Archive | January, 2013

I Think It May Be Better Than Anti-Aging Cream

31 Jan

Image via MotivationOneDayAtATime


Dude. I so want to be that chick on the raft.

Although, I’ve got to admit I’m not big on change, it burns me out. But I am glad I made changes last year. I may not be living it up on a speeding raft yet, but it’s definitely my goal to live that way and feel that way.

Laughter. You gotta love it. I think it may be better than anti-aging cream.




Celebrating My Dad … With a Small Latte, and a Box of Betty Crocker

30 Jan

It’s a big one today. The BIG 6-5. He would’ve been 65 today.

Happy Birthday balloon and flowers for dad.

Happy Birthday balloon and flowers for dad.

We definitely would’ve had a party, complete with fancy table cloths and napkins. Not the paper kind, I suppose. And steak, definitely steak for dinner, followed by a cake. A special order one from the Cuban bakery down the street, not my annual  homemade cake from a box. We’d  be surrounded by family, friends, a special slide show/montage of his life through pictures and maybe even a speech. And in truth there would also probably be all kinds of stress because of the festivities and my crazy control-freak sister. But instead I spent it with a small latte and a box of Betty Crocker.

Many people need it. They wake up in the morning in a horrible, ready-to-beat-someone-up mood, but then they smell it. It’s in the air. The aroma. It catches them and then there’s a deep breath … a sigh of relief. It changes everything. And then when they taste it … forget about it. Coffee. For some people it’s the X Factor of the day. Me … I hadn’t had one in over a year and before that, fifteen years ago when I tried it in college at a one of those “cool” coffee shops on the corner and all it did was give me a crazy, horrible stomach ache and prevent me from studying that night. I ended up with cup of Sal de Uvas. I’m a tea person myself. But today …  today I ordered something called a latte, and then another one, for my dad. A simple coffee, black with two sugars.

“Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

I said it in times of sadness or stress, mostly to make him laugh. And it worked. I don’t know where I’d heard it, probably on TV or something.

“Thanksgiving coming around. Stressed out about all those turkeys and inventory at the store, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

“My sister’s getting married and not just moving out of state, but way to the other side of the country, like by the Atlantic Ocean. Hmph. You wanna have a cup of coffee and talk about life?”

The Sopranos is ending, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”

“April 14. 11:50 p.m. Haven’t filed taxes yet, huh? Let’s have a cup of coffee and talk about life.”


I was a tea drinker, but it got him every time.

My Dad hanging out with us back in the day.

My Dad hanging out with us back in the day.

So today in honor of him turning 65, there was no fancy restaurant, no fancy trip, no presents, and no family or friends, but there was cake. I woke up early, made a trip to the VONS, walked over to aisle 2 and grabbed a box of Betty Crocker Yellow Cake Mix. The Super Moist kind. Whipped up the simple recipe, looked at my own slide show, remembered old stories, and then headed over to see my dad.

But I made one quick stop. I bought myself the latte, and then bought him his regular coffee. I headed off to the cemetery to have that conversation. I’ll have to admit … it was a little one-sided, and the deer or gardeners will probably drink the coffee I left for him, but I still enjoyed the visit. I just missed his voice. His voice and his laughter.

But the cake … the cake was good. Chocolate frosting of course. I ate both pieces. Feliz Cumpleanos, Chito. 




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Weekly Photo Challenge: Love

29 Jan
My dad hanging out with one of his grandsons.

My dad hanging out with one of his grandsons.


Love, the grandpa kind, happens all day everyday.

During loud moments of laughter with Fisher Price toys.

During the chaos of snack time with Gerber green bean puree everywhere.

During the funky-smelling time of diaper changes.

During the crying times when babies are tired and cranky.

And during the quiet moments of the night.

Love, the grandpa kind, happens all day, everyday.


Daily Prompt Challenge: The Last Lecture

28 Jan

I thought about Randy Pausch when I saw the Daily Prompt Challenge on Eulogies and wondered if I could be that courageous and upbeat if I were in the same situation. But pancreatic cancer and death isn’t really funny. I wondered if I could give the same kind of kick-ass speech that he did with his Last Lecture at Carnegie Mellon University. But I’m not sure. I think I’d be pretty upset with the dying part and all, but I’d hope that if I were in that same situation I could be brave enough to speak the way he did and live by the rule that I’ve currently discovered in this blogging journey … live by The Wish Factor –by finding the funny — by going to my Silver Linings Playbook and hope I got something fantabulous in my corner. But whether I’m 101 or in my late 30s, 40s, or 50s I’d hope that my eulogy would go something like this … maybe even something better than this.

Image via

Image via

Some people remember the laugh and the long curly hair that never changed style since junior high school, well with the exception of the crazy Amanda Miguel-Aquanet Hairspray style of the late 80s, but she’d like to forget that.

