Introducing Andrew The Great

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful teenager named Andrew. Andrew was a great son-rarely getting into trouble, getting good grades, making good choices (most of the time) and staying on a good path for a promising future.

Andrew was a little shy. He liked to sing and everyone told him he was a great singer. He joined a band with his friends, but was too quiet to be the lead singer and had trouble singing on command in front of others. And then one day, young Andrew decided to join the school choir. For the first time ever. In the 2nd half of his junior year of high school...after having never been in a choir before. But he was brave and he tried out - and he made it. Not just for the entry level choir, but into the more "varsity-level" choir.

But there was ANOTHER elite choir. One that involved days of try-outs, try-outs that required you to sing loud and proud in front of everyone, singing songs that aren't something you would have necessarily sung before, both with a group and then solo - kinda like in Fame where they pair you off and whittle it down. The try-outs are intense and involve the teacher going through a very lengthy process of hand-picking students who not just have the best sounding voice possible, but who would fit into the group of elite singers well - personality counts for this because the group is together a LOT during the year so they need to be a cohesive group to make it work. Young Andrew used his own money to hire a special tutor, learning how to use his voice the best for the type of music the choir sings, and he told the choir teacher (who he just met this year mind you) something like this:
You don't know me very well, so I just want to tell you that when I really want something, I go for it and I give it all I have and I usually get what I want....and I REALLY WANT to be in this elite choir.
The choir teacher told me about this statement at parent-teacher conferences (I'm not sure on the exact wording but this is close I think) and I was quite the proud mama. He showed such great courage and self-confidence (which isn't something that comes easy) and he did his best at the try-outs.


His best was good enough to get him a spot in this elite choir! He is amazing. Just a year ago, he was too shy to sing in front of just a small room of friends and now he has gotten himself a coveted spot with an intense singing group. One that performs at something like 20 events during December. They travel outside the city as well- I think this coming year is Canada and San Francisco, but we'll find out more about that next week at the kick-off barbecue.

Anyway...Andrew is amazing. That's the post of the day.

And here is a short clip of him singing solo for the very first time ever EVER!!!

Let me just say that I hate this song, Barbara Ann, and I especially hate the lead voice in this song - not Andrew of course, but the lead in general. He's supposed to sing this super-high, nasal-y voice that goes on for the entire song.

Andrew was a bit nervous once he actually had the microphone in hand and stepped in front of the packed theater at the high school pops concert, so he didn't fully sing hit the super-high, nasal-y level he was supposed to, but he gave it a great effort and when he missed that super-high, nasal-y level, he just sang the song in his lovely voice and made it work. All while bopping along on stage in his swim trunks and a tank top.
Courage - check.
Endurance - check.
Passion - check.
Enthusiasm - check
AMAZING - check

Take a sec, watch my baby sing. I just cut out a small segment (cause who really wants to hear some other person's kid sing an annoying song for choir?). There will  be other videos in the future and I'll probably share those in their entirety at some point, but we'll ease into them so it doesn't seem like someone who pulls out the slide show of their holiday trip to Mt. Rushmore and wants to share all 180 pictures of their trip.

Winners Winners Winners!!

I have done a million things since you last heard from me. I have lots to share!!
I still have a giveaway to post, I have pics and stories from my House-A-Versary (anniversary of buying my house) party to share...yeah, I invented that word-it's genuis, right?  I have a story about talking to strangers. I have an update on my May treadmill numbers. I have a letter from Korea to post...and most importantly a short video clip of my baby Andrew's first stage performance as a solo singer.
More importantly for right now---some winners for May contests:

Lynette from Crazed Mind.


Carma from Carma Sez!

Susan from Kansas (no profile picture available so I created one for her-she may or may not look like this)

Thanks everyone for entering to win, but Lynette, Candice, Carma and Susan are that makes the rest of you LOSERS. Sorry to call it out like it is.....better luck next time.

Goodbye, Dear Friends!

Goodbye to all my friends....on the tv show Lost. Are we sick of everyone talking about it? I'm actually not sure we ever did discuss it here...but we should have. It was a great show full of mystery and drama and some comic relief (like most any time Hurley talked). I'm so sad that it's over....but I had a lot of questions left-over after the ending. No, none of it matters. Yes, it was a great show regardless...but still....I kinda feel like I was led on. Like the writers of the show were just messing with us to see what we would believe.

This is a superb summary of the questions I have (and I'm sure I'm not alone on most of these):
I will miss these guys. It was a great cast of characters and almost all the actors were top-notch, except for a select couple:

Josh Holloway, aka Sawyer - not a great actor. He over-emphasizes and his facial expressions are all the same. He is nice eye-candy if you like this look. I think he could be much improved with a hair cut (and shampoo).

Michelle Rodriguez, aka Ana Lucia - not the best either and I cringed when I saw her face in Avatar, but she did do a bit better in that movie so maybe she's taking some lessons. I hope so, I do like her, but her acting in Lost was bleh. She had this same face almost the entire time. And the exact way of speaking every.single.line.

I think there was someone else I wasn't fond of from the early seasons, but these two are top of mind.
Regardless....I will really miss this show. It's up there with ER at the top of my favorite tv shows.

Weekend Wrap Up - Alien Edition

Ugh, my stomach hurts. You remember that movie Alien with Sigourney Weaver and at some point she has an alien trying to burst out of her stomach? That's how I feel right now.

Sigourney Weaver and her alien baby

We'll see if I survive this alien invasion.

