Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Make a difference while shopping

I like to shop.  Most of the time.  Some days the thought of shopping drains me and other times I get so damn frustrated because nothing fits and I swear I will never step foot into another store as long as I live.  But most of the time, I get giddy with the purchase of something new - usually for me, but sometimes for others.  (I'm not a totally selfish bitch.)  What I really love is when I can shop and my shopping helps raise money or provide a service for someone else!

Today I did some shopping on the St. Jude's website.  In 2006, my family experienced the loss of ten year old friend to brain cancer and I love knowing that my purchase supports St. Jude's and their mission to treat and find a cure for childhood cancers.  Every year, I purchase Christmas tree ornaments.  I purchase them for our home tree and I purchase them for gifts - especially teachers and bus drivers (assuming they celebrate Christmas, which in my case, they all have).  Every year the teachers thank me for this awesome gift and comment that they love that it helps St. Jude's.  You can go to the link above to shop, but I am going to include some pictures of the ornaments I bought.

  These ornaments count the 12 days of Christmas.  We will not be counting the traditional 12 days of Christmas from Christmas Day to Epiphany, but we will hang one ornament for 12 consecutive days to countdown to Christmas Day.




These are some of the other ornaments I purchased for my kids and their teachers.

Another great project going on is with a friend of mine and her daughter.  My friend's daughter, Maya, is in 2nd grade.  Her class is sponsoring a 7-year-old girl in an orphanage in India. Her name is Santhi (pronounced “saun tee”) and Maya’s classmates each donate whatever amount they can each month to help pay for her food, clothing, schooling, etc. They have a picture of Santhi in their classroom and treat her like a classmate – they read to her, write and send her letters, include her in class meetings – it’s really sweet. To me, this is way more important of a lesson for these 7-year-old kids than any math, spelling or reading. Maya has been setting aside part of her allowance to donate, but then said she wanted to make and sell bracelets to raise even more money for her. So Nikki and Maya are making bracelets together and 100% of the profits will go to Santhi!  You can visit Maya's Etsy site HERE.

Now go on, click on these sites and make a purchase.  You have the luxury of shopping from home, getting some cool stuff, crossing a few names off of your Christmas list and most importantly, you are helping out others in a way you will never really know.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Falling into the changes

The air is crisp, the sun was out, though the clouds are rolling in now, and we are under a wind advisory due to the strong gusts.  Several people in our metro area are without electricity due to the wind.  The high today was 67, but the high tomorrow is 59.  I actually do like fall.

However, for some strange reason this year, I think I have already developed SAD (Season Affect Disorder).  I've never had it before, but I think I feel it coming on.  Strong.  I am so dreading winter.  I hate the cold.  I like the snow, but it doesn't really snow much around here.  We spend the winter with freezing temperatures and an occasional day where it's warms enough to RAIN but not snow.  Cold, wet days are the worst and that's how I would describe our winters.  Grey and wet.  I have starting saying "Hola" to everyone hoping that will get me trip to Cancun.  Tropical Hawaii warmness is still in my mind, but the weather outside is a bitter reminder I am no longer in Hawaii.  It sucks.

I would love to have one month of winter - a month of cold, blustery, snowy, icy days.  One month.  And then I want to get back to the sun and warmth of spring and summer.  A few fall days can be squeezed in after summer and before the one month of winter.  That is my cure for SAD.  I don't think it will happen.  I'm not sure what I am going to do to get through this winter.  I guess I will hibernate as much as possible.

While you are here, join the discussion to the right in The Blog Frog.  I am curious how you all decide your school lunches for your kids - how much $$, do they pack 100%, do they buy 100% etc. etc.

And for a nice little reminder of how the weather should be, EVERYDAY, enjoy this.

View from the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I've always known he was brilliant.

Yesterday I bought a new plasma television.  And you can't buy a new television without buying a new stand for that television.  The result of the new stand purchase was that I had to put it together and I was reminded how much I love to build things.  I was also reminded about my lack of attention to detail and just as I was finishing up, I realized I had put a divider in backwards and the unfinished side was to the front.  So I had to take a good part of the cabinet apart.  Sous Chef helped me take it apart and CJ helped me put it back together.  As we were screwing in the gzillion screws for the back panel, CJ and I had this conversation:

CJ:  "I'm a good screwer!"
Me:  "Yeah?"
CJ:  "Yeah.  And you're a good builder."
Me:  "Thanks!"
CJ:  "AND you're a good mom."

