I Like it a-Latte

lattissimaA few years ago I watched with envy as my cousin bought one of those fancy espresso machines that makes any coffee drink with the push of a single button, including milk-based ones like lattes. We have a more labor intensive one that is fine, but it requires a lot more work.

That machine was used quite a bit initially then less and less and now resides on a shelf in our garage. Not many lattes have been made in the garage. So when Jim and I want lattes we head up the road to support our local Starbucks. My latte habit is not daily, but Jim’s is, which can get pricey even with their rewards program.

After being at our friend’s house over the weekend and listening to them profess their love for their new Keurig coffee machine (one button, are you seeing a trend here?) I started wondering if it made sense for us to get a fancy “press one button” espresso machine. Even if they are really expensive we would probably break even in less than a year of use.

My criteria were simple. First it has to be easy, otherwise Jim will not use it. Second we need to be able to quickly switch between decaf (me) and regular (Jim). Finally, the lattes should be good — nice foam, good temp. We aren’t complete coffee snobs, but I can tell a good latte from a bad one.

Through my research I discovered a range of machines, expensive, more expensive, so outrageously expensive we couldn’t even consider them and one that was about a third of the price of the rest, Nespresso & Delonghi Lattissima Plus. Since I wanted to be thorough with my research I watched YouTube videos on how simple the Lattissima was to use, but wondered what is the difference between this machine and the bigger, fancier, more pricey ones.

Today, Will and I set out to find out at the closest Sur La Table. After a long conversation with the very helpful saleswomen, I determined that basically the difference is the Lattissima uses premade capsules that must be purchased from Nespresso and the other machines allow you to pick your beans of choice from any that you can find. While this may be a drawback it is actually a benefit for us, remember the decaf and regular criteria. The other machines have fancy screens and allow you to make very fine adjustments to each cup, but did we need all that? Plus they are exponentially more expensive.

So I made the educated and financially responsible decision to bring home a Lattissima in navy (Jim thinks I should have gotten silver, so we may exchange it) and promptly made my first latte by pushing one button, standing back and watching. Then when Jim got home I made one for him. We have a bit of refining to do, like programming the right amount of milk and coffee for the different size options, but it makes great foam.

If you are in the neighborhood, come by and I will make you a fabulous latte, cappuccino or espresso but I may need to rest after all that hard work.

We Are In!

I am proud to report that this blog, The Will to See, is featured in the October issue of Disney’s FamilyFun Magazine. I know, I am so excited too. Look for the photo of the boys and me in the Mailbag section on page 11.

In July, I was contacted by FamilyFun regarding their use of my post about the June Badges of Fun, garden art. They took an excerpt from the post and used one of my photos.

If you are looking for a copy of the magazine, check your local grocery or book store. I know they have them at the QFC near our house. Look around and I am sure you can find it – who knows, it may become a collector’s item one day. It is also viewable online if you have a subscription, or you can get a subscription through this link.

For those of you who are new readers from the magazine, welcome. We are happy you are here. Please make yourself at home, browse around, leave a comment or send me a question. And please excuse the transition – we are in the process of updating the site, including an entire rebranding and look forward to sharing that with you very soon. Of course please follow us on twitter, like us on Facebook, sign up for our RSS feed or email subscription and feel free to forward us to anyone that you think might like our little blog.

 

Our Heroes – Lego Hero Factory

Jack received several Lego Hero Factory toys for his birthday in January. At the time, I didn’t know anything about them. I was afraid that they would be similar to traditional Legos that have thousands of pieces and have to be “played with” gently or they fall apart.

Don’t get me wrong I love the idea of Legos and the creativity involved in coming up with a design and the engineering required to put it together. But it has been our experience that they aren’t very durable once they are together, making them difficult to play with for younger kids.

The Lego Hero Factory product line is a completely different story. The pieces are bigger, snap together firmly, swivel and turn to facilitate play, but don’t fall apart. Now in the hands of a two year old nothing is indestructible, but Jack is able to easily play with his guys.

Jack now has about five characters from the series and he interchanges the pieces creating new characters or moves the shields and weapons around. He will look at a photo of a character that he doesn’t have and try to create it from the pieces he does have. It has led to a lot of fun and creativity. Most of the neighborhood boys have Hero Factory toys, so conversations at the bus stop or parties will be about who has which character, who is a good guy or bad guy and who will win in a pretend battle.

Lego has even created an area on their website where kids can go (with parental approval) to create their own Hero Factory character and play games. They are also creating new characters or upgrades to existing characters, prompting more discussions of how Furno 3.0 is better than Furno 2.0.

