Army Party

Army PartyI’ve been making themed birthday parties for Luke every year since before he can remember. Some of the best were [Hulk], [Minecraft] and [Star Wars]. This year when I asked Luke what theme he wanted he said “I want an Army party”. So random. I didn’t even realize there was such a thing but sure enough, Pinterest was exploding with ideas that made it easy for me. Here are the highlights from Luke’s 8th Birthday along with how I did it so hopefully I can make someone else’s party planning easier.Army Party Invite

{I made these invitations. Army Party Birthday Invitations Customize is a link to the free customizable invites in case you want to use them}

Army Party Tent Tablescape{I bought this two man tent fabric on eBay and Jeff constructed a framing for it out of PVC piping from Lowes.  Worked like a charm as a tablescape. My brother made the “Mess Hall and Mail Call” signs out of wood & stencils from Michaels}

Army Party Tank Pinata{I bought the tank pinata from Birthday express}

Army Party MRE {Food included Corn Dogs, Buffalo Wings, Pizza, Pretzel Bites, Chips & Dip, Broccoli & Carrots.  I bought the aluminum tins at Smart N Final and painted “MRE” (Meal Ready to Eat) with stencils.  I found the apple flavored Army Men gummies on Amazon. So good!}

Army Party FoodDSC_0436 Army Party{I used old wooden wine crates from the garage and painted them for the medic and ammo boxes.  You can find these at BevMo and usually they will give you the crates for free if you ask.  I raided my pantry for old canned goods and took the labels off of them to look more like military issue MRE. I found the “exploding grenades” on Amazon.  They make explosion sounds when you pull the lever}

Army Party Scripture{Our Party Scripture inspiration. 2 Corinthians 10:4}

Army Party Obstacle CourseJeff made a “boot camp” obstacle course.  Included a tire run, camo net crawl, shooting range and balance beam.

Tire RunBalance BeamArmy Party Obstacle CourseCamo Crawl Obstacle Course{Camo Net Crawl}

Targets{I found the targets on Amazon}

Dog Tags{Everyone got a scripture verse Dog Tag upon arrival. Found them at Oriental Trading}

Army Party Mail Call{We had the kids write letters to the troops and sent them to Operation Gratitude, a non-profit here in the San Fernando Valley that sends care packages to the troops.  I bought Army stickers and recycled stationery from Michaels for the crafting}

Army Party Flag Cake{Went with a simple flag cake from Costco and added army guys. Thanks Mom!}

Army PartyArmy PartyArmy Party{Luke read every word of every card. I was very proud of him for that}

Army party gifts{of course there was lots of excitement over gifts, like this tank}

Boot Camp Favors{Found these camo bags on Amazon and used them for favors}

Army Party Water Balloon Grenades{We had a water balloon grenade fight at the end of the party}

Army Party{Luke got soaked when the kids decided to dump the water bucket on him}

Army Party{The party was a huge success, despite the rainy weather. God’s grace that we were able to do the outdoor activities just before it poured}

The Kind Year

The Kind YearLately we have been working with Luke on his behavior at school (he is easily frustrated, a lot like his Mother). Last week I sat him down and told him that this is going to be “The Kind Year”.  We are going to focus on doing a kindness for someone at school or at work every day. Interestingly, [my church] is hosting a Biblical study on overcoming the four major things that trip up our spiritual lives, those being, Anger, Fear, Depression and Worry. This four part series covers 8 hours on each topic, tackled in four Saturdays and last Saturday’s topic happened to be Anger.  In the session I learned that one of the ways we minimize our sin is to re-label it.  Anger is often re-labled as “frustration”.   That is a problem because we don’t have to repent from frustration, it is easier to say “I was frustrated” than “I was angry” and it is easier to justify therefore continuing in a pattern of anger over a long period of time. This was a revelation to me about myself and about Luke. Love is not easily angered and being “easily frustrated” is not acceptable either.  This may seem like a no-brainer but parenting without getting angry is much easier said than done.  Sometimes you don’t realize how big of a problem something is until you’re able to look at it from an objective point of view. I feel like that is what studying the Bible does for me. It pulls away the cobwebs and helps me to see plainly what my problem is when it is starkly contrasted against a Holy God. It is sobering and humbling and brings me to my knees in repentance and gratitude for all the grace God has offered me despite my disobedience.
Here’s the other thing- God does not just command us to turn away from anger, but he tells us to replace it with something else.  That something is kindness.  Ephesians 4:31 says “let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice” then it is immediately followed in verse 32 with “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you”.   I thought that was so amazing given the week we had just had in trying to establish “The Kind Year”. It gave me hope for the both of us that we can change as we seek to become more like Christ.  After all, it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.

USS Iowa

USS IowaFor President’s Day we decided to head down to San Pedro to visit the USS Iowa. Jeff suggested we tour it and I didn’t even know that it existed! I was so amazed to see there was such a massive piece of history in our own relative backyard. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Los Angeles with kids or just a way to spend time with your family, the USS Iowa is a great place to go.

USS IowaUSS IowaUSS IowaUSS IowaUSS IowaUSS IowaUSS IowaSleeping Quarters USS Iowa{my sister spent 6 months on the Warship Tarawa during the Iraq War.  No idea how she didn’t die of claustrophobia as would have been my first response}

Captain's QuartersUSS Iowa

Floral Skirt & Crimson Lip

Floral Skirt, Gap, Brooks Brothers White Button Down, Round Toe Pumps Christian Louboutin, Nars Cruella Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

Floral Skirt, Gap, Brooks Brothers White Button Down, Round Toe Pumps Christian Louboutin, Nars Cruella Velvet Matte Lip Pencil

Sometimes on a beautiful LA day you just have to step outside your office for a photo shoot. Such was the case last week when I wore this Floral Skirt and Crimson Lip combination.  Thanks to my lovely friend Noaa [seen previously here] who was kind enough to take the photos.  The downside of giving in to the temptation of such a day is that you run the risk of other co-workers documenting your photo shoot.  See below “paparazzi” photo from my fellow co-worker, Tariq Walker.

