Weekend Wrapup - Laughing at the Library, While My Gov't Laughs at Me

Life is so busy!!! It's just crazy how fast time is going. Hello - it's NOVEMBER?? How did that happen??
I feel like I'm going to turn around and it's going to be 2035, and I'll be retired and living the good life (thanks to my wealthy boyfriend and or husband).

It was a nice weekend - busy, but nice.

Friday night I volunteered at our local library for the first time. I use the library a LOT, so it's about time that I give back to help my city library. I have saved billions of dollars on books due to this incredible library. It started off a bit boring - I washed down the tables and chairs (later I sorted dvd's and that was fun for me, I like organizing things). A mom and her two young sons were wiping down the magazine racks nearby and we were all surprised at the dust they were getting off of them, apparently it's just a once a month dusting event...I'm not sure, but it was an excessive amount of dust. The mom was wonderful and kept the two little ones interested, explaining how great they are doing, talking about how helpful it is that they are volunteering, etc. At one point, the youngest son (maybe four yrs old) says to the mom - we should do this at home sometime!

The mom looked over and we all laughed. She said - you're right, I bet we have a lot of dust to collect at home too! Kids are cute. I love seeing them volunteer, it's so good for them.

Saturday involved a fight with the teenager, who, for the record-is not always right. The comment of the day from my typically really smart son was: Restaurants who offer coupons do so because they are not good restaurants. They offer coupons to get business because they can't people to come in any other way.
Sigh...

We went to a reception for USC, which is the school he wants to go to more than anything in the world. Let's all wish him luck, since they have a hard admissions process. He somehow always ends up with what he wants, so there's that on his side...

Saturday night was the opening night of the musical!!!  More on that tomorrow.

And then today was Halloween.

This is a costume for my cats, but strangely they don't like to wear it.

I saw a couple updates from people I know talking about how they've had over 300 kids come by SO FAR, and all I can think about is how much money they just wasted. I spent $12 on candy and felt like that was almost too much..and I only had about 20 kids, maybe 25. I have leftover candy which I'm going to hand out at my next volunteer event. Someone please remind me next year to spend just $5.00. The cuteness of the kids I saw tonight were not worth $12.00. Sorry kids...it's true. The only original costume I saw was one where a young teenager had a bunch of masking tape on his black shirt, and on the tape, he had written: COSTUME. That's the level of creativity I got for my $12.00.

I got my quarterly tax bill in the mail this weekend and I feel like it's a big joke to the county.
They even had the nerve to throw an LOL on my bill. Jerks.

Taco Taco Taco, Who Wants A Taco?

Ready for a taco night at your house?
I don't make tacos a lot because I don't eat beef and I can't fathom the idea of fish tacos tasting good. I like shredded chicken on tacos, but it's just not the same. I'm typically more of a burrito girl, but maybe I'm just not trying hard enough. I didn't really try to cook much in the past, so tacos were pretty basic - maybe I need to make some kind of extra effort to really excite me about these.

Or maybe I just needed the right serving trays...
How great are these?? 
I'm going to use the chili tray as serving plates, with room for your chips in the top of the chili. Cute right?? This makes me want to have friends over...but I just don't have a free weekend for about three weeks. Wah. But I do have family coming next Sunday, so maybe we will have a family taco night instead! Perfect.
Anyway, back to you. And these great trays.

They can be yours, all yours. Along with some Old El Paso seasoning mix and a gift card for $10 to purchase taco supplies.

To Enter::
All you have to do is leave a comment telling me how you make your tacos delicious. I'm looking for some new ideas - give me your best!

For Extra Entries:
Leave an extra comment if you are a google follower of my blog.
Leave an extra comment if you entered my other active giveaways in the last 30 days. (see the giveaway tab at top for current giveaways)

Giveaway ends on November 14th at midnight. Please make sure your profile is public or leave your email in the comment.

If you're planning an upcoming taco night yourself, you can Click Here to download a printable coupon for $0.60 off any two Old El Paso products today!


Old El Paso provided me with the same prize to host this giveaway via MyBlogSpark.

Want Some Candy, Little Boy?

What a weird "holiday" Halloween is....we disguise our kids and then have them knock on strangers doors begging for food. Just weird. It makes for some fun pictures though.