Other than the alien attack, it has been a fairly nice weekend. I went to a friends house to watch Avatar on Friday. He has a tv that is almost better quality than the movie theater, and the surround sound may actually have been better quality. It was the perfect way to watch the movie - free but still amazing quality.

I kind of pooh-poohed all the hype about Avatar, because I always doubt that any one thing is really deserving of so much praise but I stand corrected. It really is. [I had this exact same circumstance happen to me with the Harry Potter books-wasn't going to read them and follow the other sheep with all the wonderment of these books, but once I did, I knew everyone else was right.] James Cameron is amazing. He really does make things special. So if you haven't seen Avatar because blahblah blue people, blahblah James Cameron,'re going to watch it someday and then realize you were wrong. It is really a great movie. I don't typically watch a lot of movies without doing some kind of something during it - something on the laptop or folding socks or doing a puzzle....but this was a movie you won't get bored during. So go watch it. Preferably on an HD large-screen television and with very large surround sound. It is definitely worth the ear damage.

Yesterday was a good productive day. I woke up early and did two miles on the treadmill. I had an eye appointment and talked to my doctor about lasik and it looks like I will be strapped to a chair under medication and paying lots of money for some stranger to run a highly dangerous laser across my eyeball. YAY!! I have had glasses since I was in the 3rd grade. I am over it. I am ready to wake up in the morning and see clearly. It won't be yet, but probably about end of summer. Most definitely by the end of the year. There is one test to be done before it's confirmed, but all the other tests say I'm a perfect candidate!

And then I went and spent a lot of money on plants for my front yard. Much too much really. How can plants be so expensive?? And they are small and will probably not look like anything really wonderful for another month or so (assuming they all live), but I feel like I needed to do something out there and this is what homeowners do, right? Spend money to make things better. So hopefully it will be better. We got them planted this morning (between alien baby pains) and I'll take a pic once we get the bark dust spread out. It doesn't look that different yet, but I think it will once those plants grow a bit (and hopefully spread out some). And it does look much better than before we started, which I think my (all retired) neighbors will appreciate (given that they have such gorgeous yards).

Yesterday we also worked on the garden bed in the backyard, prepping it to plant some veggies. We found the entire bed has some kind of very large root system growing through it in a twisty-turvy pattern that is mocking us. Andrew and I spent some major time using the hoe, and a lot of time making "ho" jokes. For example, "wow, your ho is really dirty. Yeah, I like a dirty ho." and "watch me swing my ho around. I've had a lot of practice with my ho today." Totally appropriate jokes for a mom and a 17-yr old son, right?

Here's a pic of Andrew, 16 yrs ago, when we used to joke about things like "Where's the baby??? THERE he is!!!"

happy baby Andrew

I love him!

And an update on my goal of 40 miles on the treadmill this month: I went 14.50 miles this week, which makes my month total so far (from the 2nd to the 22nd).....Ready? Drumroll please....

42.33 miles

Woohoo---passed my goal and I have 9 days to go until the end of the month!!!

Oh- I have a giveaway that ended. I'll post the winner later tonight, as well as another giveaway.

This Is Not A Post About My Cat

It is about someone else's cat.

A really kickass cat that knows exactly what he wants and how to get it.

Dinner is Served!

Diet? Who's on a diet with dinner as great as this:

Not me!!!

Dinner last night was about 565 calories: Grilled chicken thigh (brushed with olive oil, seasoned), baked sweet potato fries (brushed with olive oil, salt and pepper), grilled asparagus (brushed with olive oil, hmm...see the trend in my cooking?), grilled corn on the cob with a tiny pat of butter.

I didn't actually eat all the asparagus-sometimes I really like it, sometimes I don't. And according to Andrew, I am wasteful with chicken thighs as I do not like to eat off the bone and so there is still food left after I consider it done (he finishes it for me with a very detailed process that involves the entire bone nearly entering his mouth at some point, growling if you come near him, a lot of finger licking and some kind of detailed mining deep into the bone pieces-gross- so it's not truly wasteful).

My Head Is Shrinking...

Remember how I was going to start a serious plan on the treadmill? Well I have been kicking ass. My goal was 40 miles for the month, but somewhere along the line, I kicked it up from just walking on my treadmill at a 2.5 pace and trying to get my 40 miles in for the month, to doing intervals of inclines and short stints of running. I now step off the treadmill with about 7 buckets of sweat glistening my pretty little face.

My knees are hating me. I am hoping they just give in and let me do my thing, cause I do not want to quit.

So I've lost a bit of weight this month-nearly ten pounds in 9 days. I cut my calories down to 1000 a day. Not just 1000 random calories, but good ones. Lots of chicken and veggies and yams (I love yam fries almost as much as I used to love ice cream!!!). I'm feeling pretty good about it and am anxious to continue.

I'm sure that it's not noticeable yet to the public at large...but the other day I was on the treadmill, feeling good, sweating away, breathing heavy (some might call it a fast pant)...when I realize, I have to push my glasses up at least 20 times a minute. And then I realize---my head is shrinking!!! Some people lose weight and it comes off their thighs or waist. My weight loss was apparently directly from my head.

Weird, right?

So I'm going at a slow jog, no longer thinking about how great I'm going to look, but now I am obsessing over my shrinking head and non-shrinking body. Push up glasses 20 more times. Continue downward spiral of thinking about my future miserable shape of a human body.

The next night, I am reliving this same drama. Push up glasses 20 more times, crank the treadmill up to 4.7 (for three minutes)...contemplate whether I can create some kind of thing to secure my glasses to my head. I'm considering whether I should get some kind of ski goggles to wear over them and if I can really run wearing ski goggles....In the meantime, I take my glasses off and bend the ends ever so gently so they curve more around my misshapen head.