A few months ago Jack was helping Jim in the garage and found some pipe fittings that he put on his fingers. He added a helmet and some other materials to make himself into a Hero Factory costume. I love that he can turn simple items into something wonderful and creative.

It is funny how expectations often times don’t turn out, well, as expected. We have been pleasantly surprised at how much Hero Factory has inspired even more creativity in a boy with an already vivid imagination.

Badges of Fun – August

As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are drawing our  summer inspiration from Disney FamilyFun Magazine’s Badges of Fun program where  you earn “badges” by completing fun family activities. In August, the great  activities were all centered around hitting the road and making road trips  easier and more fun with young kids. If there is one thing I know (hopefully I know more than one) it is about road-tripping with kids.

At least once a year, we drive from Seattle to Lodi,  California and back – about 14 +/- hours in the car each way. Yes, we do it all  in one day because it has been our experience that piling two adults, two kids and a dog into a cheap motel room equals no sleep for anyone, even the dog. It also doubles the amount of packing and unpacking so the pain of spending all day in the car is more than worth it.

The key to keeping your sanity of road trips, no matter the length, is planning ahead and packing the car appropriately. For our camping trips this year I started making a reading box which sits neatly between the boy’s seats in the car. It contains books, coloring books, crayons and other reading material.  Luckily I have two readers. Once we arrive at the campground, it moves into Poppy (our trailer) for bedtime or if they wake up early.

Each boy also packs a bag of toys. I have taken two reusable six-pack wine carriers and cut out the dividers, because these are smaller than the regular shoppers. They hold the right amount of toys and not only provide toys for the car, but also for use once we arrive at our destination.

Since you can’t have a road trip without food, I also pack our snack bag that sits on the floor right behind the center console for easy access. This includes not only kid snacks, but adult snacks too (hello Chex Mix,) especially if we are going to be on the road for a while. I have found that the freeze dried fruit slices (available at Costco) make a great healthy
snack that isn’t sticky.

Finally, for the adults, the keys to road trip sanity are DVD players and iPods. I know some people may be opposed to them, but for us we couldn’t do it without them. It’s like refusing pain medication during surgery – why bother? They don’t hand out awards at the end for those that endured the most pain and no one is any worse for wears as a result. Memorial Day weekend we went camping and got caught in traffic that added two extra hours to our drive (a 3.5 hour drive, became a 5.5 hour drive) and most of that extra time
was spent stopped on the freeway. The boys were complete angels, happily watching movies and eating snacks.

Are you participating in the Badges of Fun series? I would love to hear about what activities you are doing.

Our Summer Soundtrack

The boys love music and dancing, as evidenced by Jack’s birthday party theme and dance videos I have posted. Since Jack got his iPod last Christmas they usually have something playing all the time. Jack and Will pick and choose the songs, often listening to the same ones over and over again.

Unfortunately in my car I am not able to connect my iPod and choose the songs (Jim’s car is new and came with iPod hook up,) so we have to go totally old school and listen to the radio. Every once in a while I will burn a CD of with some fun songs, just in case we need a change. The boys don’t quite understand that you can’t just tell the radio which song you want and have it play the request.

Will has started to request certain songs and when he hears one in the car he likes, it is common to hear “turn up.” I have also heard “new song,” when it isn’t one he likes. Thanks to Jim and me, they have an eclectic taste in music — from Linkin Park and Alice in Chains to Britney Spears and Katy Perry.

Their current favorite list includes:

  1. Linkin Park “New Divide” – from the 1st Transformers movie
  2. LMFAO “Party Rock Anthem” – this always gets a “turn up” from the back seat
  3. Britney Spears “I Wanna Go”
  4. Gorillaz “Feel Good Inc.” – Jack loves the laugh
  5. Gym Class Heroes “Stereo Hearts” (featuring Adam Levine)

What is your summer sound track?

I am linking up with Monday Listicles from Northwestmommy.com.

Mom’s new tools

Top 5 new tools that makes my life easier as a Mom.

1. iPod – We gave Jack an iPod touch for Christmas. It is great, because it holds his music, movies and games all in one device and is very portable. The boys love to play music in their playroom on his iHome. Will likes to watch movies on my iPod nano.

2. Portable DVD player – Until the iPods and even for Will on the airplane and on a road trip this is a life saver. Over the weekend we were stuck in traffic for 2 hours and he happily watch movies the whole time. We also take it restaurants and after they eat their dinner they can watch a movie. It allows us to enjoy a nice meal.

