Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Wish List

Both of our immediate families are participating in Secret Santa gift exchanges through Elfster this year. To give my gift givers wide variety of gifts to pick from, I created a wishlist on the site. I thought I would share it here in case you were having trouble coming up with a Christmas list of you own. You may borrow these links only if you have been a good girl/boy this year. Stay off that Naughty list! There is still time!!!

State Necklaces (I would get California in gold, of course)

I had a lot of fun putting this wish list together and I think I'll keep it going year around just so I have a place to bookmark things that I love (other than pinning things on Pinterest). 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Hunger Games Trilogy

I said in my Pre-Thanksgiving vacation post that I downloaded The Hunger Games on my kindle and wanted to spend my vacation reading it. Well, I finished it in 24 hours, moved onto Catching Fire and finished that in 48 hours. I waited a few days to read the final book, Mockingjay, because I heard it was intense and I just needed to take a break from reading.

I started Mockingjay Friday and finished it this morning, just in time to get out of bed and hop into the shower to start my late work day. Holy intense. I actually had a hard time getting through this book because it was a bit more complicated then the other two. I couldn't read while at the gym because the noises around me were distracting.

Some SPOILERS are ahead so do not read if you haven't read these books. But I'm urging you to read them. You can get through each one in a weekend if you devote a lot of time to the books.

The Hunger Games: I think this was my favorite of the series. I had such a vivid picture of the actual Hunger Games in my head while reading. I hadn't yet watched the trailer for the movie because I really wasn't interested but as soon as I was done with it, I ran to the computer and watched it four times. I'm really excited to see the movie and I hope it does the book justice. Despite the drama in this book, there is so much more suspense in the other two. I felt like this was just a small glimpse into the life of Katniss Everdeen.

Catching Fire: I went through so many emotions reading this book. I was heartbroken that Katniss had to go back to the arena. I was sad that it was so complicated to get through these games and I was honestly a bit confused at the ending and the games that were being played outside of the arena behind her back. I was worried about what was going to happen to Peeta due to all the drama they went through in the arena. I liked Catching Fire but not as much as Hunger Games.

Mockingjay: This book is intense. It took the story to another level and it was deep, dark and sad. There isn't much happiness in this book. Prepare yourself for a complicated story line, at least for it was. Maybe I'm just not smart. I started reading the final 25% of the book this morning at 8:00 and finished right at 10:15 with tears in my eyes. I totally cried at the ending. I went back and forth several times between Team Peeta and Team Gale and who I thought Katniss should be with. And for the sake of not spoiling everything in case someone reads this, it all made sense in the end. I was glad that within the last few pages, there was happiness and peace in their lives. It was a great ending.

Let's discuss! Please comment below your thoughts about these books. I highly recommend reading them and I am really sad that they are over.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Back to Normal

Well, wasn't that a nice 9 day vacation! As life gets back to normal, let me unload a bit....

*I just did a bit of Cyber Monday shopping and it feels good! I purchased Christmas presents for my nieces and used a few coupons and Kohl's cash to get some black boots that I can wear over my skinny jeans. I saved a good chunk of money so I'm excited about that.

*Yesterday, we went to the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. It was my sister-in-law's 18th birthday and that is where she wanted to go. I had never been there before so I was kind of excited as I stepped into the cheesy gift shop and laid my eyes on the big house. But as soon as the tour started, my excitement faded. Our tour guide seemed nervous and had a major speech impediment. He would have been better suited for the gift shop. I had a hard time understanding what he was saying and his attempt at jokes fell really flat. The house wasn't all that interesting and it was certainly NOT mysterious. Half of it was never completed so we just saw empty rooms with bare walls. It was freezing in the house as well. We did a Behind the Scenes tour and that was a bit more interesting to me. The tour guide knew a lot more and we heard information we couldn't just read off of wikipedia. Overall, it isn't something I would do again. Shopping across the street at Santana Row would be better. But it was fun to spend the day with family. That is ALWAYS worth it!

*I completed my 21 (23) day no junk food challenge. I ate my first piece of chocolate and I have to say, I think I lost my taste for it! Weird, right? I did have a donut on Thanksgiving morning and it was delicious but now I feel like I'm back in that "need it" mode which I was happy to avoid for three weeks. I'm trying to work out a "special occasion day" schedule so I don't completely cut myself off from treats but only allow myself to have them on special days. And you know the holiday season brings a lot of special days!

