney Soda Shop. First of all, the soda shop is now Ghiradelli which is fine except we already have access to a Ghriadelli inside California Adventure so it’s not really a novelty to us. Also, there is a huge difference in driving to Hollywood and driving on Hollywood Blvd. Dear lord it was horrible and of course once you are out of the car it’s even worse. Between the crushing crowds and the ridiculous people dressed as characters, and let’s not forget the zealots chanting with bullhorns, well we’re back to “never again!”

But at least the movie was really wonderful. I had a few very minor issues with the storyline because it wasn’t logical, but I guess they blew their budget on the animation as opposed to the script. Plus I know this movie has had problems over the years. I will say though that sitting there watching a movie about two sisters with my two girls who are amazing sisters, it was a little emotional. I’m definitely getting Daisy an Anna costume and Tabs is willing for an Elsa costume (guess I’ll have to make it) but we’re unsure when it would be of use except maybe at the Disneyland Halloween party. But she usually wears her regular costume for that so we’ll see.

Anyway, the movie was 3D and the drive home was bad and the headache that ensued was not pleasant. I was nauseous, every sound was excruciating, and it felt like all my innards were doing their best to push their way out. Eventually the meds did their job but it all left me exhausted and I was falling asleep on the couch at 10:15 so gave up and went to bed. I feel good this morning though so let’s hope tonight I’ll be better company.

This winter scene was on both sides of the theatre. We were sitting in the balcony so it was easily seen.


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’twas a good one

By Tara Zandra | December 25, 2013

We had a perfectly lovely Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We were at my in-laws’ last night for the annual party. We finally tore ourselves away at 11:30pm and that was only because we knew we had quite a bit of wrapping ahead of us. Chris was very, very tired so I decided to do it all myself; it was after 2am before I fell into bed.

But the children slept past 8am and the big one was actually the one up first! Guess she was excited. That excitement did not abate when she saw that Santa left her the 7 season Blu-Ray set of Doctor Who. Her high mood really hit a fever pitch when she unwrapped her iphone :)

Daisy received the Monster High doll she had asked Santa to bring her. It hasn’t been sold since 2011 so Santa (who may have resorted to ebay) was her last hope. Her other big thing was a 3DS XL.

Eventually we made our way back to my in-laws’ for family time. We stayed a few hours and at one point I was laying on the floor playing a new game with Daisy and everyone else was looking over gifts and generally relaxing and my piano Christmas playlist was on and really, it was probably the most perfect moment. I associate music with everything and I’m always trying to get the Christmas playlists just right. This moment was it. Now if I could just get the party music like I envision.

Once home it was just playing and some cleanup and Tabitha did watch the Doctor Who regeneration episode. We had a very late dinner and Daisy went to bed late. I think the rest of us have about another hour in us before we need to crash. I will not be setting an alarm tomorrow and we have zero plans so it should be a relaxing day.






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The spirit

By Tara Zandra | December 23, 2013

Really enjoying the holiday season this year. It’s the first time all year that I’ve felt relaxed and not really stressed about anything. Perhaps having all the crap this year has made me appreciate a bit of boring normalcy and realize not everything is that important.

Or maybe I’m getting too old to give a shit. Either way, I’ll take it.

We’ve caroled, we’ve made a ton of goodies that we gave away, we spent an entire weekend at Disneyland and stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel. We’ve added homey decorations to the usual stuff and watched a lot of Christmas shows. We’ve played Christmas music so much that I actually think I’m a little tired of it.

All in all, I think I’ll be really sad when it’s over- I’m in no hurry.

But I’m also excited as all get out for everyone to get their gifts. I think I’ve picked some good ones this year for Chris and the girls. Got a good one for my father-in-law and sister-in-law as well (at least I think so).

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and for the first time since 2005, Chris has to work. But he only has to work a half day and since he goes in super early, he’ll be off super early. I’m planning brunch and there will be goodies throughout the day. Eventually we’ll head to my in-laws’ for the evening.

Christmas Day will be a tad different as my mom and sister went out of town (the nerve!). But that just means it will be a slower day and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Love is all around, as is the Christmas Spirit.

Obligatory shot of the ferris wheel reflecting in Paradise Bay.


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Holiday House Tour

By Tara Zandra | December 20, 2013

I’m participating in a virtual Holiday House Tour put on by Jen on the Edge. It was a natural fit since I usually share photos of our decorations. To see the other houses on the tour you can go to this page.