Andrew was born in November, so he was almost one for his first Halloween. My sister had a 3 year old at the time, little Tyler. They were great buddies when they were young and we lived near each other. The plan for Halloween was to meet at grandma's house and head out together with the kids. We showed up at grandma's house and found that young Tyler was a pirate.

Which is what baby Andrew was dressed as!!! We had no idea until we met up.

Baby Pirate Andrew, Aunt Jenny, and Young Pirate Tyler
There's really no purpose in taking a one-year old out trick or treating except to get yourself some free chocolate. They enjoy it and all, it's different and fun and everyone is always so happy...but a big bag full of chocolate...what's a 1 yr old going to do with that?

I would like to say that I was one of those moms who handmade her child's outfit with love and sweat and tears, but I didn't. Did I mention I was 19? Yeah, I was not little miss homemaker. I was 19. Nuff said.

The next year we showed up at grandma's house and both boys were super-heroes. I wish I still had every one of Andrew's outfits. They would be cute to have stuffed at Halloween as decorations. I'm not a hoarder though, I've moved too much and pared down plenty of times. And I guess it would be a little creepy for others. I was thinking I could have a cut out face of Andrew to attach to the stuffed costume. That's not weird, right?
Masked Men...Holding Hands
Eventually Andrew and I moved for me to go to college and we left behind the family. No more Halloween meetup's at grandmas, no more trick or treating with Tyler. Sad.

However, I had a lot of great friends in college who helped make Andrews life wonderful and our first Halloween included a trip to the dorm hall where I had some friends and it was great fun going to the floors and knocking on dorm rooms. It was nice and warm and dry and all the college kids loved my darling baby, of course.

Bumblebee Andrew
Who doesn't love a bumblebee? Let's make note that I was no longer 19 and figured out how to hand make this outfit. I'm pretty sure that was obvious without me saying anything....but it's impressive, no? Dear lord he was adorable, right? It's hard to look away from that sweet little face and those wonderful little pipe cleaner antennae. And the makeup around the eyes? Genius, Kaylen, pure genius.

These fun days of begging for free food are behind me now though...and now I just give to the hungry children who come ringing my doorbell.

Important Items On My To-Do List

I am a task list maker. I love me some lists. I make them for grocery shopping, but rarely follow them (which is why I ended up 3 shallots short for dinner the other night). I make them before leaving for vacation-and check things off twice, though I still sometimes forget things (ugh, stupid phone/laptop cord!).

And I have definitely rubbed off on my offspring. When we have a deep clean to do before company comes, Andrew insists on having a list so that he can see exactly what is expected of him so he will know if he needs to be outraged.

I make lists at work sometimes, when I'm feeling so overwhelmed with the amount of stuff to do and I feel like some things might get lost in the fray. But sometimes I'm so busy that I don't even feel like I can take the time to make a list. That's when you know you are overwhelmed

I like to have a list in front of me so I can cross things off when I'm done. However, sometimes I do nothing on the list and I feel like it's too late to even bother to start on it...so I just make a new list and start over. That second list should really start out with: Finish the last task list. But sometimes it feels better to just re-write some of the items again-like maybe if I have the recent memory of hand-writing the word, I'm more likely to actually accomplish the task.

I found this list from last summer.  I think there's a couple things I haven't completed....one is change the garage door code...


Any guess as to what the other is that needs to be finished?

Recipe of the Week: Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots

We are HUGE fans of sweet potatoes/yams. HUGE. We never really ate them until just the last few years. I grew up on potatoes, white and red, but I don't really remember having these as a child, and I never made them for Andrew (poor parenting by both my mom and I). Since we discovered them though, we have made up for lost time and eaten them about once a week.

FYI: A baked sweet potato has 700% of your daily Vitamin A!!!

We usually make them into fries (baked), or sometimes we grill them, but tonight was a new recipe, courtesy of Cooking Light:

Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots
Don't they look great?? Light and fluffy, a beautiful color, and a filling side dish.