Proof that this kid is as brilliant as they come.  And sweet, too.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Fragments


Wow, it has been a long time since I have participated in Friday Fragments!  Visit Mrs. 4444 (that Mrs. Fours, not Mrs. four-four-four-four) for more Fragments.
  • I am enjoying watching the new season of my favorite shows.  Mad Men on AMC is my very favorite show and if you aren't watching it, you should be.  However, I suggest you rent the previous seasons so you can catch up and understand all the intricacies of the show.
  • I bought an MP3 player recently and love it.
  • When I was flying home from Hawaii last week, I took the red eye.  I fell asleep sitting up.  I was in the middle seat between two men and did not have a pillow.  I think I slept for about two hours and when I woke up, I jokingly said to the man next to me, "Sorry if I snored."  He looked at me and smiled.  I then said, "You are not telling me I didn't snore."  He said, "Oh, I know how hard it is to sleep sitting up."  I do believe that was confirmation I snored.  I was afraid to apologize for slobbering because I really didn't want to know if I had done that.
  • My youngest son's birthday is a week away.  I have bought no gifts, haven't even really thought about gifts and do not have a party planned. 
  • I am doubling my hours at work from three hours a week to six hours a week and I will no longer be working an evening shift.  People often chuckle when I tell them I only work three hours a week, but those few extra dollars a month allow us to do some fun things.
  • My husband thinks I will never go back to work full time because I won't want to leave the cat alone all day.  Little does he know I've never intended to go back to work full time.  (Ok, just kidding.)
  • We are finally getting a Nordstrom store.  It opens today!
  • When we were at the crater of Haleakala in Maui, I was really thirsty and thought I would get a drink.  I was so thankful to have this sign because I was so close to getting my drink out of the toilet. 
  • I think these are the most lame Friday Fragments I have ever written.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some would slap me for this.

If you've been around the last couple of weeks, you know I took a lovely vacation to Hawaii with my best friend.  You know we had some fun times and lots of laughs.  We left our families behind, my husband and three kids and her husband and two kids.  I was anxious and giddy at the same time.  I don't like flying without my family, especially 4,500 miles.  I was thrilled to be going somewhere so wonderful with my best friend, whom I hadn't seen in almost a year because of her remote living location in Guam.  I received some shit from various people about leaving my husband with the kids, vacationing without my family, spending so much money on ME, etc. etc.

With all of that said, here is a conversation LQ and I had by the pool, about 4 days into our trip. 

Me:  "I know some moms would slap me for saying this, but I don't miss my kids."
Her, looking at me intently: "Neither do I."
Me:  "I don't really miss MG, either."
Her: "Yep."

And people, it was true.  I loved talking to them on the phone and hearing about their day, but I really didn't miss them.  And I realized I don't when I go away.  Eleven days is the longest I have been away from them.  Prior to this trip, eight days was my longest and those trips were with my husband. (Actually, I had WEEKS without the kiddos when I was recovering from surgery and I was in a whole other mind frame then and I don't count that!)  I am always excited to see them as I am making my way home.  I am always excited to see MG when he gets back from a trip.  I love the hugs and kisses that follow my arrival.  But while I AM away, nope, no missing going on.  I so enjoyed the relaxing, laid back days of my vacation that I couldn't imagine being anywhere else.  I could have stayed much longer.  I knew my kids were in good hands and I knew my husband was gaining even more valuable experience as a parent - getting their lunches packed, checking homework, getting them on the bus, dressing them for pictures, getting them signed up for extracurricular activities, making the trip to ER for a broken bone and the follow up appointments - all the things I do when I am there.  He even arranged for his own help by calling his parents and asking them to come for some of the time I was gone.

Oh, and while we were having that conversation, I do believe we were sipping one of these, a strawberry lava flow which we had every day we were at the pool.

