Thursday, November 24, 2011

Fairy Party

Happy 5th birthday to my sweet little niece, Jaina.  I had so much fun throwing her a little fairy party!

I spent the week before the party decorating fairy wings, and making peter pan like costumes for the boys.  I  made paper mache toadstools, sewed fabric banners, and made 9 little toadstool stools for the kids to sit on at the tea party.  You can just see a little bit of all of this peeking through the pictures with the kids.  As usual my grand plans of taking pictures of everything once it was set up was thwarted by the inevitable mad dog rush that happens right before party time.  Thank goodness that in addition to the fairies showing up our good friends Jeff and his daughter Emily who couldn't stay for the party came early to help Dale and I set up.   We had an absoulutely beautiful day in  Irvine Park that made the perfect fairy setting!

My nephew Gavin wore his little fairy wings and costume the whole time.  He was so adorable toddling around in it!

Jaina and her little friends having "tea".

The tea party table with toadstool stools!

The fairy table with toadstool seats, before it was set for tea.

Giant bubbles for the fairies to ride on!

Give a boy a sword and there is no end to the fun running around that they will have!  Plus it balanced things out nicely with the wands for the girls.

The kids hunted for little trinkets and treasures and added them to their fairy jars!  The boys recieved small knights for their jars.

There were lots of laughs and giggles when Dale suited up for the Gnome on the roam game! (the kids had a good time too!) It was basically tag but if the kids touched him with their wand or sword he had to freeze and throw out candy!  The kids  loved this!  The adults cracked up!  

 I made a miniature version of the party for the fairies and set it up behind a tree for the kids to find.  With all the running around I thought for sure they would find it and left it as a surprise.  I realized once the party was was never discovered!  We led Jaina and Gavin to the area and they "found" it. I really  love this sweet little picture.  It's one of my all time favorites.

Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July In America

The 4th of July in Modjeska Canyon California.  My Dad, Rusty Richards, leads the parade every year on his horse, Traveler.  I don't live in the canyon anymore but we go every year serving the important role of parade viewers cheering them on since it seems most of the canyon residents are in the parade.  Modjeska canyon is a dead end so you get to see most of the parade twice;  once as they come officially down the canyon and then again as they make their way back up to the park for a hot dog roast.

If you've got a dog or a horse or you can deck yourself out or anything that rolls in red, white and blue, your'e in!

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Up Up and Away!

How lame am I?  I have spent the last hour checking the live flight status map for Lufthuansa airlines, watching Becky's plane fly over Germany and Italy.   She's off to start her one month adventure in Italy, studying abroad with her school.  I know she is a 22 year old woman, but I am still me, her mom, and I felt weird walking away from my baby girl at the airport as she headed off on her own to a foreign country for the first time.  She is traveling alone and will arrive the day before the rest of her group.  Travel to Italy by yourself?  No problem for my girl.  I on the other hand have that other personality; infused with the worrying nature bestowed upon me by my mother and enhanced with a decade of work in the safety field.  It is hard to undue such carefully crafted training, but it has been a work in progress since the day she was born. 
This girl likes to fly!  And I am not just talking about airplanes.  She loves to try new things, to feel that fear and to overcome it.  I have seen her do it hundreds of times now, often while I am comfortably settled in my cushy chair in the audience.  And I have developed certain coping skills.  Well one coping skill; I drink!  I pound a glass of Chardonnay just before show time and I am good to go.  
So once again she is off on some new and exciting adventure.  And I hope I encouraged her to do it and enjoy it and to make the most of the opportunities that she has.  I think I did.  And the traveling by yourself to a foreign country thing?   I think I was mostly cool about that.  I peppered her with little bits of safety advice all day yesterday while she was packing, and the whole way to the airport, but I was definitely cool.  The last communication I  had with her yesterday was the text message that she sent to her dad telling him to go buy me a drink, so I am fairly confident that I pulled off that cool thing.  
Arrivederci Rebecca!  Avere un grande tempo!  Which I hope means farewell and have a great time!  I am super proud of you.  I love your sense of adventure, your confidence and your independence!  Also I see on the flight status report that you have landed and isn't it about time that you email me????

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Car Party! Vroom!

Hooray for Gavin!  My beautiful baby nephew turned ONE!  Isn't he just the cutest?