Ingredients

 
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

3/4 cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 large)

2 teaspoons brown sugar

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

 
Preparation
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add shallots to pan, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with sugar; cook 20 minutes or until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally.
  2. Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add rosemary, salt, and pepper; beat until blended. Spoon into a bowl; top with shallots, and drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

 
Nutritional Information

 
Calories:202
Fat:6.3g (sat 0.9g,mono 4.5g,poly 0.9g)
Protein:2.9g
Carbohydrate:34.9g
Fiber:4.8g
Cholesterol:0.0mg
Iron:1.2mg
Sodium:278mg
Calcium:55mg

Our review:
These could not be more delicious!!!
The sweet potatoes I buy that are labeled as such in the store are actually whitish-yellow, but the picture in the Cooking Light article showed the dish as orange - which is what we (me and Fred Meyers) call yams. So I used both - and I doubled the recipe so we would have leftovers, so I used 3 sweet potatoes and 2 yams.

I have no experience with shallots and when I went grocery shopping, I had only written down "shallots" on my list...so I bought one which came in a clove-like thing with two "cloves", so I thought that might be considered two shallots....but then I thought that it was still one shallot technically, so with doubling my recipe, I ended up 3 shallots short. I substituted my missing shallots with a white onion.

The shallots were pretty greasy-seeming so I didn't drizzle oil on the potatoes before serving. I don't think we really missed out by skipping this step.

This was much more time/work for sweet potatoes than I usually invest, but absolutely worth it!!

And this makes me wonder....what other amazing foods are out there that I don't make because I don't want to invest the time?

Granted, I am not usually in the mood to spend an extra 20 minutes making dinner - but for those times when I'm in the mood, I am going to take advantage! Stay tuned for more great recipes!

What are your favorite ways to enjoy sweet potatoes?
You don't know of one? Please do yourself a favor and try them!! I was doubtful of them at first, but they are so healthy and a great taste.

School Conference Time....Let's Talk About Your Marriage

I'm loving high school conferences! Andrew has nearly all A's, and so conferences go like this:

"He's doing great, I have no worries about him at all."
"I love his enthusiasm and energy."
"I would expect he will have no trouble maintaining an A all year, he's just a smart kid."
"He's such a pleasure to have in class!"


Not such an ordeal. I don't really feel like I even need to go to conferences, except to meet the teachers and check in with that one class where he's getting a C+ (boo).


I volunteered tonight at the conferences also. My very important job was to sit at a table and hand out progress reports to parents before they meet with the teachers. There were actually rules for this job - I was told "the most important rule" is to never give the progress  report to the student, only the parents can have it. I made sure to acknowledge how much I respected this rule.

And as such, I asked two young-looking moms if their parents were there and explained the all-important rule. Oops.

I also had about a conversation with a mom who I thought I knew from her son being in choir and I GUSHED about how grown-up he is now and how great he did at the concert....and then 4 minutes into the conversation she just quickly changed the subject and I finally determined that I know her from my last workplace, and she's not associated with that boy or the choir in any way. Oops.

And I had another great conversation with a mom that went like this: "Oh,  your last name is Blahblahblah? My son dated your daughter for a week!" As soon as I said it, I knew it could have been a bad scene, but luckily she laughed and said that it was funny how that worked out and she was glad to see they were still friends. Almost an oops.

Sitting next to me at the volunteer table was this wonderfully sweet woman, who I talked to for the two hours we were there and I feel like I know her more than I should. Within the first 40 minutes, I learned that her and her husband of 18 years are living like roommates and as soon as her son graduates in three years, she is leaving with the Peace Corps. She's already applied even. Interesting conversation...I felt like I needed to share something intimate also, so I told her about how I am trying to push myself to get out more and be less-boring. That story is equal to hers, right?

This "Talking to Strangers" initiative is going well!!! I feel like I'm learning to be a better listener, more compassionate, less self-centered. And I'm also learning that people are willing to share ANYTHING with total strangers. I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I might seem outgoing, but I don't always feel that way on the inside. Sometimes I just want to move through the whole day and talk to nobody. So this really is a stretch to try and move outside my comfort zone. This last month, I am more chatty with people in the checkout stand at the grocery store, and while picking up to-go food from our local thai restaurant (though I think the owner thinks I'm weird and would prefer I just pick up my food and leave wordlessly), and even while riding in the elevator at work I try to be more outgoing with people I don't know, instead of just riding along in my bubble.

Anyway, I really had to force myself to volunteer tonight. I went to Andrew's choir concert on Tuesday night and a volunteer meeting on Wednesday night, so I haven't really been home. And I love being home. But I pushed myself to do it, and I'm glad. I met another person passionate about volunteering, one who is a mom of a high schooler, one who I got along well with right from the start.

