Archive | October, 2012

The Guat’s Halloween-athon

31 Oct

I’m exhausted. If I was a bad mother I’d be full of energy right now, but I consider myself a pretty good Guat parent, so when it comes to Halloween I try to fit in as much fun as possible. From sunlight to moonlight the Halloween-athon was in full effect.

This is why I’m in need of Advil and a good massage.

🙂

It always starts and ends with the pumpkins.

 

Party at school.

We got dressed up and ready for the costume parade at school where Thor, gladiators, superheros, astronauts, cowboys and firefighters strutted their stuff.

 

Checking out the real deal.

After school we headed to the fire station so that my son could show off his costume and ask about a million questions, which he does every time we visit. Except this time it looked more official, considering he was wearing his uniform.

 

The baking begins.

After all that excitement we went home for snack time and began our baking project. Pumpkin pie … from scratch. Oh … yeah … it was on. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and never attempted. Visiting the pumpkin patch the other day got me into the spirit so I decided why not? This of course is how all Bucket List items begin for me.

I began the pumpkin pie baking journey with my son. Step one … making your own pumpkin puree. Step Two … follow Bobby Flay‘s Pumpkin Pie recipe. We got to mixing, whisking, pouring, and baking.

 

Jack-o-Lantern Time

While the pie was baking we decided to carve the pumpkins and baby sister decided to help her four-year old brother remove the seeds. There was pumpkin membranes and pumpkin seeds on every surface, including the dog.

 

Ta-daaaa!

This was our finished product. I know it looks basic, but it was a very creative and skillful effort on the part of my son and his awesome pumpkin carving tools. I was very proud of his cutting skills. Very patient. Very.

 

Ding! Ding! Ding! The Main Event.

Once the pumpkin pie was done and the Jack-O-Lantern was complete we ventured off into the night for some tricks-or-treats…mostly treats. A bucket full.

 

Spooky houses.

 

A different take on the Hollywood sign.

 

Some nice front lawn decor.

 

The best Halloween House I’ve seen.

 

Fountain at Boney Island house.

 

The tree house at Boney Island.

 

The window display at Boney Island house.

 

The porch at Boney Island house.

After all that trick-or-treating and hanging out at amazing Halloween houses, we headed home with a bucket full of Snickers, M&Ms, Twizzlers, Twix, and KitKats. People seemed to enjoy giving away chocolate. I had no problem with that. We plopped ourselves in front of the couch and watched It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. My feet were thankful for the rest, so was my back.

 

My pumpkin pie 🙂

Then after giving the kids a bath, reading bedtime stories, putting them to sleep, putting the roasted pumpkin seeds in Ziploc containers, and washing the dishes, I finally ended my day — my Halloween-athon. One slice, one spoon, and a lot of whipped cream. It was a Guat-sized portion. I got a little carried away. I was proud of myself for making it … from scratch.  Ahhhh, that Bobby Flay … he rocks.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

30 Oct

Definitely foreign.

 

Foreign.

I’m cruising the aisle looking for some New Balance.

I make a wrong turn.

I’m a Chapstick kind of girl and I now find myself in the lipstick-chick aisle.

I don’t have a passport for this.

I don’t think I’m allowed in here.

I can’t even walk in pumps.

I feel a little out of place.

Six-inch heels … definitely foreign.

 

The Red-Head in Apartment 3B

29 Oct

You’re unpacking your car and they’re out there in the open.

Neighbors.

Most of the time they’re friendly. They give you the nod. The wave. The hello. They let you borrow butter. Sometimes they’re too friendly, chatting it up like they’re your best friend trying to get latest gossip. However, other times they’re your nemesis and you do whatever you can to avoid them.

In any case you know you’re place. You know the relationship. You know the good, the bad, and the ugly and you respond accordingly. But what happens when you get the phony? You know, the one that smiles and says hello, how are you one day, and then completely ignores you the next. You know, they look right at you and pretend you’re invisible, and you look like a dumbass with your smile and your hello-hand up in the air.  What the hell?

I’m not a fan of this sometimes-I-say-hi-to-you neighbor. You either say it or you don’t. I can’t be guessing the type of mood your in, I’m not a mind-reader 3B.

