PRICELESS COLLECTION!

With two children being promoted to new schools (one starting Middle School, one moving to High School) I spent the whole last semester lamenting how quickly years pass. My teenage son fans those fears stating “I’ll only be living with you for 4 more years!” He’ll already be eligible for a learner’s permit two months into his freshman year! Just. Not. Ready. Breathe! THEN my baby left the Elementary School that anchored us into our new normal when I got a divorce. Time marches on!

You ever notice just how much crap you accumulate in that time? Or is it just me? Before, during, after and in between moving I go through stuff streamlining and purging so my family will stop watching Hoarders waiting for me to star in an episode. While my collection of books extends past their bookshelves, overall I am not a huge collector because a) I get distracted easily and b) the minute I miss one, I stop since I won’t have a perfect set, plus I waver on getting 1 or 2 of everything (only to wind up at zero) so if they become valuable, neither child will feel slighted (the thrifty side of OCD).

So color me crazy, but I return with renewed energy to collecting rituals, adventures, or favorites that we can do together. “Experts agree” that we should collect experiences, not things!  The most logical argument pointed out that iThings are exciting at first until the next version comes out or you see your neighbor with the latest innovation. Then you are less excited til you get the next “best” thing. Experiences, on the other hand, grow fonder in our minds the more time passes. With time, the small issues (such as a snoring roommate you hope to leave in international waters) dissipate leaving you either able to laugh about mishaps or forgetting it overall since you were in an exotic locale when it happened.

The clock is ticking! When the kids leave I can only hope they have bags overflowing with amazing childhood adventures and the desire to return home for new ones.

Fortunately for me, social media keeps better records than my travel diaries did.

Vegas Road Trip!

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15. DRINK AS MUCH WATER AS COFFEE FOR A WEEK

8 glasses a day minimum

8 glasses a day minimum

Many victories in a little 30-day Healthy Eating challenge:

  • Finding new ways – hidden or not – to incorporate more fruits/veggies into my kids’ diet
  • I drank more water than coffee every day and didn’t scar anyone else psychologically
  • Our complexions cleared up Day 5 and remained more stable overall
  • 90% of fruits/veggies were fresh, not frozen (besides me freezing bananas for smoothies)
Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

Only 1-2 cups a day now, no quad lattes

A little discomfort:

  • Shocking reality that fresh produce may be a luxury item – No wonder we battle schools for improved menus or health issues as a country. Adding good stuff in addition to filling stuff adds extra money to the bottom line. Grow your own or check out the 99c store – who knew?
  • It’s all in the presentation – After stuffing 6 cups of fruits/veggies into my son daily, he still won’t eat a chicken sandwich with 1 slice of lettuce and tomato on it
  • Hiring dishwasher/sous chef: I’ll wean my kids into it gradually, I didn’t want to incorporate the discomfort of cut fingers or broken glasses to the challenge.
6 cups of fruits and veggies

6 cups of fruits and veggies – WTF: Way too full!

The real success story was how easy it was to adopt this lifestyle (despite all the whiny debates from when I announced our challenge):

  • Early adopters – The first 3 days of diets usually suck until you embrace the idea and feel benefits to motivate you – Sept. 1, we started with a bang and never slowed down. I’m sure the $1 a day bribe I offered helped, but bottom line, $1 isn’t going to make kids eat anything they don’t want to.
  • Doing it together rocked – Mom’s kitchen is not a restaurant with multiple entrees per night.
  • Didn’t feel deprived – Nothing was off-limits, we ate all fruits/veggies before dessert.  If we had parties, we were aware and got in the daily allotment later. If anything, it was hard to get it all in. The only thing the kids vocalized was drinking less milk to get water in.
  • Super easy-to-visualize plan – “Deck of cards” or “Fist-sized” portions confuse me but eyeballing ½ your plate filled with fruits/veggies – no matter how much you eat –  is easy

The true success will be how long we keep going in October, but at this point, we’re really optimistic!

SMURF HAPPENS! The Premiere

My kids and I rarely visit the Westside of Los Angeles. Traffic and rampant Bruins make it less-than-desirable for us. Last Sunday, we were noticeably blue because we got invited to Sony Pictures’ blue carpet premiere of The Smurfs 2! My kids didn’t grow up on the Smurfs like I did, but we loved the first movie and were thrilled to see the sequel!

