Archive | April, 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Culture

30 Apr

 

Growing up … this was My Guat Culture.

 

Fitness Party Lessons

29 Apr

I know I have rhythm, I’m a regular Solid Gold dancer with slick Latin dance moves. It’s in my Guat blood and in truth it’s one of my favorite traits. But I’ll admit I was a little nervous. I had never participated in a Zumbathon. In truth I’d never even done Zumba, but as I mentioned before it was for a good cause. So I suited up in my best Costco sweatpants and t-shirt and was on my way.

Zumbathon.

Zumbathon Logo.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I can honestly say I didn’t expect to see this type of chick there. However when I walked into the basketball gym, I saw them … Dude. There they were all decked out in their full on Zumba gear, bracelets and hats included. I thought who the hell wears a hat when they workout. I mean if it’s not a baseball cap to hide your messed up Iris Chacon-Amanda Miguel morning hair, who wears that? Who wears hats like that to sweat?  Who does that? Zumba groupies I guess. I had been informally introduced to the Zumba groupie. I’m sure you’ve seen her, she’s the kind of chick that wears makeup to workout. After this encounter I wasn’t sure I was going to be enjoying this fitness party adventure.

The Zumba Groupies

The Zumba Groupies

But after a while, the majority of the Zumbathon people trickled in and most of them were wearing the “normal” sweats, shorts, yoga pants and t-shirt attire. Most of them were people from my old high school, most of whom I hadn’t seen since I graduated, and I was all right with that. There’s really no need to see certain people after high school, and some of them you don’t even want to run into on Facebook. Unfortunately, they find you. But I was willing to cowboy up and have the numerous Oh-my-God!-how-have-you-been conversations for the sake of raising money for my old acquaintance battling cancer.

So after all the hello hugs, I found a spot with my buddies and began the “fitness party” adventure. I had been warned that it might be a serious workout and that I might need to take several breaks within the two-hour frame. But in truth I was all right. I felt like I was on a dance floor at a wedding, only this time I was wearing my New Balance and not some killer high heels that would emotionally and physically damage my feet. Now don’t get me wrong there was a lot of sweat, but it didn’t feel like I was working out, which I guess was a good thing.

I enjoyed my first Zumba encounter, although there were a couple of things I learned through this experience.

The Zumba Instructors and for some reason the groupies got into the shot.

The Zumba instructors and for some reason the groupies got into the shot.

I learned that the fake excited dance teacher that you see in DVD/videos really does exists. It’s not a myth. She’s real. She has all these cartoon character facial expressions and cheesy sayings that she really shouldn’t use, but she does because she thinks it’s going to motivate you. It doesn’t. It makes you lose faith in the Zumba philosophy, and it just makes you wish you hadn’t wasted money on that particular exercise DVD. Sadly I couldn’t turn her off. She was live and in progress. I was so grateful to learn that there were five other instructors that day and that fake happy dance teacher would not be returning to the stage. I also learned that the sixty-year old, gray-haired Zumba dance instructor was the most badass of them all. Sweat was pouring out when this lady took the stage.

Lesson Number Two: You Gotta Commit. In both life and Zumba, you gotta commit. I’d never taken a dance class but apparently it’s kind of like monkey see-monkey do. You pick up the dance moves as the routine progresses. Some of the moves were a little bit too involved for me. They were a little bit too much for everyone except for the Zumba groupies down in front. But as I saw the people in front of me half-ass the moves I thought  … dude that looks terrible. So non-athletic and non-dancer like.  I can’t be looking like that. Either you’re in or you’re out. So I fully committed to all the steps and if I messed up the Flashdance moves …  well … then … I went down in flames and I got a couple of laughs in the process.

Working it on the Zumba dance floor.

Working it on the Zumba dance floor.

Lesson Number Three: Be Prepared to Pump It.  I had no idea that Zumba had a lot of these chest-pump dance moves. A lot. I felt like I was in a rap video — you know the kind where the chick is wearing Daisy Duke shorts with six-inch heels, and all of sudden takes a wide stance, puts her hands up in the air, and does her best Beyoncé-like chest pop. Apparently it has something to do with the abs, but I wasn’t feeling it and I looked nothing like Beyoncé. More like a chick with back problems, but nevertheless I remembered Lesson Number Two and forged on.

