Using Our Words

http://usingourwords.com/

I’m Amy, the mom (of 3) next door. UsingOurWords.com is my slice-of-life blog that's filled with lessons I’ve learned (usually the hard way), laughs I’ve enjoyed (mostly at my own expense), and tears I’ve shed (I’m a mama with heart).

Amy is a winner of Top 25 NorCal Moms - 2013

What's the best part of raising a family in NorCal?

The beach, the mountains, the museums, the parks, the hills, the valleys — this area is full of beauty, wonder, and things to discover.

What's the biggest misconception about living in NorCal?

Well, I'm afraid the cost of living being high is no misconception. But after spending the summer road tripping around California, there's no question it's worth every penny. (Yes, even that many!)

What do your kids love most about living in NorCal?

Honestly, I don't think my kids have a clue how lucky they are. Simply being able to play sports on our front lawn year round is something they've never thought much about. But I'm doing my best to teach them.

What's the best playground in San Francisco or the Bay Area?

Amy, Using Our Words

I second Magic Mountain Playground at Coyote Point in San Mateo. I also love the huge field for kicking balls and flying kites. The kids love watching the planes coming in and out of SFO.
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What is a fun and creative way to preserve baby memories?

Amy, Using Our Words

For my baby, I started at her one-week birthday taking pictures of her weekly on the same blanket. Each week I try to show off a "trick" or favorite toy/outfit to remember the progression and milestones. For my bigger boys, I'm constantly writing down things they say in the Notepad on my iPhone. I try to update my family blog often and plan to use Blurb to make it into books for my kids as they get older.
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What is the best place to raise children: city, suburbs, or a rural town?

Amy, Using Our Words

I definitely agree with the general sentiment. Love is where your home is. Ours just happens to be in the suburbs and we do love it. Here's a snip-it of a piece I wrote about it (which, when you remove the suburbs lead in, can probably apply anywhere that you have a close-knit community): I am so grateful for the life lessons that my kids are learning living in our neighborhood. They’re learning about generosity. That people share their time, food, toys, and even humidifiers to make someone else’s day a bit easier. They’re learning that there’s always something to celebrate—new babies, birthdays, holidays, Fridays—and that celebration is all the more special when you’re surrounded by friends. They’re learning that every family makes their own choices, has different beliefs and finds happiness in a variety of ways. They’re learning that a smile and a wave (particularly if it comes from a dog’s tail) can make your day. And if you ask me, that’s pretty cool.
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What's your kids' favorite backyard game?

Amy, Using Our Words

Ok, so it's really a front yard game in our home, but I create a mini city in chalk on our driveway. My boys ride bikes and scooters around "town", sometimes racing, sometimes stopping for gas/groceries/ice cream. When it's not raining, it can last for days. Read more at the link above!
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What's an easy recipe a babysitter can make?

Amy, Using Our Words

We're making a conscious effort to make healthy "simple" meals. (Not that boxed Mac 'n Cheese has completely disappeared from the mix *yet*.) My new quick go-to meal is 3-minute brown rice from the freezer section of Trader Joe's (they also have white), a can of black beans and some sauteed veggies (could do frozen veggie mix). Throw a little teriyaki sauce on and the kids love it!
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Please share a link to a photo of your child's funniest drawing.

Amy, Using Our Words

When my five-year-old son told me he was working on his Facebook at school, I couldn't help but wonder why on earth his kindergarten teacher was letting them go online. Then this came home... http://usingourwords.com/2011/11/13/10-things-i-learned-this-week-vol-40/
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What's a great item to include in a birthday goodie bag? Please include a link to a photo if you have one.

Amy, Using Our Words

My kids love having a birthday CD to give to friends as a favor. We do our best to pick songs that are kid AND adult friendly. (Since one of my younger son's bday is at Thanksgiving, we do a Christmas mix each year.) It's a fun reminder of their favorite songs at the time, and it doesn't clutter the house.
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What's a great school lunch box meal your kids love? Include a link to a photo if you have one!

