Archive | January, 2014

It Was A Good Laugh … Had To Be

30 Jan

It’s the one day a year I drink a cup of coffee and try to remember what his laugh sounds like.

I’m a tea drinker, and probably the only person on Earth that doesn’t stop by at Starbucks in the morning for a cup of coffee, but thought it might help jog the memory.

I don’t have it.

There’s evidence of it in plenty of Kodak moments and Polaroids, and I can picture it in my head. But I can’t hear it. I think it’s one of things I miss most about him. I miss hearing him crack up at one of my jokes, or at my awesome dance moves.

I can’t remember what his laugh sounds like. That’s sort of an important thing to someone like me.

I’m lucky though I still know what his voice sounds like. I turn to my 2004 Panasonic cordless phone answering machine from Costco. It has 11 messages, 9 are from him. Eight of them are calling to say hi, the ninth one is him calling from the hospital asking me when I’d be showing up. I hear the messages over and over again just trying to get his voice to stay in the room and maybe it will jog my memory to the sound of his voice when he laughed and how it changed.

No such luck today.

But I still remember what he smelled like. I have his last two bottles of Jovan Musk aftershave. I open them up in the morning and after I put the kids to sleep. Just sat there in the closet surrounded by all his white shirts, pants, and polos, smelling the aftershave.

But no laughter.

I still remember what was close to his heart. I have the black Samsonite work briefcase he carried with him at all times — the one I thought carried contracts, shipping orders and important payroll and tax papers for the poultry shop. We realized after his passing that it wasn’t filled with those things, but with the birthday cards and Father’s Day Cards we had given him throughout the years. But he had no pictures of himself in there.


My dad at work, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.

My dad in his prime at one of his first jobs, some famous Hawaiian BBQ place out here. Always in his Hawaiian shirts.


So I took to the 1970s and 80s photo albums in the closet and checked out my dad in his prime. I searched my computer for some of my favorite pics. The ones with Hawaiian shirts. The ones of my childhood. The ones where I can feel him cracking up. And it makes me remember of an instance where he cracked up so hard he cried. Unfortunately I had no camera then. There were a few instances like that, but this one in particular happened in Guatemala and it involved a water slide.

Water slides do that sort of thing to you. They bring out the smile, the laughter and the fun. They bring out your inner pirate. They juice up your existence.

Doesn’t matter what age, that water raft spinning and swirling, swooshing and splashing you has that you-crack-me-up effect. Maybe it’s the fast-paced slide or the not knowing when a wave is going to splash you, or perhaps it was the height of the slope we swooshed down on, maybe it was a combination of all those things and the fact that my cousin was freaking out that made us laugh.

Whatever it was that was one of the times my dad laughed so hard he cried. That Guatemalan Raging Waters experience was memorable and I was glad to have been part of that. I was glad to have been part of one of his stories that begins with ‘you remember the time we …’

It was a good laugh. It had to be because I’ve spent all day trying to hear it.

It was important to try to hear it today because he would have been 66 years old today.

But even though I may not have seen it on videos, because he was always the cinematographer of the family back when VHS existed, always behind the scenes, I was still able to find glimpses of his laughter through old family pictures.


On a Bucket List Adventure.

On a Bucket List Adventure … in Guatemala


So I go to bed feeling a little better.

Happy birthday, Dad. I miss you. Hope you liked your cake this year. I made it from scratch. German Chocolate. I had a big piece.



Hanging out with my dad back in the day.


Wordless Wednesday …

29 Jan



My kind of place 🙂



I’d Have Less George and More Me …

27 Jan

I finally found a way to look at the other side and not jump off a cliff.

In an attempt to create a sequel to my Happiness Project Adventures of last year, I’ve decided to keep tracking my attempts to get as much juice as I could from the lemons life gave me and so far my Clear-Eyes-Full-Hearts-Thelma-&-Louise-you’re-different-now-kind-of-feeling  hasn’t worn off yet.

I’m happy about that.

Usually self-improvement projects, plans, bucket list items, changes, gung-ho promises made at the beginning of the year — aka resolutions — suffer setbacks or wear off. Luckily the ripples are still in the water.


Image via

So I managed to take advantage of this mindset and continued tweaking my outlook so that certain roles within my George Costanza existence would look more appealing and the effort to improve wouldn’t feel like such a chore. I’d have a Happiness Project Adventure Sequel, a Secret Life of Walter Mitty moment or two. I’d have less George and more me.