We’ll start with the front door area.


To the right of the door are our received Christmas cards. I know it’s a dying act, but I do so love to send and receive cards every year.

Still in the entry way, this is my display on top of the divider looking into the living room. The gingerbread house plays the Nutcracker Suite. Originally I had envisioned 3 candy dishes and searched thrift stores for what I wanted. I found the one candy dish and then liked how it looked without being a grouping. Unfortunately, I still haven’t made it to the candy store this year to fill it with ribbon candy. Definitely on the list for next year!


Off the entryway is the living room.


The paper chains were made by the girls at the beginning of the month. I really love how they add to the room. As this is a functional room, on the floor you can see our Christmas puzzle we’ve been working on. Also, there’s a tray that holds Tabitha’s bead work for bracelets she’s making for friends.

Same view of just the lights.


Close ups of the fireplace area with a basket of Christmas books and another of stuffed animals. This is where we keep a few Christmas toys like a wooden Santa’s Workshop and a bucket of indoor snowballs. Also is a close up of Tabitha’s tree.




A close up of the real tree and also the top of one of the bookcases.



At the other end of the living room we have our Little People display. Tabitha sets it all up perfectly and Daisy spends the rest of the month playing with it however she wants. It’s a good system.


Next we’ll move into the dining room. This is where Daisy has her tinsel tree and also her Playmobil set from last year’s advent calendar.



In the kitchen I have lovely gingerbread displays and a welcome mat.






Even the bathroom is not immune from my decorating.


And that completes the tour. Thanks for looking :)

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By Tara Zandra | December 12, 2013

Yeah, I know today is Thursday, but I took pics on Monday and we did stuff. So here ya go.

So the thing about my Daisy is she has never mothered a doll. She doesn’t play house. She doesn’t particularly like babies and has more than once mentioned the only reason she will have a husband is so someone will keep the babies quiet and change their dirty diapers. This only applies to human babies. She mothers stuffed animals and her dollhouse is an orphanage for baby animals (Calico Critters to be exact). And yet, on Monday, this happened.


Those are crochet Doctor Who dolls (crochet by me, to be exact). They are human and named Tenny and Smithy (for David Tennant and Matt Smith). Daisy took them from Tabitha, decided they were 4 and 5 years of age and became their mother. She treated them like babies, despite their pre-school age, my guess is she was avoiding the diaper years. So at 8 years old, she finally played mother and baby.

Moving on! Picture of my cat for no reason at all.


Cookies were baked by Tabi.


We went tree shopping.

Too big!

Too small!


That’s the one!!

Gotta put on the important ornament.


And finish off with the star!


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Santa came early

By Tara Zandra | December 8, 2013

Over the last two days I spent 6 1/2 hours driving my children to and from birthday parties. That is not what I call a good time.

Today Daisy kept saying it was Christmas and eventually also said that Santa left us each something. I didn’t really pay attention but later walked into the living room and noticed this.


Those are large, plastic animals in our stockings. A dinosaur, a shark, a whale, and a horse. Kind of funny, kind of odd.

After all the party madness and dinner, we had a sedate evening of watching Jack Frost while putting together a holiday puzzle. I thought we’d get it done in no time but we’ve barely finished the outside. Guess it’ll be sitting there for a few more days [weeks].

Today’s picture is Daisy with her tinsel tree complete with pickle ornament. It’s the only one on it because we haven’t trimmed the trees yet but she just bought the ornament last week.


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chain gang

By Tara Zandra | December 8, 2013

Too tired to write out a post, but didn’t want to go another day with a blank space. The girls made paper chains the other day, but Tabs told me only to post a photo of Daisy. So here.


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By Tara Zandra | December 3, 2013

Realized I totally forgot to add a picture yesterday. I’ll add two today just to even it out.

Not much to report on the day. Daisy has a cold, but on the bright side, it seems like a more normal one for her. Not really severe and likely to be sooner rather than later. That’s how they used to be, up until this year, that is.

Tabitha had violin so we headed out and I packed blankets and pillows for Daisy to veg on while we waited. It was quite comfortable in the car and the hour pretty much flew by.

Once home some recent stresses caught up with me and I basically was useless until I made dinner. I guess I better spin would be to say that I took some time for me and relaxed.

Same difference.

Feeling dull right now so I’ll just get on with the photos and call it good.

