A Warning To Parents

My warning to you: Don't buy your kids kazoos unless you have already made yourself an appointment at a Kazoo Relief Spa, or at the very least, invested in some excellent ear-plugs.

This is undoubtedly the MOST STUPID purchase I have ever made in my entire life. Oh my dear Lord, what was I thinking?

When I saw the kazoos in the dollar-bin section at Target I thought, "Hey! These will be fun! Peyton and Ella don't even know what a kazoo is! What kind of parent am I that my own kids haven't yet experienced the joy of a kazoo?" I'll tell you what kind of parent I was - a smart parent. And I'll tell you what kind of parent I became when I decided to invest two dollars for two kazoos for my kids - an idiot parent.

This is what I remember from childhood - kazoos make a funny noise and they are super fun. I remember marching all around the house blowing my kazoo like the leader of my very own invisible parade. I remember making impromptu kazoo bands with anyone else who happened to have a kazoo at the ready. Oh the joy!

Peyton has been wanting his own drum set. I've been putting that off because of the inevitable racket. By purchasing kazoos, I have personally invited a louder, more hideous noise into our peaceful home. What I realize now - kazoos are the perfect parent torture devise - even more effective than drums could possibly be.

So within five minutes of Peyton and Ella learning how the kazoos worked we had a new house rule: You can only make loud kazoo "music" in your room with the door closed. Only quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet kazoo sounds are allowed outside the bedroom. But somehow, the rule keeps getting broken and sweet little children are kazooing all over the place.

How did our own parents live through kazoos? What kind of superhuman auditory strength did they possess? As I raise my kids, I keep adding to the list of Why I Love My Mom. That she, too, had to suffer through all this kazoo nonsense definitely ranks up there at the top of the list.

Oh well, at least the kids are happy!

My Future Bumper Sticker


Every time I finish a roll of paper towels or gift wrap I toss the cardboard tube to whichever kid is nearest and say, "Have a blast!" For some reason, Peyton is usually the closest one, and his eyes always light up as that tube comes flying toward him. Fortunately, he's a professional sharer by this point in his 5-year-old life, so if Ella wants to play, he usually offers to cut the tube in half.

That sharing part really has nothing to do with the story. It's just me bragging.

So I throw a gift wrap tube at Peyton. His eyes light up with glee as he catches it. He shouts through it for a few minutes and then peers through the hole, "I see you, Mommy!" Then he gets this serious look on his face.

"Mommy. I have an idea. I think I want to make this into a snake. I want to paint it with stripes. We could make a head with a ball and draw a face. And I want it to have a tail that rattles."

See that? He's crafty! I knew it! More proof that he IS my son! I mean, I know I gave birth to him and all, but this really seals the deal. He's drawn snakes before, but that he wanted to create a snake with sound effects? That is some bad-ass craftiness. He's always liked crafts, but the more involved crafts we've done in the past have always been at my suggestion. The only crafts he does on his own are the paper, scissors, crayon, markers, hole punch, glue, one-dimensional kind. So I was really impressed with this whole 3-D snake idea.

I disrobed another gift wrap tube so that Ella could make her own snake. They chose their paint colors and we got to crafting. We even rigged some popcorn kernels inside to make the rattle sound.

Peyton wanted to bring his other snake, named Wilson, into the picture, too. My mom (hi Mom!) got him that snake and he loves it. The new snake Peyton named Snakey. Peyton decided on a white face (he was tired of letting paint dry) with drawn-on eyes and mouth. Check out Snakey's black stripes! Peyton did that all by himself!

Here's Miss Ella with her snake, also named Snakey. She likes pink paint and wiggly eyes.

And then, *shiver* the fun pretend snake thing got ugly.

Peyton: "We should get a real snake. I love snakes. They're my favorite aminal." (Yes, he said aminal - so cute!)
James: "I don't think Mommy likes this idea. She's scared of snakes."
Me (laying down the freakin' law on this one): "I am not scared of snakes. But we will NEVER have a snake as a pet."
Peyton: "I want a snake that climbs all over me. Like the kind that lady brought to school. I think I'll only get it out on Fridays and Sundays when Mommy's at the store."