For more Hawaiian photos and adventures go HERE for pictures and HERE for a kick ass funny video.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blessings

"Blessings on all those who share the faith".

This was posted on a local church sign.  Many people would sigh and think "oh, that's nice."  Me?  I was irked and shook my head.  Really - you only want to offer blessings to those who share the faith?  It seems to me that those who share the faith, no matter your denomination (this church would fall into the Christianity category), should bless everyone.  Why would a church only want to bless those who share the faith?  I do not understand that.  I would think everyone is deserving of a blessing and certainly those who have lost their faith or never had it deserve it just as much as the faithful.

I don't like it when a church/belief system/faith system singles out who should be blessed and who shouldn't.  Who is worthy of God's love and who isn't.  Who can participate fully in a service and who can't (and yes, my church falls into this category and I.DON'T.LIKE.IT.).  When the church defines who can hold a leadership position and who can't based not on qualifications or character but on gender/race/age.  I don't like it when a church tries to define one's relationship with God based on what hoops the person has jumped through.

Seriously, there are just days when I think I should start the Church of Jo.  It would probably just be me and my immediate family in attendance, but who knows.  Maybe not.  In the meantime, if you are here reading this, consider yourself blessed.  I believe God loves and blesses all of us - those who are strong in their faith, those who waiver in their faith and even those who are non-believers, who may not want His love and blessings.

On a more frivolous and fun note, here are a couple of more pictures from Hawaii.

This is Lora and I, in our wetsuits, on the boat going to the island of Molokini.  It was early in the morning, chilly and the sun had not quite cleared up the clouds yet.

Island of Molokini

Green sea turtle.

For more Hawaii pictures go HERE.  For a video that is sure to make you laugh, or at least chuckle, go HERE.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two Girls and a Green Sea Turtle Eco Adventure, Ma'alea Harbor, Maui, Hawaii

So many funny things happened on this trip. I mentioned in item #1 yesterday that our snorkeling trip was one of the best times of the trip. There is no way on this green earth that I could ever, ever, EVER describe in writing what that was like. So you are being blessed with this video of Lora and I talking about the funniest moment of all for us.
You will notice when I sit down and start talking I have a tissue in my hand. I pretty much needed a tissue at all times after this event took place, because I would bust out laughing at any given moment and laugh until I cried. It happened while I was driving, eating, trying to go to sleep, laying out by the pool, in the pool, grocery shopping. I was cracking up when when we got off the boat and were trying to make our way to the toilet. All I can say about that is that it was a good thing I had on a damp swimsuit, otherwise people would have noticed I was not able to totally control my bladder due to laughing so hard. TMI? Well, now you have the vision of me stopping walking, crossing my legs and doing a semi-squat trying not to totally wet myself from laughter. Lora, on the other hand, had taken full advantage of the open bar on the return to the harbor (I was the designated driver) and she wasn't much better except that I don't think she was having bladder issues. I even busted out in full blown snickering a couple of times on the plane home and I am sure the people I had to sit by thought I was losing my mind. I'm really hoping they thought I was laughing in my sleep. So, if you see me in public, alone, laughing hysterically and wiping my eyes, I assure you, I am not any crazier than I have always been. Just ignore me or feel free to laugh with me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It's over, but the memories live on...

I really can't summarize the entire trip.  I can say this:  11 days in Hawaii (3 in Honolulu and 8 in Ka'anapali Beach, Maui) are heavenly, especially when you are with your best friend who lives over 7,500 miles away (in Guam).  Fifteen hours traveling to get there is not so heavenly, but worth it.  The trip home was much quicker. 

Flying with the assistance of drugs to help with anxiety is awesome! I found it necessary to take a pill even when it wasn't "time." As we were flying over the Pacific Ocean (I think we were over the ocean, but the two people next to me were apparently so terrified they didn't know how or didn't want to look out the window to see if we were over the ocean and I was in the aisle seat and couldn't see. I was about to shove them both out of the way and look for myself instead of repeatedly asking "are we over the water?" and being told "I don't know", but instead, took a pill), the pilot screams into the microphone: "We need all passengers to sit down IMMEDIATELY. We need all flight attendants in their seats." Shortly after that, during all the bumping and bouncing and me trying to hold on to my drink and not die of a heart attack, the pilot says, "We need everyone to make sure your seat belts are secured and tightly fastened." At that point, I think I was swallowing a pill. I did not like this turbulence at all and I was really hoping it was JUST turbulence. Anyway, about 10-15 minutes later, the pilot came on and explained headwinds, temperatures, etc. and it was a fairly smooth ride the remaining five hours. I even managed to sleep some once it was dark outside.