First up is our new Star Wars sheets that I gave Chris for his birthday. He had a set when he was a kid, pretty much like every boy his age, I’m sure. He loved the sheets, I assume. Years later, we were over at his parents (or maybe he still lived with them and I was visiting) and we happened upon a rag bin in the garage. He’s beloved Star Wars sheets were in the rag bin and already cut so they were not salvageable. Two years ago I saw that Pottery Barn Kids sold SW sheets. I thought at the time that would be a great gift but promptly forgot. About a month ago I was thinking about those sheets and checked if they still sold them and lo and behold they did! As he was opening the gift he exclaimed, “No way!” so I’m going to assume they were a good choice.


This next picture is also from Chris’s birthday, but it’s just Daisy at a park for no reason other than I had my camera on me and I do so love taking pictures of anything and everything. Especially with the snazzy camera which I have lately been using manual mode almost exclusively. Go me!


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the vapors

By Tara Zandra | December 2, 2013

I used to tell people that the only time in my life that I came close to fainting was the day after I got my belly button pierced. I was in the shower and was cleaning it as instructed and then swayed a bit and felt like I might keel over from the pain. But I recognize now that I felt a bit woozy, shall we say, but definitely not faint.

When I was in Cabo San Lucas I had a panic attack brought on by a stressful situation, sea sickness and, I’m assuming, the heat. At the time I never really thought I would faint nor did I describe the feeling as such.

Well, back in February I actually fainted. And this past Saturday I almost did. Now that I know for sure what it feels like, I can definitely say I almost fainted in Cabo and apparently I’m a person who is prone to fainting.

Who knew?

It all started with Chris’s birthday plans. The LA Kings announced there would be a blood drive at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. It had been a year since Chris got his tattoo so he was eligible to donate and decided this was the perfect time- his birthday. Donating blood has always kind of been a small fear of mine but I suddenly realized I didn’t really feel afraid anymore so I figured I would join him.

Blood Drive sponsored by the Kings may have been a misnomer. There was a table with 2 of the ice crew who basically told us to go down the hall to our left and then went about their conversation. As far as we could tell, we were the only ones there for the Kings aspect of it. Many people were there to donate to a specific patient.

We got our paperwork done and went through the steps and all was well. Chris was done and partaking of his juice and cookies (they really do give you that, huh) and waiting for me. That’s pretty much when it started going south. Nausea, extreme desire to close my eyes, blackness surrounding my vision- oh the whole nine yards. They got me unhooked and slap two ice cold clothes on my head and tried to order me not to close my eyes and to stay with them.

So yeah, my wonderful good deed and I cause a problem. They also told me it happens all the time and not to let it deter me in the future. Considering I’ve been dizzy everyday since, it may be a while until I go back.

Oh, and I won the raffle for Kings tickets for tonight so I guess they did keep track somehow. I’m not there, you may notice, but my husband and friend were kind enough to take my tickets leaving me on kid duty.

Not Bitter.

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thanks for everything

By Tara Zandra | November 29, 2013

We had a really lovely Thanksgiving. I had done a decent amount of prep the night before to help speed the cooking along. I made the same butternut squash au gratin that I made for Faux-Thanksgiving earlier in the month. My squashes did not yield nearly the same amount of cubed squash this time though. I used actual gruyere instead of swiss and think I might have preferred the swiss. I also made jellied cranberries and drunken cranberries because though I don’t actually drink, I like the idea of boozy food. Guess I wish I drank alcohol more? Anyway, I also made a vegetarian gravy as it was insisted upon by my child who did not want me to stoop to gravy in a box (like I did before, was the unspoken add-on). Tabitha made pies, of course. Pumpkin and Decadent Pecan. We think next year we’ll go ahead and pass the pumpkin torch on to Daisy, there is really no reason she can’t make it by herself. I was supposed to make a fantastic appetizer too, but forgot to take the Phyllo dough out of the freezer in time. So now we have carmelized onions and mushrooms so I’ll just use them in omelets and probably top with the rest of the gruyere as well.

There are certain things that I need to eat for it to be a holiday, but we always end up with too many appetizers. So I solved my problem by just serving 3 appetizers at home for lunch. This is a workable solution in that now I get exactly what I want to eat and I don’t have to worry about transport or having too much.