Floral skirtFloral SkirtFloral SkirtFloral SkirtLouboutinsLisa Paparazzi{classic}

Simple Turkey Tacos

Simple Turkey TacosI have a long commute to work (approximately 3 hrs/day) so that’s not exactly optimal for getting dinner on the table. I go through this weekly race against time to make sure I cook what I’ve purchased at the grocery store before it spoils. Last week was no different- except this time it was the ground turkey that was in jeopardy and since I neglected to do my meal plan last weekend, I was fresh out of ideas by the time I got home. The beautiful thing about the internet is that when you are too tired to have any creativity left of your own, dinner ideas are just a search away. I Googled “taco seasoning recipe” and found [this recipe] that literally that took 5 minutes to prepare. I’m a wimp when it comes to spicy foods so I only used 1/4 teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper.  I also don’t eat beef anymore so I used ground turkey for the simplest turkey tacos.  Dinner was ready in 10 minutes flat.  These will become a staple for Taco Tuesday.

IngredientsTurkeyTaco nightTurkey Tacos

Valentine’s Day

ArcLightFor Valentine’s Day we had a date night at the ArcLight in Sherman Oaks where we saw [The Imitation Game], a fantastic movie.  Neither of us had been to the ArcLight before so it was really nice to experience the plush theaters and expansive concessions options.  Afterwards we headed to dinner at a French Restaurant on Ventura Blvd. that Jeff discovered called Rive Gauche Cafe.  Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the beautiful flowers that Jeff also sent to my office a few days before Valentine’s Day.   Each day I am reminded of God’s amazing grace to me in giving me such an amazing man to share life with.  Hope your weekend was happy!

ArcLight{I get a lot of comments everytime I wear this shirt.  You can find similar ones here}

ArcLight

LoveArcLightRive GaucheRomanceValentines Flowers{and flowers don’t hurt either}

Foreign Cinema

Foreign CinemaI first heard about Foreign Cinema last year from one of my clients in San Francisco. It is a restaurant in the Mission district that shows movies in the backdrop while you dine. Each time I’d tried to get reservations they were booked, but this last trip I got lucky and took my clients there. The food was as wonderful as the ambiance. I had the fried chicken because they are known for it and it did not disappoint.

Foreign Cinema

Foreign Cinema

Foreign CinemaForeign Cinema

Park Central San Francisco

Park Central SFLast week I was in San Francisco for meetings and stayed at the Park Central San Francisco, formerly the Westin Market Street. While I did miss the Orange- Blueberry Granola pancakes of the Westin, aside from that it’s still a wonderful hotel with great views, clean rooms and lovely service. It’s walking distance to the Moscone Center, which is perfect if you happen to be attending a conference there.

Park Central SF

{the rooms are spacious and clean}

Park Central SF

{The views of the city are fantastic}

Missional Community

Missional CommunityThe Church world is a bit upside down right now around this issue of “Missional Community”.  It’s the idea that the collective body of Christ, “The Church” should be focused on the lives of those around them as if that were their mission.  As if they had been “sent” by God to the people around them.  I attended an all-day leaders training on this concept with my husband and it was so refreshing to hear that the larger church world is catching on to what my husband has been preaching for so many years.

Brad BriscoBrad Brisco and Lance Ford, authors of The Missional Quest were the speakers and they are brilliant in the way they inspire leaders to live a life on mission.

Lance FordIts as simple as remembering that Jesus commands us to Love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourself.   Loving our neighbors as ourself means getting to know them, accepting them as they are and finding ways to be a blessing to them.  Jesus said “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven”. (Matthew 5:16)  I believe that we let our lights shine brightest in the little things.  A smile, a hello, an encouraging word- these little things can open up the doors for God to work through us to reach people in ways we could never have dreamed.  For example, a few years ago I ran into a woman in Trader Joe’s that I recognized as the sister of one of our church members.  I did not know this woman well at all but I greeted her with a smile and asked how she was doing.  She shared that she was grieving over the loss of her son.  The anniversary of his death was upon her and it was too much to bear.  I shared that I was sorry for her loss and that I would be praying for her.  On my way home, I felt so strongly that I should do something for this woman so I got her address from her sister and sent her a card to encourage her in her grief.  Last month, she visited our church and came up to me and said “I just have to tell you how much it meant to me that you sent that card.  I still read it every year on the anniversary of my son’s death and it brings me such comfort”.  I cried when she told me because I knew God wanted to speak to her somehow and I was so happy to hear that He had touched her through the simple card I sent.  It’s these little things that God can use when we determine to be the hands and feet of Christ in our community.

The Grove

The GroveA few weeks ago my friends at the office were teasing me that I had never been to [The Grove], a popular shopping center in Los Angeles.  The Sur La Table Cooking Class I attended recently was at The Farmers Market, right next to the Grove, so I did finally experience this massive shopping destination.  From Barney’s to Nordstrom, to Topshop to Dylan’s Candy Bar, The Grove is a must stop if you’re visiting Los Angeles.  It even has a trolley.

Trolley

Dylan's Candy BarDSC_0395DSC_0363The GroveDylan's Candy Bar