Category Archives: Family

Hogwarts Holiday Weekend

Well hello, friends!

Is anyone still out there in blog land? Lately I’ve been checking in on a few blogs that I used to faithfully read and it has ignited a fire in me to sit down, check-in and write a little post here and there since I haven’t done one since mid-December 2015!

I wanted to share our adventure yesterday to Universal Studios and our maiden voyage to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Now, Universal Studios is NOT my favorite place. I do not care for the virtual reality, nausea inducing rides. In all honesty, I’d much rather suit up in a bathing suit and go 10 minutes away to Hurricane Harbor. BUT, the other 75% of my family LOVE Universal, so I swallow my pride, go with them and usually hold the camera bag and sweatshirts while they ride.

However, yesterday was different.

Elliott has started reading the Harry Potter series and is OBSESSED. She has been asking to take her little friend, Emma, for the past couple weeks as the two are certain they are part of Gryffindor House.


For just $10 more than a day’s visit, we bought passes that are good through February ’17 and I’m so glad we did. I went into yesterday’s trip 110% clueless on all things HP. I have no desire to read the books and wizardry isn’t something that has ever interested me {Sorry J.K. Rowling}. But the minute I walked into Harry’s World, I was under the spell. It was all kinds of awesome. Seeing the joy and wonder on their faces was priceless. We let them lead the way {our friend Emma had already been} and our first stop was a short rollercoaster, Flight of the Hippogriff.

We then waited in line to enter Ollivanders to learn all about wands.


Once inside, Elliott was chosen to test out several wands and be fitted for one perfect for her. For me, this was the most magical part of the day.


After that, we strolled into Honeydukes and picked up something for our sweet tooth. The kids chose some candy from the bulk bins to snack on during then day. They also had Peppermint Frogs and lots of other sweet treats that I would love to sample on our next visits!

We hit a couple other attractions {The Mummy, a foiled attempt at The Walking Dead Attraction and the ever popular Studio Tour} before and after lunch at City Walk, but the kids were chomping at the bit to go back to Harry Potter World and go on the Forbidden Journey ride {wait time was about an hour}. I opted out of this one and again, held all the belongings and met everyone at the exit.

We also enjoyed watching the Frog Choir, sipping on a frozen Butterbeer and using Elliott’s new “Willow” wand to cast spells in the windows throughout Hogsmeade.



It was just a great day and I seriously can’t wait to go back!


There is talk about being Hermione for Halloween and the kids are watching the first movie as I type this.



With Labor Day supposedly signaling the end of summer, I am happy to say that my favorite season is upon us. I have been burning my Coconut Pumpkin candle, researching & making comfort food and stalking Trader Joe’s for their seasonal autumnal goodness. I am ready to dig my Uggs out from the bottom of the coat closet, trade my tanks for chunky sweaters and have football on during the weekends!

Bring it.

Mickey Mouse’s House ~ Fall ’15

Well, HELLO!

I’ve been a terrible, terrible blogger. The summer came and went and we are now knee deep in my favorite season….FALL! I have grabbed all things pumpkin and pumpkin spice at Trader Joe’s, lit my Pumpkin Donut candle every evening and am so close to getting my Uggs out of hiding as the weather seems to be cooling down…knocking on wood. One day it’s rainy here and the next it’s in the 100s. So weird.

In June Elliott got a 3-day park hopper ticket and only used 2 days so we had her Minnie Mouse Disneyland ticket staring us in the face and decided to go as a family before it expired. The kids had last Wednesday off due to parent/teacher conferences so Jay took the day off and we headed down I-5 to Mickey Mouse’s House. We hadn’t been sine 2012! Again, where does the time go?


I had resigned to the fact that there are no more “uncrowded” Disney days and was prepared to wait in 1+ hour lines for the main attractions. Well, boy was I wrong. We were able to hit 7 big rides before lunch ~ all with wait times under 20 minutes. I was blown away.


The longest we waited was for Splash Mountain which is one of my faves. It was a rather warm day so we dried off in no time.


After lunch I demanded that we only do low key rides since my roller coaster threshold is a lot lower these days. We hit up Autopia, Small World, the carousel and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride before enjoying our first Dole Whip! I can’t believe I have never gotten one of these before. I think we waited in line about 10 minutes, but it was well worth it.


The park closed to the general public at 6:00pm which was perfect as the kiddos had school the next day.


Next year we’ll definitely try to get tickets to Mickey’s Halloween Party. How fun would it be to dress up and trick or treat your way down Main Street and through the rest of the “Lands”?