We got to my in-laws’ around 1:30 and it was just the 6 of us this year due to illnesses and other commitments. Really a low key affair which definitely contributed to its loveliness. We ate, we talked, we took silly pics, we laughed. Eventually we sat down to the meal and said how thankful we all are for each other (we’re real Norman Rockwell around here) and then stuffed ourselves silly. Everything was delicious.

Eventually we had pie and then Chris and I packed up 2 care packages. One was for my mom who was sick at home. The other was for a friend who worked literally all day and did not get a Thanksgiving meal. After we packed them up, Chris and I left and took the one to our friend and enjoyed some time out together.

And that pretty much sums up the day. Today I went to two malls and a Target, but none of the crazy early stuff. Just because and it was all fun and no stress.

Here’s a picture of my Biscuit. Her shirt reads “I’m an Avenger.”


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filling space

By Tara Zandra | November 27, 2013

If you’ve followed along on facebook, you know we’ve been busy. I want to get it all down but of course, tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m a bit beat.

I said earlier that I haven’t felt in a thankful mood but tonight my oldest child reminded me how unbelievably lucky I am. She is such a delight; smart, entertaining, and the best big sister, and a fantastic help to me in the kitchen. And despite her teen years, she is still as loving as she ever was and hugs from her are not half-hearted and the love she expresses is genuine.

Then there’s my Dee. My sensitive one. But a conundrum as well. She will cry over a lost piece of string (”But it was my special string!”) but accepts it when a pet fish dies. She has no interest in ever donating anything to anyone, but she’ll share without asking and wants to give things to people to make them happy. As a little sister, well, that’s a role she relishes- both to Tabi’s delight and disconcertion.

Of course neither of them would be possible without my hubby. God I love him so. All these years and we still prefer to spend time with each other over anyone else. He is truly the best man in the world for me. I hope I’m half as good to him as he is to me.

So, I came around and today I counted my blessings. There are many, and I know that.

My picture is completely unrelated. It’s also crappy since it was taken with my cell phone. This is Eddie Veddar at the Pearl Jam concert last Sunday night. I could listen to him sing all night, but had to settle for 3 hours.


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You belong in the zoo

By Tara Zandra | November 19, 2013

Daisy and I have been doing a study of animal habitats for over a year and finally finished. She has a lovely project notebook to look back on now and I think she had a good time with all the lessons and activities. We ended our habitats study with a trip to the zoo. I created a scavenger hunt of sorts for her. She had to find 3 animals for each biome. I lumped a few together, like oceans, rivers, and lakes, and should have left out arctic regions (there is not one animal at the LA Zoo that lives in the arctic). I took pictures of each animal she wrote down and will get them printed so they can go in her notebook as well. Next we’ll do anatomy though she’ll get a small break while I gather what I want to do.

The weather was very overcast and cool so the animals were fairly active. The tigers were especially playful and delighted my children for a long time. We were also fortunate in that there were only 2 school busses in the parking lot so the zoo was rather empty, it seemed.

The evening has been routine- dinner, dance, a little TV. I’m just decompressing on the computer for a smidge and then I need some sleep as I haven’t been getting enough good quality shut eye lately.

Here’s one of the gorgeous tigers on the move.


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Ridiculously early

By Tara Zandra | November 18, 2013

Aaaand I just ordered this year’s Christmas cards.

Go me!

I got to make all the decisions myself, because the husband? Struck down with food poisoning. That would be the second time this year, I might add. Our life must look so fun.


But hey, at least those germs were polite enough to wait until after we took the family photo, right? We had a lovely time last night at California Adventure. First we took pics with Santa in their department store, then in front of the tree, and then in front of Carthay Circle. We figured after all that there had to be at least one good one so we stopped being careful of our hair and went to eat. After that we dropped the girls off at the swings while Chris and I got in line for Toy Story, then the girls joined us about halfway through. The ride was fun, as always. We then split up so Chris and Tabs could ride Tower of Terror while Daisy and I oohed and aahed over Carsland for a bit. Then it was a churro bite break then a couple more rides, then a fruitless trip to the Lego store before coming home.

Chris hopped into bed and I stayed up for awhile doing nothing of interest. I’ve had a pretty bad headache for the last 4 days so I just wanted a little quiet time. Eventually I slept only to be awoken at some point by my ailing husband, poor thing. I felt bad, but I also instructed him not to touch me in case it was a virus instead. Thankfully, it does not appear to be.