Two hours went by pretty quickly and in the end everyone was pretty sweaty from all that chest pumping. It was such a success that they said they might be planning another one in the fall. And who knows I might go again and learn a couple more lessons. But hopefully by then people will not feel the need to take pictures and post on them on Facebook. Maybe they’ll just take pictures for the sake of taking pictures.

 

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Ever Have One of Those Days …

26 Apr
Image via LeFunny.net

Image via LeFunny.net

 

 

Sandbox List Adventure 10: The Tastiest Ten Minutes of the Day

25 Apr

I don’t know if every kid dreams about it, but I know they think about it. I used to think about it a lot, when I was five, six, seven … all the way to 37. Yup. To this day I think about it, and it makes me smile. However my dentist says it’s my weakness and charges me an obscene amount of money to fix my cavities. He says I may have to give it up. I say they need to work harder on inventing better toothpaste because there’s no way I’m giving it up. It’s like air. A necessity.

Milk. Cream. Sugar. Those are the basic ingredients.  I’ve had them on their own multiple times, but they are definitely best when they are churned together and frozen, sealed tight in a container … just waiting for me on aisle 7 of the supermarket. Dude. That’s the best. Ben & Jerry’s. They are geniuses … geniuses I tell you! My kids are aware of this phenomenon and always look forward to birthday parties because ice cream is usually one of the side dishes. And even though I get to have some secretly once or twice a week, it’s something that my kids may get once a month. You know, I’m trying to develop healthy eaters.

So when we were driving home from the book festival this weekend and I asked my son what he wanted for dinner I was surprised by his answer, but even more surprised by my own.

“What do you want for dinner?” I asked as a red light stopped us in front of a 31 Flavors.

“Ice cream.”

“Ice cream? You can’t have ice cream for dinner.”

“Why not?”

“It’s not good for you. It’s only supposed to be a treat once in a while, and usually after your meal.”

“I have not had ice cream in a long, long, long while and I already had my snack.”

“You haven’t had dinner.”

“Ice cream can be dinner.”

I paused, thinking about my college days.

“So can we have ice cream for dinner?”

I thought about his Sandbox List Adventures and nodded.

“Yeah, I guess you can. Just for today.”

Dude. The woo-hoo was like a SuperBowl touchdown with two seconds to go in overtime kind of woo-hoo. It was a pretty big one. So I turned the corner and drove the car into the 31 Flavors parking lot to begin our Sandbox List Adventure.

 

We arrived and the seatbelts couldn't be taken off fast enough.

We arrived and the seatbelts couldn’t be taken off fast enough.

 

There were many options to choose from and I was sure he was going to fancy it up.

There were many options to choose from and I was sure he was going to fancy it up. I know I was thinking about it.

 

When he saw these I thought ... dude it's on. He's most definitely going to ask for one of these.

When he saw these I thought … dude it’s on. He’s most definitely going to ask for one of these.

 

And while he was contemplating his cone purchase I was contemplating a cake purchase. Oreo cookies make for a great cake accessory.

And while he was contemplating his cone purchase I was contemplating a cake purchase. Oreo cookies make for a great cake accessory.

 

But before he decided we did a little taste testing.

But before he decided, we did a little taste testing.

 

With all the available choices he decided on a cup. Chocolate chip with chocolate sprinkles. Dude. He definitely takes after me.

And it was funny, with all the available choices, he decided on a cup. Chocolate chip with chocolate sprinkles. Dude. He definitely takes after me.

 

His sister didn't really have a choice, but was definitely enjoying the Cookies N' Cream.

His sister didn’t really have a choice, but was definitely enjoying the Cookies N’ Cream.

 

It was the fastest dinner they have ever eaten. There was no fighting. No spoon dropping. No reminders to finish eating. Just concentration and focus, in addition to a lot of smiles and spoons dancing around in creamy cool deliciousness. In fact I had to tell them to slow down. I didn’t want to deal with their first brain freeze. I told them they had to eat slowly and enjoy it. The adventure lasted about ten minutes, but it was the tastiest ten minutes they had all day.

 

 

Super Friends Rock the Book Festival

24 Apr

I never knew how powerful masks, capes, and superpowers could be, but I was enlightened this weekend at the annual Festival of Books.

