Archive | October, 2013

But I Do Look Forward To …

31 Oct

I like Halloween, I really do. But as a parent there are some things I’ve found to be intolerable during this year’s Spooky Season.

I don’t look forward to waiting in line for forty minutes in order to see my kid in his elementary school Halloween parade.

I don’t look forward to having some mom in yoga pants get out of the comfort of her minivan and cut in line like it’s something normal.

I don’t look forward to being surround by the PTA Nazis and being assaulted with their stink eye during my parental enthusiasm when my son walked by.

I don’t look forward to parents invading my personal space with their 4000 zoom Private Investigator camera lens. You should have waited in line to get a better spot.

I don’t look forward to the crowded streets and congested roads of my small neighborhood during Halloween traffic. I already have Southern California traffic, Halloween happens to add a whole new dimension to it.

I don’t look forward to sorting out candy and finding Candy Corn.

I don’t look forward to the battle of bed time after the Kit Kat, M&M’s, Hershey, Reses Pieces, and Mr. Goodbar extravaganza.

But I do look forward to …

 

... Striking your best Superhero pose

… Striking your best Superhero pose.

 

... Watching It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my kids every year.

… And watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown with my kids every year. I like having tradition.

 

 

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Halloween Eve

30 Oct

After last year’s  Guatacular Halloween Marathon of events, which ended in exhaustion and Advil, I decided to spread the love for festive spookiness into a couple of days. Holidays that encourage gifts of chocolate to random people should really be a two-parter. And so Part I began … with food and Jack-O-Lanterns.

During this artistic endeavor, tips from Martha Stewart and The Food Network proved to be extremely helpful. But it also brought memories of my Uncle Erick: The pumpkin-seed-toaster extraordinaire. Before him I thought seeds were just for planting or spitting out, however we learned that  nothing gets thrown out. The magic of salt, pepper, olive oil and 400 degrees is awesome. This was part of our Halloween ritual, along with The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown and a few episodes of the Twilight Zone, the pig face one really seemed to freak me out a bit.

And so with all this Halloween ambience from my past, I’ve tried to re-create these traditions with my kids, minus Rod Serling and his dimensions of sight, sound, and freaking-me-out scenarios. This Halloween Eve with the Guats consisted of snacks, carving out pumpkins, and taste-testing.

 

In the beginning it's best to outline the situation so you don't get three eyes.

In the beginning it’s best to outline the situation so you don’t get three eyes.

 

Once we cut open the bottom, the slimy investigation begins

Once we cut open the bottom, the slimy investigation begins.

 

My daughter happened to enjoy the slimy part and made it her mission to remove all the seeds.

My daughter happened to enjoy the slimy part and made it her mission to remove all the seeds.

 

Our finished product :)

My son was interested in the carving aspect and so our finished product contained all kinds of shapes.

 

 

My son was a little bit more interested in the seeds.

He was also interested in roasting the seeds.

 

 

They happened to turn out perfectly as I sat in front of the television and ate half of them.

They happened to turn out perfectly as I sat in front of the television and ate half of them.

 

But the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie was of number one interest to everyone. I ate five of them in half an hour.

But the pumpkin chocolate chip cookie was of number one interest to everyone. I ate five of them in half an hour.

 

 

Sunscreen and Pumpkins

28 Oct

Three fall festivals, two pumpkin patches, one farm, seven goats, four sheep, three pigs, two llamas, one donkey, three haystack pyramids, five mini-me pumpkins, and one Howden-Biggie Pumpkin … yeah it was pumpkin patch harvest fall festival madness this weekend. But in truth the only thing we seemed to harvest was a nice tan in the 80-degree heat that is Southern California during Autumn.

In retrospect I could have saved time and money in addition to avoiding stress by just going to Trader Joe’s and buying a pumpkin there. However, there  would still be parking war madness because their parking lots are always so small, but there would be no crowds and no screaming kids. I think I’d prefer to battle the parking lot, than to witness the kindergartener’s meltdown and the mom’s frustration.

But if that were to happen I wouldn’t have traditions or memories. And you know how parents are …  always trying to have fun, make memories, and give our city kids the whole Great Big Pumpkin Farm experience. So … it was sunscreen and pumpkins for The Guat Clan. Sunscreen and pumpkins: that’s how we roll.