He is a really happy little guy who is so much fun to be around.  He likes everybody and gives big sloppy hugs and kisses.  He has a special fondness for anything that he can roll, so in honor of this very special occasion I was delighted to host a car themed birthday party for him!

There are lots of fun things to do when it's a car party!

I made some fabric flag banners:  Blue, green, red, yellow, teal, and black and white checkered.

(I always forget to get pictures when I am rushing around but here is the treats and toys buffet after it had been hit up.)  I thought the pool floatie tire on the wall was a nice touch!  The big race car checks look so cute with all of the other bright colors.

I knocked myself out on these oreo wheels (haha).  
But I also made some on sticks dipped in chocolate that were a hit.

I Painted a few simple car pictures for decorations.

These little wooden shaped cars were unpainted at the dollar tree, a little paint and vroom!  I Loved these gas pumps I found so much...I couldn't resist!

We had a few fun games for the toddler crowd.  The babies liked playing with the magnetic board and peeling the tic tac tow vehicles on and off the velcro.  A sticky dart game and a tire bean bag toss turned out to be cute decorations.

I missed getting any pictures of the towering stack of cupcakes I had baked, but Gavins mommy (my niece) Melody made him the most adorable nascar teddy bear cake!
Didn't it turn out cute?

Happy 1st Birthday Sweet Baby Boy!

Becky's CD Release Concert

Hooray for Becky!  My daughter Becky had her CD release concert on the 5th of June and she did an amazing  job.  Peter Dobson, Sue Cross, and Michael Fickling all played with her in the concert and all of them play on the CD: Put Up Your Dukes by Becky Sanders. They were fantastic.   It was another lovely proud parent moment for me to get to go watch her.   I love to see her perform, and this performance with the band was especially fun.   Her cute stage presence and little bits of comedic chatter made for an all around entertaining performance.  I am super proud of that girl.  And now she finally has the CD up for sale and it is on  I-tunes and CD Baby, so Yeah!  You go baby girl!  And hooray for me.....I spawned that!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ooops the post that didn't post...Easter 2011

(The devine Miss Jaina Rocks the Party at Easter)

Is there anything more precious
Than little girls in dresses
When they celebrate spring
By deciding to sing?

With the nozzle for a hose
She strikes a rockstar pose
And the whole world's a stage
When it's spring and four's your age!

(I have such cute videos of Jaina that day but I couldn't get them to upload :-(.....maybe one day)

Plus more fun!

 Easter Egg Hunt!

 Rubber Ducky Races!

Becky Loads up in the morning!

Friday, June 10, 2011

What's In A Name?

    What’s in a name?  My dog is about to turn 16 years old. Her name is Mischief, and she has lived up to it fully.  With every transgression, chewing something up, accidents where they shouldn’t have happened, my sister would give me a hard time about it, ”well what do you expect you named her Mischief.”  Then several years later she got a puppy, she named her Lacy.  The first time she left her home alone in her puppy crate, the puppy got out and my sister came home to find that she had shredded her antique lace tablecloth, Lacy indeed!  
    It’s always a little funny when someones name matches their occupation or hobby.  I had a professor in college by the name of Dr Sailor with a great big sailboat that he was kind enough to take a big group of us out on one day.  You see people with funny names every once in a while; Dr Smiley who’s a dentist, the unfortunately named medical doctor, Dr Kwak.
A couple of nights ago the promo announcement for the CBS evening news made me laugh so hard I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote it down verbatim.  The newscaster announced:  “He said he did it!  New developments in the Weiner scandal, tonight at 11:00!”   Cracked me up!  Yeah he even managed to get elected to congress with a name like Weiner, but the poor guy never really had a chance!  Also these are trying times to be a newscaster.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dolphins and Memories of Jenny

     I enjoyed a beautiful walk on Aliso Creek Beach this afternoon.  It was the kind of spontaneous summer moment that leaves you slogging home in an uncomfortable pair of soaking wet sand filled blue jeans with a slight sunburn, but it was a beautiful lovely moment none the less.  I was blessed to be able to watch a dolphin play in the water very close to the shore once again.  This has become a familiar sight to me when I am at the beach; I almost always see dolphins if I keep my eyes peeled.  This wasn’t always the case.  Prior to a few years ago I can only think of two times that I ever saw dolphins in all the years of going to the beach. I see them now and they make me happy and make me think of my sister Jenny. 