I understand that the neighbor relationship is a tricky one. It has many stages. Sometimes you start off as best buds, you know watching each others cats when you’re out of town, or watering your plants. Then you have the basic pleasant conversation at the mailbox, nothing deep, but regular friendly chit-chat about the growth spurts of your kid, your dog’s diet, or what gym you’ve been going to because apparently you look great. However some neighbor relationships are just the quick hello-how-are-you what’s-up-with-this-crazy-weather conversation. Then you have the half-smile and nod relationship. And finally you have the I know you live near me, but I don’t think we have anything in common so I’m just going to ignore you neighbor.

It happens. you have someone for every category. You get over it if someone chooses not to talk to you, no big deal.

However what happens when you have a neighbor that began with the smile and hello, then progressed to the conversation by the mailbox, then it transformed to the ignoring part … all in the span of a month. What’s up with that? Crazy neighbor.

This was 3B.

I wasn’t buddy-buddy with 3B, far from it. We were just hello-how-are-you neighbors. That’s it. But then I noticed her Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde disorder. You know…nice to you one day, and then completely pretend you’re not there the next.

I’m not a big fan of that. If you talk to me, great. If you don’t, you don’t. But I don’t like these mind games. These half-assed salutations. So … 3B … if you’re going to say hello, say it, and say it consistently, otherwise keep walking. I don’t have time for phonies or half-assed hellos. I’ve got gray hair and my time is valuable. Dude. My hellos are valuable.

Hmph.

Neighbors. An interesting group.

 

The Guats Hit the Farm

28 Oct

Ever since I decided to make my life less crappy with my own little Happiness Project, errands, like finding a pumpkin for my kids this Halloween season, take on a different meaning. This pumpkin is no longer a grocery item at the Farmer’s Market down the street. This pumpkin search becomes a project — one that requires a family field trip to the farm.

 

This was our first outing to the Underwood Family Farms and it proved to be an awesome country adventure as the Fall Harvest Festival was in full swing. Granted it took us over forty minutes to get there and my kids were running out of patience, but we made it — all in one piece.

 

John Deere rocks.

We started off with the Combine Slide, something  that my four-year old is very familiar with courtesy of one of his favorite shows Mighty Machines. We hung out here for a while and despite the massive slathering of Coppertone we got a nice tan.

 

The Hay Pyramids

This was followed by a little climbing. My son found the altitude of the hay stacks quite amazing, my daughter thought hay throwing was even more amazing.

 

Checking out the farm scene.

After all that activity, we decided to mingle with farm animals and my daughter decided to chat up a storm with the sheep. They were having a lengthy conversation — the kind where she screams and laughs, and they just stare.

 

The Brave Loner.

While the kids continued making friends with all the four-legged farm residents, I happened to glance up at the sky and notice this one goat … just thinking outside of the box when it came to walking around the farm. I was tripping out on his balancing skills and his I-got-this! high-beam walking routine. He’d rock the Olympic gymnastic stage.

 

Some kid causing traffic … and my son helping him out.

After all that walking around, my son decided to get behind the wheel. He hates traffic and managed to steer clear of it. But he realized that traffic jams happen on the farm too. But with his city mentality, he was able to get out of that one soon enough.

 

The Beginning of the maze.

After a couple of rides on his mini John Deere tractor, we decided to take the adventure out to the corn. With the sun beating down on us and the smell of food in the air I was hoping we’d get through it pretty quickly. I mean I went to college. I could do this.

 

We saw plenty of these signs on the way.

Getting lost in the maze cracked us up. It took us over twenty minutes to get through it. However, we never made it to the exit. We looped around and then left through the main entrance. Woo-Hoo! Let’s hear it for the college grad. For this valiant effort I decided to buy myself a shaved Hawaiian Ice. A large.

 

My son waving the flag.

Feeling corn-maze victorious, we headed over to one of the main events: The Pig Races. I had never been to one of these before and apparently it was a very popular event as the stands were packed with corn-on-the-cob eating spectators. We witnessed these spry three-month old pigs sprint  through a small obstacle course, and we cheered on the winner. I was happy when they asked for volunteers, because my son became one of the chosen ones. He was the blue flag holder and proud of it. He was pretty excited to see his pig win a race. Other than the mini train tractor ride around the farm, his pig coming in first place was the highlight of his day.

 

The House of Pumpkins.