*I have started to listen to Christmas music in my car. My finger nails are painted with red and green glittery nail polish. I vow to polish and repolish with this color until December 31! We are planning to make pizza and decorate our tree and house Friday night. I can't wait!!!

*I don't mean to brag but my next vacation is just 17 work days away. I'm keeping my eyes on the prize here people. I live for vacations. Heck, I'm already looking forward to three Monday's off between January and February.

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving weekend and if you are back to work today, I hope it is treating you well. Do you do your Christmas shopping early or stretch it out over the month of December?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Older and Wiser

I have noticed a shift within me the past couple of years when the weather gets cold and Santa and his reindeer's make their appearance in stores, songs and in my own home. My focus isn't on the presents and the shopping and the wrapping paper.

My focus has turned to giving and spending time with loved ones. Less important are the number of gifts that I give and receive but the time I spend with the people who are most important to me. The laughter we share while gathered together around the Christmas tree, the memories we create while opening the present from our Secret Santa.

While thousands of people are out in stores right now (and have been for hours), I'm snuggled in bed with my husband looking forward to a fun day together. No lines, no worries, no pushing and shoving. Just being together. Because the REAL meaning of Christmas and the holiday season doesn't involve saving money on a gift. It doesn't involve waiting in line in the cold AWAY from loved ones that gathered together for Thanksgiving.

I urge you to do something for someone else this Christmas that doesn't involve wrapping a present. Find a Wreaths Across America event. Give to a worthy charity. Encourage your family to skip the massive gift giving and set up an Elfster gift exchange, where you buy one person a present. We did this in my family last year and it was so much fun.

I love Christmas. I love the cold weather. I love snowmen and the decorations I put up in my house. I love the music. Oh the music, how I love it so. I love the parties and the joy. I love having an excuse to get together with my family and make memories. I love thinking outside of myself and remembering that this is a great time of year (as is the rest of the year) to make use of our time off to donate to worthy causes.

Think about what Christmas means. It doesn't have to be about stress and a dwindling bank account. It is about the memories that are made. Make wonderful memories this holiday season while being sane every day.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving and Thankful...and just full

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you are all busy preparing your meal or driving to your meal like we are doing this morning. We trade off where we spend Thanksgiving each year. Last year, we drove 25 minutes to my in-laws house so this year we are driving 2 hours to my aunt's house in San Jose. I'm really excited to see my family and spend time around the fire chatting and catching up.

Like I've done the past two years (see below), I've listed out what I am thankful for but those things haven't changed much so I'll make a short list:

I'm thankful for my husband, who is currently in the garage with AAA because he locked his keys in the car while cleaning his vehicle. This provided some comic relief for me and for that, I am thankful.

I'm thankful for my entire family because they are fun and loving. If I could see them every single day, I would. I'm glad we live so close and have so many occasions to hang out together.

I'm thankful for my kitty, Kitty. I can't even explain the joy she brings to our life. She fills the gap in our lives because we still don't have a kid. This cat is seriously loved in our house and I can't even remember what life was like before bringing her home.

I'm thankful for so many things in life and lately, I've made sure to slow down and count my blessings each day and night because so many people have so many struggles. I have a warm home filled with love. I have food in my pantry and money in the bank and for that and so much more, I am thankful.

Thanksgiving post 2010

Thanksgiving post 2009

Monday, November 21, 2011

The moment I have been waiting for

I've been counting down and waiting for this day since September. I remember telling my co-workers...

"Just 9 weeks until Thanksgiving vacation!"

One of the benefits of working in education is that we get some time off around the holidays. I'm taking the entire week off because 1) I can  2) I'm exhausted.

I have some plans that include:

1. Finishing (ok, starting) online traffic school for the ticket I got back in....umm...I don't even remember.

2. Cleaning out the cabinet under the sink in my bathroom

3. Cleaning my car. My trunk is a disaster. I have the most random stuff in there. Currently, I have a dvd player, a piece of wood to be cut for my mom's cabinets, an apple, a newspaper, three sweaters, a scarf and a partridge in a pear tree.

4. Relaxing.

5. Relaxing.

6. Relaxing.

7. Baking something just because I can and then eating it. I've been finding the most delicious looking desserts on Pinterest. This will be after the 23rd when I'm officially off of my no junk food challenge craze. More on that next week.

