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GEMS I STUMBLED UPON – O YOU!

Since none of my high school girlfriends, nor I, had the opportunity to fly to Chicago to see Oprah’s show before it ended, today my friends (that I’ve known for almost 25 years!) and I attended the next best thing!  Oprah’s O You 2012 in Los Angeles!  I learned many gems and will share them in weeks to come!

O what a great group of women!

There were so many activities throughout the day, but our largest challenge was “You … in six words”
Mine life story in 6 words is: Make lasting impression, love all equally!

What’s yours?

Can you write your history in 6 words or less?
Click on photo for some great ones – Including Oprah’s!
Artwork (C) Harpo

All the experts (including Oprah) got on stage:  Her best friend, Gail, Suze, Dr. Phil, Peter, Dr. Laura B., Martha, Adam, Iyanla!  You too can win a set of Oprah’s amazing Swag Bag (Click on this link!).

I know they’re tiny, but they’re all there!
Lingering idea: It’s ok for women to put themselves 1st!

What a great way to celebrate women!   What a great way to celebrate my 1/2 way point with my first grad school class!

Where the magic happened! WTF: We’re thrilled, fantastic!

#OYou2012

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WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: GROWTH

The Heart of the House, the ultimate dispute settler, our history, Growth! They grow up WTF: Way too fast!

The writing is on the wall, who’s the tallest?
What do you do if you move?

WHEN THE KIDS ARE AWAY, MAMA’S GONNA PLAY!

When I was a kid, what was the first thing I did when I heard my parents would be out of town? Mom, if you’re reading this, the answer is Picked up my room, Asked for extra credit homework assignments, Rested, Told my friends no parties when my parents were gone, Missed You! I’ve heard of an unspoken rule that you wait 15 years until you tell your parents the truth about things you’ve done.  I personally enjoy my position as the eldest that means, for the most part, my siblings don’t have much dirt on me because they were too young to be tattle-tales when I was a teenager having fun.  I relish in my “shining example” role so in most cases, I’ll never admit to anything.  (I guess we’ll see if my parents read the blog!).

Just in case me, all alone, nobody else here, really mom!

Perhaps this next statement will be more telling as to what I truthfully did back then, because I still do it now!  My kids will be out of town next week so with evenings all to myself, I am planning ways to have fun:

GET CAUGHT UP! Life has been so crazy lately that I need to get caught up with paperwork, housework, friends, blogging, etc.  I will dedicate 1 evening to do what I have to do before doing what I want to do – catch up with friends!  See kids, I lead by example!

Just a fun idea to make me want to go through paperwork and turn it into something new and exciting! What pile of paper drives you the most crazy?

SEE A MOVIE! Whether it’s at home or at the movie theatre, it’s a great excuse to not cook, just eat popcorn for dinner like I did in college and be entertained!

What are the hottest flicks in theatres/rental right now?

READ A BOOK AT THE BEACH!  This is my new favorite to take a book to the beach and not leave til I’ve damn well finished it!  Next time I’ll be sure of more accurate coverage with sunscreen.

What book shall I read next?

BE CRAFTY! Pinterest is my new favorite toy!  I’m going to make 1 meal completely from pinterest recipes and do 1 craft project inspired by something I saw on there.  Give me a link to propose your favorite ideas in the comments below and don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!  (Button to the right!)

Such a fun and simple idea – wait, don’t have a sewing machine. What’s a fun and simple one you recommend?

Well, tell me what you would do!

THE CLUTTER CONUNDRUM

For the past few weeks, leading up through this week, school report deadlines loomed over both my kids’ heads. Plus this week piled tournaments for my daughter’s softball team, my son’s mid-week baseball game, and I’m waiting anxiously to hear anything about whether or not my temporary position might convert to a permanent job! While carefully weighing, prioritizing and scheduling each valuable minute, my piles of paper grew into vast mountain ranges.

Work Grand Central Station:
2 school projects, camp paperwork, scout paperwork, etc…

Ask me for anything and I’ll find it for you in surprisingly little time… except tonight. We wasted our evening, designated for writing ¼ of a final draft, searching for my daughter’s project packet from her teacher. In my mind I kept telling myself I’d go “ape shit” (I don’t even know what that means?!) if we didn’t find it. While I didn’t say it out loud, my face must have communicated something similar because my kids kept looking.

It drove me crazy because I know exactly the last spot where I sat when I saw it. We turned over everything, every drawer, pile, backpack and even the recyclable bin trying to find this packet. Finally after my 3rd time through this house, I pulled the plug on the operation and pointed while uttering a few guttural ape sounds to send my child to bed. I then collapsed in the chair where I’d seen it last, and immediately turned around to the built-in shelves to find the packet in the “safe-keeping” spot – just inches past the table!

Anytime I put something somewhere for safety’s sake it gets LOST! I just told someone last Friday about how I used to keep my Social Security card in my wallet when I last temped for work. Someone lectured me on identity theft and scared me enough to put it away for “safe-keeping.” When I got a permanent job, I then had to order a replacement because I couldn’t find it!