However, the sun was getting hotter, and my one year-old was getting tired of all the hay and corn, so it was off to search for the pumpkin.

 

On a mission for The Great Pumpkin.

 

The produce.

We came across this funky-looking squash and my son decided it was not Halloween-worthy, so we left it at the farm, and continued our search.

 

The Patch

And wouldn’t you know it … just as we reached the ginormous pumpkin patch, my camera battery died. So most of the pumpkin-choosing memories remain tucked away in my Guat brain. But it’s a good archive, I got lots of pictures stored up in there.  So there were no worries … after all we didn’t go up there to take pictures, but to have a good time and sure enough, we did. Who knew pumpkins, corn on the cob, pig races and Hawaiian Ice would make for a Happiness Project moment. But it did. Pumpkin patches rock, just wish they were a little bit closer.

 

Weekly Image of Life: Celebration

27 Oct

Celebration.

Celebrate friendship.

Celebrate college football.

Celebrate the post-game.

Celebrate with Framboise and other icy cold beverages.

Celebrate with The Band and its leader … Chantel.

Celebrate your inner youth.

Celebrate laughter.

Celebrate memories.

College reunions … a cause for celebration.

Hangovers … not so much.

However, this celebration still rocked.

.

 

Host of Weekly Image of Life Challenge: This Man’s Journey

Breathless is a Good Thing

26 Oct

 

Image via quotablecards.com

 

I have this magnet up on my refrigerator just as a reminder that I need more hyperventilating-breathless moments in my life.

 

Tommy Knows How I Feel About the Mommy & Me Mafia

25 Oct

Sometimes for your kids you make great sacrifices. You take one for the team so that they can enjoy the sandbox and the slides.

However, when it comes to this group I’m just not having it. I hang out with the outcasts like the single dad or the housekeeper. But in truth, I don’t mind being an outsider. In fact when it comes to this group I enjoy the looking-from-the-outside-in perspective… it’s great material.

The Mommy & Me Mafia.

I know I’ve mentioned them before in passing, but you may not be aware of them. It’s a cult. They hang out at the park with their fancy diaper bags, Jackie-O sunglasses, greasy hair, and flip-flops. As soon as you walk in with your Sports Authority attire and New Balance, they check you out from top to bottom, you know, to see if they’ll let you sit at the lunch table. They talk about mommy stuff 24-7, but they aren’t really paying attention to their kids at all. They sit there checking out their new mommy apps on their iPhones and the only time they glance up from their little mommy pow-wow is when they hear a kid scream, and it’s usually their kid who’s causing most of the drama.

The Mommy & Me Mafia trip me out. I tend to stay away from cliques. I’m not in high school anymore. I have a couple of gray hairs already. My time is valuable. I don’t need the catty drama. I don’t have time to hang out with people I don’t like. I don’t have time to listen to fake stories about how awesome their kid is, how they never act up at the supermarket, and how they can already read at third-grade level. Cut it out. He still wears Pull-Ups.

So, when I run into the Mommy & Me Mafia at a park, a regular park, not one of those sharing parks, and they take liberties with my kids’ toys, I tend to have a Tommy Gavin moment.

Tommy Gavin. I love that clip from Rescue Me. I couldn’t stop laughing at his own encounter with a member of the Mommy & Me Mafia park group. I would love to be part of his Parent & Me group. He’d keep it real. No fakes allowed.

But before you guys get all crazy and start defending these Mommy & Me Mafia groups to the death, I understand that not all of the groups are like this. Some of them provide great support for single parents, or overwhelmed parents. I know they exist somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. But when I’m 3 for 3 with the crazy moms in groups like these, let’s just say that I’m sticking to the sports scene. Although I’ve seen the crazy sports parent too. But at least with sports, you get to enjoy a game.

Happiness Project Update 15: Getting A Mango Every Now and Then

24 Oct

“Finding more fun.”  I’m enjoying this chapter in Rubin’s book. I’m all about more fun, and less interested in mid-thirties malaise. Well now it’s late-thirties malaise.

I never knew that fun fit into three categories: Challenging Fun, Accommodating Fun, and Relaxing Fun. I’ve had my share of experience in all three.

Image via Happiness-Project.com

Apparently with all the research, “challenging fun” yields the most satisfying feelings, but it is also the most demanding and requires a lot of hard work. It often presents anxiety and frustration during the preparation period, but the payoff is great.