8. Making dinners each and every night. Trying to be a good wife.

9. Going to lunch with friends and perhaps my sister.

10. I purchased The Hunger Games on my Kindle so I'd like to finish that by the end of my vacation. (UPDATE: I started this book Friday afternoon and finished Saturday afternoon. I am completely and totally hooked on this series. I can't wait to finish the other two books! I think I can finish both before the end of vacation)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Feeling Empathy

I think I've written before about how I have a love/hate relationship with my empathy. I love being happy when other people are happy but when sadness is around me, I tend to take it on as if it is my own.

I learned last night that a friend of my sister's family was shot and killed while in the line of duty. This man's daughter used to babysit my niece. He leaves behind a wife and three beautiful daughters. The more I thought about this last night after learning the news, the more I became cloaked in sadness.

I tried going to sleep but I couldn't shut my eyes. I kept thinking how impossible it must be for that family to get any sleep of their own. How it might be better to stay away so they can divert their thoughts when they turn dark. Sleeping means your mind roams and wanders without your control and when dealing with the loss of a husband and father, I just can't imagine sleep comes easily.

I cried on the way to work thinking about the family waking up this morning, hoping it was a nightmare, only to be faced with the bitter reality of their lives. The sadness enveloped me and my heart broke into a million more pieces.

I feel sad for this family and I hope that each day they are able to be comforted by happy memories. My thoughts are with you, Capoot Family.

Love each other daily. Feel empathy often. It might not always feel good but it reminds you that life is fragile and unexpected events occur.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holiday Mail for Heroes

The cards my students made for the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program

This holiday season, while sending out Christmas cards to your family and friends, think about the men and women of our military who are far away from their loved ones during Thanksgiving and Christmas. You can send cards to these fine people through the American Red Cross' Holiday Mail for Heroes program.

Holiday Mail for Heroes
PO Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD

It will only take a couple of minutes to write out some cards and send them away to brighten the day of someone serving our country.

NOTE: Some of you might see a similar program with the address of Walter Reed Hospital. Do not send cards to that address as they will not be received.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One foot, then the next, and so on and so forth

Our softball game got cancelled tonight so instead of being a lazy bum, I threw on my running clothes and hit the road. I haven't gone for a run (run/walk actually) in a while so it felt amazing to step outside just before sunset and feel the cool air hit my face as I took my first steps.

Not everyone can look as hot as I do when they exercise. #sarcasm

I walked for about 3 minutes before breaking into a steady albeit slow stride. It felt great to run. If I started to feel winded, I just slowed down and planned to walk when I got to a specific corner.

We get some beautiful sunsets in my neck of the woods. I can't see this while running on a treadmill at the gym. I started to feel really great and continued to run (and take pictures).

I'm obsessed with leaves. Some of the leaves look like they are fluorescent. The street is lined with these trees and they are so beautiful.

I remind myself to simply put one foot in front of the other. It really helps to guide myself along, especially when I start to struggle.

I finish my first lap around the neighborhood and keep going for lap #2. 

The sky has changed colors once again so I stop to admire it and snap a photo. I'm feeling pretty good at this point and decide to run all the way to the corner of my street.

One loop is about 1.5 miles so I ran/walked 3 miles and can proudly say that I ran more than I walked. I hope to make this a regular activity on the days I get home early enough and for sure on weekends. Fall is the perfect time to run outdoors if you love running in cooler temperatures. And the scenery around me tends to dull the pain in my legs!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Put me in charge

I'm so angry over this horrible, awful, sickening crime at Penn State. I'm angry over the "fans" who don't realize that a child rapist was protected in the name of football and reputation. I'm angry that no one has been fired. I'm angry that these kids who were subjected to this horrid act are having to go through this nightmare.

I'm angry that Joe Paterno actually said, on camera, during the (pathetic) rally at his house...

"It's a tough life when people do certain things to you, but anyways...."

WHAT? Rage. Rage. RAGE. A tough life when ya know, grown adult men rape children and an entire campus of adults knows about it and covers it up to protect their jobs/football program/school reputation. And the media that I have seen is only quoting him saying "Lets pray for the victims." F*** YOU JOE PATERNO. F*** YOU MEDIA. F*** YOU PENN STATE.

Put me in charge. I have NO TOLERANCE for any person who touches a child inappropriately. It is the most cowardice act and for some reason, it doesn't seem to be that important to certain people. Touch a child and you go to jail. For life. You are the scum of the earth.

And for those people who knowingly keep the secret about kids being raped and molested, you belong behind bars as well.

