3.23.2017

Marcus :: F I V E ::

To my kind, loving, sweet, sensitive, cautiously curious, silly, cuddly, funny, smart, little man:
I can't believe we're celebrating FIVE - that's a whole hand's worth of fingers. A half a decade! In a blink you've gone from my chunky little monkey to this little boy.
Often I find myself wondering how in the world I was so lucky, so blessed, to be your mom. Not a day goes by where I don't give thanks for the joy and light you've brought to this world.
You go with the flow, you follow the rules, you strive to make others happy all the time. You love sports, all of them. Snuggles are your specialty. And mac and cheese ever remains your favorite food. Next to ice cream, of course.
As far as big brothers go, you are truly the best. The patience you have with Julia is amazing. I honestly wish I was more like you.
Today is your day, and I hope five is just a special and wonderful as your are.
Happy Birthday, Marcus. Mommy loves you.

3.21.2017

Wall Crawl - Venice {Abbott Kinney Blvd}

If I had to pick the most unique area of Los Angeles I'd gladly hand that award over to Venice. Everywhere you turn there's something that catches the eye, from wall art and murals, to publicly encouraged graffiti walls, to canals with the cutest walkways and bridges, to people watching. The place is jam packed with character, and a vibe that I've yet to find anywhere else in this city.

After Liz and I decided another wall crawl was in order I suggested Venice. I've seen several walls that have been begging for a visit. So, we did what any sane parents would do. We packed up our kids and headed to Venice to see what we could scope out.

Let's talk about Abbott Kinney Boulevard. Holy buckets, that street is just teeming with walls that scream "PHOTO!"

I had a few walls mapped out, because there is nothing I dislike more than zigzagging all over the place and wasting precious time when kids are in tow. However, we quickly learned that no map was needed because every few steps seemed to showcase spectacular wall art.

We started at 1420 Abbott Kinney Blvd. (Happy Socks) and ended at 1025 Abbott Kinney Blvd. (Casa Linda Mexican Grill). In that short distance we came upon so. many. walls (praise hands)!

Julia was most content cruising in the stroller and snacking rather than prancing around in front of the walls, so she makes a very brief cameo. However, the boys were more than cooperative with all of our requests.

Ok, on to the walls!
Even the plant pot is perfect!
Happy Socks - 1420 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
Marcus spotted this wall and said, "That's a pretty wall!" I asked if he wanted a picture by it and he said yes. Who am I to deprive him of a colorful wall like this? It also needs to be noted that Mason found perhaps the most colorful mailbox he may ever see! ;)
I don't have an exact address for this, but this is just down the street a bit from Aviator Nation (which is the blue wall below).

Hip! Hip! Hooray!
Aviator Nation - 1224 Abbott Kinney Blvd.

This wall actually displayed a massive rooster, but, birds creep me out. And the bird was on the corner of the building. I liked the two-tone greens so much better, and it was fitting for St. Patrick's Day.
Roosterfish - 1302 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
How sweet are these two?!
#bleedinghearts
This wall was recently changed to a black background. Before, the background was white with the colorful hearts.
1239 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
I love that Marcus played along with this one.
Intersection of Abbott Kinney Blvd. and Santa Clara Ave.
Real talk. This isn't my favorite wall find, but since we were in Venice it seemed almost mandatory to snap a quick pic in front of this one.
1146 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
Probably my third favorite wall. It was shiny!
1130 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
This piece was so much bigger than I could capture in one tiny frame. But, SO GOOD.
1118 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
A two-for-one wall!! AND, Julia's only appearance!
1025 Abbott Kinney Blvd. This one is tucked back behind the butterfly mural below, we had to access this from a side street, so we stumbled upon it while trying to get to the butterfly wall.
HANDS DOWN my FAVORITE of the day!!
This was also my inspiration for M & J Monday, yesterday.
1025 Abbott Kinney Blvd.
The Geometric Wave wall.
Intersection of Abbott Kinney and San Juan Ave.
This was our last stop along ABK, and we literally stumbled upon it as we were making our way to the car. The boys with the phones cracks me up every single time. And, I couldn't walk away from this spot without an actual selfie with my favorite little man.
Another wall I don't have an exact address for, but it's near Aviator Nation (the blue wall with yellow/orange/red stripes), along AKB. If you're looking for it you'll spot it!
We quickly headed down to the boardwalk for one last piece of art before calling it a successful wall crawl.
My second favorite wall of the day.
A massive van Gogh for the win!
1101 Ocean Front Walk
I mean, FIFTEEN walls in just about an hour. COME ON!! I think I told Liz no less than a dozen times, "This is literally all of my wall dreams come true."

Venice, your walls have my heart forever and ever and ever, amen.

Also, feign surprise if you see some of these pop as #latergrams. Thanks to Instagram and Chatbooks I have a couple of books in the works featuring all of our fa├žade adventures. If you want to see all of our walls check out #mackewallcrawl!

