Thursday, April 26, 2012

Big Hearted Volunteers

Eight years ago, Lucas boarded a boat headed to Camp Del Corazon on Catalina Island. He was young and I was nervous about him being so far away. The memory of that day is clear in my head. We dropped him off in Marina Del Rey and met his cabin counselors. These two volunteers went by nicknames; Tags and Wheels and they would shepherd the Cabin “Tugboats” for five days. For both, it was their first year volunteering.
2004 - Wheels, Lucas and Tags
They seemed like nice people as I spent time talking to them, debriefing them, and begging them to take care of my Lucas. We met other nervous parents who also tried to take reassurance in the medical staff and camp volunteers who would be with our kids for the next five days. I won’t lie, I was anxious as the boat pulled from the dock. 
Fast-forward eight years ….
Everyone is all grown up

Last Saturday, Lucas accepted the invitation to speak at The Camp Del Corazon Gala Del Sol. It’s their big fundraiser held at Universal Studios in the Globe Theatre.
This glitzy party started with a walk down the red carpet to cocktail hour, silent auction, and food prepared by the Wolf Gang Puck Team. To our surprise, Tags and Wheels from Lucas’ first camp year were there and the reunion was filled with funny stories, laughter and an overall amazement at the speed of time. It was a wonderful moment!  These guys continue to volunteer two weeks of their summer to help children with heart problems forget their worries and just be a regular kid at camp having a blast!
 I love the following Erma Bombeck quote that sums up these men. "Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation's compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another."
 I've more to share about The Gala and Lucas’s speech to the sold-out event that was hosted by Joel McHale (E!s “the Soup”) and Tom Arnold. Hearing the hosts tell their stories of loved ones who suffer from heart defects made me realize that we all share a love for children battling heart disease. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Balance Tip O’ the Week – Be Prepared

It wasn't easy, but we did it!
My first mistake when I signed up to ride Blanche in the Thousand Oaks 10K was assuming that this race was like the past half-marathons I’ve trained for. Ha! Instead of doing homework, I built up my unicycle riding to 6.2 flat miles and felt prepared. Jeez, was I wrong! Sunday’s course included a loooong hill and when at the top there started a much sharper longer down side. Using my legs as extreme downhill breaks was something I did not train for. Near the bottom of this hill, you had to turn around and head back up this beast. On Blanche, I can ride down hills and I can turn. However, I wasn’t ready to turn while steeply sloped.  Helllllo Fall #1, hands meet asphalt! Pushing Blanche up this killer hill, my pride and buns felt every step. 
I knew I’d have to walk a section because part of the course was on a dirt-rocky path. When I attempted to ride, the muddy-equestrian trail was no match for my tired-noodley legs. Hellllo Fall #2! Farumph!

Today, I wince when I walk.  I'm sore. A couple times during the race, I toyed with quitting, as I felt my body weaken.  But I was determined to complete that dam thing and after one hour and ten minutes, I did. Hooray! It's over, hooray!

The day didn’t go as planned (nothing ever does). However, I had fun with my neighbor and I loved sharing  the infectious Race Day Spirit with all those prepared athletes! Plus, I won a sweatshirt in the after-race raffle! Most importantly,  I learned an important lesson in keeping life balance, and the Boy Scouts said it best:
“Be Prepared.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Crammed Blessings from God

Picking up from my last post about keeping life-balance by saying “no,” I must add that circumstances arise where you can’t say “NO” … because you don’t want to even though you’ll be stretched. That’s because the events you say ”yes“ to are “Crammed Blessings.”  They fall on the same weekend, so you suck it up and pray for endurance to enjoy each and every one.

This Sunday is the Thousand Oaks 5K and 10K and I’m ready to ride Blanche. While preparing with a six-mile ride yesterday, I had this crazy idea to take a picture of my shadow. That wasn't an easy task while on a unicycle with big-red-boobs-in-the-way and a lousy-cell-phone camera. However, I was up for the balance challenge and excited for this weekend. Here it is :0)