People who hurt kids and people who know about people hurting kids don't deserve rallies outside of their houses. They don't deserve to keep their jobs. They don't deserve to breath the same air that I do. Jail. For life. No parole. No second chance. No pity.

In the words of Eric Cartman in my favorite Southpark episode ever...

"Get your ass to jail!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


We sat at the table in our kitchen, eating turkey burgers off of paper plates. The topic that we have avoided for months came up.

"What are we going to do. We still want to have kids right?" I said, a little scared of the answer.

"Yeah, of course!" the reply that made my heart skip a beat while my stomach did flips and my brain screamed what my mouth didn't want to ask.

"Well, when? What we are going to do? What if it doesn't work again? It is just so tough." I held back tears.

"Well, then we live our lives. Yes, it is something that I want but if we try everything we can and it doesn't work out, I can't be upset over something I can't control."

Men. Why are they so emotionless and practical. So very practical. As if I have a practical bone in my body when it comes to my desire, my need, my wish to have a child.

The tears roll down my face. I explain that I just can't imagine that and I want to have kids. It hurts me deep inside imagining our lives without them.

"Why do we have this big house? What's the point?" I was starting to "kitchen sink". You know, when you throw everything out there because being practical just isn't in the cards, as discussed above.

"We have this big house because we can. And you know what, our lives will still be full. We will have each other and travel and do fun things. Our lives will be full no matter what the outcome."

Our lives will be full. Have more beautiful words ever been spoken? Did it leave me feeling better? No. I'm still feeling lost about this whole thing. I still feel broken but my practical husband and his calming words have comforted me.

Our lives will be full. We will make sure of that. Together.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pop Culture Thoughts and a Small Favor

-I believe Kim Kardashian faked her relationship and wedding. I believe it was all planned out from the get go. I believe that her filing for divorce the day before the NBA season was supposed to start was a part of the plan. That way, Kris would have been busy at training camp in the weeks leading up to the divorce filing and off at practice or at a game on October 31. Back in May when they got "engaged" there was no word about an NBA lockout because the season wasn't even over yet. It was all part of a perfect plan. The entire family is fake and lives to have their name in the news. What a sad life to look back on- to know that you faked every aspect of your life just to make money and be famous.

-I hope that Justin Bieber is lying and is the father of that baby by the chick that banged him after his concert. I think Justin Bieber is smug and famous teenagers are annoying and it would be nice to show obnoxious kids that they can't do whatever they want and make stupid decisions and then deny it.

-I have mixed feelings on Conrad Murry being found guilty. Yes, he was the doctor and should not have been giving Michael Jackson those drugs but did MJ have ANYONE around him that said no to him? If he did, I'm sure he would be alive today. His family, his "friends"-no one had enough pull in his life to tell him to stop using drugs. He was paying people a mighty amount of money to do what they were told. Michael Jackson was a drug addict. Just because of his name he isn't some hero or a saint or whatever. He drugged himself to death. He made those decisions himself knowing that he had three kids to parent. He is selfish and I feel so sad for his family but no one did anything to really help him. They didn't try hard enough. Addicts are not going to just admit they have a problem, I know that. But NO ONE in his life did a damn thing. They just kept giving him the drugs day in and day out. They should all be found guilty.

-Do we seriously have an entire calendar year left before the next Presidential election? I don't think I can take it. I might have to stop watching/listening the news and only listen to Adele on my ipod from now on.

And on a happier note...

If you are thinking of giving to a charity this holiday season, may I suggest giving to the Fisher House. The radio station I listen to in the morning is holding a donation drive right now. They are trying to reach $100,000 and since launching this just a week ago, they have already collected over $80,000 for this noble cause. If you can give any amount, you are making a difference in the lives of these military men and women and their families. Take that money that you would have spent on your morning coffee and spend it here instead. I proudly gave $50.00 to this worthy cause.

Armstrong and Getty Fisher House Donations

“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday, Friday

-Halloween marked two years since we moved into our house. It is so fun to think that we have been living there for two years and look back at all the of changes in our lives since then! The biggest change is that we walked into the house without a kitty and now that we have our beloved furry friend, we can't imagine life without her!

-I walked into Walmart this morning to buy some tea and from the parking lot, I spotted a Christmas tree set up in the store. I know some people are all RESPECT THE TURKEY but for me, Christmas just adds a bright light to the entire holiday season. I enjoy Thanksgiving because it means I get to see my extended family but for me, nothing beats Christmas. I can't wait to get my snowmen out of their containers and decorate the house.