I may not utilize the best system, or any system at all some days, which can drive me crazy! I know how to be organized. At work I’ve created systems and operations manuals, but at home, we have less time to do more. What about you?

I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET (CAUGHT) UP!

April proved to be an amazing month for parenting, but not-so-amazing for blogging.  In my kids’ already compacted schedule, we added a Scout promotion, a scholastic reading contest, several musical recitals and amazing ball games to name a few.  The month yielded many highlights and challenges but as I entered May – with its exponentially increasing quantity of tasks as the end of school barrels towards us – I found that I’d fallen behind.  I’m trying to figure out the best way to right this write and need your blogger advice!

Please share your thoughts! How would you resolve this?

DOUBLE TIME
I’m determined to fulfill this year’s word count with at least 133,225 words.  If quantity matters most, I can double up on a few weekends to get caught up this month.  With each post taking up to 2 hours from brain spark to publish, most weeknights would not accommodate more than one amazing adventure – not a quality one anyway. My ultimate goal is to write posts people want to read.

BACK TO SQUARE ONE
I could restart the counter.  If I’ve teased this as “365 days of 365 words,” then any break would disconnect the chain obligating me to start over, would it not?  Do I need to rip off my 365 days blogging badges until I’ve passed a certain number of days that will allow me to “re-earn them?” I’m not married to the idea of voiding the 44,000+ words that I’ve crafted thus far.  Plus, that just feels a little harsh.

EXCUSED TARDY
Do I get excused if I have a note explaining that I did the best I could but that when making the choice between family and blogging – I chose family?!  I wouldn’t feel right with an excuse because a) I made a commitment to the blogosphere and I am a woman of my word and b) I don’t let my kids get away with excuses, rather I try to set the example of adjusting to the flow of life – sometimes we wander along, sometimes we must run to get it all done – and rest afterwards.

I value your opinions, fellow wanderers. Please tell me if you’ve ever fallen behind on a regular blog and how you resolved this?

SON KEPT LOSING THINGS SO MOMMY LOST IT

My son lost or forgot things 5 out of 7 days in the past weeks. My son is smart, too! I forgave him at first diagnosing him with “absent-minded professor” syndrome that can’t fit mundane tasks in the idea-filled brain.  I instilled mindless habits like a “Boy Scout drawer” or “Putting cleats in your bag first thing.” My reminders fall on deaf ears. I must speak an undecipherable English dialect: Momglish.

My daughter – whose hazardly messy room frightens me – meticulously makes a “flat person” accounting for all uniform components.  My son – a neat freak – tosses stuff in his bag haphazardly.  I open my mouth but my Dad’s voice asks, “What are you forgetting?”

I know it’s dark, keep looking!

My son and I aren’t compatible searchers.  He doesn’t find things even after I suggest places. He debates he’s looked and keeps roaming, or hides in the Panic Room. Then, I go directly to where I suggested and find the item within 5 seconds.

This week we’ve been on a tight schedule with school testing. Today he wasted 20 minutes searching for one cleat when he should’ve been fueling his brain. I suggested twice that he return to where he found the first cleat. So when I got there, moved one pillow and found it, I lost it.

LOST IT!

I’m sure my neighbors heard the booming announcement when I found it.  My son advanced in disbelief and I hurled it. I have great aim and could hit him if I wanted to. I just wanted to snap sense into him. I hoped the sound of a shoe whizzing by his knees then hitting the wall might  make them quiver some.

Ironically, a friend’s stressed out Facebok status got me breathing again.  Newly relaxed, I announced we would learn and change. We all did 2 deep cleansing breaths and shook the morning off. We departed feeling happy for humpday.

Driving home this afternoon with renewed optimism, my son calls, “Mom, something horrible happened.”  Knowing he carpooled to baseball I immediately rearranged the evening to visit the ER. “While I looked for my cleats today, my pants fell out of my bag.”  No, I knew within 5 seconds exactly where they were on the couch.

Shoot, they were there the whole time?!

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.

KITCHEN SCIENCE EXPERIMENT – MAKE AHEAD SCRAMBLED EGG CUPS

Minimizing morning melees through routines and planning works for most parts of the morning. Trying to prepare sporting things, sign 3-ring binders, and prepping parts of lunch positions us to get out the door on time. Breakfast, however, has yet to hit its stride.

My kids rotate favorite foods they “have to” get, but the love only lasts through three-quarters of the box. I’ve surveyed other moms on their child’s favorite morning menu and introduced some at our house to a chilly reception. Occasionally, to guarantee an early arrival, bribery becomes the meal ticket to a smoothie on the way. Often, they could be serving themselves but they’re still trying to remember their names. The only day they jump out of bed on time to eat more comes with Saturdays and “Saturday [Sugar] Cereal.”

Wanting to mix it up, I finally tried a recipe for Scrambled Egg Muffins. What sold me was the make them in advance and nuke them quickly during the morning rush.

Considering the number of cookbooks I own, I always turn first to online recipes.

There, I tell the computer chef: I have some:

Can you tell what these are? Eggs!

And some:

Don't cry, take a guess! Onion!

Instantly, it whips up recipe options! If the recipe sounds like a complicated science experiment, I search again for the simpler recipes.