I must say, it was the most perfect day. The 2 hour ride there and back could have been a little shorter, but……hello….L.A.!!!!




We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~ Walt Disney

Summer So Far…


We’re in our second week of summer her at FFF…we’ve been on the go since school got out on the 12th! Forcing  myself to have a day at home today to get caught up on household chores and get a break from the sun & heat!

Last week we hit Hurricane Harbor twice and the pool once. Needless to say we will be going through lots of sunscreen in the next 7 weeks. I also picked up a couple more SPF rash guards for the kids, too.



I drew up out Summer Bucket List and we’ve already checked a few things off…


Unfortunately cherry picking is no longer an option as the season was shortened this year.

On June 13th we participated in The Color Run at Dodger Stadium and again, had a great time!


We had a coupon for Rita’s and used it for an after dinner treat last week…


{Island Fusion Gelati with vanilla custard}

Holden has started summer basketball and is loving it. I signed him up last summer, but was too late and never got called off the wait list. He is on The Scorpions and has a wonderful coach and a nice group of boys as teammates. They played their first game last weekend and came away with a W {10-4}…..looking forward to this new sport in the Aspiras household! I kind of felt like a fish out of water since basketball is new to us. I have a few things to learn about the rules as I was totally clueless! LOL Double dribble what?!? 😉


So blessed to live in a city with an awesome youth sports mentality. We’ll find this little guys passion eventually….this is his third sport since January!! He loved flag football in Winter, had a great baseball season this Spring and is now looking confident out on the court. Oh, and he’s all signed up for soccer in the Fall!

Last, but certainly not least, I have found a new summer coffee beverage…


{iced coffee with 2 pumps sugar free syrup of choice and a splash of half & half or “breve” if you’re feeling fancy}


I hope your summer is off to an amazing start.

Here’s to popsicle drips, flip flop tan lines, bronzed shoulders and laundering lots and lots of towels!


Rolling Into Double Digits ~ A Skating Party

Let me start off by saying, “Second post in as many days.”  It’s a miracle! We have a rainy afternoon and the kids got out early….that translates to perfect blogging conditions.

Last weekend we celebrated Elliott’s 10th birthday. I wanted to combine it with Mother’s Day weekend since my mom would already be in town {her actual birthday is May 29th}. We talked about what kind of party she’d like and since this was a milestone birthday we decided to go big! I suggested going to the roller rink since that’s what I did as a preteen/teen back in the 80s. At first she turned her nose up at the idea, but then seemed to warm up to it. I promised her that it would be FUN! Mind you, she had never roller skated before. She has ice skated several times and was pretty good at that, so I figured she’d catch on to roller skating quickly. I had intended to take her skating before the party, but that never happened. Oops!

I ordered her invites through Merriment Press on Etsy to make things simple…


These were formatted as 5X7s so they cost a little more to print {I did Target Photo, but had them sent to my home which was a lot less expensive than printing them to the store. If time permits, I suggest doing this!} and the envelopes were harder so source. I went the most economical route by grabbing some small manila envelopes at Dollar Tree and trying to pretty them up….


She wanted to do a little photo booth so I found these Kate Spade photo props at Home Goods…


The party was held at Northridge Skateland. We ended up doing a shared party which means that the rink was closed to the public, but there would be 2 other parties going on at the same time as ours. Turns out there was just one other party so that was great and made it less crowded.



We were allowed 50 skaters for our party and were given wristbands to hand out. Once the guests had their wristband, they were free to get their skate rentals and hit the floor {literally AND figuratively!!}




The party was from 5-7pm so I wanted to serve “dinner”. I was pleased to find out that you were able to bring in your own food. The only outside food not allowed was pizza. I went ahead and made things simple and ordered pizzas there and brought some snacks and drinks on my own. Elliott wanted to have her favorite, Chex Mix, and I made a couple trays of 7-layer dip for the adults to enjoy. I brought water bottles and 2-liter bottles of soda. They supplied ice which was great.




The birthday girl requested a Red Velvet Nothing Bundt cake…


She was afraid that everyone wouldn’t like red velvet so she asked for some mini 2-bite cupcakes, as well…




After we sang, she went into the birthday blaster and was able to grab little papers with numbers on them to trade for tickets and redeem for prizes.