A successful Talking to Strangers night!

Anyone hear any good stories while talking to strangers lately?  Don't make me do this alone, people. Get out there and start talking!

More Wood Than Any Girl Can Handle

I moved into my house about 18 months ago. Have I told you about my barstools? Let's take a second to talk bar furniture, shall we?

I believe the former owner had some kind of stock in a little product we will call 1970's "wood". This guy left me a lot of wood. Wood in the entryway, wood in the living room, wood in the kitchen, in the dining room, in the bathroom. I have more wood than any girl could ever want!!  WOOD!!! EVERYWHERE!!!

These are my current bar stools:
This is the kitchen bar they sit at:

(yeah, I didn't clean the counter before taking the picture. And have no idea what that black dot is on the floor.)
This is the wood in my living room area, above the fireplace:


These are the wood-framed mirrors in the entryway:


This is the monstrous wood light thing in the main bathroom (which I am hoping will be ripped out this week!!!):


See the theme?? And all the cupboards are 1970's wood, kitchen and bathroom!

I need to make a move from this wood look...and reclaim my home. I am starting with the bathroom light fixture. I bought a new one and just need my handyman to come install it and take out that wood monster. And I think the next easy fix for my wood issue is to replace the bar stools with something from this century. Or maybe I can paint them a silvery-coppery-gold color and reupholster them into something more funky and fun. I've seen this done online, I know it's not that difficult....but deep inside, I will always know they are that same bland wood....maybe I will have to ask Santa to go shopping for bar stools for me.  Stay tuned!!


Weekend Wrap Up - Parks and Dances and Cupcakes, Oh My!

What a relaxing weekend. We had the greatest weather here. I hope it stays for 6 more weeks.

I was going to go for a walk at this park on Friday after work, but then discovered that some parks don't have any lighting. Maybe none do actually...but it's open until 10pm so I thought that would mean that there are some lights...but no, not even in the parking lot. Nope, not one. I had about 20 minutes before it went completely dark...so I didn't really get to go far.
We're most likely using this park for Andrew's senior photos and I just wanted to have a look around. What I learned is that this is a great park - if you want to be killed. It's DARK.

Saturday was homecoming at Andrew's high school.
He's got this adorable girlfriend, we'll call her Sarah.
Dear lord, aren't they the cutest things, ever???

I am definitely one of those moms who has to have a million photos. I don't like just plain stand-and-smile ones though...nope...I like to make them pose for me.
Like "look at the sky"
And "look to the left!"

At some point, they weren't so enthused to have their photos taken...

I have been so sure that Sarah looks like some celebrity....and for a week I have been struggling to figure it out...and I DID!!! She looks SO MUCH of Neve Campbell (who I love). You all know Neve from Party of Five.
If you watched Party of Five, you know who I mean - I grew up with this girl and so I feel like I know Sarah, because I knew Julia Salinger!



Anyway, Andrew had a great Homecoming night and rolled in about 4am, after going to the dance, then bowling, then to his gf's house with the group to watch a movie and eat pizza. Fun night!!


We did some yard work Saturday too. I love my backyard. I spent a fair amount of time just swinging in my hammock enjoying the blue sky. Love it.

Sunday was peaceful. I walked 7 miles (yay) and we made cupcakes for Andrews choir class.
I had some wonderful young assistants who helped. We made them with a creamy filling, instant pudding, a first for all of us - and we had a few learning lessons along the way. Like when you carve out the space for the pudding center, bigger is not better.

We originally were filling almost the entire center of the cupcake, but once our taste tester tried one of them, we realized that as soon as you take a bite, it tends to just fall into mushy pieces. So we cut back to a more reasonable filling center and they are wonderful! These are super-easy to make - and better than just making regular cupcakes. They probably took twice as long to complete, but it was our first time. And my assistants were young. And one of them would stop between every 3 cupcakes to ask about eating one. I would have said yes to that more often, but I caught on quick that sugar gives her energy!. I really appreciated their help though, as prepping 40 cupcakes is really tiring!

Abbey was the master cupcake-creamy-center-filler. (why did someone leave a cd on the counter amongst our baking station? bad idea!) Cassidy (who I didn't get a pic of!) was my master-froster.

