WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: LANDSCAPE

After a long, sometimes really lonely, sometimes exhilarating, drive the landscape of Death Valley not only thrills you but truly takes your breath away. When we pulled into the one-way road through Artist’s Drive we worried that we couldn’t see where the road led to. Once in the  drive we couldn’t wait to see where the next curve led to. Each landscape offered a different palette, different geology. I can’t wait to go back and hike it so I can breathe it in more slowly, savoring each view!

   
   

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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!

WHO’S KILLING WHOM?

The Dallas Safari Club wants to save Black Rhinos with this auction.

The Dallas Safari Club wants to save
Black Rhinos with an auction to hunt one.

If you haven’t heard, a famous Texan hunter, Corey Knowlton, paid $350,000 to hunt an endangered black rhino in Nambia. I’m guessing your initial reaction includes: RAGE that someone would consider killing an animal from a species with only 5,000 members worldwide; SADNESS that an animal’s life is a prize; HOPE that this bidder paid to pardon the rhino and keep another hunter from killing him.  From Knowlton’s Facebook page and his interviews, he’s looking forward to the challenge.

Corey Knowlton

Corey Knowlton

Before you make Corey the hunted, let’s check out his MOTIVE beyond the once-in-a-lifetime prize.  He makes a case for the fact that:

A) This money goes to the Nambian government to help conserve the 1,700 black rhinos they care for.

B) The government singles out older rhinos that have become a threat to the rest of the herd as the ones that are “suitable” to kill.

C) The animal meat will be donated to local Nambian’s and the hide will be preserved by Knowlton.

D) His kill, he claims, would be faster than fighting to near-death only to have lions or wild dogs finish the job

WTF: Wrinkly Tender-tough face!

WTF: Wrinkly Tender-tough face!

Here’s why I don’t totally buy that:

A)   Why not just make a donation to the Nambian government? Period.

B)   It’s hard to believe that a hunter with the challenging kills that he’s done (according to Facebook pictures) would settle for an older, probably slower rhino.  Or they’re just spinning the truth because he says repeatedly how much danger he’ll be in hunting such a rhino.

C)   While meat will be donated, the hide and head will be in Knowlton’s house.

D)   I don’t know how accurate his shot is but I can’t imagine the kill will be without suffering.

Nature is truly amazing!

Nature is truly amazing!

True, I’m not a hunter. I suppose I am sometimes ok with it if people hunt with cross-bows for food, not for trophies. I’m totally creeped out by taxidermummified animals.

But, people! Under no circumstances is it ok to bombard him and his family – his children! – with death threats over this. Haven’t we learned that when you get all crazy people will just dismiss your rant as, well, crazy!  Find a more intelligent way to make the world better.

Shooting the Rhino with a camera would be a bucket list item!

http://www.causes.com had a petition to stop the permit to hunt but sadly, it was put through. On a positive note, it created a lot more awareness for the plight of the black rhinos. 

NOTE:  Obviously this is a heated topic and I welcome your thoughts, but if you comment on this post, I ask that you please remain respectful. Any threatening comments will not be published.

NATURALLY, KIDS: HUNT FOR FOSSILS AND BONES

Our neighbors always inspire us with their outdoor adventures. Where I overflow with curiosity, I lack in outdoor survival skills. Thankfully when we set out on this adventure, our neighbors gave us a few tips – wear tennies and watch the tide.

For years, I’ve wanted to explore a sea cave on the sea edge of the Terranea resort in Palos Verdes, CA. Ever since seeing Disney’s Pete’s Dragon.  I instinctually knew that Elliott retired to California.

This summer, our neighbors came home with this…

Big Boned

…proof that large creatures, dragons even, live off our coasts.

After guilt tactics that Mommy always does what the kids want to do and now it’s my turn, promises of adventure, and one of possibly the best pretzels ever at Nelson’s, my kids finally agreed to help me hunt for Elliott.

Arriving at the trailhead, their pace quickened.

Suddenly the jaded teenager leads the pack

Suddenly the jaded teenager leads the pack

The seawalls growing higher around us opened revealing a little cove.

Immediately the kids were submerged in the beauty of nature and the magic of the adventure.

Lauren, my rock collector, hunted for a treasured memento.

Please Mom, may I keep it?

Please Mom, may I keep it?

We opted to look for smaller ones.

What treasures the cove held

What treasures the cove held

Carson found one with a chain link fence in it. Knowing it came from the top of the cliffs chilled us. Lauren found unique rock formations.

Aliens or humans

Aliens or humans

The kids skipped a few.

Skip it

WTF: With True Force – skipping rocks!

The day surpassed Carson’s relaxation goal.

Recalibrating from hectic  Middle School days

Recalibrating from hectic Middle School days

The cave called us up the cliffs.

Wait for me!

Wait for me!

We stood at the open mouth.

Bom bombom bombombom bombombom... We love you too

Bom bombom bombombom bombombom…
We love you too

The tide warned us to stay out – but, Carson leaped in.

A squishy shoe for the hike back is worth this view!

A squishy shoe for the hike back is worth this view!

The tide pushed him into the cave!

Mom, it's open way up in back...

Mom, it’s open way up in back…

We gals vowed to return another time when the tide retreats.