 

 

And this is how  we start ...

And this is how we start …

 

Checking out the scene before we start the pumpkin madness.

Checking out the scene before we tackle the harvest festival pumpkin madness.

 

Running through the hay maze was much better than the corn maze. They didn't get lost.

Then we discovered a maze that was just right for the Little Guats. Running through the hay maze was a much better experience then getting lost in the corn maze.

 

The classic pyramid was something we saw at all three festivals and something they often look forward to doing.

The classic pyramid was something we saw at all three festivals and something they often look forward to climbing.

 

The trampoline alternative meant no crowds and no crazy kids attacking my kids. It also meant the beginning of our tanning process and my kids catching some serious air.

The trampoline alternative meant no crowds and no crazy kids attacking my kids. It also meant the beginning of our tanning process and my kids catching some serious air.

 

 

But the best part of the day was not the jumping it was the awesome cow tractor train ride that zig-zagged throughout one of the farms.

But the best part of the day was not the jumping, it was the awesome cow tractor train ride that zig-zagged throughout one of the farms.

 

The second best part for them seemed to be the petting zoo.

The second best part for them seemed to be the petting zoo.

 

She was fearless during the petting part even though the animals were bigger.

She was fearless during the petting part even though the animals were much bigger.

 

We also got hands on with the milking stations. It being the first time he milked a fake cow, he seemed to be doing it well.

We also got hands on with the milking stations. It being the first time he milked a fake cow, he seemed to be doing it well.

 

The bulldozers, dump trucks and diggers seemed to be popular at this fall festival. I think it was the corn kernels.

The bulldozers, dump trucks and diggers seemed to be popular at this fall festival. I think it was the corn kernels.

 

We moved on to find our Great Pumpkin -- the one that would provide us with awesome pumpkin seeds and our Jack-O-Lantern experience.

After all of our activities, we moved on to find our Great Pumpkin — the one that would provide us with awesome pumpkin seeds and our Jack-O-Lantern experience.

 

While investing the pumpkin patch, my son found the life cycle of the pumpkin and decided to educate his little sister.

While investigating the pumpkin patch, my son found the life cycle of the pumpkin and decided to educate his little sister.

 

Once we ran out of tickets and found our pumpkin, we made our way home.

Once we found our pumpkin, and finished educating ourselves on the farm life, we made our way home.

 

 

A Friend’s Dream

23 Oct

Every writer dreams of seeing their book in print, of walking into a Barnes & Noble, of logging onto Amazon.com and seeing the cover of their novel.

You rub your fingers across your name and smile. It’s a cool moment where you close your eyes and realize … I did it.

Yes!

Something that every writer anticipates happening one day.

Me? I’m still working on that … I’m driving through the winding road trying to get through all the detours.

But I’m happy to say that my friend T.B. Markinson over at the 50 Year Project is already at her destination. Her first novel A Woman Lost, published earlier this year is doing well and her second novel is already in the works, ready to debut in December of this year.

She’s one of those high achievers whose probably a piano prodigy, rock climber, and future Pulitzer Winner.  But she’s also a friend and I’m happy to help her out on her writer journey, because even after your book gets published you still need a little help getting the word out. So for the second time this month I’m putting my not-so-exciting unpredictable life events, which I try to spin into comedic moments, on hold.

Today, I’m here to introduce you to Marionette … and to help unveil the cover.

Ta-daaaa!

 

T.B. Markinson's Second Novel

Design by Derek Murphy

 

Here’s a quick sneak peek.

Paige Alexander is seventeen and has her whole life in front of her. One day her girlfriend comes home to discover that Paige has slit her wrists. Paige isn’t insane, but she acts like she is. Why?

After the incident, Paige agrees to go to therapy to appease her girlfriend, Jess. However, Paige doesn’t believe that therapy will help her. She believes she’s beyond help. Paige doesn’t want to find herself and she doesn’t want to relive her painful past in order to come to terms with it. What Paige wants is control over her life, which she hasn’t had since her birth.

During her childhood, Paige is blamed for a family tragedy, when in fact, her twin sister, Abbie was responsible. Abbie doesn’t come forward and Paige becomes the pariah of the family.

