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I Bet I Can Still Sp(+)(+)k You

You know that annual exam we women look forward to every year?

It’s our routine hour spent lying on our back trying to make small talk with someone who knows us more intimately than our significant others desire to. Ice-cold tools send a chill of anticipation up our pelvis as we’re waiting to hear those three words “You’re all done!”

If really looking for an escape from our 9-to-5 routine perhaps after the pelvic exam we double book appointments so that our top half doesn’t feel neglected. It’s always a smashing good time to visit the imaging center for a mammogram. We leave feeling like overworked supermodels after forcing our bodies through a blend of interpretive dance and yogilates for the perfect shot.


Thanking the staff for too much fun for one day, we wave goodbye, skip to our cars and return to our everyday lives. A few days later we hopefully get calls from our doctors saying that everything looks normal. I so look forward to that dance so this time I felt comfort in seeing their message on my phone, putting a happy ending to my annual exams.

When finally treated to a slower afternoon, I dedicated one ear to clear out phone messages.  As the forgotten message from my breast imaging lab began, the transcribed words caught my eye! They read, “We recommend you come back for further test…” Now fully engaged, I scrambled trying to get the message to play faster as if that would answer all of my immediate questions.

My heartbeat surged and the “What ifs” peppered my head like hot sparks. To tune them out, I focused on fixing this – though I still didn’t know what “this” was. I clawed to gain the upper hand by calling the lab, masquerading calm, to book an immediate appointment. My next call, to my doctor, actually preceded the paperwork from the lab so I chalked that as a small victory for me – staying one step ahead of the nasty order. Still, I had to wait 10 days until my next visit, so I needed to exist with the anticipation for that long before getting one step closer to a resolution or a plan. I am horrible with secrets but wanted to process my questions and concerns, not be overwhelmed by everyone else’s yet.

My brain immediately and incessantly drew conclusions between things that I’ve encountered in my life, giving me a few theories to check out. I researched the impact of cell phone towers and possible links to cancer since our work building supports a communication kingdom on the rooftop raining all sorts of waves that we don’t truly know enough about. After an information overload, I held off with the rest of my investigative research online until I could ask the nurses or doctors in person with their real-life experience. The Internet provided material to support any theory I wanted to pursue, but not always the truth, nor information specifically to help me.

I briefly dipped my toe in the irony of having just been picked for the most awetastic Oprahtunity of my life layered with my excitement to cruise with Oprah in a few months then felt frustrated that this could balance out that joy. I refused to live in those thoughts for long because, especially this year, I believe in manifesting our futures. If those negative ironies aren’t allowed to wander the universe, hopefully they couldn’t pick up speed. I remained defiant that whatever these future photos showed, they would not put a damper on those plans.

Realizing that my kids’ homework would still flood us and the morning rush wouldn’t lighten up, for the next 10 days, I buried the secret and lived life as usual. OK, yes, I’ll admit to the exception of not sticking my phone in my bra when I needed an extra free hand. Oh, and being still and talking to God a few more times than usual. Despite trying to keep my chin up, I did not sleep well. My mind wasn’t stewing on anything in particular, I just couldn’t sleep. It didn’t help my writer’s block either.  I’m not great with receiving surprises and this unknown had a strong possibility of delivering an unwanted surprise.

On the morning of my appointment, I chose to remain optimistic and focused on staying present. I remember the waffle texture of my starched white robe and how peaceful the waiting room felt with its natural stone walls. Enya’s voice filled the air while other women and I flipped through a library of beauty and fashion magazines. A snapshot of this moment might look like a lovely girls’ spa day.

When called into the first room for a few more smashing images, I suddenly appreciated all of the large machines it takes to stare at my chest. The images on the rocket control monitor looked like a foreign galaxy. I asked the technician what foreign bodies or alien bodies we hoped to locate and she indicated that it’s an asymmetry (I thought everybody’s boobs were asymmetrical). But it just means that one side grew something new.

The Carina Nebula, originally shown in The Telegraph UK

I recovered briefly in the calm waiting room, before a new technician invited to my next stop: Ultrasound. After having two children, I prided myself on my mad ultrasound deciphering skills (even if not my own). Nothing in the shading of these ultrasounds made sense to me. I made a mental note to never play cards with either technician because their poker faces held solid. Not unfriendly at all, but void of any discovery, definition or significance.

While bored on the table, hindsight started my highlights reel. I recalled that my left breast sometimes felt different, but not in a lumpy way. When I did my breast self-exams I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific, it just felt different. Occasionally, I felt a brief pain, too small to set off an alarm, but I chalked it up to mid-life sagging or ill-fitting bras and hoped for an Oprah bra intervention. Perhaps I felt a slight connectivity within the tissue where I hadn’t before. But now, after smashing and poking and prodding for a closer look, I centered in on the area in question!

It gets serious fast when you see things in writing!

The technician asked me to get off the table and hang out for a minute while, I assumed, she made sure the slides captured clear enough images to send to my doctor. When she walked back into the room, the full color of the emotion on her face filled the room as she announced: Benign! I avoided making eye contact with a paper reading “malignant” or “benign” that emphasized in what felt like 75pt bold font just how much weight this answer carries. Then I got dizzy trying to remember which word I wanted to receive, or not. Benign!

Turns out it’s just a little cyst. Bodies make them sometimes, my body seems better at this than most. Because of my delight and previous pixie dust use, I immediately pictured the cyst as a friendly Disney character (It’s weird where our mind goes in times of stress). I thanked her profusely, wished her a wonderful weekend, returned to the dressing room to change back into my normal clothes, and cried. Relieved.


Take Aways:

  • Get annual exams – I’d fallen off my regular schedule after a work event competed for time last fall. After the urgent reminder of a friend who hoped to get even one friend to make her appointment – I called.
  • Do monthly breast exams – Just do it!
  • Don’t be afraid of doctors – Don’t be scared to go to the doctor because you’re afraid of what they’ll find. They are trained to know how to fix you so you can focus on being or getting well. Often, the issue is smaller and treatment is less scary than your enthusiastic imagination or Web MD says.
  • Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion – Even if they have similar diagnosis, their treatment style could be different. Find a doctor you feel comfortable with.
  • Consider finding your family history – Doesn’t mean you will get something or guarantee that you won’t. But when faced with a health challenge, I feel the more knowledge we have, the less irrational fear occurs. If nothing else, it helps knowing there is someone else who understands what you are facing.
    • Relax – Remember that hopefully your story will be less crazy than people who came before you thanks to progress made in medicine during the last decade.
    • Be Confident – Consider too that these days, technology advances with DNA may allow us to someday change the negative DNA we’ve been gifted with.