Smurf Happens!

Smurf Happens!

We grabbed Lauren’s friend and set off on an adventure!

Smurfin' Street Scene

Smurfin’ Street Scene

Within a block from the parking lot, you saw Men In Black positioned at key positions along barricaded streets.  According to my friend, with Katy Perry and Britney Spears attending, the security detail was going to be a clusterfoccacia!  The first sign that we’d arrived at a premiere, not an alien invasion, was a huge Smurf melting in reverse positioned for his shining moment at the head of the blue carpet.

Where the Action Is

Where the Action Is

The street was a sea of blue laid with Smurfing custom cars,

Smurfin' Smart Cars

Smurf My Ride!  Smurfed Out Smart Cars!
I finally realize who fits in those cars!

and a Smurfing tiered cake.

My favorite Baltimore Baker - Duff!    Getty Images

My favorite Baltimore Baker – Duff!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Fans and paparazzi were already lined up warming up their flashes or their voices.

Smurfin' Tour Eiffel

Smurfin’ Tour Eiffel

I yelled to my friend and, after making eye contact, started to move towards her. The security twitched in my direction ready to pounce.  Seriously, do we look like we will body slam people to get pictures with them?

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it's startling - obviously! Really?!

Cheyenne Jackson is so hot it’s startling – obviously! Really?! I couldn’t muster a smile?!

MMmmmKmaybe.

Neil Patrick Harris and family (C) Getty Images/Sony

Neil Patrick Harris and family
(C) Getty Images / Sony

We waited to see celebrities inside the lobby. On the carpet, stars were moved along, but once inside, they had a moment to relax before entering the theatre. For my son and myself, the highlight was seeing various personalities and meeting a super polite kid who stars in one of my kids’ favorite shows!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

Dylan Riley Snyder from Kicking It!

For the girls, tchotchkies, ushers with bottomless boxes of treats, a Smurfing Happy Meal with 2 toys plus chocolate milk was more valuable than free-flowing champagne.  Then came the Staff lanyards!  With the power of executives flowing through them, the youngsters could stand in the lobby where they wanted, ignore the wishes of security, and walk the blue carpet!

WTF: Wave towards Faces The power of the lanyard!

WTF: Wave towards Faces
The power of the lanyard!

Seeing the film before it opened, star-gazing and being thrown in with such a creative crowd was such a fun experience for us all!  Bonus:  Finally knocked a big item off my 101 in 1,001 list!

Grandma Perry's shirt was classic:  I've got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!  Check out the blinged out cane too! (C) Getty Images / Sony

Grandma Perry’s shirt was classic:     I’ve got the hots for Grandpa Smurf!
Check out the blinged out cane too!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy! Love them!

Pop Princesses Britney and Katy!
Love them!
(C) Getty Images / Sony

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

Thanks Pal! We had a blast!

See you next time Katy!  Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch "Part of Me!"

See you next time Katy!
Or in 30 min. when we go home and watch “Part of Me!”

DID YOU GET HIGHLIGHTS?

I have a friend who, whenever our group of gals get together, asks all of us what our highlights are. Most of us groan (somewhat jokingly), some leave the room, change the subject or act like we didn’t hear. Whether startled by the sudden change in perspective or perhaps uncomfortable with the idea of giving ourselves praise (after cheerleading every other cause and person we live with) we try our best to squeak one out. We can’t just use our get togethers with her and the gals as a highlight (although I do count every year of our 25+ year old friendships as highlights).

This year she pointed out that highlights may be lowlights since often the challenges we face are the greatest gifts. Also, she kept emphasizing that people must find their own voice, we can’t go along with something someone pointed out for us as a highlight.

With 2012 wrapping up, I thought this would be a great time to discuss my blogging highlights that occurred within this my first year!

20121229-014022.jpg

Highlights:
I wrote a lot! as opposed to previous years where I said “I will write,” I did write. While my plan wavered as I wandered, I still improved my quantity of writing by leaps and bounds from the last few years. It refreshed my spirit and worked my creative muscles a lot! The practice of purging then limiting my words fine tuned my writing.

People wandered by! 10,000+ people wandered along with me (WTF: Wow, Thanks Friends)! I’ve mentioned before how much I love round numbers, well hitting the 10,000 for me this past week was a great achievement! Some other great milestones were a high of 125 readers in one day and that I had no days with zero readers since the time where my posting became less frequent while applying for, financing and finishing my first semester of grad school. I thought making the decision to return to school would kill my blog but was so grateful for those who kept wandering across my path leading me to complete this, my 200th post!