We had a great time last year but failed to stop by at one of the booths, and we missed one of the readings.  We missed it. We missed it! I heard about for days. My son’s long-term memory was a little too amazing for me. So seeing how I didn’t want a repeat performance this year, I prepared all the snacks, packed all the avoid-toddler-meltdown accessories, and gassed up the care the night before. This time … this time I would see to it that we would arrive early enough so that we would not be mauled by the masses as we tried to get a glimpse of the Justice League and browse through all the Super Friends adventure books. And even though I slathered everybody with Coppertone Sunscreen, we were still baking in the sun and I felt that SPF 50 might not have been enough. My in-case-of-emergency chocolate was melting.

But despite all the heat my kids managed to wiggle themselves into the front row, and they stayed in the front row, regardless of all the sweaty kids, red-faced parents, and loud speakers surrounding us. My little Guats stayed in the front row fascinated by the reading performed by Wonder Woman, The Green Lantern, The Flash and Batman. I guess Superman was out saving the world, but even without The Man of Steel the event was packed and some of the books were sold out. Luckily my son was able to snag a few of his favorites, and this put him in a great mood for the rest of the day.

After our little superhero experience, we continued to explore the Festival of Books and found a lot of little great surprises that made this adventure a good one.

 

This year's Festival of Books poster.

This year’s Festival of Books poster.

 

The excitement builds as we make our way toward the entrance.

The excitement builds as we make our way toward the entrance.

 

The masses.

The masses waiting for the Super Friends to take the stage.

 

What everyone was waiting for :) And as the audience was silent, eagerly listening to every word the Super Friends read you could see my one-year old daughter waving her arm and hear her saying ... HI BATMAN! HI! BATMAAAAAAN. BATMAN. BATMAAAAAAAAAAN.There was no use shushing her.

What everyone was waiting for 🙂 And as the audience was silent, eagerly listening to every word the Super Friends read you could see my one-year old daughter waving her arm and hear her say … HI BATMAN! HI! BATMAAAAAAN. BATMAAAAN. BATMAAAAAAAAAAN. There was no use shushing her.

 

My son engaging in super hero acts as they read aloud.

My son engaging in super hero acts as they read aloud.

 

Happiness sets in as my son was able to find a few of his favorites.

Happiness sets in as my son was able to find a few of his favorites.

 

As the Super Friends finished the reading and we bought our books, we explored the rest of the festival and ran into other surprises.

After we bought our books, we explored the rest of the festival and ran into other surprises … Captain Underpants being one of them.

 

As we walked through all the booths we came across the Warner Bros. both decided to participate in the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Scavenger Hunt.

As we kept walking, we came across the Warner Bros. booth and decided to participate in the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine Scavenger Hunt.

 

My son completing one of the scavenger hunt activities.

My son completing one of the scavenger hunt activities.

 

My kids dressing up the potato heads in the best superhero costumes they could find.

My kids dressing up the potato heads in the best superhero costumes they could find.

 

Once we finished, we got in line to collect our prizes.

Once we finished all the activities, we got in line to collect our prizes.

 

After all those people and kids, and heat,, it was time for a juice box-sandwich break. As we ate, my son browsed the books he bought. This one in particular was my favorite -- Steam Train, Dream Train. We got a chance to meet the authors and have them sign his book. I was so excited, probably more so than my son. I think they enjoyed my Guat energy.

After all those people and kids, and heat,, it was time for a juice box-sandwich break. As we ate, my son browsed the books he bought. This one in particular was my favorite — Steam Train, Dream Train. We got a chance to meet the authors and have them sign his book. I was so excited, probably more so than my son. I think they enjoyed my Guat energy.

 

As I began to back up and search for a place to change my daughter's diaper, I saw something awesomely wonderful for parents courtesy of Target. A baby changing station. Dude ... Dude.

As I began to pack up and search for a place to change my daughter’s diaper, I saw something awesomely wonderful for parents courtesy of Target. A baby changing station. Dude … Dude.

 

I didn't even need to unpack my ginormous diaper bag and search for baby powder. They had it all ... sanitizer, diapers of every size, wipes, aloe vera, lotion, butt cream, and baby powder. It also provided a private area for feeding, which included a rocking chair and fan. Dude. I'm surprised there wasn't a line around the block.