What about you?

  • Please share tips or resources that helped you get through a health challenge or scare.
  • Please share your ideas for gifts that patients and their families really enjoy.
  • Do you use your bra like a pocket too? Keys, credit cards, loose change…
  • Did you do your annual exam this year? Go! Call! Now!
  • Do you have any fun rituals like treating yourself to a spa day afterwards?
  • Bonus points if you remember what movie my title came from!

(C) Disney

#Breast #PelvicExam #BreastSelfExam #Mammogram #Ultrasound #Health #Healthscare #Symptoms #Cure #Care #OBGYN #AnnualExam #BeHealthy #WomensHealth #Diagnosis #Treatment #Assistance #OMagInsiders #Cocktail #WaltDisneyPictures

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MAKES ME WANDER BY MAROONED 3

This is the year of full-circle moments! In one week from today, thanks to KIIS-FM and Del Taco, my daughter and I get tickets AND a backstage tour at Wango Tango music festival here in Los Angeles. Now we still don’t know what this entails, but I hope to cross paths a few performers and ask them what they will do to mix it up during this year that Oprah has dubbed “The Year of Adventure!” Since, to me, their lives look like a daily adventure already, I look forward to riding their train of thought!

WTF! Wango Tango Fangirls! Tickets still available!

Then it hit me sending me flying up to and around Cloud 9 like a squealing deflating balloon… My odds improved exponentially that I could cross paths with Maroon 5 and Adam Levine! Because I still tend to get all goofy brained when I see certain musicians still and due to an iron-clad agreement to not make my daughter CRINGE at the show, I’m putting down how Maroon 5 influenced the name of my blog in writing should it make Adam wonder what that uber excited lady smiling at him and holding his arm a little too tight in selfies was trying to say.

From Men’s Health magazine

March 2007, the one-year anniversary of my split with my kids’ dad came around the calendar. I still felt like a boxtroll wearing a cement-filled box stamped “Divorcee.” Somehow we kept moving, sold the house in the burbs, packed up our lives and were marooned on the beach to start over. Ultimately we loved where we’d landed, made all-new friends and the kids hit their strides in this new environment! I felt like less of a boxtroll and more of a potted plant relaxing on my patio.

So one day I’m in my too small living room turning on MTV for background noise when this funky beat starts coming from the speaker bouncing off walls, pushing me into my couch, too close to my TV and all I could do was wait to see who was commanding this plane exit ramp. When Adam’s cheekbones wrapped in that tux came into view followed by the whole band rocking with Virgin Airlines sexiness pounding out overlapping pulsating layers of sound, it grabbed my full attention. It became my theme song and my awakening that summer.

This song made me begin to process the cone of crazy I was wearing and start to process what I’d been through. I questioned everything and started figuring out the answers. Now Adam wondered if he ever gave a F— about someone and while I slid straight towards both possibilities, eventually I landed at yeah, I did, but I also could give a F— now because of the present we were in at that time. With each pounding chord from the piano in the background I felt my cement wall being chipped away. There was another accent layer that felt like skipping through his swagger and it got my heart pumping again. The song reminded me that somewhere inside I was there and I’d be refilled with wonder and growing curiosity and a fresh perspective.

So even though it took another 5 years to get to the starting of my blog – I knew what I wanted it to be called. Only it wouldn’t just be filled with things I wonder about but filled with things I experience as I wander about. (Plus, I didn’t want to get sued by A&M or M5 – I had faith that I’d find a better way than a court case to someday cross paths with the band).

From A&M/Octone

Because I’m a fan girl I know there is a hint of politics peppering the lyrics, but I’m not touching that, nor did I interpret it as such. I’m just not a fan of politics.

So if I don’t get this all out when we cross paths and my tongue gets tied up – thanks Maroon 5 and Adam for giving me something to believe in and inspiring the name of my blog.

What about you?
What adventure will you seek this year?
Going to a music festival this summer?
Are you a parent taking your kid to a festival and don’t know how to prepare?
Have any life-changing songs?
Favorite musicians or bands?

#WangoTango #MusicFestival #Kiisfm #DelTaco #Oprah #YearofAdventure #OMagazine #OMagInsiders #Maeoon5 #AdamLevine #Music #Divorce #Therapy #MakesmeWonder #MakesMeWander #Inspiration #Blog #Blogger

IT’S NO OPRIL FOOLS – YOU & O ON A CRUISE!

JOKE’S UP – Now that we’ve made it almost all of the way through our second month as O Mag Insiders | The Inner Circle of O Magazine, I’m starting to settle in and believing that this was no Opril Fool’s joke, I’m really part of this dynamic group of individuals! Being that this is the Year of Adventure, I wanted to Share the Adventure!

O Magazine sent us an exciting and thoughtful welcome packet! Counting my blessings!

MY PURPOSE IN THE GROUP – How the heck did I get in here?! Everyone else on the team ooze upperclassmen confidence eons ahead of my own. They’ve followed their passions, mulched challenges, paved their paths, inspired others, and pay it forward! Their lessons resonate with the masses with such potential for positive change. I, on the other hand, feel like the perfect case study for Oprah and all her team!

MY IDEAL COHORTS – Like seriously, don’t you wish there’d been a Master Class in college on how to live your best life?! I’d have done summer school to learn how to budget with Suze, set boundaries with Martha, and clear away the clutter of our pasts with Peter. I’d have interned for Glennon’s momastery.com blog, for Elizabeth and Brené as writer’s assistants and begged Oprah to take me for Bring-Your-Insider-to-Work-Day so I could witness her switching from hat to hat with intelligence, creativity and grace.