-The weather has finally turned here in Northern California. It was 37 degrees this morning. I like to call it "California Cold" because I realize other parts of the USA are much colder but for a California girl like me, that is plenty cold! I love wearing a jacket and turning the heater on in the car, covering myself up with a blanket while watching tv on the couch. Late fall and winter is my favorite!

-After today, I have 9 working days left until a 9 day Thanksgiving vacation. It can not come soon enough. I hope I can be productive during my vacation. To me, there is nothing worse than having that many days off and not actually accomplishing things. I'm lazy but I hate being so lazy that nothing gets done!

-I hope everyone had a great first week of November. Can you believe it? NOVEMBER. I say this too much but time just really does fly by. I have a hard time believing that January ever existed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

So far, so good

I know I'm only on day 2.5 of this no junk food challenge but so far, I'm pretty proud of myself. The cravings aren't really there like I thought they would be. I don't want to cheat and let myself down.

I was thinking how I honestly do feel lighter in a sense. Both physically and mentally. I guess I was weighing myself down with not only added pounds but with guilt. Guilt that I know I shouldn't grab for that bag of M&M's or that second donut or that large bowl of ice cream. Guilt that my workouts were all for nothing if I was going to just eat them away.

I'm using the Lose It App on my phone to track my calories because if I'm going to give up all that is holy (i.e. chocolate) I need to lose some weight during this challenge.

That being said, I am SO SO SO HUNGRY. My body is used to more calories and food that filled me up in a gross way. I have NO approved snacks with me (I already ate them) so I'm having my second packet of oatmeal for the day.

Oatmeal does not equal a kit kat. Not at all. Especially oatmeal made with water and not milk.

Is it dinner time yet?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Ohhhhh, so that's what I need to do

1. Tricky Tactics:  One of the things on this list is.....and I'm not kidding...."Start by having unprotected sex."

I just blew your mind, didn't I?

2. Workouts: This article states that every woman is different so you should consult your doctor. Remind me again what the point is of writing this article if what is in the article doesn't apply to me?

3. Choosing my baby's gender: There is someone on this planet that actually wrote this as a way to determine what you are having:
"I've heard that if your DH is 'pretty' then you will have a girl first, and if he is handsome (more rugged or not as pretty) then you will have a boy first. We are having a boy..." -Bridey1

Oh brother.

Thanks The Bump for being a breeding ground for idiots.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The No Junk Food Challenge

Olympic athletes don't train for the biggest moment in their lives 50% of the time. They go full force and dedicate their lives to being in the best shape possible. They make all the necessary adjustments no matter how hard or challenging that may be.

Why don't we do the same? I came across this graphic on Pinterest a few weeks ago. My initial thought should have been, "NO WAY CAN I DO THAT." But I'm competitive. I like to challenge myself and the only way I've been challenging myself lately is to not have that second cookie, that second candy bar, that second soda.  Which I end up doing anyways. I fail at self restraint.

Starting today, November 1st, I am going to live by these rules for 21 days. Some of you might think that I am depriving myself and you know what? I am. I'm depriving myself because I can't seem to STOP myself from just eating "a little bit" of anything on this list. Newsflash: We don't NEED any of these things to live and I have given my body free range to chow down on these things any time, any place. People give up meat and I consider meat to be a vital part of my diet seeing as how I don't like vegetables. And meat is actually good for you. I'm not hurting myself by giving up the foods listed above. I put this on facebook and got a lot of "GIRL YOU CRAZY." That just made me want to do it more. I'm such a rebel.

I am going to take a small exception. Naughty spreads. I enjoy a berry and spinach smoothie for breakfast along with a whole wheat bagel or whole wheat toast. I usually put a small amount of butter or peanut butter on top. And when I say small amount, I mean small amount. Breakfast is the only time I tend to have PB or butter so I think I'm safe there. 

The rest of it....well that will be tough but if we aren't challenging ourselves to improve every day, what are we striving for? Will you join me for 21 days? Will you challenge yourself? Will you come out of this feeling stronger and better and maybe even lose some weight (and save some money!).

Will it be difficult? HELL TO THE YES. Just thinking about it puts fear tingles down my spine. Sad, right? But what is life if we aren't challenged by something? I'm excited to challenge myself and reach deep down to avoid eating these things for 21 days.