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

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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

NOW WHAT? REMEMBER WHAT YOU’RE GRATEFUL FOR…

I’m late with my post for Tuesday 11/8/16 for #NaBloPoMo. I’ll admit that I couldn’t tear myself away from the TV even after the election results were known.  This morning, now that the political  campaign circus has come to a conclusion and we’re all waiting to see where this goes, it’s time to focus inward and find center again.  Remember who you are and the good that you possess and what you can offer the world.  Also, be grateful for the gifts that you have.  It’s the little things that matter most and will help restore joy.

I love the exercise of focusing on gratitude in November – not just on Thanksgiving but everyday!  Since I missed the first few days, I will go back and reflect, then move forward from there through November. Feel free to share one thing you are grateful for in the comments or feel free to copy the list for yourself!

Day 1: What smell are you grateful for today?

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Yesterday Today and Tomorrow flowers. One of the greatest gifts from an apartment I used to live in was that somebody in the neighborhood grew these plants. At the end of any day, when the witching hour (after dinner, homework, procrastination, laundry, cleaning time) was upon us, a quick smell of their fragrance wafting by instantly sidetracked me to pause and wander with wonder.

Day 2: What technology are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for the technology that helps people quickly detect large medical problems whether it’s full-body scans for early detection or DNA decoding to educate people how best to care for themselves based on what they learn could be present in their genetic background. When you know better, hopefully you do better.

Day 3: What color are you grateful for?
RED! Usually the rest of my wardrobe tends towards black or white but I feel more energetic and powerful when wearing this color. As simple as a red flower in my hair to a bold red bag helps me shine internally! I also love editing with a red pen.

Day 4: What food are you most grateful for?

 

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Pioneer Woman’s – Roasted Garlic MMM, you won’t regret it!

Garlic makes me grateful because it provides such a wonderful layer of flavor to almost every meal as well as providing health benefits. It’s become a comfort food for my family and no matter how simple or fancy our meals are, we pour on garlic! It’s a bucket list item to get to the Gilroy Garlic festival one year.

Day 5: What sound are you grateful for today?

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My kids voices. I am grateful that they still get excited to share things about their day with me. I’m less excited about the voices they use to bicker – but to restore overall balance, there are the remarkable moments where they team up and share inside jokes that Mom would never get.

Day 6: What in nature are you grateful for?

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Coast lines. I always pause to reflect that standing with my feet in the sand with the waves crashing on my toes means I’m on the western most point of that chunk of the US.  I also turn my sights towards the horizon wondering if this will be the one time I can actually see all the way to Hawaii.

Day 7: What memory are you grateful for?
How in the world do I pick just one when on a daily basis I’m adding so many more to the memory bank?  I am grateful for my grandparents’ houses because, depending on which one I was visiting, there was a surplus of unconditional love, closets or shelves with treasures just for the grandkids, music pouring from the walls, and outside hideouts that we lit with lightning bugs.  I am grateful that as the oldest child, I remember them and not just the stories of them.

Day 8: What book are you most grateful for?

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Right now, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Where the rest of my mind tells me to make practical choices, this book gives me permission and renewed drive to be creative! It’s one I return to frequently.

Here is the full list of Gratitude prompts inspiring me that I found on textmyjournal.com.. Even if you don’t commit to the whole month – what is something you’re grateful for RIGHT NOW?

gratitude journal prompts

 

#Healing #Gratitude #Journal #November

HOW’D I WIND UP LIVING IN ONE OF THE 10 BEST PLACES IN CA?

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Shhh! Don’t tell anyone or housing prices will continue to skyrocket, but [whisper] my city was voted one of the 10 Best Places to Live in California! Upon hearing this announcement, (you can call it a midlife or nostalgia) I wanted to retrace our journey that directed us to Redondo Beach.

On my first visit to the area, 15 years prior to setting down roots here, it wasn’t the sunshine that drew me in, but the taste of the salty air and sound of the waves crashing against the pier pilings. Running between the hot spots, lost in the woody maze of the pier, the texture felt familiar. It was reminiscent of the boardwalk edging the east coast of my childhood. That night, I was there for one fun time and didn’t realize that the sites and sounds would seep into my being (and eventually dictate the feel of my blog).