To add to Paige’s woes while attending a college in a small town in Colorado, the residents are in the midst of debating whether or not gays and lesbians should have equal rights. Tension is high and there’s a threat of violence. She isn’t out of the closet and pretends to be straight at school since she fears what will happen if her parents find out she’s a lesbian. Will she end up dead like her best friend, Alex?

Dude.

You’ll have to buy the book in December to find out.

It Was a Team Effort

22 Oct

This race wasn’t about making it to the finish line. It was one of my slowest times ever, but I didn’t care. This one was about the people running and walking alongside of me and the reason why we were there.

This one was for my Dad.

Most of the time my competitive edge gets me and I nearly kill myself trying to keep up with the AARP Triathlon chick zooming passed me. But this time I was all right hanging back. In fact I actually walked some of it and for the first time walking didn’t seem to be an athletic failure in my jock-minded head. In fact, walking was supposed to be part of the race. It was in the title. But regardless of whether we were walking or running, I was glad to have shared this with my kids. I was glad they knew what we were doing and why. I was glad they took part in raising money for the American Lung Association.  I was glad they were doing it for my dad and for other people who were in my father’s shoes.

 

We started off with a little stretching

I wanted to hang back at the end, but The Little Guats decided to move to the front and join the warm-up party.

 

Then apparently some stretching.

Then apparently some stretching.

 

We said a little something about why we were doing it.

We said a little something about why we were doing it.

 

And then we were off ... after checking out the crowd I was happy that The Little Guats decided to move to the front of the line.

And then we were off … after checking out the crowd I was happy that The Little Guats decided to move to the front of the line.

 

A few participants needed a quick little break.

A few participants needed a quick little break.

 

As the race progressed my son developed a competitive edge. He saw a few boys ahead of us and decided to speed up our development.

As the race progressed my son developed a competitive edge. He saw a few boys ahead of us and decided to quicken the pace. 

 

In the end, my kids were happy to see the volunteers' signs and receive their high-fives on a job well-done.

In the end, my kids were happy to see the volunteers’ signs and receive their high-fives on a job well-done.

 

 

 

The Power of Tailgating

18 Oct

It worked better than anti-aging cream, better than a weekend at the spa, better than chocolate … well … let’s not get that crazy.

But it was good.

It did rejuvenate me. It did charge my batteries. It did bring Guat back into The Guat. It was powerful. It was tailgating and it was desperately needed.

As a parent sometimes you need an escape from your NickelodeonLego-building-filled life. You need to play and hang out with people your own age. You love your kids, you really do. You’d take a bullet for them, but sometimes you need a time-out and that’s when the power of the tailgate comes into effect. Granted I still took my kids with me because there was no babysitter available, again, but the fact that I still got a chance to hang out with friends and let loose was enough medicine to cure me of the I’ve-been-cooped-up-and-haven’t-seen-anyone-in-weeks-I’m-going-crazy blues.

How was I able to do that?

Nap time. Even my older kid who never sleeps during the day, took a nap.

The fact that we started our festivities at the beginning of nap time was awesome. I was happy that my kids were so exhausted that they slept through the hustle and bustle of setting up for the tailgate and the tunes our DJ was spinning from the Pandora sound experience.

I was kid-free for about two hours during the day. Something that rarely happens when the sun is out. I ate in peace. I had a conversation. I sat. I danced. I laughed. And then I ate some more. When my kids woke up there was no more sitting for me, but there was still plenty of laughter and dancing. All The Guats had a good time until the actual game began and we realized that our team got trounced.

But regardless of the loss, the tailgate festivities made up for the state of play.

For those of you who haven’t experienced this awesome American tradition, I strongly encourage you to put it on your Bucket List.  The power of tailgating … it’s a party filled with Food Network cuisine on the grill, music that makes you dance, friends that recharge you life battery, conversations that crack you up, laughter that fills your soul, and sports. It’s the type of situation that makes you forget that you have a few gray hairs.

Yeah … tailgating … it’s that powerful.

 

The place where it all happens.

The place where it all happened.

 

As soon as we got there, we ran into people with spirit.

As soon as we got there, we ran into people with spirit.

 

We also ran into people with a little too much spirit.

We also ran into people with a little too much spirit.

 

Before the big meal we snacked on a classic tailgate staple.

