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Jar of Awesome Memories, Wacky Races, And Feeling Good … Cartoon-Good

31 Aug

It’s something I look back on and smile because there was so much laughing.

Now granted, there were multiple setbacks leading up to this adventure, which included missing cardboard pieces, multiple duct tape purchases, and the awesome Megalodon shirts I bought for this event getting trapped in my Whirlpool Washer and never being worn. Incidentally, the Sears Repair person has not shown up yet. He missed the appointment and rescheduled days later. My clothes will have been in the washer for 10 days, marinating in water that probably smells like mold, and Sebastian from Sears did nothing to help rectify the situation. I’ve come to the conclusion that Sebastian from Sears sucks. Big time.

But I digress …

Through all the crappy obstacles, the day was rescued by the shark hats we found at Party City. We may not have had the cool shirts, but we were rocking the The Great Whites and Blue Fin Foam Hats.

We brought our feel-good vibe to this event. It was a must! Our fifth year at the cardboard yacht regatta and we needed to show up the only way we knew how, with energy and team spirit.

We were so proud of our shark and Jaws music background:)

You know, I like the fact that it’s become our tradition. I stumbled upon this cool event and as a kid I’d always wanted to participate in a race like this, but there wasn’t anything like this when I was growing up, or at least no where near my neighborhood. So I just woke up in the mornings and watched Hanna Barbara Wacky Races Cartoons and dreamed of one day doing something fun like that. And now I have … five times. Five times with the people I love the most. It felt just as good as I thought it would. I felt cartoon-good.

I’m glad to have discovered this bucket list adventure and that five years later, we’re still going on strong.  This year, the kids, inspired by Shark Week, decided on a Megalodon boat and so I did my best to make it work.

Cardboard, imagination, and the amazing powers of Gorilla Duct Tape. I can’t begin to tell you how amazing this stuff is, but if you’re ever in need to keep something secure and unsinkable. Gorilla Duct Tape is a must!

We stayed afloat, and as I paddled with great vigor and speed, the boat on our right lost control and pushed us into the other lane, but even though it messed us up we kept going. My son did his best as did I, but we came up short. And that was all right, because we smiled and laughed until the end. Winning is fantastic. Flipping over and sinking is memorable. Paddling to the finish line with your son and cracking up as you do it, definitely an Awesome Jar moment.

I mean even though we lost in the end, we enjoyed every minute of it, and I don’t like losing. Neither of us do. But we were o.k. about. We had won the year before and the year before that so we knew how that felt, so losing wasn’t something that burned. The fact that we did it, is what mattered. The building, the taping, the measuring, the mingling with other boat builders during the viewing session, voting on your favorites, and participating in the race itself. All of that is what mattered. We were enjoying the moment. We were in it and that felt good.

My favorite spicy boat

This little piggy surprised everyone and survived multiple races

The winner of fanciest boat. I loved the yellow submarine

Some people worked to the very end. This one was super creative, engineering A+

It was something cool to do with the kids and they always enjoy it. I hope it’s an adventure they’ll remember years from now when they’re older and think back about their childhood and say … ‘remember the times we did the cardboard boat races … maaaaaaaan that was fun … we had fun with mom.’

I hope they feel cartoon-good.

Buen Camino, my friends.

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Sunsets, Sunrises, and Sprinkles of Enjoyment

19 Aug

I wanted to watch the sunset and feel that moment of exhale marking the end of the day.  I wanted to see the sun in the early morning and feel the tranquility of the quiet among the warmth and nature.

And the Grand Canyon gave it to me in the best way.

After our little adventure in Radiator Springs we took the train to the Grand Canyon and that was the second part of our adventure. The kids hadn’t ridden the train before and it was a great way for them to travel and see the landscape. Now there was a mix-up with the reservations, and in truth, that burned me out. They gave us the wrong car, when we had actually paid more to be in a different car, but the kids didn’t seem to mind, and in the end we were reimbursed and our reservations on the return trip were secured. Those small details were just that … small. The kids were busy enjoying the ride itself, the thought of being on vacation,  on a train, and the adventure of travel.

And so to break away from the mood, I looked out the window and got lost in the scenery. It’s a good way to travel, especially with kids, and especially after the long drive to across state lines.