I just renewed my URL for another year! I have things left to do and questions left to answer! I want to take my new outlook on life and explore many more wide open spaces.

I am grateful for everyone you wandering along with me and love to hear from you as well! Your words have often lead me to dig deeper or straight up inspired me!

So what does 2013 hold for you? I plan to do a 365 day project. Wanna do one with me? Do you have one or are you afraid of the commitment?

Mine has to be an abbreviated effort with school starting in the end of January, so consider doing a haiku a day with me!! Just a 3-line poem with 5-7-5 total syllables in the 3 lines. Either write in my comments when I post mine or write on your own blog and let me know when you do so we can support each other’s efforts!

Now the bad news… I won’t be posting my first one ’til the second week of January as I am on holiday and won’t be near reliable/affordable Internet til then.

Until then, I hope that your holiday festivities continue and that you have an unforgettable New Years!

With that, my parting haiku…
2012 ends,
Wandering with friends, I turn
To ask your highlights

Drop by next year!

THE END IS NEAR, WHAT SHOULD I DO FIRST?

There has been a big countdown going on in recent past and it’s finally coming to fruition.  I’m not talking about:

Baby New Year 2013!
Thanks rochelle, just rochelle for the photo!

Nor am I pushing the 12/21/12 end of the Mayan Calendar

Beautiful and mystical Mayan Calendar
Thanks insert screen name here for the photo

I’m realizing just how unprepared I am for a zombie apocalypse and am now slightly concerned about my goal to have a plan for when it occurs.

Hopefully I won’t lose my head and will stay calm!
Thanks Visceral e Insolúvel for the graphic!

The end of my first semester as a graduate student is going to be over in 1 week!

Sound the reveille!

I’m trying to get it all done and wrapped up but at the same time am SUPER excited to have a bit more free time for the time being until next semester!

I already know where my journey will begin…

I’ll be wandering first through District 12!

Help me decide where to wander next!  I have 4 weeks to pack in as much living and relaxing as possible!  WTF? When’s the Finish? Next Tuesday officially, next Thursday after our one dangling live web session.

Reflection of the end
Thanks tind for the photo.

I’ll definitely refer to my 101 in 1001 and Naturally, Kids lists for fun adventures, but tell me what you recommend.  What great thing have you done since September that you just know I ought to try?!

I’ll tell you one thing, I look forward to wandering some with you and catching up a bit!

12. HAVE A RAINBOW MEAL

Today being Cinco de Mayo, we threw a family fiesta! Trying to figure out a Mexican menu that both kids would eat challenged me. One kid eats quesadillas, the other hates melted cheese. One loves spicy food, the other gets easily burned. I settled on Chicken Fajitas.

Loving the colors everywhere I turn!

I immediately thought how colorful and beautiful it would be and since I already used up half of the spectrum just in the peppers we’d use, (and perhaps slightly inspired by the Rainbow Cake from King’s Hawaiian we ate today) I announced that we would make our Rainbow Meal!

My kids’ simultaneously demanded to know how many colors would be vegetables. I promised not all of them. It’s not hard to think of food in any color of the rainbow. They’d suggested that we go for Skittles, but I overrode that one. Seeing as how it was 6:30pm before I got this bright idea, I improvised on some things since I didn’t have all day for prep time.

APPETIZER:
BLUE corn chips (although they look purple, the bag said blue so I’m standing by that), served with GREEN and RED spotted guacamole, and YELLOW virgin margaritas!

Virgin Margaritas: Lemonade, OJ, Fresh Lime Juice over Lime ice cubes!

My kids loved drinking out of fancy cups! My son loved the lime ice cubes and had four margaritas – I’m a little concerned by the implication.

Fiesta! Maybe this will be a new tradition!

He loved the guacamole. My daughter tasted a shmear and thought it was ok but better than she thought.

The best green alternative she had.

MAIN COURSE:
Chicken Fajitas with ORANGE, RED and GREEN peppers, YELLOW Sweet Corn mash, RED Spanish rice and one bite of PURPLE cabbage.

Pretty colors but the high quantity of veggies made them uncomfortable.