Later, when I found myself rewriting my 5-year plan (divorcing, starting over), I felt going home to San Diego would be giving up, but I knew I couldn’t stay put either as my time was up. Initially, upon moving to the coast, I didn’t recall having been there before. Plus, I didn’t know how long I’d stay. 

Our lives were a bunch of moving parts: Me going through a divorce and starting a new job, my oldest child entering kindergarten, and the youngest at her most active age of 2. I was falling fast, flailing my arms to pull together loose ends and create a new normal.  I’d chosen the area for the following 3 reasons: 1) Great schools; 2) Closer to family; 3) I felt I could just slip right in unnoticed.  Part of me was led by a romantic notion that the sea air and sunsets would heal my uprooted spirit.

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At first, I felt I was nothing but noticeable (in my own head) as the divorced mom in a field of adorable married couples. But that big D on my shirt got less noticeable as I focused on helping my kids build their new community as quickly as possible by joining teams! Through my son’s soccer, daughter’s t-ball, and my Team In Training, we met amazing people and slowly started tipping the scales as our happiness grew and life experiences became richer.  

We met other parents who helped me set the kids on a positive and hopefully long, windy path of discovery about themselves.  Growing up, I’d moved a lot and lived places for on average 4 years. I started a lot of things, then left many of them undone. I never did a drastic mid-school year move or anything, but as soon as I’d get to know people, or be introduced to something fun, we’d move, and do something different. So when it came time to choose where we’d move, it was a significant decision that I didn’t take lightly.

I love that our city that feels larger than some of its neighbors, but occupies a small footstep within our county. It is anchored with main streets with entertainment, food and shopping, yet at the same time, the horizon is wide open with opportunity and possibility. I love that we’ve actively worked to become a Blue Zone – I’ll explain in the next few weeks – which increases the strength and health of a community!

10 years is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere. I laugh as I ponder that to newcomers, I’m a local! While I never hope to repeat the circumstances that brought us here, I’m certainly glad for where we landed and grew roots.

KEEPING UP WITH THE KID ACTION:  POKÉMON GO – WHAT ARE THOSE?!

So sorry! Seeing a Pokémon ball, Pokémon hunter, and a Jigglypuff out Trick-or-treating made me realize I left y’all hanging since my last Poképost!

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While wandering around the Pokémon GPS map, a fantastic, mythical creature popped up in your path! What now?  Today’s goal is to get you out there catching any and all Pokémon, plus tools to help you! Pokémon types, evolutions and powers come later*! Again, I use an iPhone 5 – if there are differences with Samsung or better iPhones, leave comments in the bottom.  *Topics with an asterisk will be discussed in a future post – coming soon! If you have specific questions or advice, leave them in the comments below!

TO CATCH POKÉMONS
When the Pokémon first appears near you on the map tap on it!

LOOKS LIKE: The Pokémon will become roughly centered in your line of sight. You will now see the character either where it appears in your reality, or in its world. 

WHADDYA DO:
You should have a red, white and black Poké ball at the bottom of your screen. 
Put your finger on the Poké ball.

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You will see a white stationery circle and a colored circle that gets smaller form on the Pokémon’s head. Slide the ball up the screen then release your finger to launch it towards the circles. If you miss, keep going. If you catch one a ray of light draws the Pokémon into your ball.

TIP: The Pokémon’s CP number and the color of the inner circle indicate how difficult it will be to catch. Green is easiest, yellow a bit tougher, orange harder still and red is hardest. As you get more practice, aim for the inner colored smaller circle.

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IF YOU CAUGHT POKÉMON
The ball opens and captures the Pokémon. A red light flashes and after 3 pulses, it shoots stars celebrating your capture.

A screen shows much Stardust and Pokémon Candy you earned (to help you Power Up* and Evolve* Pokémon) and how many XP points you earned (notice more points for fancy throws) to help you level up.