I didn’t even need to unpack my ginormous diaper bag and search for baby powder. They had it all … sanitizer, diapers of every size, wipes, aloe, lotion, butt cream, and baby powder. It also provided a private area for feeding, which included a rocking chair and fan. Dude. I’m surprised there wasn’t a line around the block.

 

In the end it was a good adventure, filled with superheroes who rocked the festival, scavenger hunts, plenty of Coppertone SPF 50, book signings, free diapers, no traffic on the way home, and sleeping kids relaxing in their car seats.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

23 Apr
Pixar's Movie -- Up

Pixar’s Movie — Up

 

Paradise Falls … the adventure of a lifetime.

 

 

Curious George Makes Earth Day Happen

22 Apr

I knew what day it was today and figured I had to do something good for the environment. I mean I wasn’t going to pledge a Billion Acts of Green, but I could at least do one more act of kindness other than recycling. You really can’t be selfish today. It was Earth Day. Earth … it’s a pretty big planet. You’re supposed to think of the bigger picture, at least for today. You’re supposed to think about Earth.  It’s probably the only planet that has chocolate, so gotta do what you gotta do.

So I thought I would do something involving nature. I could plant a tree. It would make up for all that driving around back and forth in a gas guzzler. I don’t own a Prius. It’s too small to house the Guat Posse. They’re also way out of my poor writer price range. Most hybrids and electric cars are, but I’m sure when I’m rolling in it I’ll upgrade. But I’m not that bad. California has strict emission laws to keep everyone in check, but I’m the vapors coming out of my exhaust aren’t that breathable, so I thought planting a tree would be good. But I had nowhere to plant it. I don’t have a yard. I don’t even have a house. I’ve been in a state of homeless transition for a while, having to live at my parents house. Stupid Craigslist housing section, you’ve let me down.

So I couldn’t plant a tree, but I still wanted to do something involving nature. Then it hit me. Literally it hit me, my one year-old likes emptying things out of boxes and bags, and not in a gentle way. So as I was pondering this whole Earth Day contribution a small Curious George packet of tomato seeds landed on my face. I thought this is the perfect Earth Day activity for us.

 

The origins of our future plant were kept in here.

The origins of our future plant were kept in here.

 

My son wanted to examine the seeds. My daughter wanted to taste them.

My son wanted to examine the seeds. My daughter wanted to taste them.

 

And so our little Earth Day project began as we added soil to a recycled cottage cheese container

And so our little Earth Day project began as we added soil to a recycled cottage cheese container.

 

After we added the seeds, baby sister wanted to get in on the action.

After we added the seeds, baby sister wanted to get in on the action.

 

We added the final touch ... and they waited, and waited, and waited.

We added the final touch … and they waited, and waited, and waited.

 

Both of my kids were pretty excited about using gardening accessories and planting something that would grow. But when plants didn’t sprout out within the hour, it was kind of a bummer for them. However my son recalled a Curious George episode and told his little sister that the plant needed more time. A long time. He told his sister: “Tomorrow. Tomorrow the plant will come.”

 

My Woo-Hoo Badges of Honor

19 Apr

When spectacular things don’t happen to you on a daily basis, you look for tiny little good moments to wrap your brain around, so as to avoid your blood pressure from rising. You reach and grasp for whatever you can so that you go to bed thankful for something. Something!

Things like finding a five-dollar bill in your freshly laundered Gain-smelling jeans.

Things like finding a spare key when you’re locked out of the house.

Things like the last Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Square waiting for you at the bottom of the bag.

Things like being able to take the carpool lane when traffic is jammed and passing the jackass that cut you off in the process.

Things like the makers of Framboise who help you out on Friday nights.

Things like BenGay and ice packs to help your weary muscles and bones.

Things like FX and AMC that rock your world because you no longer have HBO.

Things like the bloggers who surprise you with awards and make you feel like a badass writer.

inspiring-blogger

Now usually I’m on top of awards and I post my gold stars right away, but with all the training for the race it escaped me. But it’s never too late to acknowledge the people who think I’m “Guatacular.”

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Cayman Thorn, Clay Watkins, and Jim. Cayman Thorn over at Drinks Well with Others nominated me for the Very Inspiring Award, which goes to show you that someone out there — a comic, sensitive genius himself — finds my sense of humor inspiring out there. Clay at Making The Days Count and Jim a Fit Recovery both nominated me for the Liebster Award. They both write about life and their own journeys to make the most out of it.