Apparently the first step to this was to psych myself up, to give myself one of those awesome pre-game sports speeches, the kind that’s delivered by Coach Eric Taylor in Friday Night Lights (the show, not the movie), by Sean Astin in Rudy, by Kurt Russell in Miracle, and by Gene Hackman in Hoosiers.

I’m no Kurt Russell, but I did come up with some creative ways to look at the different roles within my life. I juiced it up a little so that I could look forward to these parts of my life, instead of dreading them.

And so far so good.

Instead of checkbook balancer, coupon lady, and finance checker, I thought Rainmaker would motivate me more when dealing with my finances.

Instead of working on “emotional control,” I thought Zen Master Apprentice would be more appropriate.

Instead of saying dude I have to workout, I’d look at it more like my Ninja Warrior Triathlete-Decathlete training, which sounds a little bit more awesome.

Instead of working on exercises to develop a spiritual side, I thought I’d try to be a Super Soul Sunday Engineer. Sounds like I’d get all kinds of spirit with that.

Instead of thinking of myself sometimes as just a mom who’s home with her kids for endless amounts of time trying not to get lost, I could consider myself more of a Human Spirit Adventure Developer and Life Compass Architect.

Instead of freelance writer, I could look at myself as a Future Barnes & Noble Best Seller.

Instead of looking at crappy moments like I-can’t-believe-this-just-happened-to-me-I-need-chocolate-right-now experiences, they could be envisioned as life moments to be  written up and appear in Saturday Night Live Skits, although I wouldn’t get rid of the chocolate.


Chocolate is still a necessity.

Even though I’ve juiced up the different parts of my life and kept the ripples in my pond going I think I’ll still keep the chocolate. George Costanza phases come and go, but like I said before hopefully with these little changes in perception I’ll have less George and more me. Don’t get me wrong, I love George, but you shouldn’t have too much of him.


Sometimes Sharing Can Be Difficult

24 Jan
Image via

Image via


I can see how this can happen.

The power of chocolate is quite amazing.

You know on a bad day it’s the one thing that’s powerful enough to make me stop and exhale … just exhale.

It doesn’t really make the problem go away, but for some reason if I can’t get to a swimming pool or find any form of outdoor athletic exercise it seems to help. It’s the emergency release valve for my system.

So I could see how people are protective over their chocolate. I figure if you’re going through some kind of midlife-Costanza-phase-crisis, chocolate is of the utmost importance. In fact I’m pretty sure there’s a study out there by some university revealing that married people, or anyone in a relationship for that matter, tend to consume more chocolate than anyone other type of people on Earth. Relationships are stressful and you definitely need an emergency valve. Definitely. So sharing can be a bit difficult.




Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

22 Jan


My dad saying hello to the new addition of our family...

My dad having a conversation with my son …


… being welcomed into our family.


Sorry Bisquick. Sorry Aunt Jemima. I’m Afraid Trisha Kicks Ass …

20 Jan

Most people wouldn’t think much of it, but as someone who learned to appreciate the little victories in the George Costanza phase of her life, this was big.


So big that I high-fived myself.

I was living on a high all morning long because of this culinary accomplishment.

But I couldn’t take all the credit. Someone else helped contribute to the great mood. It was Trisha. Yup. Trisha Yearwood. I’ve never met her, but I’d like to thank her for helping me become mom extraordinaire on Sunday morning. She’s the one responsible for this culinary masterpiece that took place.

I knew she was a country superstar, I knew it and I was a fan, but I had no idea that her skills extended to the kitchen. And in truth I wouldn’t have experienced such a spectacular morning had I not been the jackass that forgot to pickup the Bisquick or Aunt Jemima instant pancake mix at the market. But this dumbass transgression proved to be an awesome moment of creation for me.

I had promised my son pancakes in the morning, and seeing how I was too lazy to pack the kids into the car and go to the supermarket — moms know that going to the market is an entire mission that needs to be prepared for and getting the kids in and out of the car takes like the longest ten minutes ever — I really didn’t have the energy that morning to embark on a supermarket mission with the loading and unloading. So I looked in the pantry and noticed I had plenty of ingredients to whip something else from scratch … all I needed was a recipe.

And this is where Ms. Yearwood came in. I found her on the Food Network and decided to give her recipe a try.


This yielded the perfect pancake.

Image via because I was too busy eating to take a picture.

Image via because I was too busy eating to take a picture.


