Am I a Funny Girl?

Summers are made for iced tea and Scrabble

cbias disclosure#MeandMyTea #CollectiveBias

#MeandMy Tea Bigelow and Scrabble

Thankfully, I have many memories of summers spent with my grandparents. They moved out to California’s Gold Country from Rhode Island when I was about seven, and lived with us for a few months while they decided where to settle down for their retirement. Once they found a home in a tiny town called Plymouth, we made regular trips to visit; the whole family at first, and then just my sister and I would go, giving our parents a break.

We did lots of things on those trips; I remember Grammy making full Thanksgiving dinners in the middle of July, walking downtown to get ice cream, swimming at the local community pool, playing with the kittens that lived in a neighbor’s backyard. But those memories are fleeting. There are two things that go together, that are forever embedded in my memory when I think about my mom and my Grammy.

Iced tea and Scrabble. They would play for hours; game after game, on the back deck overlooking Highway 49. They drank gallons of sun tea, brewed in a big glass jar with lemons silkscreened on the sides. The sound of Scrabble tiles rattling in their bag, the one homemade letter “R” Grampy had made to replace a lost tile. THOSE are the memories that are indelible in my memory.

Mom and Grammy in 1961.

Mom and Grammy in 1961

My mom says that Grammy has simply always played Scrabble. She remembers being recruited to babysit, so that Grammy and her friend Dottie could play. She doesn’t really remember when they started playing together. I don’t remember when I started playing, either. It’s just always been a part of my memory.

Plymouth Porch #MeandMyTea

Grampy, Katie, me and Grammy in Plymouth, 1984

All I know is that even now, I can’t resist the lure of that slim burgundy box and the clink of ice cubes floating in a glass of iced tea. Iced tea has always been a “grown up ladies” drink, because of my mom and grandma. While they always drank classic black tea, I have expanded my own selection. I love Bigelow’s original, Constant Comment (it was my drink of choice throughout my pregnancy). The I Love Lemon made my sister and I feel like adults, sipping it carefully, even as we loaded it with enough sugar to make it sweeter than soda.

Grammy 2015 Scrabble

Grammy and Scrabble, May 2015

And now, we’re passing on the tradition to another generation. Faith, my sister’s oldest, recently joined us for her very first Scrabble and iced tea afternoon, in my parents’ backyard. Josie joined in a little bit, but wasn’t really interested in the game part, and just wanted the iced tea with blueberries we were drinking.

Game play Scrabble #MeandMyTea

I used a fruity tea, and added lots of lemons and blueberries to make it extra special. By using an herbal tea, we get all of the “grown upness” for the kids, without any of the sugar of other drink choices. The fruit just makes it pretty and sweetens it up just a tiny bit.

Pom Pizzazz #MeandMyTea [ad]

Bigelow is the perfect choice for our family tradition; it’s 100% American made, by an American family. Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, Bigelow began in New York City, where Ruth Campbell Bigelow developed the iconic Constant Comment tea, and has expanded to a worldwide market offering more than 130 varieties of flavored, green, organic, herbal, decaffeinated and iced teas.

Bigelow cheers #MeandMyTea

You can find many varieties of Bigelow tea at Walmart, so it’s always easy to find the perfect flavor. I always stock up on the variety packs when I’m buying, so I have lots of options to offer people who might stop by.

Bigelow in-store #MeandMyTea

As a homeschooling mom, my sister is always looking for ways to help her girls learn on the go, so she was thrilled when Faith got really into Scrabble, and kept trying to come up with the most challenging words she could think of… it’s a great place to use newly-acquired vocabulary for an incoming 4th grader!

Katie helping Faith #MeandMyTea

I look forward to many more summers of Bigelow and Scrabble with my mom, sister, and nieces. Sometimes it seems like our family traditions are limited, so I have to hold on to the ones I can. And as I write this, it is HOT outside, so I think I should probably put another pot of sun tea out to brew.

What’s your favorite Bigelow tea flavor? Do you sweeten your iced tea, or no?

And do you have ANY suggestions of what I could have done with these terrible letters?

Terrible Scrabble Letters #MeandMyTea

 

 

 

 

Original Bomb Pops: An All-American Frozen Treat!

Thanks to Bomb Pops and Bloggin Mamas for sponsoring this post.
All Smiling Kids #BombPopMamas

Ahh, summer. Long lazy days, warm nights, and my personal favorite, Independence Day. (Which also happens to be my birthday. A coincidence? I think not.) When the weather heats up, there’s nothing better than a frozen treat on a stick.

Our personal favorite? The Original Bomb Pop!