The second screen shows your Pokémon’s CP (strength) and other powers* we’ll cover to build a strong team.

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If it’s a new Pokémon, it gets registered in your Pokédex.

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Then you are returned to your map view.

IF POKÉMON ESCAPES THE BALL
You can:
a)
 Keep trying
b) Run away (by clicking small running man button in top left of screen)
c) Use more advanced throws.*
d) Use tools from your bag such as a Razz Berry or a more advanced trap (once you’ve reached a certain level). Tap on the backpack button and it shows you what in your bag is available to be used to help you.

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NOTE: Occasionally the Pokémon disappears in a cloud of smoke. You’ll have to wait until the next time your paths cross.

WHAT’S IN MY BAG
When on your regular GPS map view, click on the red, white and grey Pokémon ball at the bottom of your screen. The click on the backpack icon “ITEMS” to find these things (and if you don’t, you will as you level up):

POTIONS

To help heal or revive your Pokémon after battling in gyms. Sometimes you’ll have to apply more than one.  If you click on them, it’ll show you which Pokémon need to take it. Clicking on the trashcan next to the name allows you to get rid of some to help keep your bag balanced.

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POKÉ BALLS
You must have these to catch Pokémon! As you level up, you’ll earn balls capable of catching higher and higher CP Pokémon. You can buy more – but instead, visit Pokéstops to collect more!

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SUBSCRIBE IF YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS:  HOW TO MANAGE MY POKÉMON and WHAT DO ALL THE NUMBERS MEAN?

I know school limits the amount of time people can play, but the new Buddy feature* helps  you evolve Pokémon faster and I’m hopeful there will be more special promos like they did at Halloween with double the candy earned.  Happy Hunting!

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WTF: Walk to find!

 

Are you still playing? What level are you?
Do you have any tips?
How has Pokémon changed your lifestyle?  I’ll let you in on our changes next time.

#PokemonGo #Nintendo #Niantic Labs #Pokemon #Updates

TOP 10 BEST ADVENT CALENDARS

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Now that we howled through Halloween I feel like life becomes a game of Chutes and Ladders leading up to Christmas!  On the one hand, time slows down the hourglass a bit as your to-do list becomes filled with larger projects and many social gatherings. On the other hand, it always comes too fast for me. I always wish I had a few more paychecks between now and then to play, gift and donate to everyone I want to.

So let me start by leap-frogging to December 1st!  For me, anticipation builds my excitement for any holiday! For Christmas, my internal clock gets a break because Advent calendars builds my holiday spirit – one day at a time! While some people carry a traditional method of counting down, I love to mix it up a bit to keep my kids on their toes.

In no particular order, because my vision of the holidays changes annually, here are my family’s favorite Advent Calendars!

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So many adventures come from one tiny calendar! Play well with other Legos too!

1.  Lego Star Wars – After getting this calendar you may not need to do Christmas.  Lego and Star Wars tie for favorite toys with my children so while this calendar carries a larger lifetime – the life of its daily toy is longer than any other from this group. Plus these daily lego toys spawn creativity and the engineering side of my children’s minds which also goes a long way.

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Treat yourself!

2.  Chocolate – Coming off of Halloween, you may not be as eager to rush out and get a chocolate calendar – until I tell you it’s made by Cadbury!  You may want to buy one for yourself (and a bottle of red wine) and treat yourself during the season where you’re considering everyone else’s treats!

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For a how-to tutorial, click the picture!

3.  DIY Paper Rings – I’d say most of us made these rings out of construction paper and hung them on the wall or framing our door to count down days for the holidays or vacations. Whether as a calendar or decoration, its a fun tradition to sit together and make these. During these still quieter moments, the fun stories of old come forth again.  

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4.  Melissa & Doug Tree – This lovely calendar will become a family tradition as everyone remembers their favorite ornaments to hang on this wooden tree.  The whole family’s excitement will grow as the ornaments decorate more and more of the tree! Melissa & Doug products last long enough to be passed down.