I couldn’t believe it. I was just talking about this with fellow blogger Susie Lindau the other day. And now bam! Thanks to Trisha I had made the perfect pancake. Not just in golden fluffy appearance and spectacular circumference, but in taste. Taste!


I was amazed at myself.

The best pancake I had ever tasted in my life, was in Australia. I never forgot it. I sat there at the buffet and stuffed my face with those blueberry pancakes. I could care less about the calories or carbs. I was in Australia, damn it! And these were Australian pancakes … and they were awesome. I hadn’t tasted anything like that before … and then on Sunday I repeated that tasty experience and my whole body was thanking me.

I sat there appreciating every syrupy bite that made me close my eyes in just sheer appreciation of this masterpiece.

I’d like to say that I have proof and took an awesome Food Network type of picture to present it as evidence, but I was so hungry that I didn’t have time to find the camera. I just sat there a moment and admired my pancake for a minute before taking the first bite. After that I had to pause just to bear witness to such an amazing pancake. I patted myself on the back and continued my feast.

At first I was worried that I was exaggerating a bit, but then I looked up at my son.

He smiled, gave me a thumbs up, and asked if I had made more.


Sorry Bisquick. Sorry Aunt Jemima I’m afraid that Trisha kicks ass.


I Better Get Moving …

17 Jan





I saw this and realized I definitely gotta get moving.

I got GPS and everything.

Step one, baby. Step one.

And if I fall, which will probably happen, there’s always room for a chocolate break.

Then I can continue steppin’.



Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

15 Jan



The window that makes me daydream.


Sandbox Adventure List 25: Time Travel Without 1.21 Gigawatts

13 Jan

I didn’t have a DeLorean or 1.21 Gigawatts, but I managed to travel through time into The Land of the Lost and walk among the dinosaurs.

He wanted a time-machine Dinosaur Train Time Tunnel experience and this was the best I could do: Discover the Dinosaurs Exhibit at the convention center downtown. He enjoyed the life-sized dinosaur replicas of the Cretaceous Time Period and my daughter enjoyed practicing her terrible roars and trying to scare the dinosaurs. At the end of the day it turned out to be a good adventure, but in truth I prepared myself for the worst. The worst.


It was downtown, a place with one-way streets where drivers were crazy, parking costs 20 dollars, and crowds were sure to be massive. Massive and filled with other people’s kids who were probably going to throw tantrums and be jackasses and I so didn’t want to be in that environment, but it’s always a risk you take when going to events like these.

So … I prepared for the worst, but was pleasantly surprised when disaster didn’t strike among the hundreds of families in attendance. In fact I only saw one tantrum and that happened because a parent tried to capture a Kodak moment near the Brachiosaurus and her kid wasn’t in the mood to be caught on film. At that point I was grateful for the attitude-free afternoon and the pictures I had already taken. I think they were in a good mood because the exhibit was a hands-on experience and they were able to explore and pet the life-sized animatronic statues and they did not hear the “don’t touch the dinosaur, we’ll get in trouble” speech that they often hear from me at the Natural History Museum.

The only downside to the  Land of the Lost adventure was the inflatable jumper area. They had about six jumbo-sized jumpers with at least an hour-long wait for each one.



I had to prepare my kids for the “we’re-not-going-to-able-to-get-on-this-thing” speech, something that every parent dreads for fear having that a blowout may play out in front of hundreds or people. But they seemed to take it pretty well. I think it had to do with the shorter line at  the T-Rex ride, sort of like a mechanical bull for kids.

By the time we finished, they were tired of the crowds, ready for peanut butter sandwiches, and wanting the Jack Johnson ambience of our car ride home. Pretend time travel is pretty exhausting, even without time tunnels, 1.21 Gigawatts, or DeLoreans we were still able to travel to faraway places in my Dad’s Toyota.


We started our Land of The Lost Adventure with the big dog ... T.Rex himself.

We started our Land of The Lost Adventure with the big dog … T.Rex himself.


Checking out their favorite exhibit.

Checking out their favorite exhibit, before experiencing the dinos up close and personal.


The little dinos with fierce roars caught our attention.

The little dinos with fierce roars caught our attention.


This one was my favorite :)

This one was my favorite 🙂


This was our final stop on the tour ... a ride on the T.Rex. Both of my kids enjoyed this little adventure the most.

But in the end this was everyone’s favorite … it was our final stop on the tour … a ride on the T.Rex. Both of my kids seemed to enjoy this the most.


Just A Thought …

10 Jan


Image via

Image via