Night three...head still shrinking...decide to start running with no glasses. Now I'm blind, but less annoyed. And as I'm running along, thinking about how this is a sign that I definitely need to get lasik eye surgery..........and it HITS ME!!!!!!

My head is not shrinking!!!!!!!!!!

My glasses are sliding down....because there is a bucket of sweat encased around my face!! I'm sweating EVERYWHERE and my glasses just can't get a grip. Breathe a sigh of relief that I am not going to be the opposite of a bobble head. Continue running (for 3 more minutes). Happiness prevails. My journey continues.....
And for those of you keeping track, I have gone 35.97 miles in 13 days (according to my treadmill's brain, I have burned 4476 calories). I'm not too worried about reaching my goal at this point. I have 13 days left - it's slightly possible I could double my goal at this rate.

Killing Willis was Killing Me - Slightly Bad Book Review

I grew up watching the Different Strokes - it was good stuff, right?

It started back in late 1978 and featured a white widowed man who adopted two little black boys. Very controversial.

So Willis grew up and, as happens with most child stars, he got involved with drugs and his life spiraled out of control. He got arrested multiple times, he sold drugs, he started drug houses, blahblah. This book didn't really share anything remarkable except that Todd Bridges is NOT an author.

The book has another author listed, but I think she was sick on editing day. Every one of the editing days. It comes across as something written by ...well, an actor who picked up a pen. He brings up how he was mistreated because he's black at least twice a chapter. There is a deep unerlying theme of racism in the book, but it's brought up so much that it seems a bit unbelievable. And honestly, it's obnoxious to have someone say the same thing over and over and over and over. Not that I disbelieve that he dealt with some racism in his life....but there's really a better way to present it.

In one paragraph, he talks about a time when Dana Plato, who played his sister on tv, and who he was with daily for hours a day for years of his life, was giving him *ahem*....felatio (little ears!). And he talks about how they "had a lot of fun together on the set over the next few years. We used to sneak off and fool around in our dressing room." He ends that same paragraph with "But we never dated seriously. I mean, she was my sister. On TV."

One of the few parts I did enjoy was this (I actually laughed at this):

I should have been in The Breakfast Club. How are you going to have kids in
detention, and there aren't any black kids in detention? I mean, come on. I'm over it now, but I was bitter about that for a long time.

Here's one of the many parts I did not:

But the thing about crack is it's possible to smoke a lot of it, which meant I could stay high all the time. I definitely wanted to be high all the time. Once I got used to how crack consumed me, I switched over. And I stayed high all the time.
Ugh, my cat can write a better story...

After one of the more recent times of him being sober, he worked at the sober living house. This was pretty shocking:

So I had people in and out of my sober living houses all the time. The two houses I ran had sixteen beds between them , and I would guess that I had about three thousand people go through there in those three years. And out of all those people, I know of only one person who stayed sober. That's the reality. A very small percentage of people who try to get sober actually succeed.
Three years...only one person succeeding?? Seems to me they might want to consider a new strategy. According to some rehab website: The typical success rate of most drug rehabs is 2% to 20%. Lesson here - Todd's program doesn't sound like the best if you're looking to be sober.

And Todd's book slightly made me want to drink.
I can't really recommend this book. Sorry, Todd - I really wanted to like it. I just couldn't get by the bad writing and the repetitive racism theme.

Talking With The Homeless on a Friday Night

Friday night I went to the volunteer event where we socialize with the homeless (or newly transitioned into housing) for some Friday night fun. It was a bit different this time - I was really tired and nobody really started off a game right away-we just sat and chatted. Here are some of the people I chatted with:
  1. Fred - Fred knows everyone and everyone knows Fred. He does not take shit from anyone and tells the most hilarious stories (with appropriate and frequent use of the word: fuck). Fred told me he grew up in the church and that he can speak fluent French, though when he told a story about a time when he needed to help translate and he surprised everyone with his fluency, his French sounded a lot like when Phoebe was trying to teach Joey how to speak it in that one Friends episode - or for those of you not up on Friends episodes--it sounded a lot like an 18-month old speaking any language. I'm not a French major and maybe it was just that he was talking fast and his words were a *teeny* bit slurred, but it just didn't sound ...right.

    Fred also told me that he has two masters degrees, has been around the world, and recently has flown from the east coast to California, then rented a car and drove up to Oregon. To be clear---Fred is homeless. He looks homeless. He carries a bulging army duffel bag and a large rolled blanket and a bag of miscellaneous (out of which he pulled a pair of clean boxers** and gave them to a friend of his who didn't have any clean boxers-nice!). When was the last time you flew with a homeless man? Point being....I'm not sure if Fred is to be believed, though I am a very cynical person lately (I hate it).

    Regardless---Fred tells a GREAT story. We were laughing away with him for the first hour.

  2. Another volunteer worked with me at the coffee bar. He told he lost his job a few months ago and he can't stand just doing nothing, so when he is not looking for work, interviewing, or otherwise working on finding a job, he volunteers. Not just once a 4X a week. And at least twice on weekends. People like that amaze me. I think if I was jobless, I would spend at least 2 days a week reading blogs, watching movies, doing puzzles, chatting all day online, perfecting my Scrabble moves on Facebook....those kinds of things. Yes, I would volunteer - but every day? AND on weekends? He is a great person!