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5.  Nativity Scene – As a beautiful reminder for the reason for the season, these calendars recreate the Nativity story with a new addition each day. This gives one plenty of time to ponder each new addition to the story and stop to really consider its significance!

advent-tsum

WTF: Welcome These Favorites to your home!  (C) Disney

6.  Tsum Tsum – Your favorite Disney characters win you over again now that they’re adorably oval! Tsum tsums were this year’s hottest collectible and create stacks of smiles! Again, the hours spent with these will outlast the holiday!

paper

I love the simplicity of this look from the allfortheboys.com blog!

7.  DIY Grab bag – Who doesn’t love opening presents?  This way your family gets a small daily gift you can tailor to fit your style!  Go as simple as a brown paper bag with raffia, all the way to decorative cellophane bags. Gifts can range from Bonus tickets: Watch an extra Christmas special! to favorite treats, or notes to your family! To really torture them, give them 1 clue a day about some surprise that will come their way at Christmas!

advent-grat

Click thru to learn how to make the Gratitude Calendar (originally from pragmaticmom.com blog)

8.  Gratitude – I saw this idea on another blog and LOVE it!  This idea is similar to the one above, only fill each bag with a random act of kindness to complete for others.  OR you can create a Gratitude Journal as they do in the blog post and write down the things you’ve completed – or write down one thing you’re grateful every day. Warms your heart better than hot chocolate!

advent-alcohol

9.  Alcohol calendar – To warm your hot chocolate one step farther – may I suggest Alcohol Advent calendars.  I found a company that creates a calendar for you featuring scotch whisky, bourbon, rum or vodka (to name a few). You can peruse their site like a kid in a candy store and custom make your own calendar.  You’re welcome!

wedge

10. Wedgewood blue and white jaspar ware (Limited edition of 3; only 1 available online) – For that relative who has everything, why not surprise them with this amazing calendar. Wedgewood’s delicately decorative exquisite pieces set the tone for an exquisite holiday.

What about you?
Do you mix it up each year or use an heirloom calendar?
Can you share other ideas for wonderful ways to count down to the holidays?
Feel free to share ideas or links!

Please note that some of these posts contain affiliate links through which I may earn a few coins should you purchase your calendar through them.

SUMMER READING ASSIGNMENT (The rest)

After finishing our first month of school, I’m reminiscing about my summer escapes.  I let the kids watch videos longer than they should, to savor a few more words (WTF: Wait ’til finished!)!  Sure, they read books, too, but books feel different when optional vs. requisite!

I’m excited to share this 2nd part of my Summer 2016 reading list. PLUS, one I’m cracking open tonight AND one already Amazon wish-listed – containing unforeseen twists even before creasing the cover. Click on the links to check out the books!

booksparkschoice

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

My reading pattern alternates between (or reading concurrently) heavy and light-hearted stories. I visited local Dave’s Used Bookstore and found another Sparks book! Though a fairly recent film release, my #BookBeforeFilm mantra insisted I read this one before watching the film that same weekend. Sparks also wove the characters’ pets into the story, for a warm-fuzzy touch to this heart-squeezing story.

bookmwrinkle

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

(Daughter’s summer reading assignment #1) – I finished this book with my daughter – 4 years after starting it with my son. I wish I’d read this when I was in elementary school because the technology mentioned wasn’t as real then and IT’s power may have been more frightening. Though, on the heels of another internet security breach, the fear feels real. Movie remake coming soon!

bookserumblefish

Rumble Fish by S.E. Hinton

(Daughter’s summer reading assignment #2) – Mentioning S.E. Hinton’s name makes me giddy a) Because she is female, b) Successful in her teens, c) And, wrote The Outsiders – THE most amazing story and hunk movie of my teenage years.  I feel like Hinton’s characters speak their truth so well, that you can’t help but empathize and join them in their journey – blow by blow.

booksparksthree

Three Weeks with My Brother by Nicholas Sparks and Micah Sparks 

I’m always curious to read different genres of my favorite authors to compare story construction. I thought each chapter would begin “Dear Diary, Today we…” Instead, it revealed their adulthood as a result of their childhood – perhaps many of our childhoods, when kids ran free. It was also exciting for me – as a writer – to learn where his life inspired his books (A Walk To Remember) and how he presented those personal stories.