  It doesn’t take much for me to think of Jenny, she has been gone for 6 years now this June and I think of her and miss her all of the time.  Jenny loved the ocean and the beach communities.  She had a lot of friends in Laguna Beach and grew up playing guitar and singing in many of the local bars and restaurants in the beach areas.  She loved to walk on the beaches and body surf in the waves.  One of the last special moments that I had with her we spent at the beach.  Jenny had a very brief and intense battle with Cancer.  Her first round of chemo caused her to immediately gain 30 pounds of extra fluid weight and she was too weak to go home from the hospital so she wound up in a rehab hospital for 3 weeks.  She only had a couple of decent days home before she had to go back for the next round of chemo, but on one of those days I grabbed her and took her down to cruise the beaches.  We got out down at Aliso Creek beach and it was a chore for her to lift her leg high enough to step up on the curb, but she laughed about it.  I just watched the light come back into her while we were there as she looked out at her special ocean free for a little while from the constant reminder of being ill that being cooped up causes.  I’ve always felt good that we had that special day together;  it gave me such a nice memory to hold onto when she didn’t make it back home from the hospital after the next round of Chemo.  My daughter Becky wrote a beautiful song in memory of her and one of the lines in the song is  “A dolphin swims in the tranquil sea, and he feels free and I think of you.”

  Later that summer one of my nieces was visiting from Pennsylvania and I took her down to Laguna Beach, as Jenny had done with her on one of her last visits.  My mind was very much on Jenny as we walked along the shore and in my head I started talking to her and silently saying that I would sure like a sign to know that everything is ok if at all possible.  The strangest thing happened a little bit later.  An entire pod of dolphins showed up in the crashing waves along the shore.  I have never seen dolphins close in like that in the waves, and in fact I was getting a little nervous like maybe they were going to beach themselves and I would have to go in and push them back in.  It really was the strangest thing I have ever seen.  They literally came up to us about as close as they could be, 7 or 8 of them.  I had just been asking for some kind of a sign and then that happened almost immediately and I feel like I got what I was asking for!  Not only that but as I said before I see dolphins now almost every time I go to the ocean.  One was swimming up inside the Dana Point harbor one day when I walked there which was really unusual.  Maybe dolphins are just way more prevalent around here these days and it all can just be explained scientifically away, but my heart feels differently.  I go to the beach much more frequently these days, and I see dolphins, and I think about my beautiful sister.  