Today he stayed in bed for basically the entire day, the girls and I went to violin and then Girl Scouts for Tabitha. I took Daisy with me as Chris is in no condition to take care of her. He’ll be home tomorrow too as he’s still not right.

So I’ve had another quiet evening, basically alone. I got the cards done, crushed some candy, and took a hot bath. I know at this point I should be going to bed, but whatever. I need to create a scavenger hunt for tomorrow’s outing and probably crush a bit more candy. But then I really should sleep. I’m not particularly tired, but I will be come alarm time :)

This picture is all I got and I can’t even explain what made me take it. Yesterday’s smoothies, before they were smooth.


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the past

By Tara Zandra | November 14, 2013

I got it into my head that I need to preserve my past in the form of photos. I asked my mom for the first 3 photo albums of my life with the idea that I’ll be scanning them into the computer and making digital copies. I was born in the mid-seventies and it’s amazing how poor the quality of the pictures are today. Here’s an example of an untouched photo.


This one isn’t even that bad compared to some of them. Makes me weep. I was, however, pleasantly surprised that even crappy photo software can make it decent. This is the same photo that I fixed in order to share on facebook.

CCF11132013_0000 (2)a.jpg

The color is much closer to natural, except my face, which is washed out. But not sure if that’s just me since I’m so pale I tend to be washed out in a lot of pictures anyway. It’s going to be a tedious process, scanning 20 some years, but at least as time wears on, I’m in a lot less pictures. I think eventually I’ll have photo books made, but that’s pretty far into the future.

I found it interesting that as I flipped through the albums, I remembered all the photos. I’m fairly narcissistic (anyone with a blog would have to be), so I know I looked through them often, but it still felt a little odd to me how familiar all of them were. Except one. I found one photo of me that I swear I’ve never seen before in my life. And I don’t recognize the house it was taken it either. I’m thinking maybe it was a relative’s house in Washington and the photo was sent to my mother sometime after both my grandparents died.

I’m sad my mom didn’t take more pictures though. I know film was different than our current digital age. But honestly, the amount of photos of me from May 1974- November 1976 equal about a month or less of photos in either of my girls lives.

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never too early to be thankful

By Tara Zandra | November 11, 2013

Saturday was my family’s annual early Thanksgiving get together. It seemed every other person had a cold or something so I didn’t need to feel too bad about my own sniffly kid. I made a new recipe of butternut squash gratin that we thought was pretty good. My only suggestion would be to use a little less cheese (blasphemy, I know!) because it made it a little tough to break through to the to squashy goodness.

My other dish was just a crock pot stuffing, but let me tell you, people raved. I used both French bread and wheat French bread, maybe that was what made it so good? It came from this vegetarian crock pot cookbook and every recipe has been really tasty so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I enjoy this gathering every year, I get to see aunts and uncles and various cousins. Missing this year was my sister which was a shame as I really don’t see her that much. I didn’t get too many pictures, though I did get one of my mom and one of my aunts with their grandchildren- should have put me and my cousin in it too for a 3 generation pic, but didn’t think of it until afterwards.

After the family togetherness, I finally got to go to a Kings game! Yay for me! And they won in a spectacular manner, 5-1. Chris and I had a great time together and enjoyed each other’s company. Oh, and I shopped before the game and finally found the sticker I’ve been looking for to put on my car next to my LA (for the Dodgers). Except, it’s a cling not a true sticker so I’m hoping it will stay on. I haven’t put it on yet as I’m in need of a car wash first.

Sunday was the usual errands and then I also took Tabitha jeans shopping. While we were out we also picked up a top for our holiday picture this year. I’m really on top of it in regards to Christmas cards. Already have them picked out, just need to add photo which we are taking next weekend. Probably the earliest ever that I’ve thought of it. But see last year we took gorgeous family photos- I mean, I actually love how I look in them and we all know how much moms dislike pics of themselves. Anyway, these gorgeous photos were not taken in time to be our Christmas cards because I procrastinate (as has been established). But not this year! I even have a holiday return address stamp that was ordered 2 weeks ago.

Just don’t ask me about shopping, because in that respect I’ve done zip, zilch, nada and am not really planning on it for a little while yet.

Today’s pic is from Saturday night at the Kings game- it’s the opening face off.


PS- Totally wasn’t frazzled on Saturday! Timeline worked- even when faced with a couple of unexpected happenings.

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