Party favors were funky knee high socks that I found at Dollar Tree and 99¢ Only. My mom also made some cute patchwork boxes and I filled them with candy and a little note of thanks…



{I finished them off with pink and white baker’s twine.  😉 }


{selfie with the birthday girl}


I was extremely impressed with how the party flowed. I wish we could have had an extra 30 minutes because the crowd was just becoming more graceful on their skates and then all of a sudden it was time to go. LOL But everyone seemed to have a great time and couldn’t wait to go back. Our personal hostess, Christine, was awesome too. She helped set everything up, served the pizza, refilled the tortilla chips, cut the cake, bagged up the gifts and loaded the car with us.

Holden has asked to have HIS 10th birthday party there.


Many thanks to my friend Courtney and staff for an amazing evening celebrating our sweet Elliott!!


Anchored In Christ ~ A First Communion Celebration

Two weekends ago Holden made his first holy communion. Two years of CCD brought him to this point and he was looking forward to this sacrament….tired of “just” getting a blessing at communion and ready to receive the body & blood of Christ.

We worked on his banner together over Spring Break…he did the layout and I did the hot gluing.


I spent months looking for the right dress pants, shoes and tie. One day while killing time I popped into Janie & Jack and found some brown trousers on the clearance rack for under $20. And while we were enjoying a holiday stroll through The Grove back in December, again, I ran into J & J and found some darling brown wing tip boots for half price. Once we settled on the anchor icon, I knew I needed to locate a tie with said symbol and found one in navy blue from Hobo Ties on Etsy.


No photos were allowed during the ceremony, but here he is with Father Albert after mass…



{Jay just happened to already have a dress shirt with anchors on it! I found Elliott’s sailor inspired dress at for under $20. My skirt is Lauren Conrad from Kohl’s, top from Old Navy, pearl & gold statement necklace is from Target and fedora from Kmart!}

Holden had team pictures and a baseball game later that afternoon so we had a quick lunch at In N Out and shifted gears. For his special dinner, later that evening, he chose Lucille’s for ribs.


We hosted a brunch the following morning to celebrate our sweet communicant.

I found some simple little anchor notecards at Target for the invitations and that quickly became the theme of his celebration brunch ~ a nautical nod to this very big faith milestone.


I had a couple pieces of wood laying around in the garage and decided to make a sign with the Hebrews verse that prompted me to go with the anchor icon for this special occasion…


I put a light coat of white on it to give it a beachy, white-washed look, hand wrote the design in pencil and then pained over it with metallic gold and navy blue paints.


I don’t have a good picture of them, but the party favors were a faux succulent pictured on the mantel to the right of the sign and a little bag of peppermint Lifesavers. The succulents were a huge hit. Everyone couldn’t believe they were artificial and was glad they required absolutely NO water!


I saw the Lifesaver idea on Pinterest for a nautical baby shower and had the little paper treat bags, but wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. The mints were perfect and I added a little label with the verse Jeremiah 31:24 ~ “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”.

We have a huge vintage Cinzano poster in our dining area that I covered with wrapping paper to give this space a more cohesive and festive look…


I also hung 2 of these navy paper lanterns over our huge dining table.

The paper plates, napkins, straws & cups are all from either Target or Home Goods. I picked these up months ago knowing I’d most likely go with navy blue & some shade of green.


Fortunately being close to summer, it was easy to find anchor goodies!


{large anchor from Marshalls and “Let’s Set Sail” sign from Home Goods}


For the brunch, I tried to keep things simple. We had a couple baked egg casseroles {one with sausage, cheese & sourdough bread and one with artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, feta cheese and hash browns as the base} They were both a hit, however, I think most of the guests enjoyed the Mediterranean one a little more.


I also made Monkey Bread and should have made two as this stuff is ALWAYS popular and the first to go…


Fruit salad and mimosas are always a must for brunch…


Lolo & Lola ordered a 10″ marble Nothing Bundt Cake and there wasn’t a crumb left!


Holden was blessed with so many wonderful keepsake gifts of his faith, gift cards and a telescope from Gramma Kathy to look into the heavens!

It was another wonderful milestone on his faith journey and I am sad that it’s over. The next big one is confirmation in high school!

In the meantime, we’ll continue religious education and faith formation.

Glory to God in the highest.

Thumbs Up

A month or so ago this article was bouncing around Facebook and I clicked on and read through it ~ Six Reasons Parents Should Not Watch Practice .

Was I doing it all wrong? Was I supposed to just drop her off like some of the other parents? Was I not supposed to lug my chair, my blanket and my complaining son from the parking lot across the BIG field and sit for an hour and a half and watch her practice?