3. Ergo – Again I didn’t have this with Jack, but got it with Will. It is a soft carrier that you can use to carry them on your front, back or side. When he was small he would sleep through Husky games in it on my chest. I still use it for him. He rode it this weekend actually.

4. Exersaucer – I didn’t use one with Jack, but with Will it was amazing. He used to sit and play while I could get dinner made. He thought it was great.

5. Bumbo seat – This molded seat allows babies to sit up before their tummy muscles are strong enough. Will would sit with us at the dinner table.

My Mom Book

In the May issue of Real Simple magazine, there was a great article about the Mom Book. The book has been made by her kids over time. A couple times through the year they make a new “entry” in it and give it to her as a gift, like at Mother’s Day, Christmas and her birthday. Some of the entries are written, some have hand drawn pictures or hand prints, but each captures the child at that moment in time.

I thought this was a great idea; a good way to capture memories as they grow. I gave Jim the article and he organized the first entries into my Mom Book. (I still need to get the book, but I have the first pages for it.)

Jack has started writing notes, spelling phonetically (this is for another post), but it is so cute what he decides to say. In class they have been writing a sentence, then drawing a picture about it, so he has had practice doing this. For his stuff he drew a picture of us camping and another one of us working on the patio.

mom book 1

mom book 2  mom book 3

Will’s skills aren’t quite as advanced, so we are lucky that he didn’t eat the pen. His next entries I am sure will start to show his artistic talents.

mom book 4

I love my new book and can’t wait for the next entries.

On our way–Hawaii part 1

You may be wondering where I have been. Aloha, we were in Hawaii.

The last time Jim and I were in Hawaii was almost 11 years ago for our honeymoon. We were both in need of a tropical vacation and excited for the boys to experience it. However we had to get through the flight with a toddler AND we weren’t sitting all together. I wonder who drew the short straw and got Will, HMMM, I wonder.

We have done car trips and plane rides, but until this trip not a plane ride over 2 hours. Jack was a great traveler, even 14 hours in the car he would eat, sleep and watch movies. Will has been a bit more of a challenge, but recently he has become more interested in watching movies so I was hopeful.

Early Sunday morning, the morning of the time change, (not good planning on my part) we headed to the airport for the 6 hour plane flight to Kona, Hawaii. Jim arranged for a car service to take us and all of our bags (3 duffels, 1 golf bag, 5 backpacks, 2 car seats and a stroller) to the airport. A white super stretch limo arrived. Jack was so excited. He loved the lights inside and wanted to watch the TV. We were worried about how to get all of our stuff from the car to the counter, but luckily a sky cap noticed us and came over to solve our problem. We even made it through security without any incidents.

Next on our list was breakfast. Our tradition is Starbucks in the terminal. After that we wanted to walk off some of the energy, so we walked down to the end of the C terminal, even though our gate was at the end of the D terminal. When we arrived at our gate 45 minutes before our flight they were already boarding. I was not prepared, needing to go potty, change Will, fill water bottles and pack the stroller, but on the plane we went.

After some seating adjustments, Will and I moved from the aisle middle to window middle, then the person who was supposed to sit next to me moved too. (No Will didn’t drive him away.) A nice guy from Alaska ended up sitting next to us, luckily he was very understanding of the almost 2 year old with me. Jack and Jim were 2 rows behind us. We opted not to schlep the full car set, because we have an airplane harness that turns the lap belt into a 3 point strap. This was Will’s first time using it (because this is the first time he had his own seat) and he did pretty well. He probably would have been happier in his car seat, but it would have been a lot more for us to carry through the airport.

Boy, 6 hours on a plane is a long time. We read books, played with toys, watched movies, ate and he even slept for about 30 minutes. I thought for sure we were getting close and I looked at my watch to realize we still had over 2 hours left. Daddy came in to help for a little while, taking him for a walk and seeing his brother.  He doesn’t like keeping his headphones on, so I tried turning on the speakers at a low level so the flight attendant didn’t give me attitude. (I had one tell me when Jack was little that it was “Alaska Airlines policy that everyone wear headphones.”)

Will got upset a couple times, but overall he did well. My seat however was so uncomfortable, I am not sure why, but my back hurt so bad. Then as we were descending my ears wouldn’t pop. (It didn’t pop until about 2 hours after landing.)

We made it! Without any major outbursts, screaming fits or making a big mess. I think that is a small miracle.