Another weekend done and gone. Sad. Back to work tomorrow. I'm working on a deadline for quarterly reports and have a stressful week ahead. Not excited for that.

Have you made cupcakes with a creamy center? What did you use for your cream? The pudding is really creamy, I should have made some homemade creamy-stuff and I could have controlled the texture a bit better.

Oh, and do you refrigerate your cupcakes? I never do - but with the pudding in the middle (made with milk!), I felt like I need to.

Warning Signs to Look for in Your Kitchen

If your milk shows these kinds of signs....you should definitely throw it out:



Apparently, Andrew felt I needed to go to the grocery store.

The Rescue of the Miners Topic Continues...

Anybody else notice that the last rescue worker out didn't turn off any lights?? He didn't.
And shouldn't they have tried to send up the capsule with some of the supplies they had down there?

And Steve Jobs so graciously gave each miner an iPod. Is he going to give them a computer to go with them? Don't you need one to set it up with iTunes? I really have no idea. And why wouldn't he give them all an iPad-a nice promotion for the new product. Just an idea...

And....it's great that they are closing this mine, which is like a million years old and originally carved out by cavemen riding on dinosaurs, but there are 300 people employed in that mine. And now they are going to be unemployed. Something to think about.

AND....it was great to see the President of Chile there for every rescue-it was a LONG time to be on hand, smiling, looking pretty...but I was surprised that Pinera didn't pledge a gift to the miners himself. He's a billionaire...with a capital B. Maybe it would have been weird, but I don't think so. It would almost be like a relief to offload some of that money, wouldn't it? I know if I had a billion dollars, I would try to pass some out to a good cause, just so I can more easily manage my checkbook.  I'm just sayin...

Reality TV At It's Finest

I have been really obsessed with the story of the miners-formerly-trapped in a mine in Chile. The entire story has been riveting - especially the beginning where everyone thought they were dead for 17 days and then they sent up a little note in a tiny hole. They had 33 of them survive 17 days on just 2 days rations!! Incredible. And they had no idea how long they were going to be there-but they stretched that food out. It's really the definition of a miracle, isn't it? Amazing.


For the last two weeks, I have woken up, grabbed my smartphone (good morning Samsung Fascinate!) and checked a few news sources for the latest on my miner friends.

And then when the countdown to sending the capsule down started, I was more obsessed.

I watched about 10 of the miners come out of the ground in their little drive-through-bank-type capsule..and cried every time they were reunited with the real world. Just amazing. Every second of it amazed me.

And, as others in the world have noted, it is slightly familiar to a time long ago, when there was just one non-miner stuck in a hole deep in the earth...

Little Baby Jessica in Midland, Texas - 18 months old, stuck in a well for 58 hours. A baby!!! THAT was riveting reality tv. Who didn't cry at that rescue? Just amazing.

And then there was another riveting reality event...where we all watched a white truck drive along a freeway for hours and hours....
Ugh, embarrassing to think about - but we all watched at least part of it, right?

These are the moments that fall under Reality TV. These are real events, around the world, bringing us all together. Even North Korea (aka the looniest country on the planet) was in Chile this week, though I suspect somehow they had a tie-in to the rescue of the miners to the son of their great leader Kim Jong-Make-Me-Ill taking over power. Obviously the two are related.

Riveting television. Why do we waste our time watching "reality" tv - why can't we just have more human interest stories on tv at night? I bet there are amazing things going on all around the world every day. I'd like a reality show about humanitarians, out in the field. No script needed-just a camera following them through the natural disaster areas, meeting and helping people. Wouldn't they have higher donations if we were actually seeing live feeds of their work? Probably! Someone call Ted Turner - cause I'm ready for some real reality. Move over Snooki (whoever the eff you are) - I'm ready for something real.

Gain Dishwashing Liquid - $5 Gift Card Giveaway

Are you loyal to your dish washing soap?

Does it happen to be Gain?

Do you want a free bottle, because you love it already or because you want to try it?

I love the smell of the original scent. It's not powerful-which is important as I have a very sensitive nose. Like bloodhound style. Like I am the first person to complain about strong perfumes. And if someone has stepped in some kind of canine excrement - I will know it and hate it the most. I have an amazing nose.