 

When the train pulled up to the station and we walked onto the platform being there, knowing that we had made it, felt good. We roamed around a bit before heading toward a viewpoint … an amazingly breathtaking viewpoint cast with clouds and shadows and the cool sprinkles of monsoon season.

Experiencing the Canyon during rain and lightning is a pretty amazing way to meet nature. It was a welcomed change from the 100-degree heat I was experiencing.  So I was one of the few people standing out in the rain, letting the drops hit me, checking out the Canyon, and breathing in the fresh air.

Now when the lightning began to pick up every few minutes, I thought it would be safer to catch that show from the safety of the bus, as did my kids, and the rest of the family. We cruised through the Rim of the Canyon and made it to the cabin to relax a bit before dinner and sunset watch. The rain was only supposed to last few hours so the sunset would still be an awesome moment for us.

And I don’t know what it is about sunsets that makes me find Zen in them, they happen every day. Maybe it’s the fact that all kinds of pinks, purples, and orange shades fill the sky and enhance your surroundings. It’s a call for the end of the day and for things to wind down. It’s a call to remember that the day is done, and now you take a moment for gratitude.

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Just amazing…

So we sat there at the edge, overlooking the Canyon, watching the sun go down, taking our pictures and having a moment worthy of the Awesome Jar. We walked through the trail to the outdoor amphitheater and listened to one of the Nightly Nature Ranger Talks. That night we learned about the amazing vertical leap and long jump capabilities of the the Mountain Lion. Even if you think you’re far enough or high enough … you’re not. That Mountain Lion will catch you if it wants to … luckily most times it doesn’t want to.

Now I really enjoyed the sunset and evening lecture, but I was looking forward to the early morning run along the Rim. Being up that early, surrounded by the quiet, and awesomeness of the Canyon filled me with peace and awe. It was the kind of morning where nature and the Great Outdoors affects you, where if you’re feeling a little lost you manage to find your way, where you realize things are possible.  It tells you that today was no accident, today there was a purpose.

I found gratitude during moments of sunset and sunrise and that helped set the tone for the rest of the adventure. The days were filled with hikes, fossil walks, Native American Dancing, visiting landmarks, getting Junior Ranger badges, purchasing souvenirs, and exploring the rest of The Canyon.

It was a good adventure, the kind of good you needed because it was missing for a little bit, the kind of good you still feel after you’ve left someplace because that someplace still gives you peace during chaos, the kind of good that leaves sprinkles of enjoyment throughout the rest of the month when you close your eyes and remember.

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

I Found Radiator Springs On The Way To The Grand Canyon

5 Aug

Staycations are my jam.

With two kids active in sports throughout the school year, the summer budget for Destination Vacations Extraordinaire often become limited. But this year I decided to find an adventure, either road tripping or checking out the scene from an airplane above, this was the year we took a mini-vacation and explored something awesome that was not in our neighborhood.

I also thought it would be a good present for all of us seeing how July was full of birthdays and we didn’t have a grand celebration, travel and adventure would be our gift.

So … we took on The Grand Canyon. But I decided to make it more than just a driving road trip … we’d take the train too. The Grand Canyon deserved that.

It’s one of the most amazing forces of nature I’ve witnessed and thought it would be a great way to explore the outdoors and appreciate a little corner of our country that the kids had yet to discover. We had a couple of crashers joining us, as my family came into town and decided to see The Canyon too. I had no idea they hadn’t experienced it. Seeing how I’d been there and gone white water rafting before I had kids, I felt like I had a good sense of where we could go. But seeing how it was family and multiple personalities vary at times, we thought it best for everyone’s sanity and comfort that we take two separate vehicles and travel with plenty of leg room in caravan fashion. Best. Decision. Ever.

The road trip began with 80s and 70s songs, as well as the kids’ feel-good songs from current artists. Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp, followed by Funkytown, Earth Wind and Fire, and Duran Duran were some of the highlights that pumped us up while sitting in traffic. I feel that the Car DJ’s biggest responsibility is ensuring the mood in the car remains at a steady I-Woke-Up-Today-and-I-Feel-Good-Like-Saturday-Morning Cartoons-When-I-Was-A-Kid-Good kind of feeling.  You need a good car DJ until the radio gives out on you and all you hear is static. It’s about that time that movies come out on the road trip … Kung Fu Panda and Cars were in the possible in-transit movies for the day, and then an awesome podcast for the adults in my car. I had no idea what type of hangry was going on in the other car, but I imagine everyone had a different road trip routine to keep the journey fun.