I totally accept these woo-hoo badges of honor and wanted to let them know that …

 

Image via QuotableCards.com

Image via QuotableCards.com

 

I know there are specific rules for these types of awards, like tell us a couple interesting facts about yourself, post the award on your site, and nominate 10 people … give or take. But I’m gonna break a few of these rules in order to pass both honors to blogs I think are definitely worthy of appreciation and gold stars. I appreciate the blogging love given to me and I send out double the love to the following bloggers who inspire me with their travels, their photographs, and their ability to make me laugh.

 

TBM at the 50 Year Project

Baz The Landy Out and About Having Fun

Stephen Kelly Creative

Patrick Latter at Hiking Photography

Justin Gawel at Ramblings From An Apathetic Baby

1PointPerspective

The Time is Write

Lame Adventures

They keep the blogosphere awesome and entertaining with adventure, dreams, pictures that are priceless, and comedy. Don’t forget comedy, it keeps the gray hair away and the blood pressure down. Feel free to stop by and get a dose of inspiration in a variety of ways.

 

Celebrate Because Milestones Rock

18 Apr

 

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I saw this and realized yeah … I used to do this. Probably still do sometimes, but not as much. Now that I’m a Meditation-Zen Seeker and Happiness Project Explorer I’m all about giving myself gold stars whenever I get anything accomplished. I celebrate because milestones rock.

 

My RSVP to the Fitness Party

17 Apr

I’ll have to admit. I had to look it up.

I wasn’t aware of this phenomenon. In truth I hadn’t been to the gym since my college days where step classes were the latest workout rage. I’m not fond of gyms, too many beefcakes checking themselves out in the mirrors and too many naked chicks in the locker rooms admiring themselves. I’m not into narcissism so I like to work out in the privacy of my own home where I can where sweatpants and nobody will judge me for not wearing a matching sports bra. Or I exercise outdoors where there is nothing to admire but nature.

So when someone sent me an invitation for something called a Zumbathon, I had no idea what they were talking about. But Google enlightened me. Apparently it is something well-known in the fitness world. It involves Latin dancing and exercise moves that make you sweat in a fun way. That is just Zumba, but a Zumbathon is a two or three-hour session of this moving and shaking. I guess it’s a nice way to shed the pounds. They call it the “fitness party.” I’m not sure I like this phrase. My idea of a party does not involve exercising. Dancing yes, lifting weights and sweating in front of people? No, not really.

But nevertheless this whole Zumbathon was for a good cause. They are raising money for an old high school acquaintance who has Leukemia. So I thought if it’s for her, why not. We weren’t best buddies and we didn’t hang out and eat Corn Nuts together at lunch, but we had a few laughs when we joined forces at track meets. She was the track and I was the field.  Believe it or not my scrawny 130 pound self was a shot putter and a damn good one. I always came in first place against opponents. They underestimated me. I had a lot rage. Boys. They suck in high school. I mean they suck all the time, but more so in high school.

My only hesitation was the whole running into old high school people. I don’t like running into people, which is probably why I’ve fallen off the Facebook world. People find you and I’m more of the if-I-want-to-hang-out-with-you-I’ll-call-you frame of mind. But it’s for a good cause so I sent in my RSVP and will be participating in this fitness party this weekend. I better brace myself for the whole Oh-My-God-I-haven’t-seen-you-in-years-what-are-you-doing-now conversation. Plus all these people will probably be taking pictures with their camera phones and immediately posting it on their Facebook status. What is that? What is that! I’m not into being tagged and broadcasted on pages so that other high school people can find me. But I’m sure I’ll be all right. I’ll bring sunglasses.

However in terms for the actual exercise part of this event. I don’t know. How do you train for this sort of thing,? I don’t think you do, really. I mean it’s not a sport. I’m still in pretty good shape because of my recent Fight For Air Climb and I’ve kept up with my regular workouts. So I don’t think I’ll be out of breath. And there’s definitely no need to practice dance moves, because those are just natural for my Guatemalaness. So I guess will just have to see what comes out of this fitness party.

 

Image via LeFunny.net

Image via LeFunny.net

 

Hopefully I won’t end up looking like the chick on the right during this whole event. I’ll keep you posted.