So...my point is: If you are like me and don't like strong smelling soap - try the Gain dish washing liquid in the original scent. They have other smells, like the lavender and apple mango (which I admit sounds like a good one), but I only tried the original and I like it enough to know that I will purchase this at some point. And you might want to also.

And to help you buy some - I have THREE $5 gift cards to Walmart.  

Leave me a comment if you want one.
I'll pick three random winners on November 1st at midnight. You can only win once, but if you are a follower, leave an extra comment and I'll throw your name in the proverbial hat twice.


I received a bottle of Gain for review from P&G via MyBlogSpark.

...and I have 3 more giveaways coming up in the next 3 weeks. If you're into that kind of thing-get ready.

Make Every Day A Blog-Worthy Day

Let me start by saying that today was one of those days that really reinforces the negative feelings people have towards Mondays.

I felt like I was going in circles at work (but this is a continuation of the circle I was running last week). I won't go into it because I have this secret (until now) fear that I will someday be fired for things I blog about and as such, I try to avoid blogging about work.

So this is todays theme song for me. If you don't know it, it's called, "Just Keep Swimming" by Dory.


Anyway, I had read this blogger last weekend who wrote about this story of a mouse who escaped his cage. The mouse was one who loved loved loved running on his little mouse-house wheel. So when he escaped, someone put his wheel just outside the cage, and sure enough, that mouse came back to his wheel and started running his little mouse-heart out in his beloved wheel. So the blogger spoke to how it's easy to get into a routine and just continue to do the same thing over and over, because it's what you do. You wake up, you have coffee, you spend 9 hours in an office-with people you may or may not like, then you go home-to a family you may or may not like, and you have dinner, and clean up and maybe work out and maybe watch the news or read the paper. Then you go to bed....and the next day you repeat the process. And sometimes something comes along and you get an opportunity to do something different - like take a new job, or talk to new people at the coffee shop - and you just pass it by, because it's not what you usually do. You just keep getting back on your wheel and running and running....

I don't want to be that mouse. I dont' want to just live my life and then die someday. I want to make an impact. I want to leave that wheel behind, at least for a little while.

How will I do this?
I have some ideas. Some are probably really stupid. Some are a little bit impossible. But hopefully all of my ideas will get me to stretch outside my comfort zone and not just live the same day-to-day existence (which I happen to love). I want to stretch myself to be more than I think I am capable of...I want to grow and learn every day.

Here are a few things I know I can do to enrich my life:
  1. Learn Spanish. Heavens to Betsy if I haven't wanted to do this since birth. I took a couple college classes and have a good start. I think I need to just bite the bullet and buy the Rosetta software and make it happen. And my local library has a conversation class every Monday - stay tuned for my updates from that because in two weeks I am going!!
  2. Talk more with strangers. I was part of this training one time with this speaker who encouraged us all to talk to ten new people a week. Not just talk at, or share a quick "hot out today, isn't it" type of chat, but a genuine meaningful conversation. Just ten, that's not that many. I spoke to two. Fail. Next month my goal will be to talk to ten new people for the month. 
  3. Embrace the here and now. Sometimes I just count down until an upcoming event. But isn't every day an event? Can't I do something fun and different EVERY day? Yes, yes I can. Even little things - but something that doesn't involve me and my wheel.
I think those are good starts. I'll keep working on other ideas and maybe formulate the stupid ones until they are just absurd ones, and see where they take me.


The other day Andrew and I were driving and I said something about "I wish I had a picture of that" and Andrew asked, "for your blog?" And I said, "well, yes, actually, it would be a good blog-worthy moment to remember."

And then we came up with the slogan: Make every day a blog-worthy day.

I think I need to live up to this slogan, embrace it, love it, wear it, hug it every day. Because we really only have this one life - why waste it on a silly mouse wheel?

What do you think? Shall we embrace life together? Let's share ideas on how we can get out more and embrace life!

Let's do it for each other, because honestly - does anyone really want to read about me going in circles in my cage? No, no they don't.

Sundays In My City - Portland, Oregon

I've been stalking Unknown Mami for awhile now and Sundays In My City is a fun pictorial day for her to share her city with you...and I have FINALLY gotten around to joining in! These are actually pics from Saturday, meh, whatever.

