Margarita Mama

How to get kids to eat vegetables

Posted by on Oct 24, 2014 in eating/food, Featured, Food, Health, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 6 comments

Apparently, my kids are behind the times and haven’t figured out yet that it’s trendy to dig in and eat every veggie in sight.

I’ve tried engaging them in meal planning, with limited success. Each Saturday, when I sit down with my menu board, coupons and grocery store flier, I plot out the week’s dinners. As I fill in each section, I’ll often ask the girls what they want for dinner and get crazy replies or none at all. But over time, I’ve honed in on them a bit. I’ll sometimes ask each of them directly to just pick one vegetable to go with a certain dinner, and it can’t be one that another child has already picked — otherwise we’d explode in a mountain of corn each week. Then, when their veggie lies on the plate, there’s at least some ownership of that choice.

Another way to go about it is at the actual grocery store, where they can ogle over all the choices in the produce section. This will often lead me to some random things that are harder to put together, like purple cauliflower and eggplant. And somehow less guarantee that the kids will actually give them a try, although you’d think the opposite. I suppose that they’re just like the rest of us, who are spontaneously tempted to buy jicama once in awhile and then have no idea what to do with it when it’s actually sitting in front of them.

This week, we fell down to flat-out trickery.

acorn squash, a.k.a. "brown sugar flowers"

acorn squash, a.k.a. “brown sugar flowers”

I’m in what you’d call a squash period right now. Last week, I roasted butternut squash in chunks with oil and grill seasoning. And it was delicious! I figured the  would take better to it, given that it’s almost like sweet potato. But no dice. So I knew this week’s acorn squash selection was going to be even more difficult.

I prepared it ahead of time, so they wouldn’t see it in its original state. And there was nary a peep about squash. Instead,  chef Daddy presented “brown sugar flowers” at the dinner table, with a wonderful pairing of salmon (also known as “Barbie chicken” for a more palatable presentation), asparagus and multigrain bread.

Alas, Ava moved too quickly and bit into the blechy rind of the flower, which was still intact. Sometimes, one bite is all you get — especially with picky kids like her. However, I’m willing to call that a win, because at least it’s trying something new.

Other tricks up my sleeve include :

  • adding spinach to smoothies, particularly with apple juice or pineapple masking the flavor
  • Capri Sun’s Super V pouches, a gateway toward straight-up veggie juice — someday!
  • veggie soups, which tend to go over easier in our house for some reason, especially blended up
  • dips for raw veggies, or warm spinach and artichoke dip over chicken or pasta
  • zucchini bread, most delicious served warm

If there’s something I haven’t thought of, please share. We could all use the help!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Twin daycare separation update

Posted by on Oct 14, 2014 in daycare, developmental milestones, Featured, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, twins, Uncategorized | 3 comments

I’m happy to report that now that we’ve gone a few weeks with the twins in separate classes at daycare, they’re doing just fine.

Splitting twins up can be a nerve-wracking thing. Most families I’ve encountered seem somewhat hesitant to do it early on because twins can be so interdependent. And they’ve always been together, so they don’t know anything but being together.

Kayla and Kendall, smirking with their pals Hello Kitty and Lalaloopsy

Kayla and Kendall, smirking grandly with their pals Hello Kitty and Lalaloopsy

I was pretty much feeling the same way.

In case you missed the first part of this saga HERE, we ended up making the twin daycare separation decision because our daycare director had suggested to us that it might be a good move for Kayla and Kendall — especially Kayla, who’s prone to letting Kendall step in and do all the talking for her.  And a spot was open in the daycare’s highly coveted kindergarten prep class that I didn’t want to lose.

The girls HATED the idea of being in separate classes at first. There was a lot of whining involved.

But after the first week or so, that all dried up.

I attribute part of that to the fact that they’re still playing together on the playground at recess and still getting back together in one class at the end of the day, as teachers leave and the rooms consolidate. So they’re not completely apart all day.

But they’ve also reached the point where they’ve made separate friends to play with, as opposed to mostly torturing each other. And they’re developing they’re own interests, too — all Kayla wants to do is art, and Kendall’s apparently big into playing kitchen right now.

Their teachers have said they’re doing great while gaining some independence from each other. I also can’t tell one bit from how they’re acting at home that anything has changed, which is also reassuring. They’re still bugging each other at bedtime yet waking up snuggled like two peas in a pod.