Stay tuned for more of our tropical vacation and photos. (I am still working on uploading them.)

Sometimes its about me

Not very often, but sometimes it is about mom. Today’s post is one of those.

A couple months ago I decided I needed to update my frumpy mom style. I was finally close to my goal weight (are we ever actually at our goal weight or do we always wish we were 5 pounds lighter.) I had a closet full of clothes, some that fit, others that didn’t and I wanted to try to use what I could to come up with my style.

Luckily my neighbor across the street, Sylvia, is a clothing designer and a wardrobe consultant on the side. So what is a wardrobe consultant you might be asking (or maybe you aren’t smarty pants), well she takes your body measurements and determines your body type and then uses that to help you find what clothes look best on you.

We spent about 2.5 hours in my closet with me trying on almost every item of clothing I own. I am now much closer with Sylvia since she has seen me in my underwear. It is funny how after she does your body assessment and tells you want type of clothes look best on you and then you put on something that isn’t in that category and you realize that it looks terrible. After that you realize that you have been wearing those pants or shirt or sweater for months or years and couldn’t quite put your finger on why it looked off.

It turns out that I am a Medium Triangle. That means that my shoulders are narrower than my hips and I should wear clothes that try to balance my hips and shoulders out creating an hourglass figure. Namely v-necks or boat neck tops, straight leg or boot cut pants and skirts that are no longer than knee length. I am supposed to avoid crew neck tops and ones with raglan sleeves, wide leg pants and long skirts. My celebrity body stand-in is Jennifer Lopez, not sure if I like that or not.

After we had reviewed my closet, Sylvia made me a list of items to help fill in the gaps in my wardrobe. It wasn’t a crazy big list, it was realistic. She helped me with some particular pieces that I didn’t know how to use. Then I went shopping. One thing you must know about me is that I am not a shopper. I was born without that gene (my mom and sister are the same way) we are all good for a couple hours and a few stores before we hit the wall. Once I had my new items she came back over to look over my purchases and help me work them into outfits.

There are few things in life that just make you feel better, a new haircut or a good outfit. I had such a good experience with Sylvia that I gave a consultation to my mom for Christmas. It was a bit more difficult since her closet is in California and we are in Seattle, but we had a plan. Sylvia would do a body assessment for her and then we would go shopping.

I hadn’t been shopping with my mom without kids since Jack was born, so it was fun. We shopped with Sylvia, then met my aunts and cousin for lunch and believe it or not we went back and shopped some more. It may have been a record for us.

Now I look at my closet differently, building outfits instead of seeing individual pieces. When I am shopping now I look at clothes to see how they will fit and try to fill in gaps or make my closet better, not just buying a piece because it is cute.

Hopefully now I am more fashionable and not just frumpy mom. Some days I still feel frumpy, but other days I feel great.

Project Mom – Casting Submission

jack and mommy

I am a mom of two boys who writes about our struggles to help our youngest son overcome what will be a lifelong visual impairment, and our attempts as a family to embrace what life gives us each day.

My journey into motherhood began abruptly when Jack, my oldest, was diagnosed with severe reflux and a milk protein intolerance at 10 days old. At 4 months old he refused the bottle completely and we started him with a feeding tube. He was tube fed until he was 2.5 years old, when we completed a feeding reintroduction program through Seattle Children’s Hospital. Now he is the best eater we know and the scar from his tube on his tummy is the only remaining evidence of his struggle.

We waited to have a second baby until Jack overcame his eating issues, so they are 4 years apart. After William was born, he immediately showed the same signs, so we started him on the formula we finally found worked for Jack. At 5 months old Will began to refuse the bottle, which sent me into a tailspin. The blog was born out of that horrific experience as an outlet to express myself and a way to cope with what appeared to be lightening striking twice.

In one week we were elated to learn that Will didn’t have gastroenteritis, through an endoscopy and upper GI. However elation turned to devastation after discovering he had a rare eye condition called ocular albinism. This condition leads to a decreased amount of pigment in the retina and to diminished visual acuity and vision impairment. My blog immediately shifted from feeding difficulties to understanding his eyes. In March we found out that Jack may actually have a mild form of the condition as well and are waiting for confirmation at our next appointment in the fall.

This isn’t what I expected motherhood would to be, but I feel lucky that my boys are otherwise healthy. We have tried very hard to make life as normal for both of them as we can through all of their struggles. The blog is a chronicle of the good and the difficult, since life with two boys can be a challenge even on the best days. I hope you will follow our journey and consider us for Project Mom.

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