Unknown Mami


Downtown Portland has a bit of everything.

HATS!!!







Dresses being sold on the corner.


Pools of water with signs that are necessary to clarify that this is not water meant for drinking (cause
when you're thirsty, you'll drink from any pool of water?).


Criminals!!! This guy was standing in the corner for much too long - I thought he was urinating (so of course I took a picture). But Scooby Doo Natalie and I investigated and found a pile of price tag remnants!

More crime:
We had our backs turned for the actual event - but we turned around and saw our famous city silver man on the corner had been tackled by some jackass. Like a full-on football tackle, knocking him off his silver box in his silver shoes, to the non-silver ground. The jerkface who did the tackling then ran directly by Natalie and I-who hadn't fully caught on to what had happened, but we knew he was running from something and did our part in punishing him by yelling: "bad, bad move buddy" and "boooooo!" as he sprinted past us. He was close enough that I could have taken two steps and tripped him, but it all happened so quickly and the guy was obviously on drugs - he had the biggest smile on his face and he was wearing a button down shirt, opened, with nothing underneath...and it wasn't a warm sunny day. Anyway - bad move buddy!

Silver man slowly got up and I guess he was okay. After a few minutes he got back on his silver box and pulled his silver balls back out and started spinning them. We gave him a few bucks and apologized for the crappy people in the world.

Oh-and then Nat and I saw Waiting for Superman, the documentary about our school systems, and I HIGHLY recommend it. It was really good, eye-opening, scary and touching. Please go see it. And the please go be Superman and save our education system cause it's in a sad, sad state of affairs. Which means our future is....so please go see it, and then go talk about it, and then try to help make a difference.

Just Another Day at the Beach

My sister took my niece and her friends to the beach the other day and someone had the great idea to taunt the seagulls, as the seagulls are always a pest, right?...don't alert PETA, just enjoy these unique pictures.




No birds were hurt during this project (not physically...mentally they are a mess).

This boy laid buried under the beach towel for TWENTY minutes. They threw a fry or something on the towel to attract their prey. TWENTY minutes in the sand under a towel!! That's commitment!!! Kids are stupid.

Notes From Korea: Boring Daily Life Stuff

Once upon a time a thousand years ago (in 2002), I took a year long teaching job in South 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.
April 29th, 2002
We went to the Korean Folk Village just outside of Seoul last weekend. It was pretty interesting-a lot of good Korean history. It was a really great day and great scenery. My friend from Canada met us there and we hung out for the day. We missed the last bus back to Wonju though (by about two minutes). We almost had to take a subway to Seoul (20 minutes), transfer and take another subway to the train station (15 minutes), to catch the train to Wonju (60 min). But then we found a bus that would get us to a neighboring town and I called my director, who called the school partner, and he picked us up and delivered us home! VERY nice guy, especially since he was sick as a dog. Unfortunately, he speaks no english at all, so we aren't able to really chat.
 
Things are going good for Andrew. He spoke to the piano teacher and told her what the F-word means in Korean (thanks to my jr high class) and she talked to the other kids about them saying that word to Andrew. He's more excited to go to the piano class now!
 
No new students yet, but anyday, I'm sure. I like my classes small so I'm not complaining.
I've had to put my foot down in my jr. high class, as they say the word Shit a little too freely. Now when they swear, I have them stand up with their hands in the air for five minutes...heehee....it was a spur of the moment idea-something I could easily draw on the board: SHIT = [insert stick figure with hands up]. At one point I had half the class standing up like I was robbing them! Ha! The three of us in the class still sitting thought it was funny.
 
We're going to the international school in Taejon (about two hours away) next Sunday/Monday to visit their library and get Andrew some books. We are going to stay the night at the house of a single mom I've been talking to there. She has a daughter, but she's seventeen, so probably not much interest to Andrew, but we get to stay at their house for free. It'll be nice just to have some English speakers to chat with all night. They are actually from an area in Oregon not far from where we used to live!
 