  3. This one short and stout homeless lady believed she was the one running the show. She brought in candy and talked to the volunteer leader at least six times about how she brought them and she has specific guidelines that she wants the volunteers to follow in passing them out. She insisted that the 4 kinds of candy be mixed in a large bowl - one with a large rim so you don't have to wait for someone to dig through the bowl to find the kind you wanted. She didn't want the see-through bowl because she felt that would just make people want to look for kinds she doesn't have. She wanted the red bowl, large rim. She didn't want the volunteer with the dark hair to pass them out because she felt that this particular volunteer didn't know how to do it. There was no reasoning why. She also said at least 22 times: everyone only gets one. No exceptions. And then she counted everyone who was at the event and figured that yes, everyone must only get one because there might not be enough for two for everyone.And then after they were all passed out (with her following behind the volunteer with the bowl), there were a LOT left and she wanted them put back into the original bags, but we had already thrown those away and she was quite irritated with us but accepted our large ziplock baggie.

    She snapped at one of the volunteers passing out sandwiches because they started passing out in the wrong side of the room, aka not her side. She came to the coffee bar later and told me that I had to put what remained of the pomegranate tea in a shelf and give no more out, because it was too good to offer to the same crowd all night and it made more sense that they only have a few available each night. She was not my favorite person. Nobody tells me when to put the good tea away.

  4. Another volunteer was a different kind of girl. She said that she just moved to the area a few weeks ago, which of course leads you to answer, what brought you to this area? Her answer: god told me to. He didn't tell me why or what I was to do. He just said I need to go to Oregon. This would have made just as much sense to me as if Fred told me this....I am quite cynical of people who act on voices. (*this is not meant to spark any kind of religious debate)

    So this girl left her family and friends, left all of her material goods, quit her job and bought a plane ticket the next week (after she heard from god). Then she hopped on that plane with one suitcase and a backpack of goods. That's it. She said she landed in Portland and it was rainy and miserable and she said to god, I hope you know what you're doing, cause I miss my sunny Florida already! She had no place to live, no job, no contacts. She just gave up her life...and moved. And then she was talking about how she is having her sister send her computer and some other things and I thought-that was actually fairly selfish, to just up and leave and then rely on the people back home to help you clean up. The least she could have done was take a few weeks and plan a bit....I guess she felt that god wanted her to leave immediately.

  5. And then there was a guy who looked EXACTLY like my last boyfriend, Tad. EXACTLY. His mannerisms, the way he walked, his smile, his voice even, the way he said words that not all of society uses. It was uncanny. Except that this was a very dark-skinned black man and Tad is most definitely a white-white man. Other than that-they are twins!!!

  6. There's one man who I saw last time as well, Saul. We played games together last time, though he will insist he was NOT playing. He sat at the table next to our game table and shouted out the answers but did NOT want to play. So when I saw him this weekend, I said-remember me? We played games together last time? And he looked at me with his tired old man face and said: I remember you, but I don't play games, so I'm certain that's not why you remember me. Ha - I like Saul. He did actually give me a smile later on in that night so I felt I had won a victory.
Good times on a Friday night. Though I didn't play any games, it was a really great night and I felt like I gave back to the community. I really enjoy the goal of this particular program - just socializing as a means to help society. It makes a lot of sense---how many people actually look a homeless person in the eye during the day? How many ever offer to just have a ten-minute conversation? I didn't in the past. But just making eye contact with another human being fulfills an inner human need of being recognized for being alive. Sometimes it's the little things that really make a let's just try a little harder, shall we?

**We might not think about it, but donating boxers and panties is one of the greatest things you can donate to the homeless. It's something that is hard for them to get and is such a nice thing to have! Next time you give---think underwear!

Show The World - Window Cling Giveaway

Another great giveaway from Window Clings

You probably didn't even realize you needed a window cling...but you do! Here are some ideas for what you might do with it:

  • If you have a young child-you could make it a poster for his bday party and use it every year as a way to share the bday news with the world at large.
  • Or if you have adult parties, you could feature a picture of a martini on it and just the words: PARTY HERE, and make new friends from the world at large.
  • Or if you have a home-based company, voila!
  • Or if you have an attack dog, you could make one of these out of his picture, with a really mean pic of him snarling and foaming at the mouth.
  • Or if you consistently put a sign up for deliveries, you could make one of these.
  • Or you could make one for the holidays with a great holiday scene and message to share.
  • Or if you have a regular volunteer event that you host, you could make one for that.
  • Or if you have an ice cream truck but it's really your mom-van, you could pop your window cling in the window when you're sellin', but take it down when you're carpoolin'.

The Prize: 18 x 24 Window Cling

Shipping: FREE UPS Ground Shipping, 1 Business Day Turnaround

Eligibility: Limited to US Residents only, 18 or older

To enter:
Leave a comment with your idea on what you might do with a free window cling.

Extra entries:

Leave an extra comment if you follow/subscribe to my blog.

Leave an extra comment if you entered any of my other current giveaways (check the link up top).

Leave an extra comment if you blog about this giveaway (and leave the link to the giveaway post).

Giveaway closes on May 27th at midnight.

Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email.

Please make sure you have a public profile or leave your email address in your comment. If I can't contact you-you can't win!!

Thanks to for sponsoring this giveaway and providing me the same prize as the winner. Check them out for all your Color Printing needs!

I Am Just Like Warren Buffett!

I had a vague idea of Warren Buffett - wealthy, self-made, white, American, something about stocks and investing, very influential, old. But I didn't really know anything really specific. And I certainly didn't know that he and I are so similar!!!