Now, I’m moving on to fretting that Kayla is moving ahead of Kendall on some things, like coloring in the lines better. In contrast, Kendall is much better at containing her emotions, whereas Kayla still tends to cry if you glance sideways at her. Although I have faith they’ll each develop their own different skills on their own different timelines eventually, mamas always gotta worry about something.

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Fall fashion and fun

Posted by on Oct 3, 2014 in Activities, cocktails, eating/food, fashion, Food, Giveaways, Margarita Mama, shopping, The Promenade at Chenal | 3 comments

Fall’s biggest trends in Little Rock shops are on display at The Promenade at Chenal tonight as part of the Lights, Music, Fashion event held in conjunction with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and The Pointe Brodie Creek.

If you have a few minutes to get over there before 7 p.m., you have a chance to win one of these great outfits — which are all about $200. Just take your picture with the model and post it to Instagram using #LightsMusicFashion and tagging @ChenalPromenade and the store you’re in. 

But if you’re on the hunt for a new game day outfit or something to wear on a night out with your girls, these outfits will all be available at the featured Promenade stores for longer. Bold colors and Aztec-looking prints are clearly winners in this lineup, along with everything red. (Go Razorbacks!)

Here’s the picks:

J. Crew's outfit features a Razorback red top and great jeans

J. Crew’s outfit features an eye-catching red top and form-fitting jeans

Altar'd State's pick is a black-and-white scarf, paired with a plum tunic and leggings

Altar’d State’s pick is a black-and-white scarf, paired with a plum tunic and leggings

Ann Taylor Loft's pick of a classic little black dress paired with bling is hard to top

Ann Taylor Loft’s pick of a classic little black dress paired with bling is hard to top

Francesca's outfit features a striking tribal print outer layer with a burgundy  dress and a mixed-materials necklace that ties it together

Francesca’s outfit features a striking tribal print outer layer with a burgundy dress and a mixed-materials necklace that ties it together

Layers are the thing at Apricot Lane, which is showcasing a brightly printed sweater over a tunic top and a cross-body underlayer with a bold gold, white and blue necklace

Layers are the thing at Apricot Lane, which is showcasing a brightly printed sweater over a tunic top and a cross-body underlayer with a bold gold, white and blue necklace

White House/Black Market's pick is a warm and cozy faux fur-trimmed sweater, accented by layers of necklaces

White House/Black Market’s pick is a warm and cozy faux fur-trimmed sweater, accented by layers of necklaces

At W by Azwell, the showcase outfit is a standout red-and-white floral dress with a chunky black and gold necklace

At W by Azwell, the showcase outfit is a standout red-and-white floral dress with a chunky black and gold necklace

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

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Lights! Music! Fashion!

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Activities, fashion, Margarita Mama, Music/concerts, The Promenade at Chenal | Comments Off

Another chic event is coming up this Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The Promenade at Chenal — a red carpet-worthy fall fashion show presented in partnership with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and The Pointe Brodie Creek that will also kick off the ASO’s Pops Live! series.

LMF_homepage graphic

Lights, Music, Fashion will include a chance to purchase and/or win tickets to Bill Conti’s Academy Awards at Pulaski Academy’s Connor Performing Arts Center on Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5, when a FREE kids matinee is available. (More information on the show featuring tunes from familiar favorites such as Rocky and The Godfather can be found here.)

Best of all, the fall fashion showcase featuring clothes from the hip and trendy stores at the Promenade will include a chance to win your favorite outfit out of the lineup — a prize valued at $200 that no one would want to turn down.

Sample bites from A.W. Lin’s Asian Cuisine will also be available to tide you over until after the show, when you can relax with your besties while plotting out the rest of your shopping trip.

Can’t wait! See you there!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

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Note: This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.

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Separating twins — the great divide

Posted by on Sep 10, 2014 in birthday, daycare, developmental milestones, family, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, twins | 7 comments

Today is the twins’ last day being 3. And although they don’t entirely get it, they know big things are headed their way.

twins, hanging around

Kendall and Kayla, hanging around. (Photo by Rick McFarland)

In addition to turning 4 tomorrow, we’re about to split them apart a bit and see how it goes. It’s a gamble, but we’re hoping it pays off for them.

Our wonderful daycare’s kindergarten prep program has an opening — only one. And it’s hard to predict when another one will come along, as it stays pretty full since it’s so great. It might be months.

We’re nervous as all get-out about making the right decision here. They are EXTREMELY dependent on each other. To the point where Kayla will often let Kendall, her more boisterous sister, do most of the talking for her. And everything else.