Another “Crammed Blessing” is Overboard’s birthday.  As she says, “Every day above ground is a good day!” True!  Tonight we cheers to her, CLINK!  My Techie is busting out the Volcano Stove and cooking dinner. This is a rare occasion and a welcomed one too ;0) Daniel painted her gift yesterday and we are thankful to start a new year of Overboard, who’s turning sixty-seven!
A gift from the heart Overboard will love
“Crammed Blessing” #2 is the Camp Del Corazon Gala on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Lucas has practiced his speech to encourage the crowd of elites to donate big bucks to this amazing summer camp on Catalina Island for kids with congenital heart defects. He will be wearing a tuxedo so that will help. In addition, if he remembers to “speak slowly” then it will be a win-win for Camp Del Corazon.
Amongst this, we have finished building the Cape Cod Chicken Coop (darling!) and are watching Cinco (my niece-dog) who loves to play catch. She is different than the Weiner Sisters with her  jumping and running skills. Cinco has them ;0)
My final “Crammed Blessing” will be waking at dawn Sunday to attend the race. I appreciate that my legs work and I can pull this off (fingers crossed). This is a miracle as I realize that good health is everything. In addition, it's a huge blessing to have wellbeing amongst sickness and stressful divorces that surround my unicycle world. Ug! 

Honestly, I welcome a “Crammed Blessing” weekend, although it's a tad stressful. It says in Psalms 16:1-3 You are my Lord. All the good things I have come from You.”
I agreed with Sara when she woofed...
 "Thank God for a weekend of Crammed Blessings!”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Balance Tip O' the Week

We need to maintain a proper balance in our life by allocating the time we have. There are occasions where saying no is the best time management practice there is.” ~ Catherine Pulsife
Aren't those two letters often difficult to spit out? Guilt and the Good Girl inside want to say “yes,” but I know in my heart the answer is “no.”

Why? Because if I say, "yes," when my heart says "no," I throw my schedule, family, and well-being out of balance. I burnout and am spread so thin, I do no one any good. In today's whirlwind world the truth is that to keep balance, sometimes you must answer, “No thank you, No way, I can’t, Hells no, Not now, So sorry but …. No.” 
It’s okay to say no to requests of your time and energy that don’t fit your highest priorities.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Magic Castle

Dinner at Yamashiros
No pictures allowed INSIDE the Magic Castle
Our visit to the World Famous Magic Castle, home of the Academy of Magical Arts, is a night I'll never forget. I don’t know much about the art of magic outside my dad finding a quarter behind my ear. Magic encompasses many sizes and styles, from up-close intimate sleight of hand to grand illusions on a stage.

The neat thing about this huge-castle mansion was that it housed many theatres, each of them able to feature some of those different styles. We saw all types of shows, after enjoying Japanese food at Yamashiro’s in the Hollywood Hills. 

At the Magic Castle, we sat front row watching Johnny Ace Palmer in the Close-up Gallery. Unbelievable! We visited our host, Mark Collier, at the W. C. Fields Bar and we were able to squeeze in a show in the Palace of Mystery and a visit to the Owl bar. I realized that THIS is what people used do for entertainment before movies, radio and television. Think Vaudeville, because the entire night had an unedited-good-old-fashion-fun feel.
This private club has the atmosphere of an early 1900’s Victorian parlor and library. The decorum still insists that gentlemen visitors wear coat and tie and old paintings hang on the wall like the Haunted House at Disneyland. It was a step back in time.
My Awesomesouvenir and Mark with his ginormous trophy
When we arrived at the W.C. fields Bar, Mark Collier didn’t recognize us. Then he blurted out, “Unicyclerose!” and the evening pushed into high gear. The “trick of the night” was I wrote my name on a random card. I expected it to be another one of “those” card tricks.  I placed my signed card into the deck and he set it aside, saying he’d get back to it later. Next juggling hats, card tricks, wit, and humor gushed from him like a broken pipe. It didn't stop! Before we knew it, his show was over. We reminded him about my card buried in the deck.  He acted surprised then turned behind where alcohol lined the bar. He grabbed a bottle of white wine (my favorite) and handed it to me. Inside the sealed bottle floated my six of hearts with “” written on it. Incredible! Plus,what an Awesomesouvenir! (Yes, it deserves one-word status. It was that astounding).
I am hoping if I “play my cards right” we’ll be invited back ;0)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sleep: the ultimate balancing act

Despite being on Easter break, life circumstances have blocked my great need to sleep in. Today is the first day I could snooze until eight! I’ve anticipated this lazy morning for days.