Before the big meal we snacked on a classic tailgate staple.

 

Then someone brought a classic thirst quencher we often sipped during our college days.

Then someone brought a classic thirst quencher we often sipped during our college days.

 

The people who help me forget that I have gray hair.

Then the party continued and I was able to hang out with the people who help me forget that I have gray hair.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Infinite

16 Oct
Infinite Wisdom

Infinite Wisdom

 

At night

After a long day

Infinite wisdom surprises me in a tea cup.

 

Sandbox Adventure List 21: The Power of The Game Ball

15 Oct

I don’t know how you can be so small, worn-out, and dirty and have so much power.

You’re used, and bustin’ at the seams.  At first glance you don’t even look like you’re worthy of a glance. But in the hands of a little leaguer you are the most important thing ever … on Earth … in the universe. You deserve glances … many of them.

Game Ball.

Throughout all the Bad News Bears and Sandlot moments two players emerge holding you in their hands.

The power of the game ball.

The power of the game ball.

At the end of every game, I tell him he did great, I tell him he blasted it, I tell him he ran fast, I tell him I’m proud of him, and I mean it. I don’t mess around with those fake, empty compliments that adults lavish on kids. If he didn’t live up to his potential that game, I chalk it up to a bad day and tell him to do better next time. I give him truth and encouragement. I give him love and acceptance. I give him the good-job-pat-on-the-back booster. But the mighty Rawlings says everything better. The smile is evidence of it all.

It makes him feel vindicated. It produces pride and a sense of accomplishment in my little leaguer. It creates that awesome-moment feeling all day. It’s something he’s been wanting all season long. It’s something I as parent strive to do, but for some reason that honor was not mine. It was an Adventure List item he had to earn all by himself.

That day, the power of the mighty Rawlings dominated. That day, the power of the game ball brought a smile to his face all day and in truth it made me smile too. That day the green oversized No. 11 jersey, that seemed to drape over him on most days appeared to fit him just right.

And then that moment got me thinking … as a parent, as a mom, as a woman I need a game ball for life because sometimes those roles are giant-sized and you need to be reminded that you’re big enough to fit in those shoes — that you’re badass.

Game Ball … you’re pretty powerful stuff.

 

 

Some People Are Really Healthy … Is This You?

14 Oct
Image via LeFunny.net

Image via LeFunny.net

 

 

 

You Want Some Funny and Adventure in Your Life?

10 Oct

I feel like it’s my duty.

As my fellow bloggers are out there … in the open … putting their guts out for everyone to read, enjoy, and judge I as a fellow writer think I should not only support their dream but give it a little push. I’m totally in favor of pushing. So I thought it best to take the time out of my semi-humorous blog to help out those writers that also have the Dreamer’s Disease. The published author.

My pal over at Lame Adventures chronicles humorous life moments in a series of short stories in her debut novel Lame Adventures: Unglamorous Tales From Manhattan.

Dude.

Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

Subway Stories and Martini Max & Me happen to be a few of my favorites. They have a little New York in them and a whole lot of funny. Her wit and mastery with words can only make this Amazon purchase worthy of glowing reviews. So if you’re definitely in the mood to travel to New York and get plenty of ha-ha moments without getting on a plane Lame Adventures is definitely something for you.

“Unglamorous Tales from Manhattan is the user’s manual for living life at its fullest, on a wallet at its emptiest, in the metropolis that is the glitziest.”

I mean how can you not pick it up after that description, right?

Image via Amazon.com

Image via Amazon.com

Then there’s my buddy over at The 50 Year Project whose book A Woman Lost, is what I’ve been waiting for … it’s my wait list item. But if you’re advanced and have Kindle you can totally get it and fall in love with Lizzie, her partner Sarah, and the rest of the characters and hate those who try to bring her down. Dysfunctional families … they’re tough.

I can’t wait to get my hands on it and discover Lizzie’s journey through it all. Knowing my buddy, T.B., I can tell you that it probably has humorous moments, real moments, love story moments, and life moments swirled together in an engaging can’t put down novel.

Those are it people … those are my peeps fulfilling their dreams, putting it out there for the whole world to see. So hopefully you will too. You want some extra funny and adventure in your life? Then stop by Amazon and pick up a novel or two.