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Haunted by a Scent

Have you ever smelled a smell that just stays with you?   Yesterday was a day like that.  I met Becky for brunch at a cafe by her house in LA where I ordered a chicken pot pie which turned out to be a very unappetizing pile of ooze dumped on a biscuit.  I ate very little of it but still managed to daintily dribble some on my shirt, which even when the visual effects were cleaned up, haunted me all day with it’s lingering smell.  This led to some good natured grousing with Becky throughout the day about the horrible scent that wouldn’t go away and brought to my mind a tale of another smell I could not shake.  Something far far worse I am afraid...
I was working at the time as a safety consultant for an Insurance company, fresh out of college and really enjoying my job and my sense of being an intelligent, sophisticated young woman in the workforce.  The job involved visiting all kinds of different manufacturers and businesses and  reviewing  their operations for safety hazards.  On this memorable occasion my boss was accompanying me for the day,  as a ride along performance review to see how I was doing.  When we got to my first appointment, neither one of us was really prepared for what was awaiting.  The business was a cow hide house located in the oh so beautiful city of Vernon Ca, near Los Angeles.  Stepping out of the car we were met with an absolutely overwhelming stench.  Imagine the worse smell you’ve ever smelled... times 100.  The hides arrived at this facility fresh from the slaughter houses.  Chunks of fat and meat still attached.  They then stripped the remains from the hide and cured and dried them.  Because this was not a food processing plant things were much more lax for cleanliness and the rancid bits of fat and meat were everywhere and stunk to high heaven.  We began our tour of the facility and the smell hit us both hard.      
Right off the bat I spotted the dreaded beast of a machine used to strip the remaining fat from the hides.  I looked at it with pure dread because I could tell it was a real hazard.   It was about 3 stories tall with several layers of workstations that I had to traverse up flights of steps on the machine to see, while my boss waited gallantly below. The machine was filthy and a major source of the offending smells.  Of course once I got to the top the oh so helpful supervisor that had been showing us around shouted up to “watch out for the rats” and I knew he wasn’t kidding.  I kept myself from jumping off and was proud of that fact and ultimately that this was one of those times when I knew I had done some good in the world because the machine was extremely dangerous.  It had two giant rollers being hand fed with hides.  The rollers caught the hides and drew them into the next portion of the machine that was blades on rollers to strip them clean.  Of course if anyone were to get a small part of their fingers or hands caught in the first rollers the machine would just keep drawing them in until they were crushed and sliced.  This machine was unprotected and definitely needed some modifications so the machine couldn’t roll until the hands were out of the way.  Ta Da!  The young, competent safety professional woman saves the day and maybe a life or arm by outlining all of the necessary safety controls needed and all gloriously right in front of her boss for her review.  
Once we left there we headed to lunch before our next stop and I just couldn’t get that horrible smell out of my head.  We ordered food but we really couldn’t  eat it, the memory of that smell just wasn’t going to go away.  Our next stop was a large outside cemetery and we walked all around in the open air and still that smell seemed to linger.  I finally said to my boss that I just could not get that smell out of my head and he said that it was haunting him too but off and on.  Finally before heading back into the car for the long drive home I  went into the ladies room and turned around and saw that globs of the horrible orange fat from the beast of all machines was smeared across the back of my black slacks and had in fact been riding around on me all day. I was going to be sick. Seriously.  I went out and told my boss and looking forward to our hour and a half car ride back, he then suggests that I should take them off and leave the pants in the trunk.  Really!  Can you imagine?  With my boss in the car?  Which is how the brilliant young college graduate sophisticated professional woman ended up riding home from Los Angeles from her first ride a long review with her boss..... in a trench coat and panties. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dr Seuss Birthday for Cali

Happy Birthday little Cali
Your soon turning one
One is a great age
It’s really quite fun!
I wish I lived closer 
Where we could both play
But I still really want 
To be part of your day!
So I made a few things
 To send you, you’ll see
To help your mommy throw you
 a stupendous party!

When your mommy is done 
Adding more fun and treats
I think that your first birthday 
Will be super sweet!

These banners I made 
From fabric and thread
To hang from the ceiling
Up over your head.

I got out my paint brushes 
And made a few of these
Pictures that are knocked off 
From my friends on etsy.

Thing one and Thing two 
And that Cat in The Hat
And a big sign with your name 
What do you think about that?

A very fun thing 
I like to do at parties
Is put quotes all around
 to put guests at ease.

And who better to quote 
Then the big quote-a-roo
Dr Suess, he’s amazing 
but you know that don’t you?

Believe it or not I had these hats at my house
My garage is where I found them.
And to all those people that know me well
It really won't astound em!

I hope you like 
green eggs and ham
do you like them 
Cali I Am?

I hunted and gathered 
and I’m sending you some
A little egg hunt to play 
with your sweet  friends that come.

And I’ve thought and I‘ve thought 
And I’ve made up a list
Of other fun games to play 
With a Dr Seuss Twist

Like One fish two fish 
Red fish blue fish'
Use a pole 
And catch some new fish.

Bags of goldfish crackers 
Would be fun to do.
Cause those are the kinds 
Of fish you can chew

(This photo from
and she has instructions too!)
And these I cannot send to you 
cause I’m much too far to bake them 
but they are so stinking fun and cute 
I hope your mom will make-em.

I am sending you this birthday gift
 For you to open a bit early
I hope these Dr Suess books
 will make you giggle, little girly.
And for this special birthday book 
It  really would be sweet
If your party guests all signed it
I think that would be neat.
Then each year as you get older
 You can read it on your day
And know of the all the love shown to you 
To start you on your way.

So Happy first birthday Cali
I’ll get this stuff all in a box
And get it in the mail to you
And send it from the docks
But I hope you will remember
Though we are far apart
That I think you are really special
From the bottom of my heart.