Sadly, we were full from multiple margaritas and the appetizer but the kids and I ate a bite of all required food colors– since I threatened to double the veggie intake if it waited til tomorrow.

WTF – Wow, the FLAVORS!

I can’t share recipes, but I’ll share brands. I used TGIFriday’s Frozen Fajitas since the grocer didn’t have fresh pre-marinated chicken. I added orange peppers to the rest (thus explaining the huge size, I’m not patient enough to cut things into slivers). The corn mash was El Torito brand sold in stores, the rice was Zatarain’s (with “fresh” canned tomatoes).

Let me know if you cook a RAINBOW!

Ah, now to make clean up more enjoyable.

PERSONAL CHECK POINT – MAY I PASS?

We needed a slow night. After bidding adieu to friends, we took long baths, got in dryer-warmed jammies and read. Part of my 101 in 1001 is reading all the books on my bookshelf. I started with the largest book with the smallest “chapters”: Oprah’s Big Book of Happiness.

Instant happiness!

Although Richard Branson’s article attracted me to browse, I landed with some 40-something friends and girl-talk! While I didn’t attend their party, I simmered on their questions (except the husband ones as I’m currently husband-free):

1) At age 18, your vision for your future: My goals were to graduate from USC in Psychology and have Antonio Sabato, Jr. or Dolph Lundgren’s kids.
How close did you get? I have the best family! I graduated from USC and refer to Psych 101 regularly. I surprised myself by accomplishing bigger dreams than imagined by completing marathons, a triathlon, working for Disney, and writing daily.

2) Advice you wish you’d received as a youth: Trust yourself: Follow your heart and your gut instincts will guide you while your head makes a plan.

3) Best money spent/biggest waste: In college I bought a Movado watch to keep up with the Trojans. I loved the first hour then felt physically uncomfortable! I kept waiting for machete-wielding locals to chop off my wrist. I was anxious that I’d lose it but still have to pay it off on my maxed card. It was the worst money I spent it so I returned it. It also became the best money I spent because it taught me that “THINGS” don’t produce the feelings I want. I still love nice things – on sale!

4) Best/worst thing about being a woman: The best thing is being strong enough to get things done but you’re allowed to be fragile enough to need help and strong enough to ask for it. Worst are many mens’ stereotypes directed towards Asian females.

5) At this point, is there a dream you’ll never fulfill? Why’re you so sure it’s out of reach? Traveling around the world with my kids on a cruise. It’s my long-shot dream, not completely out of reach.

Simmer on these questions yourself. What would your answers be?

I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU!

Earlier, I redirected my focus towards personal growth rather than being quick to dismiss challenges. I am making myself accountable to wordpress to challenge myself for 30 days then report back. After 30 days, it forms a habit (although, I didn’t start falling behind with blogging until 90+ days). As with any change in habits, it’s always more fun with friends. If you want to support each other, post which of the 30 you’ll do and we’ll all check in with each other along the way!

I already do these regularly:

7. Treat everyone nicely, even those that are rude to me. I’m a huge believer in treating people how you want to be treated. Simple and golden!

Simple!

9. Acknowledge the lesson in awkward situations. Ever since reading childhood fairy tales, I learned stories have morals. In my family, with every awkward situation, we identify the lesson we learned because of our mistakes.

Understanding that blogging takes a large daily chunk of time, I dove into these areas:

11. Get rid of one thing a day for 30 days. By the end, more breathing room will feel huge! Aligning with my long-term goals, I won’t toss my kids’ toys but may challenge them to join in.

18. Read one chapter of a good book a day. I am determined to read through my bookshelf so committing to 1 chapter a day will get me through 1 and maybe into my 2nd book in 30 days.

25. Spend 10 min. a day reflecting on what went well. Last night my daughter expressed that it was her best day ever. She listed the great things that happened and we all smiled! Not only was she appreciating the day’s gifts, but she ended the day on a high note.

27. Pay down debt and don’t create any new debt for 30 days. I have a small credit card that I didn’t carry a balance on until working temporary jobs. I have two summer camps I’m paying in installments. It’d be a healthy habit to take my lunch more and enjoy coffee free at work.

What are your challenges going to be? I can’t wait to celebrate our highights!

So many people have shared this - finally sinking in!

WANDER WITH US MORE:
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Thanks all!

