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Sandbox List Adventures: Tackling The Warped Wall With Pharrell Williams

11 Mar

Beat the wall! Beat the wall! Beat the wall!

They stare at it … mesmerized, chanting and cheering for them to reach the tippy top and grasp it with their fingertips. They scream as the Ninja Warriors cling onto the edge and pull themselves up. They ring the buzzer and raise their hands in victory.

Both my kids have envisioned this adventure countless times. They zigzag through the swings, attack the monkey bars, scale the rock walls, climb the ropes, balance on the imaginary floating steps and then  climb the slide … AKA The Warped Wall. They are masters of the playground obstacle course.

They are Mini-American Ninja Warriors and they are always up for the challenge, even when kids on the school playground recently made my son feel bad for being enthusiastic about this adventure. These Pokemon loving kids were not feeling the Ninja Warrior vibe, and left him solo to play this “boring” game on his own. And despite being sad, he tackled that playground obstacle course and had fun on his own.

It was heartbreaking to hear what happened, and like any mom I had that parent talk, the one that assures him of his unique awesomeness, the one filled with hugs and chocolate cookies, the one paraphrasing Pharrell Williams’s song of the summer. But in addition to words I found another way to lift up his spirits.  I found a way to take his Ninja Warrior dreams to the next level …

IMG_7562

We discovered a Ninja Warrior Gym with the help of navigation and a few freeways.

This Sandbox List Adventure is definitely going in The Jar of Awesome.

He was able to hang out with kids who were equally jazzed about the sport. There was nothing boring about this at all. He was jumping, swinging, climbing, and balancing his way through these mini obstacles and loving every minute of it and his sister was loving this ride just as much. I think she was born a ninja.

The smiles were worth the drive, and knowing that I had made this possible, especially after such a difficult week on the playground, was so rewarding. As a parent, finding these moments for my kids filled that sometimes-I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-as-a-parent-but-I’m-trying-my-best-space with a giant high five.

They left feeling energized, enthusiastic, and ready for more. He left feeling awesome. He left feeling like he could beat that wall! And he left with one request … a feel-good song. Happy by Pharrell Williams. It was the theme song for the rest of the day.

 

 

 

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

4 Apr

 

IMG_3398

The Pacific Coast … is always as blue as I hope it is …

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

22 Apr
Uluru, Austrailia

Uluru, Austrailia

This place changes your outlook any time of day. Even at 4 a.m. when you’re waiting for the sun to rise at 5 a.m.

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Weekly Photo Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post

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The Power of Duct Tape Makes Our Bucket List Adventure Come True

25 Aug

It all started over 35 years ago … on a Saturday morning when I woke up at the crack of dawn and witnessed the awesomeness of Hanna Barbera’s Wacky Races.

 

Where it all began ...

Where it all began …

 

 

I thought … I want to do that one day. I want to build something wacky and enter a race. I want to have some cartoon fun.

And then it happened … this weekend another Bucket List Adventure began only this time I had a navigator and he was fulfilling his Sandbox List Adventure and together we were doing our best not to sink.

I had to put my MacGyver skills to the test on this one…

Six cardboard boxes.

Five rolls of silver duct tape.

Two rolls of white duct tape.

One small can of gray paint.

One small can of blue paint.

And endless trips to the hardware store.

In the end, with a little help from my Disney-Junior-watching crew, we created our own Wacky Race vehicle and my son decided it had to be the Millennium Falcon.

 

The Millennium Falcon, complete with Han Solo, Chewy, Obi-Wan, and Luke Skywalker watching our back, and R2-D2 in the cockpit.

Ahhhhhhh the power of duct tape made The Millennium Falcon possible. It came complete with Han Solo, Chewy, Obi-Wan, and Luke Skywalker watching our back, and R2-D2 in the cockpit.

 

We had to make sure we had engines ... my son wanted the Hyper-Drive working.

We had to make sure we had engines … my son wanted the Hyper-Drive working.

 

My young Jedi Knight disguised as some new rebel getting ready for the race.

My young Jedi Knight disguised as some new rebel getting ready for the race.

 

While we waited for the races to start, we thought we'd check out the rest of the boats. This one was called The Floating Stones.

While we waited for the races to start, we thought we’d check out the rest of the boats. This one was called The Floating Stones.

 

The Pirate Ship, who happened to win for best theme.

The Pirate Ship, who happened to win for best theme.

 

The Shark Boat, which won both of its races.

The Shark Boat, which won both of its races.

 

The KISS boat, complete with little rock stars.