Lauren secretly hoped he was moving in

Lauren secretly hoped he was moving in

After catching their breath in a cave and promising to not resist as hard next time I get a hair-brained idea,

We'll never doubt you again! Mark their words...

We’ll never doubt you again!
Mark their words…

we hiked back to civilization in search of cool refreshments.

Manhattan Beach Creamery:  They custom make magic there!

Manhattan Beach Creamery:
They custom make magic there!

 

With a name like that, curiosity wins, although the kids opted for standard options. While they weren’t thrilled with the flavor, it was all part satisfying our appetite for adventure!

Never met a flavor I didn't like... 'til now.

Never met a flavor I didn’t like…
’til now.

We will return to the cave and explore deeper with head lamps!  Plus we want to wander down another trail to take us closer to the bone yard.

Now, the kids can’t wait to see where we explore next.

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!

NEURAL PRUNING MERIT BADGE

This past weekend we went camping with my son’s Boy Scout troop.

Doesn’t get any more peaceful than this…

It was one of the few family camping outings since most outings will be for Scouts alone – with adult supervision. We were split up as follows: 2 patrols with 4 new scouts each – my son led one; 2 senior patrol leaders – incredibly patient, straightforward yet humorous teenaged motivators.

Lauren has some motivational skills to sharpen before she could lead a patrol.

One adult oversaw the itinerary. We 10 parents plus 3 siblings made up a 3rd patrol. Each patrol had to operate independently. We could not help the boys, only intervening in case of a safety issue. They (and we) were responsible to set up tents,

Beautiful spot of real estate – we learned rocks are unavoidable and uncomfortable.

plan, buy and cook food,

They bought everything they needed and came in under budget!

clean up dishes,

Lauren compromised patrol boundaries to eagerly help the boys wash dishes.

plus leave the camp sight spotless. Boy Scouts Leave No Trace.

It was a great weekend to meet the other parents, too. One ex-military mom with “intelligence” and “corporate organization” words in her job title caught my attention when she’d step in to redirect the boys, “Don’t cook bacon on the grill without a pan” or “Dishes aren’t rinsed in the creek” then returned to the parent patrol motioning with her two curved fingers brushing past her skull – “Neural Pruning!”

I hear Nat’l Geographics Insight into the Teenage Mind provides great insight!
Image from Brain Brilliance.

Neural Pruning means that young kids collect an avalanche of information and form ridiculous numbers of neural connections to absorb and make sense of it. Eventually, we have to get rid of connections or we’d be wandering around in spirals with glazed-over expression, words flying through our mind without sticking – like my 11-year old (albeit smart) son does. Neural Pruning strengthens strong connections – gun safety,

The highlight, and the most neural pruning – forget what you learned in Modern Warfare…

multiplication tables, reading – and eliminates unnecessary connections – Barney songs, first time you hated broccoli, perhaps it’s even how women “forget” the ordeal of childbirth to eagerly have another one.

My Another One… My favorite girl enjoying her gourmet dessert – while camping!

It was amazing watching the boys alternate between skillful teamwork and not absorbing that there was a nearby fresh-water spigot. Now, our parental goal is continuously encouraging the boys to rise to the occasion and fighting the urge to do things for them.

As long as he had his pasta, he was comfy!

…and it turned out tasty! I want to create patrol boxes for every part of my life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why, then, can I still remember songs from Sesame Street 40 years ago knowing I don’t need them today – not even after raising 2 kids. What could I do with that valuable neural real estate?

PULLED MOM RANK TO SEE DISNEY NATURE CHIMPANZEE

Somewhere along the way, my kids became jaded before their time. When I wanted to see Disney Nature Chimpanzee and my kids refused, while regularly quoting Zombieland or pointing out when real artifacts resembling those in games, something had gone awry.

(C) Disney

From the moment I bawled during the trailer, I knew I’d make my family see this film. I get it, for kids the film smacked of “educational.” When I told the kids and their guest which tickets I bought, protests arose – some more polite than others. Walking through the movie theatre lobby, another friend that asked what he was seeing approached my son. My son’s meek response and the child’s apologetic look confirmed, “Mom was officially uncool!” I pressed on.

The film was visually stunning. Seeing breathtakingly untouched parts of this world committed me to ensure their future. Witnessing the detail of the alive and threatening jungle contrasted with the slow-motion chain reaction igniting raindrops inspired me with views I could not have dreamed up, much less captured. I knew the gist of the story from the trailer, and knew where conflict might occur but the film was shot very tastefully showing real danger and emotion but without the raw, last quiver of nature films.

(C) Disney

I highly recommend this movie! Watching the amazing family structure, behavior, and interaction of the chimpanzees, especially the baby named Oscar, was enlightening! The shots were so close you felt like family. It revealed awesome things about nature, nurturing, family structure, animal hierarchies, and movie making. During the credits they shared the experience of the film-makers. It amazed me how close they were to the family and that when the chimpanzees charged by the camera, both camera operators turned their faces away and backed up slowly – to avoid eye contact that might provoke the chimpanzees. Learn more Chimpanzee survival tips here.

In the last 50 years 80% of the chimpanzee population vanished. A percentage of ticket sales from this opening weekend go to the Jane Goodall Institute! Go, today, and share your impression of this movie.

Oh, the kids reviews ranged from “I admit, it was pretty good” to “I want to see it again!” See, listen to your mother!

(C) Disney