...is the process by which we create, discover, learn and grow with those we cherish most.


what did the gnome say to the safari guide?... "There's an alligator right behind you!"

Halloween this year was more of a carnival event than a spooky one - but the toddlers weren't complaining. In fact, they very much enjoyed the bounce house, pizza, and cupcake decorating.



Decorating Halloween Cupcakes




This was also their first time to go Trick or Treating door to door. My personal crush on the Travelocity gnome resulted in an online costume purchase, and we were going to turn Noah into a suitcase out of cardboard boxes to be carried along [smile]. But a few days prior to the festivities, Ava burst with the revelation that she wanted to be an "alligator" for Halloween. Yes. I was stunned.

Leave it Dad to track down an alligator costume at the last minute in her size! So our little boy aged 70 years and proudly wore a beard the entire night...



It was a lovely evening for us adults too - we got to meet many of our neighbors and actually take a quick peek inside their beautifully decorated homes and ask about their renovation approach to updating their 70s home. One neighbor, a retired teacher, actually pulled out a sparkly star studded wand and circled it over their heads, wishing them well with "pixie dust."

I was the proudest mama on the block - for the simple fact that I overcame my anxiety on whether or not I could justify Halloween Trick or Treating at this age, and as a traditional event for our kids - I debated back and forth with issues ranging from health to safety to even costume purchases. I realized that their costumes could easily be repurposed for dress-up play... and that the moderation of the evening of just letting the kids have fun in the yard and create their own experiences... is one to have over and over again...

We zoomed past other parents with toddlers on the brink of sugar overload, and took in the sights and sounds our neighborhood makes under the moonlight. With their pumpkins only half full, Ava said the most sweetest thing I could hear...

"Mom, I think I have enough candy. Let's go home."

value of teachable moments

Noah woke up still dreaming about his favorite toy store. So he repeatedly asked if he could go... I didn't want to take off from work just to go play with the kids in a toy store...

But I did anyway. Because I saw this as an even bigger and more valuable opportunity for Aaron and I to teach the kids about money and spending. And what it really means to want something...

So we asked the kids to count their money and separate their coins to see what kind of purchasing power they really had. We explained that if they really wanted to buy something at the toy store, they could, but only with the amount of money they had saved.

Breaking the piggy

Breaking the piggy
Both kids agreed - and before they could step out of their pj's, the piggy banks were on their backs and coins were flying everywhere...

Next stop: the bank. To see and learn how money comes in different forms - and how the value of saving coins they collect from around the house, adds up - quickly.

Cashing In

Cashing In

Cashing In

Final destination - the toy store. Noah headed to the first aisle, where rows of cars and trucks shined in every color. Ava headed to the window display to finish her breakfast and play with the toys on demo...

Toy Store

When it was time to go, Noah sat on the counter while clinging onto his cars and watched his trade-in take place. Noah's first purchase was a success - with even a few dollars remaining!

Toy Store

Ava on the other hand - took longer than expected.

"Ava, we have to get back home soon. Do you want to pick out your toy now?"

(short pause)

"Well.... mommy, I already have toys at home. I want candy."

36 cents later, Ava purchased a packet of FunDip candy, leaving her with more than $21 to return back to Big Pink...

The kids seized an opportunity on this cold rainy morning - and so did I. Lost wages for hours I could have worked can't compare to the lessons the kids learned about saving and spending...

Toy Store

Now if only teaching them about working for money, could be this easy...

Our Family tips:

1. If you haven't done so already, purchase a piggy bank or make one at home using a plastic jar with a secure lid (and cut a slit at the top) to begin collecting loose change around the house. This is also a great way to practice counting.

2. Seize opportunities. Taking your kids to work helps children identify the exchange they experience when you are away and its relevance to the family dynamics. Ava and Noah have gotten so much better and accepting of me having to go onsite for a client project sometimes because they have a face to match up with the names I say I am going to go visit.

3. Give them age-appropriate value. In other words, what does "money" buy? For example, tokens for Chuck E Cheese. Candy at the toy store... and so on. And demonstrate what a child would have to trade to get what they want.

4. Set boundaries. Be consistent. And creative. I admit, it's really hard saying no to the kids. But I also know that it's even harder in the long run. Find a balance that's right for your family.

5. It's never to early to set goals - especially financial ones. Place various markers on your child's piggy bank/jar and label with items they mentioned wanting (tape pictures for little ones). First marker could be candy. Second marker could be stickers. Third marker could be a doll... and so on. As your child fills the jar with coins (collected from loose change or allowance) they could visually see how many coins it takes to fill up and earn the item next to the marker they wish to earn. And at the same time, see what happens if they cash in at the first marker, and how they have to start over each time.

Wonderful online resources on talking to kids about money:

worldfest - exploring corners of the world

Worldfest 09

Worldfest is an annual global experience - celebrating the cultures and flavors that make up our community. It's a festival weekend meant for exploring, learning, and appreciating the cultural diversity that connects us to many corners of the world - as well as our past.

And that is exactly why we love bringing the kids to this festival each year. (Last year's post). It's a gentle reminder of how far our generations before us have traveled. And how much I need to continuously share my own culture with Ava and Noah - not on occasion, but in realtime - everyday. Through food... language... music... and traditional customs - which can never be learned from textbooks or hearsay - But instead from what resonates deep within them - their roots.

Of course, experiencing different cultures of our world in the way the kids embrace and experience it - is also mesmerizing.... and has me motivated to pull those passports back out, and journey east. But until we do... we're going to enjoy what we have here...

Worldfest 09

and learn about tribal necklaces from student volunteers...

Worldfest 09

and of course, make more clay pottery...

Worldfest 09

happy birthday sis!

Happy birthday sis! Although there's more than a decade between us - we're closer than twins...

Happy Birthday!

...except, you're way better looking than me...

praise for new art

Every fall, an art explosion happens around town - artists with a spectrum of talent come together to share priceless visions of work. The Annual Cottonwood Festival is one of them, and it's one of our favorites. Maybe it's the scenic backdrop of families with their children stretched across the lawn, dogs scurrying underneath trying not to get stomped on, and loud live music that magically makes your shoulder bounce while zig-zagging from booth to booth... or maybe its the funnel cake...

Cottonwood Festival 09

This is our second time attending Cottonwood - and like the first, we didn't find that one "priceless art piece" to take home...

Cottonwood Festival 09

Until we discovered the ArtStop for kids...

Cottonwood Festival 09

... where they worked together to embellish one butterfly (cut out from felt, stuffed with shredded document paper, and stapled shut).

And tried their hands at using a pottery wheel for the first time - which was an artful experience for all of us. The vendor coordinated 10 stations at once, spinning the wheel at the same time while the kids cupped their clay and watched it turn into a... bowl?

Cottonwood Festival 09

Cottonwood Festival 09

The gooyiness between their fingers struck immediate laughter. After all, this was taking the routine finger painting they do at home to a whole new level. By the time we were done, we all had a sizable amount of clay splattered all over us...

Cottonwood Festival 09

I'm pretty sure it wasn't the funnel cake that has me still talking about the festival. But the pieces of art I did get to take home... and add to my growing collection of handmade art from the kids - 2 clay bowls and 1 ornate butterfly... simply priceless!

try pottery!
2's will need help, but 3's can rock n' roll with the wheel. There are so many facets to pottery, and we're so glad we gave it a try. Some local resources include: Quiggly's Clayhouse and Paint Yer Pottery

happy birthday mom!

How lucky am I when the woman I aspire to be... also raised me. I love you Mom - with all that I am...

Happy Birthday Grandma'

... and the grandkids agree too....


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