The KISS boat, complete with little rock stars, who never gave up during the race. Even when their boat flipped over they managed to swim to the finish line and win their heat.

 

This was my daughter's favorite boat, the Sweet Treats, complete with an ice cream sundae, all made out of cardboard.

This was my daughter’s favorite boat, the Sweet Treats, complete with an ice cream sundae, all made out of cardboard.

 

This Frozen Ice Castle was voted most likely to sink ... and it didn't let us down.

This Frozen Ice Castle was voted most likely to sink … and it didn’t let us down.

 

And finally this was the People's Choice Award winner, it was also pretty fast in the water.

And finally this was the People’s Choice Award winner, it was also pretty fast in the water.

 

After all the oohing and ahhhhing we all headed down for the Wacky Races to begin

After all the oooohhing and ahhhhing we all headed down for the Wacky Races to begin.

 

As we loaded our boats I remembered ... we paid so much attention to building the boat, I forgot to show my son how to row the boat. So we had a quick two-minute lesson.

As we loaded our boats I remembered … we paid so much attention to building the boat, I forgot to show my son how to row the boat. So we had a quick two-minute lesson. Unfortunately we needed more than just two minutes, as we lost the first race. But we bounced back and won the second one and he was happier about that finish.

 

In the end we didn't sink, but there were plenty of other boats that didn't quite make it, and in truth that was one of the funnest parts of the race.

In the end we didn’t sink, but there were plenty of other boats that didn’t quite make it, and in truth that was one of the funnest parts of the race.

 

We might not have won our division, or a prize for the best looking Star Wars Ship Cruiser, but we still had a great time at the cardboard yacht regatta. I was happy to see my son so excited, practicing his light saber skills while all the people passed by and complimented us on the boat. I smiled at the fact that someone said “May The Force Be With You.” I cracked up that we had spun out of control and began cruising backwards for a couple of meters during the race. I was ecstatic that we didn’t sink. And I was thankful for “The Power of Duct Tape”.

As far as parenthood goes, this was definitely an awesome adventure. I had checked something off my Bucket List and so had my son and daughter. It was a Guatacular event. And the best part wasn’t our unsinkable ship, but the smile on my kid’s face as he high-fived me and the jumping and cheering coming from my daughter during the race.

 

 

 

 

How Wendy’s Almost Ruined Our Triathlon Triumph

30 Jun

For me it’s reaching the top of Devil’s Canyon without stopping … or falling … or passing out … that’s when it happens.

 

The gruesome uphill battle that begs for BenGay and Advil the next day.

The gruesome uphill battle that begs for BenGay and Advil the next day.

 

My quads are on fire, my back is aching, and my 38-year-old knees feel like they are 78. But I’m stubborn and I press on. In fact I don’t even want to look up for fear that my muscles will realize what’s in store for them, they’ll cuss me out, and I’ll just fall over. Mutiny.  So I turn up the volume of the iPod, dig deep, and believe that … “King Kong ain’t got nothing on me.”

Yeah … That’s probably what kept me going.

When I got to the top and saw Bob or Dave or Mitch — the volunteer in his bright green TinMan Triathlon shirt handing out water — I felt a sense of awesomeness overwhelm me and a smile stretched across my face as I yelled out: “Duuuuuuuuuuuude I’ve been thinking about you for miles!”

 

This was him ... the dude everyone was happy to see.

This was him … the dude everyone was happy to see.

 

I felt Gatorade-worthy.

It also happened when I took the plunge into the pool, feet first and feeling the cool waters wash over my weary muscles as I surged through the Olympic-sized pool for the first 25 yards …

I felt Gatorade-worthy.

And it happened most when I finally reached the finish line … I saw that red, blue, and yellow banner, and the clock ticking, so I sprinted to reach the end. I knew what was waiting for me … Yes there were high-fives and smiles and the awesome finisher medal that I wore all day but that was not it … It was the watermelon. The finish line watermelon. It’s the juiciest, sweetest, best-tasting reward on Earth. Nothing like it … Finish-line watermelon. I looked forward to it for miles.

It made me feel Gatorade-worthy.

All these moments … these were highlights that kept me going, these were the simple rewards that made me feel amazingly Guatacular all day. I bottle that stuff up and live off of that badass feeling for at least a week. And even though I was proud of myself for surviving Devil’s Canyon and thriving under the heat I was even prouder of my son. For the second time in his five-year old existence he successfully completed the Tiny Tot Triathlon.

 

And they're off!