And then he wanted me to take a picture of him with a snake "crawling all over" him.

Ummmm, yeah.
Hey, Mom, thanks for buying Peyton his first stuffed "aminal" snake. When he decides to become a Snake Charmer instead of attending college it's on you. And the snake lady that came to his class. Not me, though. No way. I'm just in charge of the crafting.

Easter Egg Banner Kid Kit

Just in time for Easter! I love this Easter Egg Banner Kit. I love it because the whole family can make it together. You just have to pour out all the decorations on the table, divvy up the eggs among family members, and have some quality time with the people you love the most.  

Since the time I began creating this kit, I've spent about 5 gazillion hours in our basement punching out paper decorations. Don't worry, I've already crossed that task off my personal list toward craft martyrdom. Anyway, since I'm a work-at-home mom, I needed to keep Peyton and Ella occupied. So I put out extra eggs and decorations and they had a blast! I was pretty impressed with Peyton's scissor skills. He cut out all his own eggs. Looking at the picture, I bet you can hardly tell the difference between the eggs he cut out and the ones I cut out for Ella. I'm so proud! 

Something else you might not be able to tell from the picture is how Peyton insisted on layering decorations on top of decorations on top of more decorations. Seriously, his eggs have some major depth.  

And, of course, I marked their names and the date on the back of each egg. Not so much for accuracy, but more for the bonus points I will receive in 20-30 years when Peyton and Ella have kids of their own, and they realize the risks I took when I let a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old play willy-nilly with scissors, glue, and sequins on a daily basis. The biggest risk being that once you create a project with sequins, you will find sequins throughout the house until the end of time. 

Happy Crafting!

My New Niece!

I would like to introduce Hayden Marie Richardson! 

She was born March 12th and she's beautiful and healthy!  I haven't met her yet, because she's in California, but of course I love her already. How could I not? Check out that sassy look she has. She is not messing around. 

Proud Dad Josh (my brother):

He's a firefighter for LA county and almost didn't make it to baby Hayden's birth. He got "the call" from my sister-in-law, Ali, and raced to the hospital as fast as possible in rush-hour traffic. So, yeah, it took him like 3 hours to get there! Luckily, Hayden decided to wait for her daddy. Five minutes (FIVE!) after Josh arrived in the delivery room, Hayden was born.

Beautiful Mom Ali (my sister-in-law):

I know what you're thinking -  I wish I looked that good after I gave birth to my kids, too! Geez Ali! No need to look so beautiful when YOU JUST PUSHED OUT A KID for crying out loud!  

Here's Josh, Ali, and new big brother, Noah. Isn't he just a cutie?

Ali, Josh, Noah, and Hayden: I love you guys so much! Hugs and Kisses and Congratulations!

Ali and Josh: Here's to hoping your kids don't bicker as much as mine do! Good luck with that suckas!

*Visit The Richardson Family Blog to see more cute pictures!

Modes of Transportation in Our House

As told to my husband by Peyton:

"Daddy, when you get tired, I want to sleep with you in your bed. You can either carry me or put me on the floor and roll me like a wheel."

Breakfast Bars - You Need to Make Them

I make these Breakfast Bars at least once a week. James takes them to work to eat for breakfast, I snack on them all day long, and Ella calls them oatmeal cookies. Peyton won't touch them, but that's just because he's Peyton. 

The recipe takes just a few minutes to mix together, but the bars do take an hour to bake. When they come out of the oven, do yourself a favor and eat one while it's still warm with a nice cup of hot tea. I have to do this every time I make them. 

The individual ingredients are pricey, but once you buy them, you'll be able to use each one (besides the condensed milk) to make several batches of the bars. I did the figuring, and they cost just about the same as the granola bars you buy at the store. For me, though, the most important thing is that I know exactly what's in them. And it's pure goodness, baby!