Admit it; sleep is the ultimate human balancing act. Sleep is not an option, but a necessity. So many things seem more interesting than a few more hours of sleep. However, just as your body aches for exercise and nutrition it also begs for sleep.   Everyone needs a certain amount of REM if we want to feel our best, stay healthy, and keep emotional balance, mental sharpness, and productivity.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than 7 hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, 6 or 7 hours of sleep may sound good. In reality, it’s a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation. I know, I'm a seven-hour-a-night person.
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.  I know what you’re thinking; nine hours of sleep! Are you kidding me? Don’t shoot the messenger; I'm merely delivering the facts at the request of your exhausted sleep-hungry body. You are not doomed to toss and turn every night. Here are sleep tips:

1.      Stick to a sleep schedule – go to bed and wake up the same time, even on weekends.
2.      Pay attention to what you eat and drink – Don’t go to bed hungry or stuffed, and avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine that only make solid sleep more difficult.

3.      Create a bedtime ritual – Do the same thing every night to tell you body to wind down, but no TV. Try reading.

4.      Get comfy – Create a room that’s ideal for sleeping.

5.      Limit daytime naps – If you nap during the day, limit it to 10–30 minutes, and take your siesta during the midafternoon.

6.      Include physical activity in your daily routine – regular exercise promotes better sleep so get moving!

7.      Manage Stress – Not impossible, but much easier said than done ;0)

My million-dollar idea is “Sleep-in-a-Can.” Experiencing too little sleep? Having memory problems? Lacking energy? Chug “Sleep-in-a-Can” for instant revitalization. It’s a great idea, but don’t hold your breath. My “Sleep-in-a-Can” concept is a dream and Dreams are Free!
The challenge here is to keep the balance and get more sleep. Good luck, Grasshopper!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Linner

Preparing for Easter Linner (that’s what we call a late lunch-early dinner) is half the holiday fun.  My homemade-ice-cream-Easter-chick cake was a hit. My creation was white cake with strawberry ice cream, and cream cheese frosting. Decorating was fun, yet stressful. When frosting ice cream cake, time is of the essence.  You spread quick and swiftly to avoid meltdown.  This time I added coconut grass, Peep chicks coming out of Air Head eggshells, flowers, and jellybean eggs.  Imagine playing “Beat the Clock” without the cash prize. My sweet creation was not perfect (nothing ever is) but looked Easter-y and tasted AMAZING. All six pounds of it!
Popcorn, get yer popcorn!
 Easter Service was a blessing as my Techie rocked on electric guitar and Lucas on huge bongos in the worship band. The only glitch was that they had to arrive to pre-practice at 7AM Easter morning. I was fast asleep when they left the house.  When we got to church I saw Lucas seated at the drums in front of hundreds of people dressed in a green T-shirt, old jeans, and black Converse. Really?  Did he think he was going to the Skate Park? Both played remarkable music and Jesus doesn’t care what you wear. But really? Jeans, sneakers and a T-shirt on the biggest Christian holiday of the year? Oh, don’t get me started ;0)
Please don't feed the animals
 Easter Sunday was amazing and I’ll spill the (jelly) beans and share the deets.

My nephew was in carnival clothes, selling popcorn. Just kidding, but he looked like he could work under the big top with his checkered shirt and pink bow tie. So cute!

We visited the park and enjoyed the amazing warm weather, football and new frisbee. Uncle Dave and Lucas climbed trees like Easter Monkeys!
The dogs enjoyed the park as much as the humans. Confetti eggs hid in Easter baskets, so there were playful shenanigans all around. One of the Weiner Sisters sported a confetti bindi!
 Easter Linner was grilled steaks and chicken. Deee-lish!  I love my family and they deliever maximum joy and laughter whenever we gather. It really doesn’t matter what we eat, or where we go. It’s a simple delight to just BE a family. Together and healthy ;0)
 Another special event was our visit to the world famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. That trip’s post is in the works! Until then, remember, Alleluia! Jesus Lives!
My Easter Blessings (Lucas in his Sunday Best)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lucky Dinner

It's Spring and that means chick season!

Did you know there are thought to be at least 25 billion chickens worldwide, which is the highest population of any bird in the world?