I will be doing a few things to share this trip with you.  Today, I will be posting a Top 10 list, with pictures.  To see the picture a little larger, just click on it.  Tomorrow, hopefully if I can figure out how to upload a video from my camera which is acting wonky (yes, that's a word), I will be posting a video of the two of us talking about our favorite outing.  Third, for a while, I will post a picture or two into my daily postings, even if the picture has nothing to do with the post.

Enjoy and let me know when you've heard enough about this AWESOME trip!

Here is the Top 10 list outlining the highlights of our trip (these are my top 10, Lora's may be different).

1.  Snorkeling.  You will understand this better when you see the video.
This was an eco-adventure with The Pacific Whale Foundation.  It is not whale season, so instead we went snorkeling with green sea turtles along with all the little fishes.

I can't believe I am posting THIS picture of me, but here it is.  Me swimming in the Pacific Ocean, about 2.5 miles off shore.


This one is a little hard to see, but that is a turtle on the surface of the water.




2.  Taking a nap in the shade by the pool after the above trip.  We were up at 4:50AM to go on the snorkeling trip.



3.  The summit of Haleakala (a dormant volcano, but expected to erupt again someday) at 10,023 feet above sea level.  Haleakala means "House of the Sun".

This is at the summit facing the land on Maui.  If you look closely, you can see the moon in the top of the picture where the sky gets darker.

Summit of Haleakala

Crater rim of volcano.

From summit of Haleakala you can see the summit of the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was 90 miles from summit to summit.


4.  Biking down Haleakala.  This was a 26 mile bike ride with only two hills that we needed to pedal to the top of (yes, I am ending in a preposition).  We could not pedal up one of the hills because we laughed too hard and used up all of our energy.  The second hill, my chain fell off.  Thanks to my biking days as a kid, I was able to fix it myself.  I could have put pictures of cows.  The cows roam freely on the mountain and there are road signs with "cow crossing" pictures.




Oprah's house.  This is zoomed WAY close, the house is very far from the road.

Jo and Lora in front of Makawao Union Church, made from lava stone.


5.  The yummy drinks brought right to your pool chair.




6.  Pearl Harbor/USS Arizona Memorial (Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii)


Names of the those who died on Dec. 7, 1941.  I didn't get a picture, but to the left is a small memorial of those who survived that day, but have since passed away.

Fuel and oil still leak from the USS Arizona.

God bless America!  (And the rest of the world, too.)

Jo and Lora, waiting for the movie and the boat ride out to the memorial.



7.  Views from our hotel rooms.

Waikiki Beach
Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Honlulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Mountain view room from hotel in Ka'anapali Beach, Lahaina, Maui

Ocean view from hotel in Ka'anapali Beach, Lahaina, Maui

Ocean view room from hotel in Maui



8.  The flowers, most of which I don't know the name of!

Bird of Paradise


Lobster Claw (I am guessing there is a more formal name to this!)

Plumaria



Orchids


Silver vase




9.  Sunsets

Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Baldwin Beach, Paia'a, Maui, Hawaii

Hotel, Ka'anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii


10.  Fiber One Bars.  Lora became concerned disgusted by my lack of action in the intestines.  Though I was feeling fine and telling her this was normal, she talked me in to buying a box of Fiber One bars at the local Safeway.  I'm sold on these and my colon is working well.


Surprise!  There's really 11, but I couldn't leave this one off the list!


11.  Though I wasn't really ready to come home, it was great to come home to this!


As you can see, Big E has a big green cast on his leg.  He broke his big toe in a biking accident shortly after I left.  Maybe I need to show him how to ride a bike since I managed to ride downhill, riding my brakes the whole time to not go 100 MPH, twisting and turning on switchback roads and dodging cows without wrecking!