Oh yeah, some interesting info on prices I keep meaning to tell you - a new store opened nearby our apartments so we've been buying meat there each week (I hate going to the butcher). I paid about $4.50 for a steak for Andrew (and Tasha (our cat))-about the same as back home, but the potatoes I bought with it were insanely expensive! They have them pre-bagged for you. You get four in a bag for $1.50. Isn't that crazy?? FOUR potatoes-and they aren't really good-sized, they're much smaller than we are used to...which sucks for those of us not eating the meat portion of the dinner!!
We were really excited to see cut-up chicken there too, and even though I think that all the guts and gizzards still in there-I bought some. However, the next day, our fridge smelled SO bad!! So we're sticking to steaks for now (for Andrew anyway).
 
Did I tell you that my allergies are more worse than anyone in the world? Yep-the worst. My eyes are itchy and red most of the day and I sneeze and sneeze, and blow my nose all day. Andrew found Xyrtec in the pharmacy so I think I'll try that. Otherwise, I'm going to head to the black market for something different!
 
May 2nd, 2002
Not much time to chat, just wanted to let you know we got two more packages - Andrew's croutons and granola bars (which are all gone already!) and another box of my summer clothes. Thanks again for sending it all. I think the post man wasn't as thrilled as we were though-he had to make the trek up to the fourth floor here days in a row this week.
 
We're mailing gifts out tomorrow morning, but I never know what rate/class they're going, so it might be eight weeks.
 
Andrew is supposed to start art school today, but we'll see if he actually goes. We ordered a large pizza this week and they delivered it with a gift of a large art set-with paint, a brush, oil crayons for making "real" art pictures, etc. It's a pretty nice set, even though the carrying case is partly pink (which Koreans seem to like)...so he's pretty jazzed up to go use the stuff at class.
 
Children's day is Sunday. I don't know what we're going to do to celebrate it, as that's the day we are going to Taejon. We'll still have fun and I'll spoil Andrew a little extra to commemorate the day.
 
May 10th, 2002
Email to grandma from Andrew:
 
Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
My cat Tasha is having a lot of fun. She really likes the environment-the heated floors are great!
 
My favorite part of homeschooling is that I get to stay in my pajamas! I really like to learn about the Presidents. It is my favorite subject besides math. I know the first twenty.
I'm learning a lot of Korean.

I really miss you guys.
 
I got your package finally! The one with granola bars, easter candy and kool-aid. I really liked the easter candy. Mom had one bite, but I ate the rest. I shared the granola bars with some kids at school. They liked it!

Monthly Workout Stats - September - Rockin In The Free World

Well, this month has been great in some ways: I got eye surgery! 
But bad in another: I lost no weight. Not one pound. You would think I would have at least lot a fourth of a pound from not having to wear glasses, but no. Nothing.

Whatever stupid scale. You won't deter me (yet). I'm a professional treadmill walker. And walk, I did.

Let's review:


May:
Goal: 40 miles
Actual: 64 miles

June:
Goal: 50
Actual: 75

July:
Goal: 90
Actual: 88.19

August:
Goal: 90
Actual: 75.36

Look at that progress - but look at two months of missing my goal! I had high hopes to finally reach that 90 mile goal. And I was on track the first part of the month, then I had a light week, but oh well, I'll make up for it at the end of the month....but then I got sick!! Why do I procrastinate!!! HOWEVER - I kicked some treadmill ass this last week. BAM! Take that calendar statistics!!!

On the morning of the 26th, I woke up after being sick and found that I still had just over 27 miles to walk to make my goal  And five days to do it. I usually walk just over 3 miles at a time, on weekends I do 4-5, and some days I do double days and walk 3 miles in the am and 3 more at night. So to walk 27 miles in 5 days??? That seemed very unlikely.

I was lamenting to my friend online about it and how I was going to miss my goal for the THIRD month in a row!! 
His response was: I fail all the time.

I love my friends.

Anyway, the final stats are in and this is where I landed:

Miles walked in September: 91.1 (woohoo!!!)
Calories burned (if we are trusting the treadmill calculator): 9288 (but no weight loss..nice)

No failure for me this month! And it's about time.I couldn't take a third month of missing my goal.

So now that I did the 90 miles and I know it's very possible, should I go for it again? I think I have to...to prove I can do it-it wasn't like a one-time thing, I can really do 90 miles a month!

So bring it on October - it's you and me and 90 miles to go. And it's good we have an extra day because I took off last night and will take off today to heal my aching feet from this power-week I just had.

90 miles - anyone want to walk these miles with me? An online walking partner? Check in every few days maybe?

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