SEMESTER AT SEA – If you haven’t heard, O, The Oprah Magazine and Holland America Line have teamed up this summer with Oprah and her magical unicorns for an amazing opportunity to cruise for a week, travel and reach the deepest parts of your heart while expanding your mind! For those of us folks who used to wind down at the end of the day sitting on the couch across from Oprah having a quality conversation with a girlfriend (What’s a few television waves and a few thousand miles?!), this will repair your heart that carried the weight of the missed connections of seeing her show in person.

osuper
GETTING GROUNDED – Meanwhile, back on land, my membership to this dynamic group requires me to stay present and become mindful. Already, with the many contributions posted by my fellow O Mag Insiders, I’ve pondered while wandering – my strengths, my procrastinations. I’m peeling back the layers of me and asking to learn my history while making a difference.

WISH YOU WERE HERE – So far, my journey feels so much more introspective than the widely impactful passion projects of my peers. My inspiration comes from the hope of connecting with others. Whether through one shared experience or that whatever I’ve learned may simplify their journey. I’m living through crazy, eventually humorous, times as a single mom of tween and teen, an international adoptee, an unrealized novelist rushing recklessly towards middle age. This kind of crazy settles into fun with someone else on your side!

oissues

TRAVEL BUDDIES – I also plan to continue down the path of self-discovery with my life-reflecting journey through the PJ Wilderness and show that, not only, is it never too late to change directions, to go back and find out where you fell off the path of your authentic self but that you are worth the time that it’ll take to get you there!

PACK WELL – I know that part of me hasn’t felt most like my authentic self since 1985. Those years shopping at colorful Contemporary Casuals, wearing bold patterns, large earrings and accessories. I would buy for deals, but for unique styles, cuts, etc. if I were lucky enough to find myself sailing with Oprah, I’d book a personal consultation with Adam!

oadam

UNPACKING THE BAGGAGE – It’s less about my outward appearance and more about taking back pieces of myself from boyfriends that didn’t love me attracting too much attention and for whom I foolishly muted myself. It’s about finding practical multi-use pieces for single working moms, though they say you can only choose 2 but not 3 things, I know Adam will find clothes that are quality, fast to coordinate and reasonable. Lastly about finding cute but decent quality shoes for older women because I’ve learned that a mid-aligned foot causes all sorts of knee problems and my kids insist that the super Comfy Relaxed Outdoor Colorful plastic shoes with spongy insoles aren’t cool (though my kids may believe Drew Barrymore).

BON VOYAGE – Whether it’s the cruiseor some other far off destination, where you sail away to to get closer to your center?

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

  • You going on the cruise?
  • Which of Oprah’s columnists are you most eager to see
  • Did you ever see Oprah’s show tape while still in Chicago?
  • What was your favorite clothing item from ‘85?
  • Do you read O Magazine?
  • What’s the last thing you did just for you?
  • Did you wear uniforms or street clothes in school?

All Cruise photos and art are (C)Holland America Line and (C) Oprah

#OMagInsiders #HollandAmericaLine #Cruise #Alaska #LiveYourBestLife #YearOfAdventure #OMagonHAL

YOU WENT WHERE? SAN FRANCISCO (With Kids)

During the toddler years, my family’s cranky moods  (mine included) disappeared with some creative distraction and a change of venue – if severe. Now that the tween and teen years dictate the mood in the house, when the bickering levels get intolerable, Mom offers a proportional change up – Roadtrip adventure!

MB transamerica-pyramid_san-francisco

Photo courtesy of megabus.com

I’ve been dreaming of a trip to San Francisco since the last time we’d been almost 13 years ago. My teen son only remembers riding in a limo at 3 ½ years old (over riding his first cable car) and my tween daughter simply made it through the trip to her due date!  I love the energy of the city with its cool modern minimalistic hotels next to classic historic hotels with warm solid mahogany bars in the lobby. I love that everywhere you turn, distinct neighborhoods welcome you with their distinct charm, as do the piers decorating the waterfront!  So the three of us set out on an adventure blending history, new experiences, old favorites and of course something weird!

32 hrs in San Fran (with kids)!

DA, DA, DA – ANOTHER ONE RIDES THE MEGABUS
Always up for an adventure, the wheels in my head started turning immediately (The wheels on the bus go round and round)!  When you put things out into the universe, the universe responds! Amazingly, we received the opportunity to try Megabus.com for free in exchange for our honest opinion.  I immediately responded, “Yes, Please!” after a great first-hand testimonial from my office mate who used this bus line recently during her East Coast holiday adventure.

Planning a weekend getaway limited our time in San Francisco, so the idea of showing up only 30 min. early, getting on a bus with reclining seats and sleeping my way to San Francisco – then waking up refreshed at my destination – cemented the decision for me! The night we left, California disappeared under the rainstorm that my generation will retell vividly for generations to come. The Megabus travelled securely on the roads, unfazed by the elements. In fact, for both directions of the trip, energetic and helpful employees kept us on track. Their rates remain reasonable, only additional charge should you wish to reserve seats!  Check their site often for their $1 sales! I wish I’d known about this when I was a college kid – weekenders would have educated me! For a full review click here.


YOU ONLY GET ONE CHANCE FOR A FIRST IMPRESSION
As we crossed the Oakland Bay Bridge, the sun shone on the waking city and almost converted me to a morning person (Hah, you know how unlikely that’d be). The bus dropped us at the Caltrain station and Uber picked us up before we even stretched out our rested bodies! Everything feels closeby in San Francisco and in minutes we arrived at the Hilton SF Union Square – a hotel I’m super familiar with thanks to my Team In Training (TNT) years.  Though they aren’t the most hipster or historic place in town to rest your head, they consistently provide a comfortable experience that seems upgraded from the price paid (especially with their renovated rooms). Feels like dropping in for a visit with a long-time friend!  What cinched our future return was letting us check in 8 hours early! Thank you!

hotel

Despite our welcome middle of the night snack from the roadside rest stop, we arrived to San Francisco hungry for adventure …and breakfast!  Wanting to set the tone for the weekend, and to fuel us for the day, we chose another favorite from my TNT days, Sear’s Fine Food

The moment you enter, you step into your grandparents’ era for some unconditional love delivered in a heaping serving of delicious warm food. With our bellies and hearts filled up, we left for our first adventure… except nothing was open yet. So we went to the hotel to plot our course, unpack, watch TV…

Two_hours_later_in_Squidtastic_Voyage

THRILL OF A NEW RIDE
While the kids power napped, I navigated and doubled back cross-checking the Cable Car routes to deliver us to all of our desired locations. We opted for a single-day pass immediately opening up our access to the city. I purchased our tickets while the kids watched the city’s tradition of re-directing the cable car at the turn about.  We hoofed it 2 blocks to the next stop up from there (where 10 people stood in line vs. 100s at the turntable). For the first leg of our trip we jumped onto the outside of a crowded cable car and held on!  My daughter told me later that she got nervous – not that she’d fall off – that other people wouldn’t get out of the way.