Some people remember the Urban Adventures or Sandbox List Adventures at beaches, museums, LEGOLAND excursions, tailgating parties, triathlon races, camping outings, stay-cations, or vacations she had with her kids and the awesome feeling she got being their mom, because it was the best and most treasured relationship of her life. It was love.

Some people remember that she referred to herself as the Chapstick type, and not the lipstick type of girl. Some people thought about her when they saw the Trojans playing on the football field, because she practically bled Cardinal & Gold. Some people thought about her when they saw a great piece of chocolate at Trader Joe’s or any store for that matter because calories and dieting meant nothing when it came to chocolate.

Some people remember her for her zest of dancing and willingness to attack the dance floor, no matter who was out there … she was La Chona, something she probably got from her mother, along with the strong character. 

Most people remembered her sense of humor and the funny she brought with her in any gathering, whether it was personal disaster stories of macing herself in the dead of night on a dark, quiet street on the way home from the library in college, or slapstick comedy like her constant battle with gravity and walking.  Most people remember how she enjoyed laughing and making others laugh too.  

Some people remember her for having the Dreamer’s Disease with no cure. She was in love with the underdog story and hoped hers would have a happy ending, like Rudy, Hoosiers, or The Pursuit of Happiness. She had heart. A big one. She was compassionate. She’d hoped that her spirit and laughter was contagious and that the people she met were a little bit better because they had crossed paths. But she was also stubborn, obsessed with the power of the remote control, loved watching re-runs, and was a horrible morning person before 7 a.m.

But most of all, she’d hoped to be remembered as her father’s daughter, because they had the same witty, adventurous spirit — the I’ll-go-sky-diving-Rocky-Mountain-climbing-2.7 seconds-on-a-bull-named-Blue-Man-Chu kind of spirit even though they were a little scared of heights. She’d hoped to be remembered for having a freak flag and not being afraid to fly it. But most of all she’d hoped she’d just be remembered by family and friends.

Daily Prompt Challenge: Write Your Own Eulogy.

Sandbox List Adventure IV: The Big Splash

25 Jan

They see it lingering between the cracks. Drop by drop. It accumulates and waits. It calls to every Nickelodeon, Sprout Channel, and Cartoon Network watcher. It calls to everyone under four-feet tall and some of us over four-feet.

Rain puddles.

Kids see them and their eyes widen. They smile as they walk toward it. The excitement builds.

It sits still and waits for the Stride Rites, the Saucony, the Pumas, the Dora the Explorer boots, or the Spiderman shoes with flashing lights. It waits patiently, not knowing the outcome, but knowing that something big is about to happen.

As they get closer to examine it and think of the best way to get the maximum benefit from its existence, they hear it …


It happens. It always happens.

But not today. Not on Sandbox Adventure List Day.

I’m always in rush to get somewhere. I’m always on a schedule. Everything has its moment and it’s timed so that nap time happens when it has to and lunch takes place when it needs to. Everything affects the outcome of bed time and it’s usually in everyone’s best interest if things go accordingly. But today it was raining. So there was no rush to go anywhere. No rush to make it on time to any outdoor activities. There was no outdoors.  So it had become errand day and upon our return, I saw the puddles scattered throughout the parking lot. Small, medium, and large. I smiled.

As we got out of the car, I noticed the familiar gleam in the eyes. The sneaky smiles. And then the hesitation as they waited to hear my voice, hear the dreaded, “Nooooooooooooo!” and see the stern look on my face. But what they heard instead was, “All right. Let’s see it. Let’s see the big splash.” And what they saw instead was my smile and my New Balance jumping in the puddles to join them too. For the next fifteen-to-twenty minutes, we splashed our way to six soaked shoes, six drenched socks, and three wet pants. It was a sweet Sandbox Adventure for everyone.



Looking and thinking ...thinking what to do

Looking and thinking … thinking what to do.


The first jump.

Getting ready for an Olympic-sized long jump attempt.


A game of splash tag.

A game of splash tag.


The Big Stomp.

The Big Stomp.


Planning for the Big Splash.

Planning for the Big Splash.



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Reasons to Keep Going

24 Jan
Image via

Image via


A good reason to keep your yearly goals, Bucket List items, promises, Happiness Projects, or resolutions.


Happiness Project Update 20: Paying It Forward One Penny at a Time

23 Jan

“Feel good, be good and do good.” Author Unknown.

I’m all for this. I’m all about the good. I mean who isn’t, right? So while working on expanding some of that good, I continue on my Happiness Project quest and finished the Buying Some Happiness section in Gretchen Rubin‘s book. I liked the fact that she was realistic in most of the chapter, admitting to the fact that money does help provide options for happiness or moments of happiness, but it’s not the main mojo for it.

I concur. Money plays a factor. Most people don’t think so, or might not admit it. But I do. I came clean about it in my last HP Update.