But I didn’t think of the heat.

The fact that it was 114 degrees the day we left worried me a little. There was a fire right off the highway and a detour needed to be taken. The Arizona climate will be hotter than this I thought … I was grateful for over packing gallons of water and sunscreen. Adventure awaits in heat or rain, the journey is there.

But I had no idea Arizona, or The Canyon, had something called monsoon season. It was a sweet 86 degrees when we arrived at our first overnight pit stop. Williams, Arizona.

 

 

I felt like a tourist walking around in the evening through town and at peace when I woke up for my early morning run.

 

 

We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. The rooms and staff at our hotel were very welcoming and pleasant.

 

 

Everyone in our caravan was satisfied with the place, and that definitely says something. There are a lot of strong opinions in this travel posse, so the fact that everyone enjoyed the hotel after a long drive was a bonus.

Stopping by this little Radiator Springs kind of town made me feel like Huell Howser. I loved Huell Howser and his travel programs. If you don’t know Huell Howser you need to look him up … you probably have someone like that in your neck of the woods. He enjoyed uncovering hidden gems, exploring all parts of California, and inspiring others to get to know the awesomeness of their state. It definitely brought some needed energy, and curiosity zest for the journey.

I was enjoying the vacation me … and this was only the pit stop.

Stay tuned …

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

 

Shark Week Welcomes 43

29 Jul

I don’t know how you could forget, but apparently it happens.

I didn’t do anything extraordinary on the last day of 42, wish I had but it sort of snuck up on me … I wasn’t paying attention to time and before I knew it, there it was … the last 24 hours of being 42. Even though I didn’t wine and dine myself, I did take a moment to pause at the end of the night and breathe in moments of gratitude throughout the day. Hanging out with a friend who made me smile … that was something to be grateful for and binge watching episodes of Shark Week? Dude. C’mon! The fact that Shark Week landed on the week of my birthday?! That was adventure enough.

I love Shark Week. It infuses a great sense of curiosity and admiration for all the great whites, hammerheads, tiger sharks, blue sharks, makos … all of them out there. It’s an appreciation for the adventurous marine biologists, shark experts, and camera people swimming out in the deep trying to capture the breach or tag and track and discover other amazing facts about this animal.  I love the excitement of it all and the intensity of the powerful and beautiful shark.

Plus I always love the metaphor about life that often comes during this time …

 

 

I enjoy hanging out and watching this every year with my kids. So on the eve of my birthday I sharked out! The next morning we took a staycation to the beach and checked off another bucket list adventure. My kids and I had been wanting to do for a while and seeing how it was Shark Week, I felt it was totally fitting in with the theme. Plus can’t go wrong going to the beach during Shark Week. It’s definitely meant to happen.

Standup Paddleboarding.

Considering that it’s been in the 100-degree-heat range in my neck of the woods, the early morning cool cloudy vibe at the beach was a welcomed site. But I just didn’t want to relax and hit the boogie board, I wanted a little something extra and so I booked a little hour and change adventure that even my daughter would enjoy. Standup Paddleboarding was something my son and I always wanted to try, but we just never got around to it, or my daughter quickly vetoed the idea.

But we found a way to make it happen this year and it was a good way to start the birthday morning. The fact that the waters were calm and we saw two giant seals swimming alongside made for an even better outing. We couldn’t believe how close we were to these huge animals and the thought of them bumping the board or flipping over didn’t occur to me until my daughter mentioned it. But I assured her that they were on their way and we were on ours and everybody would be fine. Everyone’s just enjoying the ocean. There was balance.

And finding balance was key that day, and I was glad that we made it out to the ocean that day, glad that my feet felt the cool water on the board and I wiggled my toes, glad that I found peace in a cloudy morning, glad for my kids mastering that boogie board in the afternoon, glad for the Happy Birthday song my kids sang to me, glad for the crunchy fish tacos for dinner, glad for the awesome DJ skills I had and the feel-good-songs that infused me with positivity and nostalgia on the long drive home, and glad for the chocolate cupcakes I baked for myself and the birthday wish that went along with it. Glad that I found the moments that day, moments that made me live like it was Shark Week. 43 …  Shark Week welcomes 43.