He had a paper route when he was young - so did I!!!

This is Warren:

His children will not inherit a significant proportion of his wealth. These actions are consistent with statements he has made in the past indicating his opposition to the transfer of great fortunes from one generation to the next. Buffett once commented, "I want to give my kids just enough so that they would feel that they could do anything, but not so much that they would feel like doing nothing".

I feel EXACTLY the same way!! I'm totally not giving my son much of anything either!

Well...maybe that's where our similarities end..I guess it's not that much in common.

I was looking at the local book readings for this month at Powells (best bookstore ever) and saw that Warren Buffett's son was speaking about his book tonight and was sad that we didn't go to it and then we started saying - who is Warren Buffet anyway, and thanks to my sisters secret resource website (, I found out all kinds of interesting facts.

Like these:

In October 2008, Buffett invested in new energy automobile business by paying
$230 million for 10% of BYD Company(SEHK:1211), which runs a subsidiary of electric automobile manufacturer BYD Auto. In less than one year, the investment has reaped him over 500% return of profit.

And this is why he is richer than me. I never know what to do with my extra $230 million and I just end up buying stupid stuff...

In December 2006 it was reported that Buffett does not carry a cell phone, does not have a computer at his desk, and drives his own automobile, a Cadillac DTS.

Buffett is also a notable philanthropist, having pledged to give away 85 percent of his fortune to the Gates Foundation.

85% of his fortune is an insane amount.

I didn't see any real dirt on him-nothing really scandalous, though he separated from his first wife and may have had a thing with his new wife before his first wife died (2.5 decades after they separated), but 2.5 decades is a LONG time to be separated so that's not really a scandal.

Anyway...that concludes our lesson on Warren Buffett. Join us next time when we review how similar I am to Julia Roberts.

Random Thoughts Tuesday - Fish Have No Feelings Edition

These are my thoughts. They are typically random:

This fact is insane to me:

A startling one in 10 Americans pay to store excess stuff. As of year-end 2009,
there were 2.4 billion square feet of public storage space in the U.S. If you
are storing stuff, it's likely that you have too much. via DailyWorth
There was an episode of This American Life that featured people who go to storage unit sales, where they purchase an entire unit after a certain amount of nonpayment time has gone by. They don't get to look through the unit, the auctioneer guy just opens up the door and gives them a few minutes to look directly at it, no digging, no touching-nothing-and then they just start bidding. There was some guy who purchased a unit for like $300 and found some kind of jewelry in a storage thing and made about a $60,000 profit. But then there was another guy who won an auction that had boxes of stuff labeled Crystal and the bidding went pretty high...but then it turned out that the owner of the unit was named Crystal. Oops.

Anyway, I don't like having too much stuff. That's all. I feel like I have been too anxious to get stuff since I moved into the house and have lost my minimalistic roots.

On the other hand, I really want to go shopping and get some more stuff to decorate with....

I would like to meet Ellen Degeneres or Jon Stewart. Does anyone out there have any connections? I'm not joking.

The other day someone at work was telling me that they don't really understand Facebook and she only has like 4 friends from college on there and has no interest in using it. But she looked in on it one day to see what one of her old friends was up to and she finds that she's started a farm! And she also manages a restaurant!!! And she keeps thinking-how does she find the time, with work and family and all....heehee, get it...Farmville? Restaurant-thing? haha, she thought they were real life things...hahahaha.

If I don't feel like fish have any human-type feelings or thoughts or love for their mom like humans do, then why do I believe that other animals might? Like, say, my beloved kitty?

Just another reason why I loooooooove broccoli:

One cup of cooked broccoli contains 74 mg of calcium, plus 123 mg of vitamin C,
which significantly improves calcium's absorption; all this for a total of only
44 calories. To put this in perspective, an orange contains no calcium, 69 mg of
vitamin C, and 60-about 50% more-calories.
More Vitamin C than an orange?? Say what?

My picture of the week, circa maybe 1983:

This is my mom and I and our cat Midnight, who I had with me when Andrew was a baby. One day Midnight just wandered away from home and never came back. Everyone says she went to find a quiet place to die...I remember being heartbroken and thinking that life was too cruel and I just cried and cried and hugged my new baby and told him that life was hard. Sometimes I still want to pull Andrew into my lap and tell him how hard life is...but I refrain.

This is the house I spent my formative years in-from kindergarten through 6th grade. I think that any issues I might need therapy for can be blamed on that wallpaper. I have no other comment.

Other people do random things on Tuesdays can find them hosted here:

Keep Your Fingers Clean Giveaway - $35 Giftcard

You need your oil changed. You really do. And Jiffy Lube wants to be a part of it.

When I was growing up, my dad changed our car's oil, I don't remember ever going to a place to do it, it just wasn't something we would consider. I vaguely remember him showing me how to do it once, but it's really not that expensive to go someplace and why would you want to get all dirty and greasy if you don't have to? Grease doesn't just rinse off your hands, ya know? You need special soap and sometimes a little hand brush? No, no thank you.

And with this giveaway--you really don't have to! It's a free oil change (or close to it maybe)!!

With the informative Web site (created by the maker of industry-leading brands Pennzoil and Quaker State) you can easily locate key information about how quality motor oils can help prolong your engine’s life and improve overall efficiency, as well as help answer other questions you may have about motor oil. In addition, the site offers a fun, educational game for you to play called “M.O.M. Knows Best” where you can put your motor mind to the test with an interactive quiz.