But as I kept reading she brought up an interesting point …

“It’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that if you have something you love or there’s something you want, you’ll be happier with more.”

Dude. This would never happen with chocolate. Never. I know they say “never say never,” but I’m saying it. I could never buy enough chocolate. There is no limit to the powers of the cacao bean. However, when talking about parenting and kids, curbing your enthusiasm is a definite must.

Image via

Image via

As adults we know that there’s a line when it comes to buying things for yourself as a reward or special splurge, and turning into a crazed shopaholic with 12 different credit cards all maxed out. We get it. At least some of us do. But when you’re at the train store, or Target, or Best Buy, or Costco and your kids want you to buy them something every single time you go somewhere, that seems to be the path of a shopaholic for sure. We all want nice things and we all want them for our kids, but when it comes to them, sometimes buying them more “stuff” can do more damage than good. Sometimes teaching your kids about modest pleasures instead of instant gratification can help in their own happiness. It can help produce an atmosphere of growth, appreciation for the “good things,” and fiscal responsibility. And then you feel ecstatic as parent because you think you did an awesome job of raising someone who isn’t materialistic in a very money-oriented label-minded world. You raised someone with values and that makes you extremely happy as a parent.

For instance LEGOLAND. It is the be all and end all of trips when it comes to my four-year old. It is his mecca. It is his chocolate. Now some people have the ability to take their kids four or five times a year. We go once a year. I explained that the trip usually comes as a result of all his good behavior throughout the year and I mention some of his achievements, like sharing with his sister knowing full well she’s probably going to stomp on the toy in the end, being able to finally master penmanship and write his name, being able to transition successfully into preschool even though they have Children of the Corn-like parents roaming around,  like working hard, practicing and doing well in his little golf competition, and for being an overall good kid.

I also make him aware that we save all year-long. We put in all our spare change from every purchase into his makeshift piggy bank we created out of an old Kleenex box. We got Martha Stewart creative and thus was his LEGOLAND box was born. Quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies. Even some dollar bills. Every day we’d add a little something and he’d see his savings grow.  And he wouldn’t take any money out of it no matter what. He knew he was getting closer to his goal. We ended up with about 250+ dollars last year. And he enjoyed spending every bit of it on the entrance to the park, hot dogs, chocolate cake, Lego souvenirs, and Lego memories.

Once the morning came and he saw his empty box, he said … “We need to start saving money in my LEGOLAND box so we can go again. It’s gonna take a long time. But we can do it.”

I like his perseverance. It makes me think that I have taught him something, hopefully it’s in the realm of appreciating good things when they happen to you and being able to be responsible enough with your money that you can save up for what you want and enjoy it with the people you love. Hopefully I’ve paid the happiness lesson forward, one penny at time.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Beyond

21 Jan
Beyond ...

Beyond …

I don’t see it.

You have to really look at it.

I am looking at it.

There are dolphins in the ocean.

I don’t see anything.

You gotta focus. You gotta concentrate, and then sort of blur it out.

Dude that makes no sense.

Just focus.

I am focused. I’ve been focusing for ten minutes.

You can’t see the forest for the trees.

Dude I don’t know what the hell that means. Why do you buy a picture like that?

You have to look beyond the picture, beyond the painting. Look beyond.

I am looking beyond!

You’ll see it. Just keep looking. Beyooooooooooooooooooond.

Dude, I should break up with you for this.

Beyond …

In Case Others Were Curious …

18 Jan

The why?

I was asked the why the other day.

Why did you start the blog in the first place, and why did you name it “The Wish Factor”.

What is that? Who does that? I thought it was pretty self-explanatory, but then realized well maybe not.

Why did I call it that?

For moments like these:

For when you realized that you’ve lost your job and it was a freelance gig, I mean you weren’t even on staff and they had to let you go because of funding, you wish you had another life.

For when you realized you had to move into your parents’ place and you are 36 years old. You are a grown-ass woman and you had to move in and relive the dysfunctional drama of your teenage years all because your future landlord decided not to be your landlord because his wife’s cousin’s sister-in-law needed the place and you hadn’t secured the lease. You wish you had another life.

For when one of your ten-year college reunion questionnaires reaches you via mail, and you realize everyone else is a CEO, VP, Senior Executive, or President with business cards and corner offices with giant windows and you … you are 36 years old and Head of toilet scrubbing, pants folding, dinner cooking, story reading, pamper changing, and Lego building. You wish you had more to write down.

For when it’s 10 o’clock at night and there are seven Dr. Brown Baby Bottles sitting on top of the counter smelling of stale milk, while your dude sits on the couch, eating Doritos, and watching the Golf Channel, knowing full well that it is his turn to handle the Palmolive duties. But apparently he thinks he is suffering from Fibromyalgia, which apparently is selective in nature and happens only when the dishes need washing, so you just sigh and so wish you were somewhere else.