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Nice view on a birthday during Shark Week …

 

Buen Camino my friends!

 

 

The Last Day … Don’t Forget About The Day

30 Dec

I got one day left in 2017.

One!

How am I gonna spend it? How are you going to spend it?

Lately I’ve placed an important chunk of feeling and expectation and emotion into what happens on the first day of the year. I think about day one, the start of a new adventure, of a new (or old) something that will catapult change into my life. But other than the party- or midnight countdown I don’t really place a huge emphasis on the last day of the year. And you know what? I should. It’s the last day. You’ve got to squeeze the juice out of every lemon.

So what’s the plan?

Am I going to wake up and magically take a trip to an awesome destination, making it the best day of my life? Probably not. Australia is too expensive on my starving-writer budget at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s not in my future again. So the last day of the year will be an in-house adventure. Something NOT involving laundry … doing it, folding it, putting it away. Laundry in any shape or form. I don’t want to be running errands or scrubbing toilets either. Things like this should be banned on the last day and first day of the year. I’m not saying I’ll be out on a second honeymoon getting waited on and tended to every minute of every hour. But let’s just have a day to do something you want to do and not something you need to do.

But if I’m being honest though, it feels like a let’s-go-down-with-the-ship kind of night. Not a Woo-Hoo-Times-Square-noise-maker extravaganza. But a day of sunshine and something and a night with a good story, something to be grateful for and Cup O’ Noodles. People can hate on Cup O’ Noodles all they want, but sometimes on days like this, or rainy days it’s comforting. It’s terribly bad for you and has like 500,000 grams of sodium but it’s on my agenda for tomorrow night.

And tomorrow day still holds an adventure for me. An outdoor adventure that will make me feel the feel-good-vibes that get me through the day.

I’ll start the day with a run in the natural oasis that sits in the middle of my city, surrounded by the sounds of birds, wind, moving branches and my breath. The sun will warm my face as I steady my breath, and I’ll gain a sense of peace looking at how its golden rays peak through the trees and wake up the leaves. A moment of Zen. I just need one good one, and I’m hoping that’s it tomorrow.

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And while I’m stretching and breathing in the fresh earthy smell of a freshly watered woodsy area, Tim Ferriss along with one of his Tribe of Mentors will be talking to me through my headphones filling the space between my breaths with positivity and the idea that IT is possible.

That’s how the last morning of 2017 will go … the rest of the day is set up for an ocean or water adventure, but that’s always up for grabs because with weather and kids, you always have to be prepared for a change of plans. The unpredictable happens often and go with the flow mentality is always helpful.

So … Buen Camino my friends!!!  I will see you again in 2018. Don’t forget about the last day, the night will be there to party, or sleep in, but don’t forget about the last day!

 

 

 

The Warm and Fuzzies Comeback Blessed Moments

20 Dec

The Underdog Gene.

I’ve got it.

Being able to get back up again … to turn the corner.

I think that’s the blessing I was given from birth … that and being able to find the funny in situations requiring a little light.

This year’s Blessed Project combines both of these. Susie Lindau over at Susie’s Wild Ride had this awesome idea last year to list the blessings and positives of your life that year. Things that gave you the Warm and Fuzzies and help vanquish the bummers of the year and focus on the good time noodle salad moments.

So she brought it back again and I’m up for a look back at these moments in time.

All these memories came during a comeback … comeback from rejection, comeback from failure, comeback from arguments, comeback from family  frustrations, comeback from life kicking my ass.

These blessed moments turned things around to the point where I didn’t feel the bitterness of the downward spiral, but an uplifting nature of turning the corner. I keep them close to help remember how blessed I am and to be grateful for the life I’ve got, because with scrapes and all I always get back up. Gratitude and laughter have been a big part of my Blessed Project this year.

 

Empowerment at the beginning of the year …

 

 

Adventures with my kids that made my heart much bigger …

 

 

Quiet moments of inspiration …

 

 

Finding the funny …

 

 

Bucket List Adventures …

 

Remembering I can always get up and knowing that my Dad is always with me gives me the warm and fuzzies comeback strength to keep going …

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Buen Camino my friends!

 

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 …

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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.

 

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Landscape

4 Apr

 

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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.