One of the most memorable visuals of the city flashed briefly at the change between the Powell-Hyde and California lines as we looked downhill through the city.

Alcatraz is first on our list for next time!

OFF TO EXPLORE – AH, TOUR – EE, YUM!
One parental benefit allows us to run alongside our kids, watching the world through their curious eyes, bright with wonder.  At the Exploratorium, everyone’s minds expanded and repeatedly blew as we flew from exhibit to exhibit, squealing like loudly deflating balloons!  Each new stop offered fascinating exhibits where you learn by interacting with the exhibit! This museum encouraged touching or climbing into and through exhibits!  My daughter’s and my favorite experience deprived us of our sight as we traversed through a maze in complete darkness. As a pair, we relied primarily on touch and sound while traveling through the Tactile Dome (slight additional, but highly recommended fee).  She turned out to be an amazing leader providing step-by-step directions as to what challenge I would find next.  My son’s favorite challenged him to learn Morse Code – harder than it looked considering it’s only dashes and dots! Totally exhausted though only getting a fraction of the experience done, we finally broke for dinner!

PEPPER MEAL WITH HISTORY
As a divorced mom, I haven’t shared a lot of their Dad’s and my history. At first I lacked an age-appropriate answer for their innocent questions, “So if you had fun, why’d you break up?” Later, out of respect for his new wife, and largely because I’d boxed them all away, wrapped in impenetrable box in my self. 11 years later, I realize that the generic statement “Even though we’re no longer together, you were created from love.” doesn’t carry weight if I don’t sometimes share proof.  Their Dad and I enjoyed The Stinking Rose restaurant a few times both here and the one in LA. One thing we actually agreed on was that only the SF one seasons the experience with a mythical bohemian feel – being that it’s the original location.  Also, honestly, this restaurant wouldn’t have teased my palate without his family’s cooking. The first time they opened their door, a rush of garlic took my breath away! The rest is history.


WALK RIGHT DOWN THE STREET
After dinner, though absolutely stuffed, we desired something light but sweet.  We calculated the distance we needed to walk to make enough room for Gelateria Naia (who are we kidding – there’s always room for gelato)! My kids stuck with classic flavors of mango, coffee and chocolate chip (though not all together).  They featured a whiskey flavor I’d never encountered before that blended smoothly with chocolate – the recipe for the perfect evening nightcap. 

I SPY… SOMETHING GOLDEN
The next morning, after we slept in a bit, we hunted for a meal large enough to rush us through the day and sustain us until we got on the bus to relax for the ride home to Los Angeles.  Originally, we went fishing for a fish and chips truck, but, they weren’t open when our stomachs started growling at us. The mist of the heavy fog led us straight to Tarantino’s Restaurant on the pier promising a view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the top floor (talk about multi-tasking when on a limited timeframe).  The kids laughed at the names of boats in their slips, communicated telepathically with seagulls begging for the kids’ fries through the scenic glass window, and squinted to find the bridge through the fog. We raved about the crispy golden seafood (lightly battered and fried, without any recognizable fish features).  


LIKE KIDS IN A CANDY STORE
As we exited the restaurant, the bright red logo of Rocket Fizz served as a beacon from across the street.  My son’s sentimental side insisted that we go “support the company” so that they don’t go out of business (I doubt there’s any danger of that, he’s still sore we lost the location in Westchester). Your sweet tooth compels you to stop the next time you pass near this store. It offers many childhood or jumbo-sized favorites and hard-to-find imported candies.

WTF: WEIRD, TOTALLY FUN!
Headed towards the Pier, we pulled inside a doorway to briefly to plot our course …and never left.  We’d stepped through a door into the most fantastically freakish place – Musée Mécanique!  This features the personal collection of Edward Zelinsky’s arcade games, and other mechanical wonders, collected from 1933 on (though some originated from decades earlier).  This collection felt slightly unsettling only because we had no idea what to expect (or was it the large clown at the entrance). Uneasiness immediately yields to exponential levels of excitement as you discover each new relic from a player piano, to old-time picture machines, to Space Invaders and a steam motorcycle.  We completely fell into this parallel universe, lost track of time, and wish we could have stayed longer.
 

MY NEW PERSPECTIVE
After a relaxing and a more spacious ride home (less people on the bus so each person could take a row of seats), we returned home from vacation refreshed, a little exhausted from our adventures, and with new perspective.  Our Three-thumb review is 3 tired thumbs up.  My tween daughter loved the unique challenge of the Tactile Dome and a new appreciation for her vision. My teen son left for San Francisco believing that one beach town resembles the next one. He returned with an appreciation for the history and the varied terrain (and we didn’t even visit the largest or curviest hills) of Northern California.

I caught a glimpse of my children and how they treat each other when mom’s not around thanks to the water fountain experiment in the Exploratorium. It featured back-to-back water fountains and two buttons on each side: SIP or SQUIRT. Each sibling simply pressed one button and if they match, it happens, if it doesn’t match, it cancels each other and nothing happens.  I fully expected to need to buy new dry clothes, or that they’d cancel each other out.  My heart grew when I witnessed my kids gently lowering their heads (and dare I say they were both a little bit surprised) to get a sip of water.

If you want even more detailed reviews on each place we visited, check out the Yelp Reviews. Plus subscribe to check back when we update the list after future roadtrips!

Follow the blog to see where we go next!