Case in point … The triathlon I just finished. This definitely fit into the challenging fun category. Although it didn’t really create frustration or anxiety, the training and preparation leading up to the race was difficult and demanding. The only time I felt frustrated was when someone of something impeded my training regiment. I thought I’d be seriously sidetracked during the race if I didn’t meet my daily training regiment, and doing well was part of the fun for me.

But competing in the triathlon itself left me in an amazing I-am-badass frame of mind. Sports competitions in general made me feel that way, and winning had nothing to do with it, although it helps. But it’s not required. Participating was the achievement for me. It was jolt I needed to ease the my late-thirties malaise. I realized that challenging fun, the sports kind, needed to be a recurring theme in my own quest for happiness.

Accommodating fun? This was just a part of being a parent and a being the better half in a relationship. You go to places just to appease the other person. Fun is happening but maybe not directly for you. Stuff like going to the park with your kids, when all you really want to do is stay at home because you’re exhausted from the night shift. But you go because you know your kids want to be there.You just ignore the Mommy & Me Mafia group hanging out by the swings.

For couples, Accommodating Fun is essential for survival. It’s going out with your partner’s friends and hanging out. This definitely requires accommodation, because sometimes your partner, dude, or chick has friends that you just can’t see in person. You don’t hate them or anything, you just feel that hanging out with them is truly a waste of time because if you had met them randomly on a separate occasion by yourself, you would never hang out with these people. I mean ever. Ever. They’re just not your crowd.

But you do it because apparently it’s fun for someone, just not you.

I’m not into these accommodating fun things. For kids, yes I’ll do just about anything, as long as my kids enjoy themselves, I’m up for it. However, hanging out with some of my dude’s friends … not so much. Some of his friends are good. However, it’s the others … my life is too short for the others. When we were dating I might have made an exception but now that I’m older and wiser, with gray hairs popping out, I realized my time is extremely valuable. So when it comes the others, I’d rather stay home and watch cable television. This is much more engaging, exciting and stimulating. Cable TV is pretty amazing.

Television. According to Rubin, this is considered Relaxing Fun — the kind of fun that’s easy, no stress and no preparation involved.

Dude … working your DVR to record all your shows is definitely stressful. You want to make sure you get the whole show and that it’s not accidentally erased because someone changed the channel.

And since I’m a total television addict, I disagree with Rubin and think Relaxing Fun is very essential. It creates escape from your day-to-day malaise and sometimes gives you that edge-of-your-seat drama or comedy that makes you think, that makes you dream, that makes you crack up, that lifts your spirits up, and that makes your day. If you don’t feel like that … you’re probably watching the wrong shows.

But out of all of them, I guess Rubin’s is right. Challenging fun in the long run, contributes more to your happiness because it allows for stronger personal bonds, mastery, and an atmosphere for growth.

I realized that I needed a little bit more of that in my life. I don’t know if I’ll be doing triathlons every month. I sincerely doubt it. I’m not Wonder Woman, but I do need that Challenging Fun at least once a month. I need all kinds of fun once week, but the Challenging Fun … I need that to thrive. I need it to feel more like myself. I need it so that instead of all these lemons life gives me, I’ll end up with a sweet mango every now and then.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

23 Oct

Silhouette

Turu-tururururuturuuuuu … Turu-tururururuturuuuuuu

As soon as I heard it, I knew.

The Master of Suspense.

“Good evening …”

As a teenager I spent my Sunday afternoons hearing those words as I watched re-runs of his show.

He scared the crap out of me.

He made me afraid of birds … you know … whenever there was more than four in a group.

He maximized my anxiety and fear.

He never disappointed.

He was The Master of Suspense.

The most famous silhouette ever.

Alfred Hitchcock.

 

 

 

I’d Like to Thank the Creators of Icy Hot for Making This Possible …

22 Oct

Icy Hot … it rocks. This awesome combination of menthol and methyl salicylate allowed my 37-year-old ass to successfully complete my sprint triathlon this weekend.

I would’ve used Ben-Gay on my tweaked knee, but that really didn’t sound athletic enough. It just sounded like I was old and weary. And even though I may feel like that at times there’s no need to perpetuate that train of thought. I’m an athlete damn it — a triathlete. And it was this bad-ass athlete mentality that helped push me through the race — even through the water, which, as predicted, kicked my ass. But I pushed through.