Here's the deal with the ingredients - put in whatever you want. The important thing is that you have the condensed milk, 4 cups of oatmeal, and 2 1/2 cups of other stuff. You can add chocolate chips, sunflower seeds, raisins, whatever makes you happy. If you don't like coconut, switch it out with something else. If you want 2 1/2 cups of M&Ms in yours, go for it. You get the idea. I wouldn't recommend using less than 4 cups of oatmeal, though, because then the bars get way too soft and don't hold their shape.

Breakfast Bars

1 14-fl-oz can condensed milk

4 cups rolled oats (not instant)

1 cup shredded coconut

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 cup sliced almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Spray a 9- x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Microwave the condensed milk in a large bowl for 1 minute.

3. Mix all the other ingredients with the warmed condensed milk.

4. Spread the mixture into the baking pan. 
This part will sound weird, but it works: Wash your hands and leave them dripping wet. Use your wet hands to press the mixture down to make it as compact as possible. If you don't push it down hard, your bars will fall apart later. The mixture is super sticky, so work quickly before your hands dry. 

5. Bake for 1 hour, remove, and after about 15 minutes, cut into four across and four down, to make 16 bars. I like using a pizza cutter to cut the bars, it's a wonder tool. Let cool completely.

Makes 16

To give credit where credit is due, I adapted this recipe from Nigella Lawson. Her recipe has a ton more nuts in it. She's awesome, but I like my version better.

Garden Party Paper Lantern

Put on a fancy dress and hat, get out the tea set, and have some quality time bonding and creating with the little princess in your life! These flowery paper lanterns are fun to make and will add a touch of whimsy to your little girl’s room. She’ll never forget the wonderful time she spent making the lanterns with you.

This craft makes 3 Paper Lanterns.

For ages 3 and up. This craft contains some small parts, which may pose a choking hazard. Please be careful with your young crafters.

3 pieces colored cardstock (I chose light pink, dark pink, and green)
Silk Flowers (about 30)
Clear Sequins (about 75)
Mounting Squares (about 18)
3 pieces pink ribbon 
3 pushpins

Flower Tip: You can buy the fancy flowers that come in the little containers from the scrap booking section of your local craft store, but that can be a little pricey.
I buy one bunch of silk flowers from the floral section when they are on sale. Then I just pull the flowers off the stems. If you do this, you'll probably even have flowers left over for another project.

This picture is from the Garden Party Paper Lantern Kid Kit in my etsy shop. Your supplies will look a little different: Your paper won't have the dotted lines, the handles won't be cut yet, your glue won't come in a little cup, and you won't need a glue spreader for your glue.


Fold a piece of the colored paper lengthwise. Starting at the fold, measure in about an inch and cut toward the opposite edge. For the 1st cut you can cut all the way across because this will be your handle strip. 
After you cut off your handle strip, continue making cuts, but make sure to stop cutting about an inch away from the edge. This is great scissor practice! 
Fold the paper along each cut that you made to crease the sides of your lantern.

Using the glue, decorate your lantern and lantern handle with the flowers and sequins.
Tips: Try to keep the glue in the middle of each flower as it can make the petals look oily. It looks pretty to place a sequin in the middle of each flower. (This is a good idea especially if you pulled the flowers off a bunch, because the sequin will cover the hole that's in each flower.) You will want to leave one end section of your lantern free of decoration because you will be overlapping the sides later on.

Using the mounting squares, connect the short ends together, creating a cylinder. Attach each end of the lantern’s handle inside the top of the lantern. To use a mounting square, peel away the tab. Place the adhesive square on the lantern paper and peel it away from the backing.

Loop a piece of ribbon through the handle and hang it up on your ceiling with a pushpin. It's a good idea to cut the ribbon in different lengths so that you can group your lanterns together for a designer effect.

Happy Crafting!