Did you know:

  • According to a recent survey from the Automotive Service Association, more than 54 percent of customers who take their vehicles for service and repair are women

  • Using a high-quality motor oil in the right grade can help maximize fuel economy

  • Low-quality oils that do not meet industry standards or the vehicle manufacturer’s requirements could cost consumers in the long run by potentially damaging the vehicle’s engine or possibly voiding the manufacturer’s warranty

  • Another reason to look to a high-quality motor oil – like Pennzoil and Quaker State - is that it is designed to meet the demands of today’s engines

The Prize: One $35.00 gift card for Jiffy Lube

To enter:

Visit the website and leave a comment telling me something. Anything at all from the site. Easy enough.

Extra entries:

Leave an extra comment if you follow/subscribe to my blog.
Leave an extra comment if you entered any of my other current giveaways (there's a link to my giveaway page at the top of the page).
Leave an extra comment if you blog about this giveaway (and leave the link to the giveaway post).

Giveaway closes on May 29th at midnight.
Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email.

Please make sure you have a public profile or leave your email address in your comment. If I can't contact you-you can't win!! and MyBlogSpark provided this giveaway and I will receive the same prize. In complying with the FTC, FDA, PETA, and the mafia guidelines-I must disclose that I received this as well. Thanks ya'll!

Weekend Wrap Up - Laundry and Islam and Acrobats and Mothers Edition

Nothing but excitement in my life.

Friday night I did three loads of laundry and went to bed with a book by 10pm - PARTY-ANIMAL. I really need an intervention from all the fun I have. Fridays are really my down time. I like to do nothing on Friday nights in preparation of doing things the rest of the weekend.

I woke up early Saturday - my alarm is set for 8:30am but I woke up at 7:30 and continued on with my book. It's really good, it's called Son of Hamas and is the story of the son of one of the founding members of Hamas and how he became a spy for the Israeli's after witnessing the atrocities that his fellow Hamas members were committing on each other. He was also heavily influenced to leave his Muslim faith based on dissatisfaction with the preachings of Islam. Typically, I'm not a fan of books that sneak religion in on you and make it about religion when I wasn't expecting it....and this book is borderline sneaky-religion-style. The entire middle-east conflict is religion-based though, so it wasn't that surprising and I don't hate it...

Here are two interesting things he says:
Who could have made such bombs? Certainly not some chemistry or engineering student. We knew every one of them, the grades they got, and what they ate for breakfast.
Big brother, Israeli-style, eh.
The area between the outer and inner perimeters formed a run that, at any other military base in the world, would be patrolled by German Shepherds or other highly trained attack dogs. Ironically, the kosher-conscious Israelis used pigs. It was thought that the presence of pigs and the threat of possible contact with them would serve as a psychological deterrent to any prospective terrorist who was a devout Muslim.
Pigs have it good in the middle east.

It's really a great read if you're interested in middle-eastern culture at all. It goes through a lot of history very quickly, but is very informative.

I had a great workout Sat morning-my weekly mileage on the treadmill was 12.50 miles. I'm pretty happy with that. I think next week I'll try for 14. I'm walking - no running for me right now. I loooooove running, but my knees haaaaaaaate it, so for now, I'm just a walker. I have discovered that I can walk at inclines without pain, which is nice because it makes for a much better aerobic activity.

Saturday night, Andrew and I went to see the Cirque du Soleil show, Kooza. It was amazing, as all their shows are. I have noticed that now that I'm old, I tend to have more anxiety and watching people run on and jump while at high speeds on spinning wheels high in the air nearly caused me to curl into the fetal position under my chair. Amazing show though!! They do great things and I highly recommend you seeing any show that comes through your town. Photos aren't allowed, but here's one as we were walking in (Andrew has this habit of walking into my photos frequently-and now we have to take photos this way):
And the weekend wraps up with a volunteer project and it was a great group - there were a lot of really well-behaved kids attending. There are always kids at my events and usually there are a handful who are really well-behaved, but to say that about the entire group is a rarity. Maybe it was kids on their best behavior for Mothers Day. Regardless-loved it, loved them, it went great!

And in honor of Mothers Day, here's my mom.

Isn't she darling? Yes, yes she is. We love her a lot and hope she had a great day today!

At Some Point...You Just Give Up....

I think I've changed my blog layout two times in the last 5 years. Why? Because I suck at it. You probably already noticed that.

If anyone wants to take pity on me and offer up suggestions, or an all new template, don't be shy with your offer.

Box Tops for Education - Money in your Pocket Giveaway

s&h stamps
Remember S & H stamps? If not, then you are not old like me. Or you are not from America.

S&H stamps were given when you shopped at certain stores or bought certain things. Then you take them home, lick the toxic glue off the back and collect them in a special little book. Then you keep those little books until you have 3 kitchen drawers full of them and then you can trade them in for something wonderful. I'm pretty sure we got my mom's 1975 Vega with these stamps. We all loved that car.

I remember we had tons of these and I used to love the little books they went in and organizing them and flipping through them all, marvelling at all the treasures we could get with them. The book of awards was SO big (to my 3rd grader self). It was like the biggest book in the world.
Then there were the Betty Crocker coupons. Same type of idea.
And now there are Box Tops 4 Education, which has actually raised over $300 million for schools nationwide since 1996. $300 million can buy a lot of crayons, yo.

Every year, 24 million parents and children join in clipping Box Tops to support their local schools. To make it even easier to participate in the program, the SuperValu family of stores (ACME, Albertsons, Cub, Farm Fresh and Jewel-Osco) joined Box Tops for Education in creating a website that not only tracks your Box Tops contribution and the school’s redemption, but also offers recipes, coupons, store promotions and more.