And they’re off!

 

Dude.

You don’t even know.

I was one of those crazy parents cheering loudly at every leg of the race …

 

It was an easy and smooth transition. He remained serious despite my enthusiastic cheering.

It was an easy and smooth transition. He remained serious despite my enthusiastic cheering.

 

And just as I had my Gatorade-worthy moments and rewards he had his own. Jumping into the pool and being able to swim without me was something that both of us were ecstatic about.

 

Doggy-paddling his way to the finish.

Doggy-paddling his way to the finish.

 

However crossing the finish line and outrunning the two older kids in the green division was something he was high-fiving me about all day.

 

:)

🙂

 

But I’m sad to say that the one reward he wanted that day for this awesome accomplishment didn’t quite happen and it almost ruined that amazing feeling — that emotional high that makes you feel great all day — that juice.

And who was to blame?

Who almost killed it?

 

:(

😦

 

Wendy’s … yeah I said it … it was Wendy’s and you almost killed it. I don’t know Dave Thomas, but I’m sure he would have been so disappointed.

My son has never had a Happy Meal. Never ventured into the Golden Arches … we’ve always been an In-and-Out kind of family. So when he finally asked for one it wasn’t the McDonald’s Happy Meal … it was the Wendy’s Kids Meal. That’s what he wanted … that was the reward he was looking forward to at the end of his race.

Why?

He’d been dreaming of that DC Comics Swooping Superman Glider and the Super Hero Training Comic Book that came with the meal. That was it. That was his “Finish-line watermelon”.  He’d seen the commercial for weeks and decided that that would be his prize. He was so excited that he decided we should order a kid’s meal for his sister too, just so she could get Wonder Woman’s invisible jet and they could form the mini Justice League.

I mean he has superhero action figures here, they both do, but these were Kids Meal DC Comic Superhero prizes and they were way better … they were “finish-line watermelon” so I agreed.

I understood.

So we drove twenty minutes out of our way to find the nearest Wendy’s because apparently there was no Wendy’s near the race.

He walked in wearing his medal, smiling the toothless kindergartener smile, and walked up to the register and ordered a kid’s meal … the one with the superheroes in it.

And then that’s when it happened.

The guy behind the counter just looked at me and shook his head.

Dude.

He had conquered the football field run, raced through the ginormous parking lot on two wheels, kicked and splashed his way past older kids, and sprinted to the finish line. He’d finished. He’d accomplished something big and had a medal to prove it. And we had driven … and driven … and driven in unknown neighborhoods misguided by our outdated Garmin GPS that didn’t even have the freeway we were driving on listed. But we drove and eventually got there ready to get that finish-line kids meal.

And they didn’t have it.

Wendy’s didn’t have it.

The look on my son’s face … Disaster.

I felt bad. His sister felt bad. The guy behind the counter felt bad.

My son assured him that they did have it. This was Wendy’s. He had seen the commercial. He needed to look again. It said that they were soaring into the kids’ meals.

Still nothing.

Dude … parent failure. My heart felt heavy.

The dude reached behind the counter for something else … some kind of connect-the-puzzle-pieces-transform-this-into-anything kind of toy.

My son looked at it bowed his head and slowly walked to the booth where he slumped down in the chair and waited for my arrival.

The guy behind the counter said they hadn’t had any of those in weeks and doubted that any other Wendy’s would have it either. I told him seeing how he was gainfully employed by Wendy’s he should use his connections to stop showing the commercial.

I looked back at my son … sigh.

“Dude. I’m gonna need some kind of chocolate or ice cream ’cause that plastic building set is just not gonna do it.”

Chocolate to the rescue.

 

 

Feeling Like Rainbow Brite … But A Badass Rainbow Brite

23 Jun

Every time I check one off the list, I feel grateful for the Kodak moments that didn’t kill me.

You see no one ever tells you that when planning a Bucket List Adventure or a Sandbox List Adventure sometimes the stress of the entire mission leads to moments of anxiety, fatigue and eventually gray hair. But in the end the awesomeness of it all outweighs the little setbacks you encountered along the way.

And this is what happened … the crankiness of being woken up at the crack of dawn, the traffic along the way, the crowds at the parking lot, and the delays of the starting line all melted away when they heard the music and our New Balance shoes started moving. This weekend The Guats took on The Happiest 5K on the planet … The Color Run.

 

 

We picked up our gear early and ready to let our awesome out ... even got stickers for my Little Guats.

We picked up our gear early and were ready to let our awesome out … even got stickers for my Little Guats.