In fact, that’s why the daycare director is trying to nudge us to separate them into different classes for a bit and see how it goes. Apparently, Kendall spends most of the day pretty much forcing Kayla to do whatever she wants her to. Kayla, being a people pleaser like her mama, goes right along with it.

They just had their yearly speech and development evaluations. For the first time ever, they didn’t come back with a bunch of terrifying notes. So we know they’re making big leaps and bounds. And we asked the director if we could pull out and put them back together if splitting them apart turns out to be a disaster. So there’s a safety valve in place here.

But I have a feeling it will be a bumpy ride, in any case. Habits are hard to break. And who wouldn’t want a best friend just like themselves to help get them through the day every day?

Wish us luck!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Who’s ready for some football?

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Activities, Ava, daddy, family, Food, football, Margarita Mama, pasta | 4 comments

It’s already that time — the time of the year when most of the weekend is filled with yelling, stomping and pouting. But this time, it’s not from the kids.

Football season is upon us!

Last year's game day gear

Last year’s game day gear

Ava asked this morning on the way to school if it was “time for the Razorbacks yet.” But she doesn’t particularly want to watch the game.

Instead, she’s excited because I promised her some “girl day” time together this football season while Daddy is off in Hog Heaven. And then heavens of every other SEC team out there. And then the purgatories that are the rest of them.

We’ll be doing a little shopping and maybe stopping for special treats, like ice cream. Perhaps going to the library and the park, too, along with more boring duties like heading to the grocery store together. As the season stretches on, I’m sure I’ll have to get a little more creative. So if you’ve got ideas out there, I’m all ears.

I’m generally all about trying to find fun gameday snacks, too, to keep the herd happy. Pinterest, I’m headed your way. Can we top last year’s peppers stuffed with cream cheese and little smokies, then wrapped with bacon?  Oooh, I don’t know.

In the meantime, Woo Pig Sooie! And Go Big Red, my Nebraskan friends!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

5 things you need to know about renovations

Posted by on Aug 14, 2014 in home, home repair, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Just about a month after hitting our limits with the ever-growing cracks in our tile flooring, we’re happy to have exquisitely beautiful, brand new, dark laminate wood flooring. It’s changed the feel of our home more than I ever would have expected, and let’s just say I am jazzed about it.

What lies beneath your floor ...

What progress looks like

There’s a little more echo in the house, now that the carpeting that shared space with the tile is gone. I can live with that. And there’s quite a bit more sweeping up of dog hair, now that our previously lighter colored flooring is not hiding it in plain sight. As a clean freak, I can live with that, too.

Ta da! It's sleek up in here now, yo.

Ta da! It’s sleek up in here now, yo.

Looking the other direction, in the same space.

Looking the other direction, in the same space.

Our dining room

Our dining room

Our not-quite-finished stairway

Our not-quite-finished stairway

But looking back on the overall experience, there’s some points I’d like to share for others considering a big flooring project, or any other renovation for that matter. It always helps to be prepared!

1. There will be dust. And dirt. And messes you can’t even fathom. And things will get broken, too.

You probably have no idea how much dust is lingering in hiding spots around your house already. And as much as we tried to remove our belongings, clean them, cover them up with plastic and shield them from chaos, saws still make sawdust and spread it everywhere. Kids and dogs are powerfully dirty forces on their own, and a workzone adds to that a thousandfold.

So keep your cleaning supplies at the ready. Steel yourself mentally for dusting and sweeping, sometimes repeatedly and seemingly in vain. Get new air filters, because you’re going to need them. And know that, eventually, things will return to normal.

Also know that weird accidents will happen, and they’re not the end of the world. For example, sometimes workers will move your refrigerator and a bowl full of shredded pork will fall out and break. No biggie! Also sometimes, jackhammers will shake that clock right off your wall. (It was cheap anyway. But take stuff you care about off the walls!)

2. Stay on top of things. And communicate!

When there’s people working in your home, it helps them do their job when you let them know what you want and need. Day one, I told the very helpful and jovial flooring store owner that I’m a picky lady. I’m also easygoing, for the most part. And so is my husband. So without getting our panties in a wad, when we realized we wanted things a certain way — like the stairs — we let them know.

And when a few things didn’t turn out quite right, we let them know that too. Kindly, and in timely fashion. Then things got fixed. Open communication goes a long way toward your satisfaction with the finished product.

3. Projects always cost more than you plan for and take longer, too.

Despite our saving up for this flooring for quite some time, we hadn’t thought much about things like extending the new flooring up the stairs and into the upstairs hallway for the sake of sightlines. Or needing to replace the quarter-round molding. Or that giant closet space under the stairs. Or new floor vents and a toilet seal.