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It’s the perfect refresher on a hot summer day, with three flavors in one, there’s something for everyone!

While homemade ice treats are great too, there’s nothing like the nostalgia brought on by biting into a just-soft-enough Bomb Pop.

They’re the perfect size, too. Not too big that I feel like it’s too much to hand to my three-year old niece, but not so small that Jamie doesn’t want to eat them, too. Basically, they’re the perfect summer delight.

Cheers Bomb Pops #BombPopMamas

The whole family can get in on the Bomb Pop fun! We picked ours up at Safeway, which is convenient since it seems like I’m there every other day anyway. Want to find them near you? Check out the website for a store near you.

Katie and Jose #BombPopMamas

BombPop.com is a whole ‘nother kind of party; check it out now for hilarious memes, photos, and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Bomb Pops.

So what could be better than talking about Bomb Pops? How about if I give you a chance to win some, too? We’ll be giving away EIGHT Bomb Pop prize packs, with product coupons, stickers, a hat, and more!

It’s easy to enter, just follow the instructions below.

Silly Faces #BombPopMamas

HOORAY, BOMB POPS!

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Tiny Differences

airport breakfastI’m sitting at the Oakland airport right now, waiting for my Starbucks breakfast to cool down from lava-like temps so I can eat it.
I love airports.
The constant change and flow of passengers is perfect for people watchers like me.
The lady with her bulldog in a stroller, the business men trying to out-boast one another with stories of conquests, the exhausted flight attendant who is hoping for a jump seat so she can get home.
Airports are a constant ebb and flow, and it makes me think about change as well.

I’m on my way to New York for my fourth Blogher, and about my 15th conference. I’ve done this many times by now, and it’s becoming old hat for me, but Blogher will always, always have a special place in my heart because Blogher11 in San Diego was life-changing for me.

My first conference, where I met people that led me down a new path, a new career, a different life, that has brought me more joy and fulfillment than I thought was possible in real life.

But that isn’t why I’m writing this post.

I’m remembering my first first Blogher, four years ago, and thinking about how much is different. I actually think I may have departed from this same gate, a nervous mama flying off, leaving her 3.5 year old at home for something other than a hospital visit.

I remember what I wore; a new dress I’d bought for the occasion. A red paisley sundress with a black belt wrapped around my rib cage. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the trend of the ribcage belt thing, but I wanted so badly to look stylish that I was willing to deal with the discomfort.

My hair was freshly cut and colored, my nails, finger and toe, were scrubbed, filed, and painted to perfection.

My suitcase, which had been checked, contained an empty duffel bag (I’d heard about vast amounts of swag I’d basically have thrown at me) and I’d carefully rolled all of my brand-new outfits to prevent wrinkles.

I wanted SO badly for everyone to like me.

Fast-forward to 2015, I’ve been through all this before.

The nerves are the same, but that’s as much from air travel as it is the conference. Going to Blogher is going home for me. It’s where my people are, and for many, it’s the only time I see them. I’ll have experiences this week that couldn’t happen anywhere else, I’ll make new friends, strengthen old relationships. I’ll schmooze the brands (Not really. I’m terrible at that) and yes, I’ll bring home some swag.

But my hair hasn’t been cut or colored in a year, my pedicure is several weeks old, and the only new thing I bought for this conference came in a subscription box, so it wasn’t even for this specifically.

Because it isn’t about what you’re wearing.
Or how your hair looks.
Or your nails.
Or the swag,

Blogher is about the community, and I can’t wait to get there.

A Love Letter to Blue Car

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FueltheLove #CollectiveBias

Dear Blue Car,

We’ve come a long way together, in the last ten years. You were known only as “the Mazda,” until Max, at just about two years old, proclaimed your name to be Blue Car, and it’s stuck ever since. The sixth car I’ve ever owned, but the first one I’ve really loved. I had never purchased a brand new car before, all of my previous vehicles had chosen me more than I had chosen them… and it shows. Ten years of communting, errands, and adventures and I love you as much as I did the day I brought you home from the dealership.

scrapbook page #fuelthelove

From my “Bucket List” scrapbook album. Notice how many miles were on it when I got it? Five.

We’ve had some amazing things happen in our time together, Blue Car. You drove Jamie and I home the day he proposed, you carried us back and forth all those trips to visit Max in the NICU when he was home, and eventually carried us safely away from the hospital when he came home to stay. max home from hospital #fuelthelove You had five miles on your odometer when I picked you up, and this summer we’ll cross the 215,000 mile mark. You’ve been a dream to drive, and I’ve done my best to take care of you. 214000 miles #fuelthelove Thanks for being so awesome, Blue Car.