 

The only race that I know where the warm up is a Zumba Fest with prizes.

Once we got there we began warming up  … The Color Run is the only race I know where the warm up is a Zumba Fest with prizes.

 

The Little Guat decided to join the warm-up festivities and was a hit with the crowd. She definitely had the music in her.

The Little Guat decided to join the warm-up festivities and was a hit with the crowd. She definitely had the music in her.

 

They decided to jam a little in order to get pumped up for the race.

The warm-up was followed up with a jam session. They wanted to get pumped up for the race.

 

The countdown begins ...

And then the countdown began …

 

BOOM! They saw the sign and the adrenaline pushed them up the hill. They completely forgot about the incline as soon as they saw colors.

BOOM! They saw the sign and the adrenaline pushed them up the hill. They completely forgot about the incline as soon as they saw colors.

 

Ready to get splashed ...

Ready to get splashed …

 

Once we were soaked in blue, my son got the hang of it and decided to lead the way through all the colors. His sister didn't seem to need the stroller any more.

Once we were soaked in blue, my son got the hang of it and decided to lead the way through all the colors. His sister didn’t seem to need the stroller any more.

 

Feeling pretty good after our final color splash and ready to hit the finish line.

In the end, yellow was our last stop and the kids felt proud to be covered with all the colors of the rainbow.

 

When we finally crossed the finish line my kids were ecstatic about the confetti ... and all the high-fives they were getting.

We finally crossed the finish line and my kids were ecstatic about the confetti … and all the high-fives they were getting.

 

My son showing off his colors at the end.

My son showing off his victory colors at the end.

 

Hanging out at the end of the race and getting our paint packets ready for the celebration.

My daughter couldn’t get enough color. Here she is getting her paint packets ready for the finish line celebration.

 

This was one of their favorite parts of the race.

This was one of their favorite parts of the race.  In the end I felt like Rainbow Brite … but a badass Rainbow Brite … the kind who was able to check off a Bucket List Adventure with her family and celebrate it in Guat style.

 

 

 

They Give Me Extra Umph … And Sometimes Stretchy Pants

4 Jun

So what’s next?

This is what a friend asked me after I had finished my 12 x 12 Chocolate Challenge, but the funny thing was that this question was already running around in my head as I was spreading the frosting across two chocolatey layers.

I needed something.

I didn’t want to be like the Dunkin’ Donuts guy … you know … time to make the donuts … time to make the donuts … time to make the donuts.

I wanted a little bit more.

But don’t get me wrong everybody has a routine and it’s good. I like routine, it helps keep the chaos in my life in order. But I also needed something outside of my routine. I needed something to look forward to, to get excited about … something that gave me emotional juice.

I realized all these personal projects, challenges, races, Sandbox List, and Bucket List Adventures were the something needed. I get umph after every accomplishment, and believe me when your life goes a little haywire every week, you need something to pull you out of the George Costanza existence and remind you that you’ve got it.

You need these little high-five moments to keep you going.

So I’m constantly in search of that extra umph, whether it has to do with food or adventure races I like the challenge and I like what it adds to my life. Sometimes the effect is dramatic and long-lasting, other times it’s small and lasts only moments. But regardless of the length of time it still impacts my life in a positive way. But most of all I think I enjoy the fact that it reminds me of two things. First … to live and enjoy the present, to enjoy what I think is fun even if I have Debbie Downers around me. And second is to always end the day on E, empty out my gas tank and leave it all out there whether it’s fun at the beach, rock climbing, writing books or vegging out on the couch. Go all the way, even if I have meltdowns or mistakes … no half measures.

So with all this in mind … what’s next?

Action? Adventure? Culinary Projects that feature stretchy pants in my future?

Yes. Yes to all of the above.

I have my New Balance ready to go for my first Color Run with the kids, followed by our annual triathlon involving the disastrous Devil’s Canyon and a lot of will power. But before all this athletic awesomeness takes place I felt the need for another cooking adventure and while hanging out at the library I found this …

 

:)

🙂

 

Dude … how could I not?

And seeing how I love food and The Sopranos and Mob Week on AMC, I didn’t need a lot of convincing.

So what’s next?

Stretchy pants … definitely. For sure.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Spring

7 May

This is how we spring in California …

 

Spring!

Spring!

 

Just So You Know …

5 May

 

JackvsSuperman

🙂

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: On Top

23 Apr

 

Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

 

On top is pretty awesome.

Although on top, on vacation, in Australia … Spectacular!