From now through May 31, SuperValu stores and Box Tops for Education are giving you a chance to win 50,000 bonus box tops for your school. That’s a $5,000 value! All you have to do is register at, and click the link to the 50,000 bonus box tops sweepstakes*. You will automatically receive 5 Bonus Box Tops just for signing up!

*Note that the sweepstakes is void in some states. Visit and view the sweepstakes’ official rules for more details. After you’ve entered the sweepstakes, browse the website where you’ll find a variety of great offers on your favorite General Mills brands including Betty Crocker®, Old El Paso®, Totino’s® Pizza Rolls® and Pillsbury®. Once you register you can also find recipes that will earn you even more Box Tops and you can access coupons for the latest deals at your local SuperValu store!

On to the giveaway:
Here's your chance to win a $25 American Express gift card
Um, that's like real money. You want this prize.

To enter:

Leave a comment with your experience with Box Tops or your plans to participate.

Extra entries:
Leave an extra comment if you follow/subscribe to my blog.
Leave an extra comment if you entered any of my other current giveaways (check the sidebar).
Leave an extra comment if you blog about this giveaway (and leave the link to the giveaway post).

Giveaway closes on May 22nd at midnight.

Winner will have 48 hours to respond to my email.
Please make sure you have a public profile or leave your email address in your comment. If I can't contact you-you can't win!!
General Mills, SuperValu and MyBlogSpark provided this giveaway and I will receive the same prize. In complying with the FTC, FDA, PETA, and the mafia guidelines-I must disclose that I received this as well. Thanks ya'll!

Random Tuesday-ness

New goal for the month: 40 miles on the treadmill. This sounds like a lot...but it also sounds like not enough. Wish me luck! I've done 3 so far. Only 37 to go.

What the eff is this:

Anyone know? Cause I love it. It's like the ruffle at the bottom of some flowing, thick material-ed dress but with the fur of a young duckling.

I volunteered at this new-to-me agency on Saturday morning: The Northwest Children's Outreach center. In their words: We function as a collection and distribution center, collecting resources for these children and distributing the goods to local care providers who meet directly with and prescreen the children.

So let's say you are a social worker, or a church leader, or a school counselor and you know of this child who doesn't have shoes, or a winter coat...they contact this agency and the NW Children's Outreach Center will get them a bag of clothing for a particular size, complete with shoes, extra shirt and socks and maybe a toy or a book. All donated items. None of it is dirty, ripped, hideous, or, as the program manager said: from the 80's. They have standards. It's wonderful, as sometimes you come across agencies that will be like-the poor are desperate and will accept anything. While this may be true, that doesn't mean that they WANT to accept your near-trash items.

Here is the storeroom we worked in on Saturday:

There are a LOT of donated items. However, there are a LOT of needs to fill. There are multiple donation centers like this one and this one alone had 80 agencies it works with every week. It's just an amazing thing. Very inspiring to see.

And as I'm driving home from this volunteer event, while I'm thinking about how excessive our society is, how wasteful we are, and how it's sad that we value Things over People...I see this lil fella:
Yeah, that's a Lamborghini. It runs for about $200,000. I trailed him for awhile, wanting to see him suddenly go from 60mph to 120mph in .4 seconds, however, he refused to speed. I had to pass him. Yeah, that's right. I passed a Lamborghini. My car is just that great. Go Honda circa 1999.

And congrats to the winner of the Green Giant Gift Pack, Sonya. This is her super-adorable profile picture. She deserves to win just for this alone:
I'd love to stay and spew some more words here, but hey, that treadmill doesn't just log miles by itself ya know!
I have another drawing to post tomorrow. It's a good one, come on back.

Notes from Korea - Late March - Sandstorms, Trip To Japan & School Info

Once upon a time a thousand years ago (in 2002), I took a year long teaching job in Korea. I packed up my 9 yr son, his little white cat and 4 huge bags of "stuff" and we got on a plane and flew from Washington state to South Korea. We lived there for a year, came home for Xmas and then my son stayed in the states for 8 weeks while I flew back over the big pond to finish my contract(the first time I've ever been away from him for more than 2 weeks). We lived in a small town, with no native English speakers, no familiar food, and no real clue of what we were going to do. It was a great adventure!

I wrote long, sometimes boring, letters home. These are them, unedited except for the removal of the whining and begging to my parents to please send this or that. You can click on the pictures to enlarge.

Hey Everyone,
It's been awhile since I did an update -been keeping busy over here!

Where to start...

There was a warning put out across Korea to stay indoors and limit your activities this weekend, as the Yellow Sand is drifting over from the Gobi Desert in China. We didn't get the info until we'd already been outside and had been wondering why there was so few people out and about. Our world looks constantly foggy, but it's not fog. The dust is really small and we don't notice it's in the air, but the cars are a mess and anything left outside is covered in it...and I'm sure it's making a home in our lungs.

Andrew and I took our second trip to Japan, where we finally got our year-long visa stamps. Andrew has been excited to get each and every stamp in our passports and we are now (somehow) up to page 11! We did not have much time this visit and our hotel was very near the embassy, however, it was very far from everything else! We spent our evening walking around the area, enjoying the most wonderful park, right in the middle of the city. Then we headed to the only thing within distance of us-a mall, where we met a little monkey. The monkey crawled right up in Andrew's lap even. Andrew also had a chance to talk with the first English speaking child since January-we met a young boy who was travelling with his family. Then we went to see Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. We had to giggle every time we heard Philosopher, as it is not what we are used to.