What about you?
What is your favorite San Francisco gem?
What do you do to save your sanity on trips?
How do you remain present and not skip ahead to the next destination?
What changes in perspective do you encounter while traveling?
How often do you travel with your kids vs. on your own?
Where are you off to next?
Where should we go next?

CURRENTLY: O MaG!

Usually I do this exercise to check in with myself every so often, remind myself to be present and grateful during my endless day-to-day grind. This time, my mind is whirring a million miles an hour since receiving a jolt of adrenaline in the form of a great adventure! I’ve been picked, with 50 other people, to become O Mag Insiders: The Inner Circle of O! I always remember Oprah saying that she didn’t believe in luck and this week I saw this play out in my own life and it’s phenomenal!

CURRENTLY GRATEFUL FOR
Visible Growth!
So many people I know have side gigs to earn a little play money on the side. For me, I knew that if I was going to dedicate my treasured free time to something, it needed to be something involving writing and that didn’t steal me from my children. It hasn’t always been easy – blogging from my car during kids’ practices, staying up late. It hasn’t always had perfect results – now my kids groan when I bring out the camera. However, then I remind them that we’ve been working our way through short-term goals of making memories while building our base with adventure and eating reviews. We then plan to ramp up to accepting occasional invitations for a weekend getaway and building eventually to a long-term goal of taking our whole extended family (meaning their dad, step-mom and most importantly their little sister) to Aulani or on a Disney Cruise before my son leaves for college. They’ve witnessed the progress!

CURRENTLY SURPRISED BY
Inner harmony!
Somewhere in between the other emotions a warm stillness emerged. If you know me, you may already recognize chaos between both sides of my mind – the logical, rational left side of my brain and the creative artistic right side – as they battle for control. Add to that: ME – How I present to others; MYSELF – My true self/gut instincts and I – Me being present. For once a consensus has been reached that I’m right where I should be and it’s powerful!

CURRENTLY PANICKING
Making the most of the experience!
Applying for this brand ambassador role a few months back was so impulsive and whimsical that I hadn’t really considered the reality that I might be one of the people chosen for the role. Based on the odds alone – thousands of people applied, and I am 1 of only 50 chosen for this program this year.  The amazing group of people that I’m fortunate enough to be a part of are both so inspiring and humbling that my logical brain tries to factor how I fit in. My heart commands me to stay present to experience this year in real time (and this blog can remind me of anything that escapes my long-term memory).

CURRENTLY REBRANDING
Myself!
Since the time of my divorce, I’ve worked to figure out who I am and to honor that truth. I’m a Caffeinated Mom, a Blogger, Pre-Midlife Female, a University staff member, I’m Hapa, Korean Adoptee, and so many more. There have been several incidents along the way that made my dreams feel frivolous and challenged my definition of myself. I still question the reasons for the challenges, but what I know for sure is I had to get raw before I could start new and grow to call myself a writer.

O Mag Insiders Headshot

WTF: Way Too Fantastic!!

CURRENTLY READING

O Magazine!
I now allow myself a segment of daily time to be still with my favorite magazine and really pore over every word and article, not just flip through, skimming snippets and folding pages to go back and read later. I’ve always loved Oprah’s magazine as it gives me the opportunity to hear from her and her team of experts more regularly. Her team digs deeper than even my best girlfriends do and ask the hard questions that I need to ask myself!

CURRENTLY LISTENING TO
My gut!
I’m not that far past the point where I’d listen to what everyone else said and dedicated my time to working on what I thought I should be doing, rather than what I wanted to do. Fortunately my gut, or some part of me, kept leading me into careers or opportunities that I felt were coincidence until my scientific brain realized these weren’t just happy accidents and to take notice. With this latest opportunity, my gut whispers “Told You So!”

O Mag Insiders Icon Logo_wHashtag

 

CURRENTLY ANTICIPATING
Adventure!
O Magazine has dubbed this the Year of Adventure! This is the best year for me to be taking this trip with O Magazine!  How we’ll participate in the publication, what new experiences will present themselves remain undefined thus far. I hope I’ll be able to include my children in some because I have so few years left with them overall. Still, I’m open to not simply following them into adventure, but choosing some of my own while I try to remind myself who I was before they were here! I’m a big believer in spending money on adventures, not things. That’s where we build our strongest family connections!

CURRENTLY WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE
Staying true to yourself isn’t always easy but it’s worth it!.
Following my gut and being myself has allowed me to find and stay on the path I’m truly meant to navigate. This is far more rewarding than following my previously laid out corporate career plan of my 20s. I’m not someone who will kiss butt to get ahead or lie to make a sale. A) I’m a terrible liar; B) It’s too hard to remember the lies told; C) Dreaming up and implementing falsehoods takes more time and energy than I have in a day. I try to do great work with a sunny disposition and build mutual respect with co-workers.  I am invigorated by a challenge and my blood pumps with anticipation of this new role.

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WWOD (What Would Oprah Do?)? – I did exactly as Oprah does, worked to be ready when opportunity came knocking!

Where I’ll wind up after this whirlwind year remains to be seen but I am so grateful for the opportunity and promise to make the most of it!

Here we go!

What about you?
Do you still believe in luck?
Do you know the path you’re on or are you still searching for your path?
What 1 thing will you do today to move you towards your goals?
When’s the last time you sat down and read any publication – like O Magazine?!
How do you calm your mind when it’s trying to talk over you?
Do you lead with your head or your heart?
What are you currently doing?
Do you want to be one of the next group of #OMagInsiders?

Consider these:
CURRENTLY AVOIDING
CURRENTLY EATING
CURRENTLY INDULGING IN
CURRENTLY WATCHING
CURRENTLY COVETING
Or dream up your own!

#OMAGinsiders #YearOfAdventure #Oprah #Magazine #Creative #Opportunity #Blogger    #Influencer #Writer #Coincidence #Chance #Fate #Preparation #Harmony #Challenge #WhatIKnowForSure #HereWeGoC #WWOD #WTF

WHAT NOW?!

Recently I got some Big News and at first curiosity bubbled over as I wondered “What now?!” Part of me itched to hurry and tell somebody because the news was too big not to share! Part of me craved to be still, sit and simmer on the information to allow me to maintain control of the situation and to figure out what purpose it serves me. I’ll admit, I followed my curiosity down the online rabbit hole snooping some but also to help shape my idea of “What this all means!”