I chopped veggies

Red Peppers and onions, honestly - I eyeball it.

Browned sausage

Cast Iron Skillet a must!

Cracked open a dozen eggs

Don't crack up - it's 1 egg per serving!

I’m a sucker for symmetry

Is it an octopus? Yolk's on me!

Whipped eggs into a frenzy

The chicken beats the eggs!

I split the ingredients evenly into the muffin tin cups then spooned the egg over it

Wound up with extras for whipping up an omelette!

After baking, they easily popped out of the muffin tin – Thanks, Pam!

Shredded cheese binds this comfort food!

The next morning I ruined my daughter’s day by serving my new breakfast.

She knew she couldn't win against the 1-bite rule!

My son subconsciously smelled the scent of sausage while sleeping so welcomed the taste-test more openly – despite not liking “mixed” foods.

The reviews do not surprise me! In normal fashion, the kids disagree.

If veggies were omitted, it may win raving reviews.

But, when I went to go brush my teeth, my son took another bite without me saying anything – this speaks volumes!

I will try other similar recipes, but perhaps ones a little more muffin-y. Personally, I loved them – especially smothered with sriracha!

CLICK HERE For the full recipe!

If you have other favorite breakfast foods, please share in the comments!

ENJOY!

HOW DID I WIND UP HERE – A MOMAGER?!

In a meeting, a professor lamented, “Don’t parents know if they let their kids study what they want, they’ll be better students?!”  My head rotated 360 degrees experiencing emotions from being those college students choosing a major to satisfy everyone, to now holding a higher-up Mom position to the future Presidents! I teach my kids to follow their dreams and interests – with gentle guidance from me.

First Girl on the Moon?! Sky's the limit!

Aaah!  I’ve become my parents!  Worse, I’ve become a momager!  I’ve always freely given momagers credit for wanting to set up her kids for life. But any of us with a secret wish list for our children are momagers. Rather than rattle off my parenting philosophies, I’ll say that my goal focuses on introducing them to many things in life so that when contemplating career or other options, they’ll base the decision on their own strong history and curiosity.

Pop into Paleontology!

When my child said “I want to be an Ultimate Fighting Champion when I grow up!” I congratulated them on their cool career choice, ask what attracted them and suggest other career options too, based on their passions. When the other one wanted to be a bounty-hunter I again, (silently curse other relatives for their TV leniency) suggested a wide-spectrum of careers that also help uphold justice. Perhaps I’m giving my children too many options, but I’d rather they feel that the sky’s the limit.

Smart business choice: bikinis are cheaper than 3-piece suits!

I confess, I’m involved in the kids’ lives. I am a recovering project manager who looked forward to the Mission report since my son was three. I limited my involvement to helping manage the timeline, not the output. I did assist with placement, cutting and gluing to lose the “collage” look.  Rest assured, one year later, I don’t get as involved with new projects.

Come explore California Missions!

Being a momager, I also have days where I’m mentally drained and don’t feel like managing anything.  Tonight, despite a lifetime of saying “I’ll never cook 2 different meals for my kids” I didn’t feel like figuring out which child to punish with dinner tonight – since they never agree and one always winds up “losing” – so voila, taquitos and pancakes!

...and it wasn't half bad...

Bottom line, momagers only want what’s best for their kids, right?

FORK IN THE ROAD – WHAT NOW?

I’m sitting here trying to come up with the appropriate way to express my wandering thoughts. Two ideas keep ping-ponging in my mind but they’re not developing and it’s frustrating me.

Firstly, I recognize my different tone and topics in my blog since I’ve been working again. Every night I blog from 9:30pm – midnight trying to write by day end and to rest for work. The last two nights, my new habit was I didn’t start writing until midnight – this must end immediately. I know why – I’m prolonging the inevitably crazy week. Two weeks ago I reintroduced a job into my life, last week, baseball started – and we didn’t make every event. This week we’ll practice, have scouts AND play first ball games this weekend.

When a friend asked for my Tuesday plans, while I’d love to do a single sistah’s Valentine’s Day, all I want is to sit still. I took breaks this weekend and had an impromptu visit with friends after wandering the park – perfect! I also sorted a box of junk and tossed stuff. If I take breaks during the week, I lose momentum. I know we’ll survive, it’s just another transition.

I got still watching the daisies sunbathe!

The second issue is yet another celebrity death. It’s tragic to keep losing talented people this way. I try not to use other people as examples, yet when my kids hear the cause of death on the radio, they ask questions. I can’t help but answer in a “Let that be a lesson” way. My son always wants to know why the person did it and why aren’t they in jail.

I don’t pretend to know why they started or what their “people” thought, I simply look at the point of view that when given the choice, they chose wrong. It messed up their careers and ultimately cost their lives. I stress the importance of communicating with others and learning to manage feelings because that means we’re human. Finally they learn to respect their bodies for maximum longevity.

I am saddened by the recent losses of such amazing artists. I feel for them and their internal struggles – magnified by the spotlight. I hope now they’ve found peace and stillness.

Only a few of nature's stained glass leaves left, barely hanging on.

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