Amy, Using Our Words

My kids favorite lunches change about every two weeks. Colorful pepper slices, TJ's organic popcorn, melted cheese & turkey wraps are a few of our favorites. My friend, Terra, had an awesome idea on how to put together a list of ideas at the beginning of the year—turn it into a game. Empower your kids to taste different foods and give them the big thumbs up—or down. You'll definitely want to read this post for inspiration!
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What's your children's favorite lullaby?

Amy, Using Our Words

I definitely sing the classic lullabies to my little ones, but MY favorite lullaby is a rock ballad. Crazy, right? Sweet Child O'Mine has the most beautiful lyrics — especially for my blue-eyed babes. I polled other parents for unlikely lullabies and featured them on Disney Baby recently -- here's the link.
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How did you feel dropping off your child on the first day of school? Please share a link to a picture if you have one!

Amy, Using Our Words

While we still have a couple weeks left before school starts this year, last year when my son started kindergarten I was VERY pleasantly surprised. He's a very sensitive child, so I was prepared for the worst. It ended up being, well, read the post...
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What's one of the worst messes your child has made? Please share a link to a photo if you have one.

Amy, Using Our Words

My kids make huge messes daily. It's like it's their job. So why not lead them to success and LET them make a mess? At least then it's *slightly* contained. Here are some ways we do it...
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What's your child's favorite thing to do in the snow? Please include a link to a picture if you have one.

Amy, Using Our Words

My kids' favorite thing about the snow is me. Well, my undivided attention that is. Click to see what I mean...
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You know you're a mom when... (please fill in the blank!) and link to a picture if it's relevant.

Amy, Using Our Words

...when you watch The Sound of Music and cry. Not because of how wonderful it is (but it is, isn't it?), but because of how much you relate to the horribly mean Captain.
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From Twister to "sardines in a can," we're always looking for indoor games that get our kids moving and burning off energy! Can you share a physical game your kids love that can be played inside?

Amy, Using Our Words

I have extremely physical boys, so I have to find great ways for them to burn off steam when we're stuck inside. Here are a few of my go-to moves.
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Spring is almost here! What's an activity you love to do with your kids in the springtime? Please include a link to a picture if you have one!

Amy, Using Our Words

One of our favorites is playing our favorite sports, but with water balloons. Baseball, basketball, etc. This link highlights four of our other favorites too!
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How did you track milestones and special moments during your baby's first year? Please share a link to an image if it's relevant.

Amy, Using Our Words

I decided to take weekly pictures with the same blanket to track my daughter's first year. I'd include or capture something that was important to her that week. All the details and tips are in this blog post.
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Can you suggest a fun craft to do with kids that uses things found in nature like pine cones, leaves, flowers, or sticks?

Amy, Using Our Words

I love using flowers as paint brushes. It's a fun way to create different textures and when the petals fall off, it adds dimension to the project. I wrote about it, plus some other fun painting ideas at this link.
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What's your family's favorite book about (or for) kids and dads? Please include a link to the book.

Amy, Using Our Words

My boys love The Kiss that Missed and Good Knight Sleep Tight by David Melling. They're very playful, but meaningful stories for fathers and sons.
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What's a fun arts & crafts or science activitiy that's perfect to do outside because of the mess? Please include a link to a picture if you have one.

Amy, Using Our Words

Well, our favorite outside activity in the spring/summer is kind of a science project. We love to play water balloon baseball. (This link talks about that and more fun activities...)
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For car and plane trips, what are some small toys, games, or other fun tiny surprises to bring along or pack in your child's backpack? Please mention the age range for the item and include a link to a picture if you have one.

Amy, Using Our Words

My favorite travel tip is to make a scotch tape tab on crayons so they don't roll off of clipboards or tray tables. Check out the post I wrote with that idea and lots more...
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Does your family have a good way of repurposing empty toilet paper tubes? Please share a link to a how-to with a picture.

Amy, Using Our Words

While I'm not so great at projects, I was inspired and can't wait to do a grab bag sculpture this summer. (Details in the link.)
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Do you have a hobby you share with your child? If so, let us know what it is and at what age kids can start participating, and links to a picture we can use if you have one!

Amy, Using Our Words

Growing up, swimming was something that built my confidence, made me friends, and taught me about hard work. I love seeing that my kids are all water babies and do all that I can to encourage them and share the experience with them.
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