Did you know the typical commercial hen lays 300 eggs in one year?
Did you know that four of these fowl are soon moving to the Cape Cod chicken coop in my backyard? Yep, the housing market is lookin' up in Chicken World.
The heavy boxes arrived and now it’s time to build the cutest coop ever. What chick wouldn't want to live in a style of cottage developed on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in the 18th century?  I'm sure feathered friends (dare I call them pets?) don’t care, but I think the coop is darling.
Once the Cape Cod is constructed, it’s off to the feed store to buy four chickens. It's during that transaction that we are official "Small Urban Farmers."

I asked Lucas if he had a name for his chicken. He answered, “I am calling her Dinner.”
Lucky Dinner! She will be one-cheery-chick-livin-large-layin-eggs in the Cape Cod of coops (now say that ten times fast).

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Balance eating tips for Easter

For Easter, I've come up with tips to balance your holiday intake. We live in a culture with tremendous food focus. It’s easy to overeat at the Easter table or picking through the kid’s Easter baskets. From experience, nothing feels worse than a sugar hangover, or that bloated-fat feeling the morning after a big holiday.
Balance Tips:
Remember jellybeans are not really food.

Butter in the shape of an egg has as many calories and as much fat as regular butter.

Don’t eat to make others happy. If you don’t like Aunt Betty’s crunchy green beans, you don’t have to eat them. Unless you are a kid. Then Mom forces you.

Remember to drink lots of water, then drink some more. Hydrate Baby!

Remind yourself that there is wonderful protein inside those colorful Easter eggs. 

Avoid second helpings just because it tastes yummy. Ask yourself if you are really hungry.

Did I mention that jellybeans are not real food? 

Easter (for me) is about celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from the cross, along with friends, family and fun. Make those your focus instead of peeps and chocolate bunnies. If you feel out of balance in the eating department this Easter, grab your human peeps and walk to the playground for some basketball or kite flying.  We are hosting tomorrow and we'll visit the park with our family, giant frisbee and the Weiner Sisters. What are your plans?
 Cheers to Resurrection Sunday! Have fun and keep the balance ;0)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

LOST: Half of My Mom

Big Italian Overboard and her meatballs
I’ve lost half of my mother, AKA: Overboard, and (thankfully) we can’t find the 110 pound piece because it was not her better half. Hurray! Alas, she is keeping good balance! Overboard had Gastric Bypass surgery because she had two serious health conditions; high blood pressure and type two diabetes. When a person has gastric bypass surgery the stomach is made smaller and causes food to bypass part of the small intestine. You feel full more quickly than when your stomach was its original size. This reduces the amount of food you can eat at one time. Imagine how birds eat, it’s like that. This leads to weight loss and a lot of it. In Overboard’s case, since her surgery in July  2010, she dropped from a 24 dress size to a size 8!

When she decided to have the major surgery I was worried and bummed that she couldn’t maintain a healthy weight the old fashioned way; diet and exercise. Like so many Americans, Overboard leaned out-of-balance with food. She was a yo-yo dieter, emotional eater and battled obesity for decades. Gastric bypass surgery was her solution and although an extreme way to lose weight, it worked! Now she is less likely to die from heart problems, diabetes or cancer compared to obese people who did not have this surgery. That means Overboard will be around to watch her grandsons grow up, fuss over her great-grandchildren (God willing), play Farkle, go bowling and bicker with my Dad. She not only looks and feels better, but it seems she has a new lease on life.  
It hasn’t been easy changing her life song. Overboard’s diet and routine have been forever modified, but she has adjusted wonderfully to her new tune. She will never be able to eat the way or amounts she did and will need to take vitamins for life. Plus, essential nutrients will be monitored for the proper functioning of her body system.
Alas, she has achieved that difficult balance of maintaining healthy weight. Although slimmer and more-beautiful-than-ever on the outside, she is still 100% Overboard on the inside. She still over-cooks, over-shops, over-decorates, over-loves and over-spoils her grandsons. That is why we will always love our new-and-improved-healthy-petite Overboard.
Cheers to you Mom! Clink! I'm so happy you are
 keeping "the balance." Good job!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Balance Challenge

"Always seek for balance in your life: If you stayed long in the darkness, walk long in the light; if you talked too much, stay silent for a good while; if you climbed the high mountains, hike long on the plains! Balance everything!"
Mehmet Murat ildan

If you've never owned one Spring butterfly plate, buy two!
It's all about balance ;0)