For times like these:



Pretty self-explanatory.

But as I continued with this blogging project, I realized that The Wish Factor was no longer an action, a verb. It was no longer defined as wishing. It was something else. It became comedy, humor, funny. Finding the funny. This had become my Wish Factor … my X Factor for getting through the bad hands that life kept dealing on the table. The Wish Factor had redefined itself and I guess I was glad it had. The perspective changed and I may be better for it.

I may not even need chocolate …

Well let’s not get carried away. Chocolate has always been essential here, like breathing. It’s always been part of the journey, and as this journey came to an end, I realized maybe The Wish Factor definition wasn’t so clear. So for what it’s worth, that’s the why? And since this Guatacular journey celebrated its first anniversary this week, 365+ days of continuous writing, I’m happy to report that I’ll probably be taking the weekend off. But I’ll be back on Monday.

Sandbox List Adventure III: Conquering The Angry Birds

17 Jan

$2.99. It only costs $2.99. I didn’t think that something at the end of the CVS aisle would be worthy enough of a high-five moment from my son. But seeing how it involved something called Angry Birds it was on.

For some reason Angry Birds has taken over my life here. That little theme song, forget about it. I hear it every weekend. For some of you that aren’t aware, it’s a game that can be played on an iPhone — A knock-down castles kind of game using slingshots and wingless birds with special destructive powers who are in search for their eggs which evil green piggies have stolen. But seeing how I don’t have an iPhone, I hadn’t been aware of the phenomenon until a few months back when my dude purchased a fancy phone. I’d like to think it’s a game of logic, skill and a little bit of physics. At least that’s what tell myself as a justification for letting him play that particular video game in the car.

But apparently the game has become so popular that they’ve branched out beyond the video game. They’ve got coloring books, pillows, folders, stickers, towels, temporary tattoos, pencils, card games, graham crackers,  and hacky-sack thing-a-ma-jigs. They even have Angry Birds Star Wars. We have all of these either through gifts or purchases of our own, these Angry Birds have crept into every room of the house.

So when my son saw the puzzle, he felt the need to add it to the collection. I felt the need to strongly disagree. But then I realized, he’d been talking about completing a jigsaw puzzle for a long time now. And seeing how this particular puzzle would probably interest him more than a landscape with horses on it, I figured I’d give it a second glance. So I looked at the package. It was small enough. 100 pieces. Might not be too bad.

“You could use a coupon,” he said.

And seeing how I had a CVS bonus reward coupon for five dollars, I thought why not?

I thought we’d be using it for a rainy day. But no, the sun was shining, and it was a cool 65 degrees today. And while his sister was napping he took out the pouch and said it was Angry Bird puzzle time.

The 100-piece portrait of the three Angry Birds and their arch nemeses was waiting. It didn’t seem like much, but once out of the bag, I thought yeah … this may take longer than nap time. I might need a little chocolate for this one.


It looked small and innocent enough, but 100 pieces of anything is a lot. No matter what.

It looked small and innocent enough, but 100 pieces of anything is a lot. No matter what.


The Beginning.

The Beginning.


We found the corners.

We found the corners.


After a while he was getting a little frustrated that it wasn't looking like anything. But then he found the eyes, the beaks, and the piggy noses. And then it was on. The puzzle excitement was on.

After a while he was getting a little frustrated that it wasn’t looking like anything. Just a bunch of green and brown background. But then he found the eyes, the beaks, and the piggy noses. And then it was on. The puzzle excitement was on.


Then we hit a road block and nothing seemed to fit. But as I stood up to get the baby who had woken up from her nap my perspective had changed and then a lot more pieces started falling into place. Just like life. I didn't think I'd get a life lesson reminder while conquering Angry Birds.

Then we hit a road block and nothing seemed to fit. But as I stood up to get the baby who had woken up from her nap, my perspective had changed and then a lot more pieces started falling into place. Just like life. I didn’t think I’d get a life lesson reminder while conquering Angry Birds.


And now we were getting close ... the excitement was building and to my surprise after about an hour he was still very much into the project.

And now we were getting close … the excitement was building and to my surprise after about an hour he was still very much into the project.


And wouldn't you know it ... just as we were about to finish the last piece was missing. Duuuuuude. Do you know what that did to a person like myself. Ugh. The agony. I searched for about 15 minutes was victorious when I found it under the couch, where the baby had probably thrown it.

And wouldn’t you know it … just as we were about to finish the last piece was missing. Duuuuuude. Do you know what that does to a person like myself. Ugh. The agony. I searched for that piece for about 15 minutes and was victorious when I found it under the couch, where the baby had probably thrown it.


Our masterpiece completed. Hi-fives and juice boxes all around.

Our masterpiece. Hi-fives and juice boxes all around. Another sandbox list adventure complete.