No tell me, which Venice wall was your favorite? 

3.20.2017

M & J Monday

I'll spread my wings
and I'll learn to fly
I'll do what it takes till I touch the sky.

Happy Monday!

3.17.2017

The Year of Color {Green} Edition

First and foremost, Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

With this month's Year of Color prompt being green a few ideas immediately came to mind. Naturally, St. Patrick's Day was our primary focus.

Let's start with the monthly mom and kids pic.
I've been sporting this t-shirt for the last three or four St. Patrick's Day and it never gets old. There's nothing better than showing a little Iowa love whenever we can! Bonus points for actually being Catholic and part Irish to really the holiday a boost.

Moving along to the more hands-on portion of our green prompt.

Read
While we don't have any St. Patrick's Day books in our collection, we DO have Green Eggs and Ham! Per our usual routine while Julia naps, we pulled this book off the shelf and got cozy. 
Since reading this for the prompt Marcus has requested to hear Green Eggs and Ham several times. 

Bake
This may be the easiest "baking" I've ever done. I mean, does a two "ingredient" recipe that calls for microwaving even count as baking?? But, Marcus helped with a majority of it, and he loved the snack as the outcome, so I'm calling it baking.
Shamrock Pretzels
Small pretzels
1 bag of white candy melts 
10-15 drops of green food coloring
Sprinkles - optional (but necessary)
Parchment paper

Melt candy melts according to package instructions, add green food coloring.
Dip pretzel into green candy melt.
Lay pretzel on parchment paper, repeat three more times, and arrange pretzels so they resemble shamrocks. 
Add sprinkles before candy coating dries.
Right on cue, Julia woke from her nap juuuuuuust in time to eat a shamrock pretzel of her own.

Experiment
When in doubt, grab baking soda and vinegar. Explosions are a sure fire way to keep a kid excited and entertained. With this experiment we simply added blue food coloring to baking soda, yellow food coloring to vinegar, grabbed a bottle with a skinny neck, and went to town.
We talked about how the vinegar reacts with the baking soda to make it explode. We also talked about how when the blue and yellow colors were mixed the explosion was green. You know, simple science stuff.
When the explosion first happened Marcus was a little unsure about the whole thing. But as the fizzing and erupting continued he thought it was really cool.

Marcus has asked no less than 347 times to do this experiment again. And, who am I to say no?

Green Explosion
1/4 cup baking soda
5-10 drops blue food coloring
1/2 cup vinegar 
10-15 drops yellow food coloring

Mix baking soda and blue food coloring together, stir until blue is fully incorporated.
Combing vinegar and yellow food coloring, mix so yellow is fully incorporated.
Add baking soda to a bottle with a funneled top (this makes the explosion more dramatic).
Pour vinegar into bottle.
Watch the reaction create and explosion.

Since the Green Explosion lasted about 10 seconds, I figured we would try our hand at an experiment that took a few days. 

We simply put vinegar on pennies and waited to see what happened. 
After about four days we saw that our pennies were no longer shiny and copper colored. Rather, they had turned green where the vinegar had settled.
Green Pennies
A few pennies
Vinegar
Paper towel

Place pennies on a paper towel.
Pour vinegar on the pennies and saturate the paper towel. 
Allow pennies to set for several hours/days. 
The longer the pennies set in vinegar the more green they become.
Note: We had to add more vinegar to the pennies and paper towel on the second day.

Each morning of this experiment we would check on our pennies to see if any more green had formed. It was kind of fun to have that to look forward to before we headed into our morning routines. 

Twenty-four hours with vinegar on the pennies.
Four days with vinegar on the pennies.
The color changed from green to more of a turquoise, but that's still considered part of the green family, right?
For this one, we talked about the reaction of the vinegar and copper, and how that made the pennies change colors.

Craft
This is literally the easiest craft we've ever done. Marshmallows, green paint, and some paper. 
Marshmallow Shamrock Stamps
A handful of marshmallows
Green paint
Paper
Paint brush

Dip marshmallows in green paint and stamp to create a shamrock leaf.
Use paint brush to add a stem. 
The end.
Poof. Shamrocks that were turned into snail mail for the grandparents! 
This craft took about 5 minutes, and that was just enough time to hold Marcus' attention before he asked me if he could eat the marshmallows rather than paint with them.

That's a wrap on March's green prompt! 
Did you sprinkle this month with green? If so, be sure to link up with the Year of Color below!

Next month's colors are PASTELS!

For those who like to plan well in advance:
May's prompt is YELLOW
June's color is PURPLE

3.15.2017

Wall Crawl - Disneyland

If you've followed along for the last year or so it comes as no surprise that hunting down colorful, interesting street art is something I've kind of fallen in love with. 

I figured it might be fun to take that same idea and implement it at one of my favorite places. Disneyland! The whole place is basically one big photo op, but some locations walls and doors and gates seem to beg to be put in a square frame (looking at you, Instagram).