My original motive for taking a DNA test was to figure out what my other ½ was since I didn’t have that information when I was adopted. When that can of worms opened, family spilled out – as I knew they would.  Right away the database paired me with a few 2nd – 4th cousins.  While that sounds really close, (2nd is almost as good as 1st, right?) realistically 2nd means that, if we’re lucky, we share great-grandparents. So you can guess how distant 4th cousins feel. Exhilarated, I snooped some close matches online searching for any obvious commonalities on their online profiles.  I’ll admit, too, I sat staring at the little envelope button (below the red arrow) and continued to simmer on the whys and what ifs. How would this be received by the recipient?

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The reason I’d never really considered looking for biological parents growing up was because I simply believed it was an impossibility. In my mind I’d painted a tale of a military guy on a weekend furlough looking for fun in the country he was stationed in that wound up having a side consequence he never knew of. Whether this is part of the script they tell us to help us “cut ties” with our home country or something I made up to protect myself from potential disappointment, I’m not sure. Since my exposure to other adoptees was super limited and nobody else offered a different picture – I just sat within this reality.

Since then, I’ve read a few books and joined a few online Korean Adoptee groups that paint a very different possibility and changed my perspective enough to be open to communication with a relative if they reached out to me or if were a direct match. I would love to let Korean relatives know that their selfless decision to let me go turned out well. I don’t aim to blow anyone’s vision of what their family unit looks like with a surprise relative from a far land.

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While contemplating this new branch of my family tree and how to prune it, I took another DNA test. While attending a blogging conference this past summer, Ancestry.com was there and when they heard I had a 2nd – 4th cousin match on my first round of matches, they said “Here, take this test, our database is one of the largest, maybe we’ll get even closer!”

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They brought forth a different cousin – but a 2nd or 3rd!  After the usual online snooping, I wasn’t any further to finding any information on this new person. Also, the closest people from the first database didn’t overlap this new sprinkling of relatives.

To go all in, I also downloaded the raw data and threw it into a Korean adoptee specific database (but truly have no idea how to navigate it).

What now?  

  • I know that I want to go to Seoul, South Korea.  I know it’s super far and if I’m going to go, I’d want it to be a meaningful trip, not just a tourist trip.
  • It could be cool to trace some lineage to answer “behavior or biological” questions.  
  • As an INFJ, I’m not seeking to have a pile of “relatives” to flood my inbox since I can barely keep up with my own family!

One of the folks in an adoptee group I joined explained it perfectly that we adoptees have blind spots that exist and that we wind up richer by allowing ourselves the curiosity and tenderness towards our own past to let it grow and flourish, thereby overtaking the shadows that have followed us, knowingly or not.

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Perfect picture from Pixabay

What about you?
Have you taken a DNA test?

Were you adopted or just researching ancestry?
Any surprises?
What’d you do next?

 

 

 

SONGS MY HEART SINGS

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Happy Valentine’s Day! Are your favorite Love Songs listed here?

Every day, but especially Valentine’s day, music has the ability to alter my mood. With today being the national reminder to love one another, I pulled together a soundtrack of songs that put me in the mood… to skip down the sidewalk tossing confetti hearts at everyone I pass.

Love Will Keep us Together by Captain & Tennille

Your Song by Elton John

I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder

Crazy for You by Madonna

Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins

(Everything I Do) I’d Do it For You by Bryan Adams

Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion

Silly Love Songs by Wings

Still the One by Shania Twain

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Michael Bublé

BONUS: Baby Baby by Amy Grant

I know, I missed a whole bunch that commercially were bigger love songs, but these are my songs that can break my heart and make it sing at the same time – what are yours?

What would be on your Valentine’s Day Mix Tape?
Share your all-time favorite love song – if you can pick one!
Any other favorite ways to say “I Love You!”
Any favorite Valentine’s Day traditions?
Wanna buy any of the songs? Click thru on the song title!

#lovesong #love #IHeartYou #Valentine #Baby #ILoveYou #LoveYou #Crush #BeMine #CaptainandTenille #Madonna #EltonJohn #StevieWonder #PhilCollins #BryanAdams #CelineDion #Wings #ShaniaTwain #MichaelBuble #AmyGrant #Soundtrack

DON’T TAKE MOMZILLA ON VACATION

The power of 3 showed it’s magic this month when in one week, I suddenly received my first 3 invitations to wander off to destinations in our closest neighboring state: Northern California (OK Fine! Same state but so vastly different)! My tween daughter pleaded to join me. My teen son surprised me by stating that he would love to visit these destinations too. We compromised with them tagging along for 2 adventures, and I’m attending one alone, creating a one-woman writing retreat. Even though we’ve worked out a peaceful solution – someone threatens to rear her ugly head and ruin my vacation vibe – Momzilla!


The minute I commit to taking a vacation, preparation floods my consciousness:

  • Transportation
  • Packing
  • Lodging
  • Itinerary
  • Budget
  • Contacting friends in that area to meet up
  • Cleaning the house (so if something happens, your neighbors and family won’t know about your paper piles)

My mind feels even crazier than (hopefully) yours since I think in a spirograph pattern. Plus, I didn’t even take into account what I have to do with work before I can walk away from my desk with a clear conscience:

  • Emptying the In-Box
  • Reading/answering all unopened emails
  • Training a replacement (if applicable)
  • Cleaning your desk (so if something happens your co-workers won’t know about your… wait, they already know).

Now I don’t have the perfect process, but here’s one skill I’ve learned from my brief time as a manager – Delegate! With 3 trips coming up, I need the kids to take on more responsibility for themselves. You’ll see on my social media if it went well or not.

Great prices, comfy with free wifi!

TRANSPORTATION:
We’re trying something new! For this first road trip, we’re riding a Megabus to San Francisco! I’ve always had a goal to take the kids up the coast to explore northern California. As a passenger, I get to take in the gorgeous view on the way home! On the way up, I’m saving a hotel night by taking a red eye bus! We leave Los Angeles in the evening after work, sleep on the bus and wake up refreshed in San Francisco ready to hit the payment. Whenever I’m in San Francisco I always am inspired to walk everywhere anyway, plus uber can help with longer treks or late-night rides back to the hotel.