Love, Lizz


My 2005 Mazda3 is the first car I ever bought new, the first car I had chosen based on research and test drives, instead of just buying (or accepting, in the case of a couple of past cars!) the first thing to come along. I remember it vividly, talking with my then-boyfriend Jamie, about how this would be the car we would drive as newlyweds, and eventually even bring a baby home in. I bought the hatchback because I was already picturing myself as a mom, even though Max wouldn’t come along for another three years. Even though I bought it new, the rules my dad had taught me about maintaining my cars had stuck with me. Keep it clean, rotate the tires, change the oil regularly. While Blue Car has been far less maintenance than the 25 year old Saab I learned to drive in, the scheduled stuff has been really important. washing blue car #fuelthelove Keeping up with these things can be challenging, especially with the busyness of life; working, parenting, trying to have a social life too… I need to make it as easy as possible or suddenly I find myself a thousand miles overdue on an oil change. Enter Pennzoil at Walmart. I can drop the car off and get my shopping done while they work; two birds, one parking lot. It’s a win/win that simplifies my life that much. Because my car is *ahem* older, we use Pennzoil’s High Mileage formula, which helps to reduce leaks and oil consumption in worn or higher mileage engines. It’s specifically designed for vehicles with over 75,000 miles of them, to help keep the engines running clean and going strong for a long time. pennzoil special walmart #fuelthelove To make it even better, from now until September, Pennzoil oil changes will be on Rollback at Walmart Automotive Care Center stores. An oil change featuring the High Mileage formula is only $35.88 instead of $39.88, and Platinum Full Synthetic is $45.88 instead of the regular price of $49.88. Considering these oil changes are sometimes as much as $46 or $66 elsewhere, you’re getting a great deal and it’s so easy and convenient. Pennzoil’s products are designed for complete protection and will let you to drive an additional 550 miles per year as opposed to a dirty engine, because their products help clean out the gross engine sludge that other oils leave behind. (Eew.) Pennzoil also offers a warranty that covers 15 engine parts that can fail due to engine wear or which experience abnormal wear due to friction. Blue Car has run incredibly well for almost a quarter of a million miles, and thanks to Pennzoil at Walmart, I hope she keeps going for a quarter of a million more!

The challenge of “Family TV Time”

Acorn DisclosureWith summer comes more free time, and for us, admittedly, that means more screen time for all of us. We get away from screens, too, camping, traveling, Max goes to day camps… but we do, more often than not, end up lazing in front of the TV at the end of the day, not wanting to move too much because OMG hot.

We’re “cord cutters,” in that we ditched cable television three years ago when we moved to this house; this was a purely financial decision for us. We were paying close to $200 a month for an extended cable package and DSL internet. When we moved, we we upgraded the internet speed and pay $36 a month for it as a standalone service, and then stream our entertainment from Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, for a total of $23 a month. (I would pay for Amazon Prime even without the streaming, so I don’t count that in the monthly fees for our media consumption.) While sometimes we do miss sports coverage, we can pretty easily find a friend to invite us over to watch the game, or we’ll head to a restaurant that’s showing it.

But I digress.

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We are raising Max in a world of on-demand shows and a digital media library with hundreds of options. So when it comes time to family TV time, it should be simple, but it never is. I’m not talking about movie night; it’s pretty easy to find a movie we can all enjoy, because Star Wars, but the challenge is those “It’s a half hour til bedtime, so let’s veg in front of the TV a little bit before bed/shower/toothbrushing”

Have you ever tried to democratically choose a television show with a 7 year old? It basically comes down to this:

family-tv-venn-diagram

Amirite?

When Max was two, he watched Dora and Caillou, then moved on to Thomas. At four, it was Chuck the Truck. Spongebob made a brief appearance during kindergarten. Finally, at six, he found Phineas and Ferb. Finally a show that didn’t make me want to pull my hair out three minutes in. It was smart and funny and just weird enough to keep everyone interested.

And now I talk about Phineas and Ferb in the past tense because it went off the air a couple of weeks ago. I understand it’s been a good run, and all good things must come to an end, but now we’re left with watching the same four seasons on Netflix. Over and over and over again.

I honestly don’t understand why it’s so hard to create fun, family-friendly TV shows. It’s been done once, it can be done again. Something smart, funny, engaging… the occasional fart joke is fine, but there’s so much more to comedy than that! Programming doesn’t have to be “educational” for them to learn something; the power of imagination, of making up their own worlds.

Even more importantly, the memories that are made when a family settles in to watch something together; my childhood has Little House on the Prairie, Full House, and Family Matters. What does Max’s have? We need more programming for FAMILIES.