People making their way to the starting line.

The fact that I had a couple of friends in the race made it even more enjoyable. Camaraderie always makes for a better race.

So after a quick morning drive to the coast we unloaded our bikes and made our way to registration and the starting line. Now as I mentioned in my last triathlon piece the starting line is where you get to see everyone’s pre-warm-up routine and athletic attire.

A little too athletic for me.

Sometimes people go too far. But it becomes a good distraction because you’re full of nervous adrenaline.

A little laughter helps. But why was I still a little nervous? Why? The clouds. I was so hoping it wouldn’t rain during the biking leg of the race because I knew I’d probably eat it and need some paramedic assistance. Asphalt is pretty hard stuff. But as I was praying for the rain gods to take a nap, I noticed the starter of the race.

Sugar Ray saying what up, Guat!

Dude.

Sugar Ray Leonard.

I smiled and did my most enthusiastic, what’s-up-hello-holy-crap-you’re-Sugar-Ray-how-you-doing greeting, you know, like we were friends, like if we had brunch the other day, like if he knew me. I held my camera up and he did his what’s-up-hello-I-am-Sugar-Ray good-morning greeting.

I was pumped. I was ready to go. Legendary Sugar Ray Leonard, who won an Olympic Gold Medal and world boxing titles in five weight divisions gave me a thumbs up. Rain or shine. Paramedic or no paramedic it was on.

Three-two-one … Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!

We’re off!

Now everything seemed to be going well during the race. The typical fast pace at the beginning where everyone sprints out like they’re Jamaican runners, whizzing right passed me only to die out after the first mile. As I passed most of these sprinters, I couldn’t help but notice the massive amount of elementary-age kids that were chugging along — keeping pace.

The Hill that slowed many down.

I mean when I was in elementary school I was playing green light-red light and watching Thunder Cats or Looney Tunes. I wasn’t racing in triathlons. I mean they didn’t even look tired. Even when we went up the hill, you saw their little legs speeding along. Don’t know what they feed these kids by the beach, but I’m sure when they hit 37 they’re probably not going to need Icy Hot.

Apparently there was this one kid, Jack, who was getting cheers from spectators all around the course. I didn’t see him or hear the chants. I’d like to think it was because he was behind me, but you never know.

One of the nice surprises that I found between mile one and mile two.

In any case, the running and biking portions of the race were not as grueling as I had thought. I felt bionic. A combination of Jamie Sommers and the Six Million Dollar Man: Colonel Steve Austin. A superhero even. I think I even passed Jack. I was zooming it, thanks to the Icy-Hot and my son’s playlist. However, the transition period sucked. It should take you like a minute. Run. Get your helmet. Get the bike. Go.

No, not for the Guat. For some reason it took me over five minutes to get situated. It wasn’t like I changed shoes or anything. I had a mini iPod and there were headphone wires everywhere. At that point I missed my lucky shirt, but I got over it and moved on.

Here’s my friend, Gonzalez passing me.

And when I got to the pool, it was just as I had expected … Kryptonite. Everyone I had passed during the run and bike phase not only caught up to me, but swam right passed me.

No bionic powers at all, just basic Guat tendencies, like pretending I can freestyle swim.

You know, I don’t know why I even try to freestyle swim. I mean who am I kidding? Who am I trying to impress? Michael Phelps wasn’t there. It’s just not my stoke. Freestyle is a stroke for people whose dots in life are connected. Me … I’m an ass-backwards dots-are-no-where-near-each-other kind of person. I’m a backstroke chick. I actually go faster doing the backstroke, so why the hell did I start of with the freestyle? Who knows. Maybe I went with the fake-it-until-you-make-it mentality.

My reward.

Note to self … that does not work in the pool. You just go slow, with the possibility of cramping and drowning. Stick to the backstroke.

However, regardless of my freestyle attempts and doggie paddles, I backstroked the last two legs of the race and powered through to the finish line.

An hour and twenty minutes. WOO-HOO! An awesome hour and twenty minutes, the kind that makes you feel bad-ass all day.

And for this bad-ass feeling, I’d like to thank the makers of Icy Hot, my son’s playlist, and my stubborn Guatemalan blood for making this possible.