PACKING:
After the first summer packing a week’s worth of clothes for my son’s sleep-over camp, only to have him return in the same outfit he left in (albeit with clean undergarments), I retired from picking for my kids. Somehow the teen, who regularly produces 2x the laundry that his sister and I do, manages to get by on very little when travelling. Vacation miracle! My daughter still needs to finetune her packing but fortunately so far, every destination we’ve been to isn’t too far from a Target or cheesy touristy T-shirt shop.

CLEANING THE HOUSE & EMPTYING THE IN-BOX:
People, just do your best, zip up the suitcase, walk out and shut the door behind you. A very wise man once told me


Meaning, don’t kill yourself to finish everything (or to perfectly stage your home before your trip). 10 things will hit your inbox as soon as you read the last email, 10 more papers will land in your mail slot, and we all know how crazy it is to leave on a trip so yeah, there could be a small tornado that occurred in your home during that preparation time. Just get your home to the point that it will welcome you when you get home then hightail it out of there!

Now I only touched on 3 things here, because when planning agenda and lodging, I am like a Hungry Hungry Hippo not wanting to miss any tips, savings, coupons and reviews that roll into view.

Now, our trip is more simple than say a cross-country or international trip. I’d love to hear what you do to streamline your travel preparations and outrun your internal Momzilla. Please share your biggest travel prep gem in the comments!

Where are traveling next?
When are you leaving?
Traveling alone or with others?
Share your tips to staying sane!

 

#Travel #RoadTrip #Bus #Journey #Megabus #LosAngeles #SanFrancisco #FamilyVacation #WeekendGetaway #Momzilla #Organization #Sponsored #Blogger #MakesMeWander

TOP 10 VIDEOS TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD (for the next Star Wars film!)

With tangible anticipation, the seduction tickles each of our 5 senses pulling us closer.  Whether we go full-body all in, or pulled in inch by inch, we feverishly mark the date on the calendar and before it’s upon us, already hope for multiple experiences. I’m not talking about the next 50 Shades of Grey,  I’m talking  

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At first I thought I was heading full-blown into a midlife crisis when I started buying t-shirts, light saber earrings, and my stomach was aching for the release date of the last film!  Then once we saw the film, Star Wars fever exploded upon us as we went to our first Convention (details to come soon). We’ve already purchased our tickets to go see the next film at El Capitan Theatre!

I never really realized how big a Star Wars fan lived inside me, but here’s why:

  1. As a writer, the fact that George Lucas started this whole thing out of his mind and created films, tv series, comic strips, etc. Just amazes me.  He and JK Rowling are my creative idols for what they’ve accomplished.
  2. Star Wars was something that I shared with and handed down to my kids. I still remember seeing the original in the theatre as a (ahem!) young girl!  To be able to share this world that still carries such weight and wonder in this generation warms my heart.
  3. In this instant gratification generation, this keeps them longing for more, anticipating something to come.  I loved to that the films inspired reading and now my teenage son could teach a college class in. He tests me before allowing me to move forward through each episode!  
  4. It’s something my two kids share in common – one of the few things. I love what makes them individual, but I love that they respect each other’s knowledge and affection for the franchise.
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WTF (Wow, they’re FUZZY!)           Get your own robe! thinkgeek.com

Almost as much as I love the films, I love the fan video snippets that are inspired by the film. With another film on the near horizon from that galaxy far, far away. Here are the Top 10 videos we love to help us get in the mood (in no particular order)!

I’ll NEVER JOIN YOU
Improv Everywhere shows just as much creativity and finesse as George Lucas to be able to pull off a live Star Wars scene on the New York Subway. I only wish I’d seen this live!


THAT BOY IS OUR LAST HOPE
You know how they say setting things to music helps you learn them? Weird Al’s song helped me learn about Anakin Skywalker’s branch of the Star Wars family tree.  He’s done a few Star Wars songs, but this is our favorite.


AREN’T YOU A LITTLE SHORT FOR A STORMTROOPER?

This projects my mind for the world to see. While I didn’t make this video, it’s exactly how I envision stormtrooper street dance crews battling. They’re the only crews I hope to see twerking ever again.
BONUS: I’m sure they opened the way for this Britain’s Got talent act.


LAUGH IT UP, FUZZBALL
Seriously, what is cuter than jedi kittens yielding light sabers?! 


YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO THIS TO IMPRESS ME
With a chance to not be outdone by the kittens, the dogs come in with the song that gives me chills every time I hear it, with any lyrical style.


THESE AREN’T THE DROIDS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR
Since 1977 I’ve hoped that when I grew up that every house would come with it’s own R2 unit.  This parakeet budgie may be the best option until that day.


I HAVE YOU NOW!

In a great example of Star Wars coming to life, it’s easy to imagine how thrilling it’d be during the middle of your daily routine, to find yourself armed with a light saber and drawn into battle!


JUDGE ME BY MY SIZE, DO YOU?
For a brief return to the Cute Side, check out a day in the life if your Star Wars fantasies came true and instead of cats, people had AT-ATs!


…BORING CONVERSATION ANYWAY. LUKE! WE’RE GONNA HAVE COMPANY!
Ever wonder what you would have these characters say if you were the word wizard? Bad Lip Reading cracks me up!!  ALERT: Some language will (hopefully) go over the heads of the young ones, some might not. You’ve been warned.


DIFFICULT TO SEE. ALWAYS IN MOTION IS THE FUTURE
Close your eyes and picture the motion of the ocean with this tune.  Remember, the original Star Wars film came from decades a long, long time agowhen Disco was King! 

ALWAYS PASS ON WHAT YOU HAVE LEARNED!
MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!

What about you?
Do you have any favorite Star Wars snippets that get you excited?  Share links below!
Do you know what characters really said the above QUOTES?
What’s your favorite Star Wars film?
Or were you more of the Star Trek fan?
Is it possible to be both?
Which Star Wars character are you most like?
Do you already have your tickets for the next film?
Dark Side or Rebellion?