Was I “watching” practice or was I there to be social with the other moms? Was I staying because I felt more it was more safe being there?

Truth be told…I enjoy sitting at practices and visiting with other mamas while Holden plays with other soccer siblings. I don’t watch per se and take copious notes or correct her or make sure she’s listening to her coach. I’m just there for my daughter while she practices because it’s less stressful than running a few errands and rushing to get back by practice’s end. Generally her practices are over by 6:30 and we’re home by 7:00 for a rushed dinner, shower and bedtime on those nights. But now she’s started practicing from 6:30-8:00 and it makes for a late night.

Jay and I have been sharing the latched on parent roll {LOL} and tag teaming her practices. I’ll take her and stay ’til he gets there around 6:45 and then I’ll go home and get dinner going, get Holden fed and in the shower, etc.

Recently Jay said, “Just drop her off. Hardly any of the parents stay.” As lovely as that sounded, I had to ask myself, “Is she old enough to just be “dropped off”?” “Should I just stay until he gets there?”


Truth is….YES, she’s old enough to be left with someone that I trust for 45 minutes before Jay gets there. YES, it’s OK if I can’t {or don’t want to} stay and “watch”her practice or be there to “protect her”.

She’s almost ten. It’s time to let the leash out a little longer, so to speak. Remind her about strangers. Let her get out of the car while I pull to the side of the parking lot, grab her water jug and her bag and walk across the field to meet her coach and teammates. By herself. I don’t need to park and walk her over there.

It’s hard. I worry. I promise her that I will NOT drive off until she waves at me when she sees that her coach is there.

Tonight I sat, jack parked, and watched her walk across the big field. She stopped and looked back to see if I was still there. I was. I hadn’t yet got “the wave”. She walked a little further, then turned back and looked at me again. She started walking back towards the parking lot. I stuck my head out the window in case she needed to yell something to me. She gave me a thumbs up and smiled. I did the same. She turned and headed back across the field. And I watched her in the distance….I followed her in her hot pink Wonder Woman shirt and her light blue socks from her first AYSO season when she was on the Cotton Candy Girls. I still had to make sure she got there OK. Even though I got a thumbs up.

I hope she knows that even though I stayed long after I got the OK from her, that I trust her. And I hope she knows that when the day comes and I leave immediately after I get the OK from her, that I love her.

It’s hard to let the leash out. Part of me wants to keep it retracted and close. Not let her wander too far. Dropping her off at soccer practice is different than dropping her off at school.

It’s a learning experience for BOTH of us. Letting go for me and gaining a little bit of independence for her.

And you know what, we’re BOTH going to be OK.

Thumbs up!


Over Spring Break it hit me that Holden’s First Holy Communion was less than a month away and I hadn’t given much thought to his reception and invitations!

I had a color scheme in mind {mostly navy & green}, but not really a “theme”. As I was strolling through Target last week, I spotted these Mara Mi notecards and immediately knew that an anchor was going to be the icon for this big milestone in Holden’s faith journey.


“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” ~ Hebrews 6:19


I’ve also been on the hunt for a tie to complete his outfit for the big day. I immediately searched on-line for an anchor tie and settled on this one via Etsy…



Trying to keep the decor simple and use things I already have. Did a search for FREE anchor printables and found this one that I adore and ties in with everything…



Moving right along…..

Following this very special weekend is Elliott’s big double digit birthday celebration so I am in full swing with the party planning. There is nothing that makes me happier than seeing our kiddos at their parties & celebrations with friends and family.

Feeling anchored and extremely blessed.


Have Courage And Be Kind

It’s Spring Break over here at FFF. Elliott has had a terrible cough and we had rain yesterday, so we’ve laid low thus far. I’ve been trying to do some Spring cleaning & purging and the kids have been having fun making their own movies and playing Disney Infinity together. Although we’ve been inside most of the break, fighting has been kept to a minimum which has been nice!

Last night I took Elliott to see Cinderella while Holden and Daddy had a dinner date at Toppers. Elliott has never seen the animated version of Cinderella {where did we go wrong??}, but desperately wanted to see the live-action movie after seeing a preview during Annie at Christmas.

We both LOVED it and when I asked her on the car ride home what her favorite part was, she said “when the fairy godmother transformed everything!” Guess what….that was my favorite part, too! I also love the matching colorful frocks worn by Anastasia & Drizella. Such a great movie…I highly recommend seeing it in the theater despite the ticket prices and $9 for “small” ICEE and box of Sour Patch Watermelons!!