Even the best planners come across a few things here and there. As we say in our house, every project equals at least four trips to Home Depot. (I lost count on this one, though.)

4. One thing leads to another.

Now that some of our walls have been painted and there’s new flooring around, gosh our old stuff looks shabby in comparison. There’s dings in the walls now that need patching and/or repainting. Our molding sure appears scuffed up now. The kitchen cabinets, as well. Home improvement is a never ending saga. It’s just part of the game.

5. Not everything will turn out 100 percent perfect.

As an engineer and an editor, my hubby and I are a very precise couple with very precise wants and needs. We like everything to be just so, just as we planned. But even we know that nothing in life is absolutely perfect. There’s a little ding in ONE board. Eek. First reaction, freakout. Second reaction, well, we can get a little coverup stick and fix that.  Life goes on!

Anyone else out there have some thoughts they’d like to share? I’d love to hear them!

 

Back to School ShoeDAYS Giveaway

Posted by on Aug 4, 2014 in fashion, Giveaways, Margarita Mama, shopping, The Promenade at Chenal | Comments Off

Who doesn’t like the idea of free shoes? Um, no one.

I have a bit of a shoe thing myself. So I’ll be hitting up The Promenade at Chenal’s Back to School FREE ShoeDAYS Giveaway! They’ve got four stores kicking in a pair for this fabulous contest: Designer Shoe Warehouse, the Nike Store, Paul’s Shoes and Warren’s Shoes.

A pair of lovely work shoes I picked up a few months ago at DSW.

A pair of lovely work shoes I picked up a few months ago at DSW.

There’s just a few simple steps so you can enter to win:

LIKE the Promenade’s Facebook page by clicking HERE. Then watch each Friday in August  — starting Friday, Aug. 8 — to see which shoe store you can win from that day. All you have to do to seal the deal is LIKE and SHARE each ShoeDAYS giveaway post.

Got these at the Nike Store last year around now. So cushy!

Got these at the Nike Store last year around now. So cushy!

Easy! Fun! Free shoes! Can’t think of a better combination.

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NOTE: This is a compensated post. But all opinions are my own, of course.

Destruction day

Posted by on Jul 28, 2014 in home, home repair, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 1 comment

After two weeks of rearranging our belongings and evacuating everything from the first floor into the garage, playroom and master bedroom, we’re ready for flooring-destruction day.

It’s not exactly Young House Love worthy up in here right now. Unfortunately, we didn’t get everything painted ahead of time due to a hectic weekend. However, it’s about half done and we’re ready to rock-n-roll on the rest.

Using a lot of painter's plastic ...

Using a lot of painter’s plastic …

Kitchen is ready, with fridge in the hallway. (That's where that goes, right?)

Kitchen is ready, with fridge in the hallway. (That’s where that goes, right?)

Toilet is out — outside. Because we live in Arkansas. Of course.

Toilet is out — outside. Because we live in Arkansas. Of course.

Covered and ready to go, with half the couch in the garage

Covered and ready to go, with half the couch in the garage

Dining room, ready

Dining room, ready

I’m more than ready for the chipped tile to come up, along with the dog and kid attacked carpet. So, common’ flooring guys! We’re waiting.

Can’t take it anymore

Posted by on Jul 23, 2014 in daddy, home, home repair, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Something has been bothering me for quite awhile now. And the time for action has come.

We’ve been covering up a problem. In the meantime, it’s only gotten worse.

Our kitchen floor

Our kitchen floor

Nearly exactly two years ago, I wrote this post about our floor. Since then, the cracks have only spread. But flooring doesn’t come cheap. And we’re the kind who like to simmer on an important decision for a long time, then finally get fed up one day and spring into action.

But I’m also the kind of wife who likes to pile on.

I mean, if we’re going to do the floor, shouldn’t we get on that painting project we’ve been meaning to do for the past 5 years now?

So, instead of just clearing out the whole first floor of our house for the installation crew, now we’re painting, too. (And when I say we, I mean Daddy. Because we’re still in that divide-and-conquer stage of the game in which one of us has to supervise/distract the children if we’re actually going to get anything done.)

Don't ask how that trim was done — a "don't try this at home" sort of moment

Don’t ask how that trim was done — a “don’t try this at home” sort of moment

The children are not pleased. Their toys are crammed upstairs in every nook and cranny. It’s boring.

But when it’s done, it will be beautiful!