 

#StarWars #TheForce #RogueOne #R2D2 #Luke #Jedi #DarthVader #Skywalker #DeathStar #GeorgeLucas #WeirdAl #ImproveEverywhere #BadLipReading #Disco #StormTrooper #LightSaber #EpisodeI #EpisodeII #EpisodeIII #EpisodeIV #EpisodeV #EpisodeVI #EpisodeVII #EpisodeVII #Cat #Kitten #Twerk #Disney #rogueoneastarwarsstory
(C) DISNEY

YOU WENT WHERE? VEGAS! (WITH KIDS)

When planning our first family road trip to Viva Las Vegas; my cynical kids (and a few grownups) asked “Are kids allowed?” “What is there to do?”

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We hopped off The Big Bus at the Historic Las Vegas sign!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED…
The mission we accepted was to find something memorable for each of us that we wouldn’t find back home in Southern California.  …Oh, and swim, people-watch and eat!  Where to start?

NOTE:  This trip was not swayed by sponsors – only my pennies!  I did graduate-level research on “Vegas for kids” and visited Groupon, Goldstar, Yelp LasVegas.com to find details and deals!  Here is my Vegas with Kids thesis – I swear it’s more interesting than my Master’s thesis. (Full extended reviews of each stop found here: Vegas Road Trip)

WE STARTED WITH A SPLASH!
We started by deciding what pool we’d want to play in, the room was secondary. We checked out everything from lazy rivers to sandy beaches but the Shark Tank pool at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino won. You can slide THROUGH the shark tank!

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Shot from the hotel’s website because my phone/camera isn’t waterproof!

THE ITINERARY FELL INTO PLACE…
FREESTYLE FREMONT STREET:
We timed our arrival to coincide with the electric evenings of the Fremont Street Experience in downtown Vegas!  We immediately headed towards SlotZilla ziplines to get a birds-eye view of the fun below under a video screen doubling as a technicolor sky!  I’d checked the weekend music schedule beforehand, reserving our zip time to soar during a rockin’ Bon Jovi song!  

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No really, it’s night!

My daughter and I flew, I screamed while praying that my son (waiting on the ground) wouldn’t get lost for the few seconds apart. He didn’t. He was stunned still by the circus that is the Fremont Street Experience!  It’s an amazing experience to bounce between multiple stages featuring different bands, while soaking in nostalgic old Vegas steaming with brand new, colorful energy!  

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Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise Casino & Hotel (Back to the Future 2) 

DAY STRIPPING:
To really take in the Strip, without wearing out our feet, Groupon sold me on a deal for the Big Bus Tours!  

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They picked up near our hotel and we hopped on and off again at many different locations including the photogenic Las Vegas sign, Circus Circus (also a transition point between two routes), and Everything Coca-Cola store (they’re not lying). Here we treated ourselves to flight of soda floats featuring Coca-Cola drinks from around the world in a variety of cola and fruity flavors!  

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Between us we were really full after sharing 1 flight of 8 mini floats!

TAKE PAUSE:
After dressing for the evening, we chilled at a coffee shop.  I sat on the sidelines sipping my cappuccino while my kids played chess.  When the older challenged the younger on a rule, only then were phones brought out to settle the disagreement. My younger daughter emerged victorious! My older accepted defeat gracefully – even giving her kudos.  That NEVER happens at home – call it vacation magic.

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NIGHT STRIPPING:
The kids were dazzled by casino lights and sounds as we walked through on our way to see the Blue Man Group!  Booking seats through Goldstar provided upgraded floor seats so we felt like part of the action (though not close enough where ponchos were needed)! We embellished ourselves with bright yellow strips of paper which later translated into a fantastic part of the show! As the show really got rocking, my kids’ senses worked overtime!  My 14 year old son felt like this was the closest thing to a rave he’d experienced!

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After pouring out of the theatre and matching the pace with the stream of people walking through the pulsing lights and music on the Strip, we decided late dinner was a must! The Hard Rock Cafe never disappoints and this location had a club pumping while we ate. We all loved our meals and probably even dream about them in between trips.

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THRILL OF DANGER:
Despite a late evening, the kids jumped out of bed the next morning to meet the Humvee chauffeuring us to Battlefield Vegas!  Groupon provided a great first-timer package for my son. Not the first time he’s shot at a range, just the first time he’s shot large guns.  The driver explained that Battlefield is run by ex-military and police officers who all know and respect firearms.  They impressed me with the lengths they go to prepare and protect you before entering the range.  Afterwards, we strolled around the tanks, helicopters and other vehicles in the yard!  We hoped someone would flatten a car with a tank – but we have to save something for next time!

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We returned to the hotel to finally slide through the shark tank!  One little girl had the right idea and slowed herself down in the tunnel so she could actually see the sharks – otherwise it’s a funtastic blur!  We splashed around the pool, and floated with our noses pressed against the glass of the huge shark tank!  We followed the sun as the afternoon progressed. Though tempting, I didn’t do any pool-side gambling.

As darkness took over, we headed to KISS Glow golf!  It totally rocked!  The kids enjoyed the rock-n-glow with the signature KISS obstacles on the course such as platform boots and guitar axes. The music rocked, but their collection of rock and roll memorabilia (from all sorts of rock bands) available for purchase impressed me even more! I really hoped someone would get married so we could witness a Vegas wedding in the chapel of KISS.

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WTF: (Whatever Teen Face) This IS my son’s face when he’s having fun.

 

The next day, we met my folks (who also happened to be in town) for a casual breakfast and then hit the road home.  The kids slept the whole way dreaming of what else to see next time! Not only did we blow the challenge out of the water, but so many things remain for us to return and discover!

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This is their old location, they’ve since relocated to the RIO!

What about you?
Have you had a great adventure in Vegas that you think we ought to try?  Let us know in the comments!
Anything only a local would know about?
Anything for even younger kids?

 

#GoldenNugget #FremontStreetExperience #CocaCola #EverythingCocaCola #Soda #Floats #MiniGolf #Glow #KISS #SharkTank #Pool #BattlefieldVegas #ShootingRange #Humvee #BlueManGroup #BigBus #Tour #RoadTrip #Vegas #LasVegas #TheStrip #Teen #Tween #FamilyFun

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