The message of this movie is loud and clear ~ have courage and be kind.

Simple really.

I hope Jay and I can teach this to our kiddos along with guiding them on their faith journey. After all, they both go hand-in-hand, don’t they?


So, yes. Have courage and be kind…..and a little silly, too!!


Twenty Fourteen ~ A Year In Review

Happy New Year! I am eagerly awaiting to see what 2015 will bring….it’s a big blank space just waiting to be filled with precious memories.

I hope you all had a joyous and safe NYE. We got together with several of our wonderful neighbors and overindulged on everything from Ethiopian enchiladas to key lime pie and washed it all down with everything from caramel apple sangria to Shock Tops! Needless to say I need to get back on track with my Weight Watchers program!! I have been attending the weekly meetings, but watching the pounds go up little by little here and there since the beginning of December. I did so well from early September to the end of November….the secret is to have all the right foods in the house and that has been the problem. So, tomorrow I shall gather all the right groceries to regain focus and watch the pounds head back in the right direction.


About this time each year I choose one photo per month from our iPhoto library and post it as a way to look back on the past 52 weeks. It’s difficult to narrow it down to a single moment, but that’s part of the fun.

Here are twelve memories frozen in time from Twenty14…


{Splashing in Santa Barbara on a January day}


{Game truck madness for Holden’s February birthday}


{Cosmic mother/son bowling in March}


{April brought the beginning of Spring Sports Saturdays}


{Celebrating 5 years at Star Dance Center with Miss Erin in May}


{June’s maiden voyage to Grand Central Market}


{July welcomed Auntie Anuja into the family}


{An August day at the tar pits and MOMA}


{Fall Sports Saturdays commenced in September}


{October hosted our first, and definitely not last, Color Run}


{A blurry capture of a perfect Thanksgiving}


{December brought a full house for Christmas}


This year I was surprisingly ahead of the Christmas card game…both photos that I wanted to include on it were done and captured by mid-October and our cards were in-hand by Halloween! I loved not having that hang over my head for the month of November.



The happiest of January Firsts to you!


The Year I Dressed Up As My Favorite Condiment

How is it already November 4th?

I ran into Trader Joe’s for milk and eggs this morning and the 99cent Christmas advent calendars are out, the candy cane green tea is on the shelves and the Thanksgiving staples are stacked up high! Turkey Day is 3 weeks from Thursday…

Halloween was celebrated here for what seems like weeks with a church trunk-or-treat outing mid-October, the school Fall Festival the following week and the piece de resistance last Friday night. Not to mention the school costume parade on the morning of October 31st, too.

As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t really give too much thought to the kids’ costumes. As a matter of fact, I picked up a Michelangelo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume for Holden last year at Target for 90% off {$2} and he was thrilled with it for this year. Elliott wanted to be Wednesday Addams which I thought was brilliant. I started my hunt for a white collared shirt, black dress and striped tights when I came across a darling {dead bride} costume at Ross for $12.99. It was different and well made so I picked it up and she ended up loving it so that is what we went with for her this year. I guess that means I have 12 months to procure the proper Wednesday Addams attire!

For truck-or-treat I literally went into the dress up box and pulled out two super hero costumes. Bam. Easy.




{the fall festival wasn’t ready for this motley crew}


{apparently pizza isn’t the only thing TMNT’s like to eat}


I wanted them to participate in the school parade, obviously, but tried to keep the costumes simple. Elliott begged me to take her to Party City for these suspenders and I found a cute “nerdy” math equation tee at Old Navy for under $3. Holden decided to don an old AYSO jersey and go as David Beckham. Done and done.




{a friend’s older teenage daughter did Elliott’s make-up for Halloween night}



The Tuesday before Halloween I needed some serious hocus pocus to come up with a costume for me. A friend posted a Sriracha costume on Facebook awhile ago that was from Target. I checked my local Targets for it with no luck and then decided to try I found it on sale, but had to pay expedited shipping to guarantee it here for trick-or-treatin’. I ordered it on Tuesday and it was at my door the next afternoon…


{the best $8 I’ve ever spent ~ I’ll wear it for years to come}

That’s about it, folks. We managed to carve a couple pumpkins and Elliott decorated one for the contest at school…




{Elliott’s “Girly Pumpkin”}


Is it just me or does it seem like after Halloween, the holidays are downhill from here?

Fasten your seatbelt.