So, over the last few trips to Disney I've hunted down a few locations (most were found thanks to the @magic_kingdom_mamas and their suggestions).

To the most magical place on earth, and all of it's fantastic picturesque stops (keep in mind these are not necessarily posted in chronological order, rather, they're posted by park).

Disneyland:
It's a Small World
Let's start with perhaps the most recognized wall inside Disneyland. Dare I say it's even the most photographed? I mean, no Disney trip is complete without a stop and a pose here. This wall even has its own Instagram account.
This infamous Disney wall is on the west side of It's a Small World, near the entrance to Fantasyland Theater.
Main Street USA
Pretty much any store front is idyllic of a photo op. But this stop is my favorite just because it has Disenyland right in the store sign.
This is the entrance to the arcade on the west side of the street.
If you don't get to Main Street at opening it's kind of tricky to get a shot without people standing around or passing by. It took us only three attempts to get this picture without a photo bomber.

Tomorrowland
This silver-ish wall looks out of this world, and so fitting for Tomorrowland.
It's located next to the Little Green Men Store Command entrance, which is by Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters.
Frontierland
We don't spend a ton of time in Frontierland with exception for Big Thunder Mountain. So when we stumbled upon this sweet mural I was pretty darn excited.
You can find this mural on the side of Shootin' Exposition as you're heading into Zocalo Restaurant.

Toontown
Toontown must have been made specifically with the idea of taking photos in mind. I mean, the entire area is just one huge photo op. There are the cutest doors and store fronts and houses. Here are just a couple favorites (narrowing down to two proved incredibly difficult).
Of all the great photo spots in Toontown, this is my favorite! These huge doors are tucked away behind Minnie's house. If you're not looking for them you might actually miss them!
More massive doors! Note, there are also really small doors all throughout Toontown as well.
These doors are just past the Roger Rabbit Ride. Follow the trolley tracks and they will take you to these doors!
The Entrance Tunnels Under the Rail Station
There are two entrance tunnels leading into the parks, and these latticed vines are on both the east and west sides. However, the last time we were at the parks benches were set up in front of the vines on the west side (which happens to be the exact location of the pic below). The east side was bench free though.


California Adventure:
In my opinion, DCA has more wall ops. But, none seem as "Disney" as the ones found at Disneyland, if that makes any sense? 

Anywho... 
Hollywood
Like the It's a Small World wall, this wall has become pretty famous. Probably thanks to its purple sister wall in Walt Disney World. And, like It's a Small World, it too has it's very own Instagram account.
One big, bright blue wall coming right up!
This wall is along the Sunset Showcase Theater.
Is it considered a wall if it's really more of a bench?
The mosaic tiles are gorgeous, and it doesn't hurt that this is located along Schmoozie's Smoothies. A strawberry banana smoothie paired with a pretty wall and some shade is the perfect place to rest at DCA.
The Pier
This is my favorite stop along the pier. It's big, it's to the point, and it's easy to find.
This one is just past Mickey's Fun Wheel, right across from the Silly Symphony Swings.
Cars Land
Hands down, this is the most photographic area in all of DCA - at least I think so. Maybe it's because I have a boy and this area interests him? At any rate, here are some spots I kind of love.
Though it's not super colorful all the Route 66 signs have me swooning.
This one is on the side of Radiator Springs Curios Store.
Um, an ACTUAL street-like mural?! YES! Sign me up.
This one is hidden and tricky to find. If you're not looking for it you likely won't find it. It's located on the side of Sparky's Spark Plugs building, next to the Cars Land Fire Department.
Another set of doors that blow me away. The wood detail is fabulous. Someone mentioned on Instagram the wood pattern makes us look like peacocks. I have to agree.
These gate doors are located along the south end of Bug's Land heading into Cars Land, across from Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters.
Here it is! Found it!
My Dad has a '39 Model A, so this one draws me to it every time we pass it. Plus, It's a mural, on a wall. I mean, enough said.
This wall is pretty easy to spot. It's along the main road through Cars Land. It's right next to the Cozy Cone Motel.

The Mickey and Friends Parking Structure 
Yep. Even the parking structure can be pretty. The minimal wall paired with the pop of green? I'll take a picture here each trip, please and thank you.
This is at the base of the Mickey and Friends parking structure. To get to it (thanks to the new location of security) you have to go through the security line, away from the tram, to get to this spot.
Downtown Disney
Last, but certainly not least - let's all take a moment of silence out of respect for delicious coffee - is this fabulous gem we happened upon thanks to Marcus' small bladder. Had he not needed a bathroom break we would have cruised right on by this Starbucks and its wall art. 
This is on the side of the newest Starbucks in Downtown Disney, which is just across from the Lego store.
I'd highly suggest hitting this spot up at noon, or after, as the shadows from the monorail make photo taking kind of tricky. ;)
There you have it! Some of our non-traditional favorite Disney spots!