NEXT IN MIND:

jk

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

I mentioned starting this book on my Currently – September 2016 list.  Finally I’ll make an honest woman out of me, no kids, red wine, pjs, and grown up book by Jo sounds like the perfect reading environment!

bookrgcuckoo1

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Richard Galbraith

I salivate over juicy mysteries! This one starts in immediately with the author!  I’m the last person on the planet to learn that Richard is really Jo (see above)!  This set of 3  (and growing – named after the lead character/investigator), The Cormoran Strike series, are giving people chills and a thirst for blood pumping crime series!  

Here are the other two (don’t have to be read sequentially):

bookrgsilk2     bookrgcareer3

Though I can’t keep the summer reading pace during the school year, I hope to read one new one per “Currently” post. I want to hear what you’ve read in the comments below!

1st part of my list is HERE

What about you? What are you reading next?
Did you already know about Richard Galbraith?
Who is your favorite author?
What book is your guilty pleasure?
Are you a daily, nightly, weekly or sporadic reader?
Do you like when books change covers?

#Readabookday #NicholasSparks #MicahSparks #RomanceNovel #SciFi #Murder #Mystery #BookIsBetter #SummerReading #BookClub #TheCuckoosCalling #RobertGalbraith #JKRowling #MadeleineLEngel #SEHinton #Pseudonym #PenName #AWrinkleInTime #TheChoice #ThreeWeeksWithMyBrother #TheCasualVacancy #CuckoosCalling #Silkworm #CareerOfEvil #CormoranStrike #Detective

YOU WENT WHERE? CALICO GHOST TOWN (WITH KIDS)

When first planning a road trip to Vegas, I wanted to break up the drive with stops along the way.

Such a charming town with so much to discover!

During our July trip, knowing we were hours ahead of my family, we pulled off the freeway just a few minutes before Calico Ghost town to kill some time!

The landscape plucks you from now and transports you

Now this here used to be a bustling silver mining town of 3,000 people  that mined $13-20 million in silver and $9 million in borate minerals between 1881 and 1907 (silver stopped being profitable in 1897). When the mines dried up, the folks headed for the wilderness.

Townsfolk

Because we arrived early, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the Calico House Restaurant. The views from their back porch hinted at other things to do while in town. Their rockers out front and the friendliness of the staff inside slowed our speed from freeways to tumbleweeds.

Town Center is the front porch of the Calico House restaurant.

With stuffed bellies, we moseyed down the road to the gold panning station!

(L) Gold! (R) Swirling slowly to get silt out and gold to stay!

Turns out this was just one of the many adventures in town.

Next time you’ll find us belly up in the town tavern

Thanks to the generosity of their new owner (the Knott’s family), there was a great deal if you planned to visit a few.


While they offer a train trip and a mine tour, we left those for the next time since we had to get back on the road to Vegas (and because my kids are still a bit apprehensive about ghosts)!


Our three thumb review is 3 thumbs waving in the air trying to find our balance in what we unanimously agree was the best surprise: the Mystery House!

Look at the angle of the door frame, kids are walking upright!

My teen son enjoyed repeatedly challenging an optical illusion that gripped our perception! I was totally floored knowing how much your mind could be tricked into believing and my tween daughter loved the extra puns thrown in to really drive that point home.

Wanna see a man eating chicken?

My teen son hinted that he felt like there wasn’t enough to do for kids his age – but I’ll counter that by saying there was a lot that we saved for next time including perusing the graveyard. Plus, I think camping near a ghost town may make teenage hearts pound!


Oh, here’s how hot the World’s largest Thermometer showed it was during our mid-July 6pm drive home.

WTF: Wow, that’s fiery! It was 119 when we arrived!

Elmer you’re next!

#ThreeThumbReviews #Baker #WorldsTallestThermometer #RoadTrip #LasVegas #Calico #Ghosttown #Silver #Mining #LongCut

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