The monkeys meet...
(Click to view photos from both trips to Japan)

Japan was so expensive! We were really shocked to see the prices of things.

Andrew, who might be the worlds pickiest eater ever (I'm sure most of you already know that), found some kind of Japanese meal as we were on our way to the airport and made me buy two of them since he liked the chicken so much! He scarfed them down and we rushed to the subway to catch our plane and it was home to Korea!

School has been open for a month now and it is really great. My classes are really small, which is fine by me, though it should be temporary. We hope to have a full class of ten students in each of the three hours I teach. I have my first class at three-the Kindergarten class. There is only four, but it really feels like there is ten of them! We spend each day by coloring, playing games and reading, but it really is a long fifty minutes! They are fun though. They will find pleasure in the smallest of things! I was having a great time with them yesterday...we were practicing counting and I would hold up my hands, but skip a number so that I would end up with eleven fingers and then act confused when they stopped me. We did that exercise for TEN minutes! Much more fun than any job I've ever had (ha!).
My favorite little Korean girl The second class starts at four and it is five middle school students. Only two of them really want to learn English though and the other three are just there to drive me crazy. It is a challenge to keep them from hitting, screaming and throwing things at each other so that I can try to teach anything at all. Every day we play bingo at the end of class and I give out candy to the winners. I think that is the only reason they come to class at all.

My scrapbook pages of my students-Click to view enlarged (I don't have these photos digitally):
Korean Teacher Scrapbook pages
The third class is a mix of junior high and middle school levels. My biggest class, with seven kids, but it is the easiest to teach. They are not as fun as the little ones but at least I feel like I'm getting somewhere with them.Korean Middle School English Class
We're a bit limited in the foods we eat thus far, but I have been trying to convince the kid that nothing will kill him with just a taste. We had success at one restaurant and Andrew found a food he likes. It's called Mandu and is almost like an egg roll, but they say it's more like a dumpling. Either way, it's yummy.

The greatest thing about eating the food here is that the restaurants will deliver for free! The food is so cheap, it's easier and cheaper to order in-as most of the English teachers here do. Unfortunately, Andrew has not moved on to anything beyond Mandu yet so we'll see....I found a great fried fish I like and the servings are so big and inexpensive-it's wonderful! It's served with 4 large pieces of fish, rice, and two tater tots (???). It is the biggest meal I've eaten here.

An interesting point about the restaurants: They deliver the food on the plates they use in the restaurant and when you're done, you just leave them outside your door and they pick them up sometime little elves cleaning up after you. LOVE that! No dishes to wash!

Andrew and I have set a goal to learn one new word a day and teach each other the word. Last week, he learned how to say "what's your name" (iram me moya) and I learned "friend" (chick-su).

We are off for now, off to explore the black market for some simple remedies to homesickness.

Until next time...

My Celebrity Encounter: Ayyyyyy

Our local bookstore is fairly famous and has some amazing authors come through for book readings. Friday night an old childhood friend of mine was on the author events.

This is my friend, Henry Winkler. He was a childhood friend...via the television. We spent a LOT of time together...via the television. He taught me a LOT about life...(say it with me) via the television.
And here he is on Friday night:Henry Winkler book reading
This is the third or fourth book reading I've been to - Henry's was the best big name we've had come through, someone who everyone knows-not just readers. But he was also the worst, because he only spoke for 14 minutes. Literally, FOURTEEN minutes. And then he opened it up to questions to the audience, calling on the kids there first (he was promoting his childrens series). One little boy asked this question: "Have you ever been on tv?" And we all laughed and I suspect Henry felt it was a posed question, as he just went on to the next after the laughter stopped. Henry Winkler book reading
He's only 5'6 - so he stood on a chair to talk!

He read a short book from his latest book...and then that was it. He was ready to sign books 30 minutes from the start time. Whoa....what? 30 minutes total? The authors usually spend an hour talking or reading or answering questions.

Some of us had been there 60 minutes beforehand. Some people had been there 90-120 minutes beforehand. And all you can do is speak for 30 minutes? Ugh...not cool.

And then there were the rules: Only two books would be signed. The books must be from his current childrens series. Nothing else would be signed at all. No personal inscriptions at all-he was only signing his name. No personal photos would be taken-not even of you standing next to him as he sat there signing. Nothing. You could take a picture of him at the table, that was it. No questions at the book signing table. No fun. No laughter. (those last two were implied, not directly stated)

Anyway, it was interesting to hear/see him. He had a really powerful message to us all: Never give up. Even when you fail, you just keep on trying. (he said it better than I just did)

He's done a LOT in his lifetime. He comes from parents who won no parenting awards. He told us that his parents used to call him Dumb Dog. They didn't expect much of him. He is well educated but doesn't consider himself to be that smart. He has a strong determination and even when something goes wrong or just doesn't work out for him, he just keeps going. I didn't realize that he actually produced MacGyver and Sabrina the Teenaged Witch - among the other gazillion things he's done in life.

This was the scene at his book reading.
Powells books author reading Henry Winkler

Powells books author reading Henry Winkler Interesting note about that lady in the bottom right of the picture - she dated Henry Winkler in college. Her husband told me the story when he was saving their seats. He said, She hasn't talked to him for 34 years, but I hope she doesn't feel like she made the wrong choice....
He was adorable.

And this is the scene of me and my friend Amy in the book store. Look at how I am positively glowing!

Powells books author reading Henry Winkler Not photoshopped. I am apparently an albino.


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