MS AWARENESS WEEK – EVERY ONE OF US KNOWS SOMEONE

IN ONE WEEK: My kids and I will be walking with Team Hope to create a world free of MS.  
                                    Team Hope was started by my friend, Tricia Chandler, an amazing woman living with MS!  

                                    Please consider donating $1 for each time this blog made you smile!

Odds are, with 2.1 million people currently living with Multiple Sclerosis and a new diagnosis every hour, we all know someone impacted by this disease – whether we know it or not. With this being National MS Awareness Week, this topic deserves to be lingered over a spell.

My first introductions to MS came via Annette Funicello – everyone’s favorite Mouseketeer – and Richard Pryor when they announced that they lived with MS. I immediately filed it under “Things to worry about when I get ‘OLD.’” 

Flash-forward to my 20th high school reunion in 2008, an evening full of rusty recollections and reconnections, I spent significant time with a friend who truly lights up any party. If not her smile, her energy draws you in and you want to go along for whatever adventure she’s on.  Turns out, her adventure is MS. 

Initially, her comedic candid yet casual remarks for what she lived with daily shocked me. But, her grace and honesty stood out and immediately inspired and educated me to want to do more.

The first 5 min. video was made by the National MS Society about 7 years ago briefly profiling Tricia’s moving fight as a young, single mom living with MS. I linked you to her page – perhaps too many steps in blogging etiquette – but I wanted you to get her perspective before watching it – and to browse her blog if you want to learn more.

The second 4 min. video briefly states the current statistics.  The number of people diagnosed leaped from 200 a week to 1 an hour in the past 7 years and today, there is no cure.

On the bright side, during the past 20 years, advancements with managing and living with the disease have occurred. Progress towards a cure, or with making lives easier for those with MS, comes with research. I’m not a scientist, but I can walk. 

Just by wandering with me today, you helped raise awareness and I am truly grateful for your company. 

If you want to do more…

Find an MS Walk near you!  or Consider a Donation in any amount to Team Hope – Tricia’s team – that I’ll proudly walk with on April 28th

If you live in San Diego consider joining us as a walker. If you don't, please consider donating even $1!

HISTORIC TREASURE HUNT

As a girl, I loved venturing into my grandparent’s huge east coast basement. Newspapers exposed me to current events, I shopped amongst the canned goods, invented new uses for broken machines, or read years of Good Housekeeping! I knew my grandmother and mother in the roles they fulfilled for me, but the basement gave me insight on what their lives entailed. I felt well prepared reading the monthly GH column “My Problem and How I Solved It.”

Knowing how hungrily I sifted through the past inspired me to save some things to share with my children.  I limit myself to one hope chest (not counting photos – stored elsewhere) and there’s room for more.  One of my 101 goals in 1,001 days involved sharing my treasure chest with my children.

As the chest opened, my kids gasped at the colorful possibilities!  We started with publications from significant events that have happened since I started my collection.

From a San Diego paper detailing the LA Riots, 9-11, Elvis, epic college football, to the Man on the moon...

Some events affected me more than others.

The elegant people's princess. When she died, shortly before her fairy tale finally came true, our fairy tales got shaken too.

For the most part I’ve collected items since the late 80’s.  Every now and then at used bookstores or libraries I’ll find old magazines to put aside, or some life events warrant anniversary editions. Not only do the articles provide amazing information, the advertisements provide great laughs!

I include some mementos from previous employers – I’ve sold off or given away anything collectable.  I used to hope my kids would become rich by eBaying it all, then I decided I should handle it rather than burden them.

This shows just a small sampling of the fun things I accumulated along the way!

Then we got into some of my childhood memories.  For the first time I looked at my baby doll like the ancient relic that my children saw her as – or perhaps saw me as.

A simple doll (named Beanie Baby - original, I know), a bridle and ballet shoes - none of which I stuck with that long.

I shared obituaries of my grandparents, whom they never met.  I displayed college diplomas to “I climbed the Great Wall of China” certificates. My son salivated, commandeering my Checkpoint Charlie tee-shirt.  My daughter tried figuring out which old yearbook photos showed my sisters and I.  I wracked my brain for anything unacceptable inscribed in its pages.

I can't get her to become a Girl Scout but she loved wearing my sash from my three years as a Scout!

I loved seeing them enjoy open access to my childhood and they loved seeing that I did more with my life before I went to Mommy University.

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