Tuesday, January 13, 2015

#NewFor52

You may have seen me throwing this #newfor52 hashtag around on my Facebook and instagram last year. In fact, you should have seen me use it a minimum of 52 times. Here's why I've been tagging around town, and why I'm committed to doing it again in 2015. Maybe you'll join me?

How did #newfor52 come about?
December 31, 2013 I was searching for a New Year's resolution... that I'd actually keep. I realized that since having my daughter in April 2012, my life had become significantly less whimsical and spontaneous. I kind of missed that, but hey, with babies it's all about routine. Day.... after day.... after day.... Then I realized that was a bit of a lie I'd told myself. Because, it is possible to stay spunky, it just takes a bit of work and intentionality. So rather than cave to an "it's just the way it is" mindset, I decided to do something (well somethingS) about it. I decided to do something new every week of the coming year. 52 new adventures, recipes, exercise classes, lunch dates, whatever would keep me from falling into the rut again.

So, how does it work?
Every week I intentionally try something new and post it to social media (for accountability and easy tracking) using #newfor52. We often do it as a family, but sometimes sneak away for intentional #newfor52 date nights.

Did it work?
Yes! We had SO much fun last year. It helped us regain some whimsy, but also reminded us to be intentional about rotating newness into our routine. We found ourselves on the prowl for fun date ideas, crafts, and reasons to spend fun time together.

Mind if I jump in?
Not at all! I LOVE when folks join in on the fun. We've had some great group #newfor52's too. I've started a Facebook group for sharing ideas, inspiring each other, and finding people to do something new with.

Some favorite memories of #newfor52 2014:
Dance Class
Took our darling miss p to a dance class. She mostly danced to her own beat and stirred the other girls towards naughty behavior, but had SO much fun!

This For That
I HATE running. Really hate it. So when Danny suggested we do the half marathon together as a #newfor52 I hated backing away. Around that same time, a friend challenged me to shave my head for St. Baldrick's. I had no choice but to say "yes" to her request (despite huge hesitations). While Danny trained for his marathon, I raised funds for my Shave For the Brave event. Once shave day came I was over the nerves and was THRILLED to support the cause (and boast being the top fundraiser at the event thanks to my generous friends). The week after shaving my head, Penny (who now has the longest hair of the family) and I cheered Danny on through his half marathon. 

Take Charge
For the past 13 years I've known I had to have my wisdom teeth removed. From time to time they would cause me pain and anxiety, but I always put it off. I'd frequently have nightmares about the day I'd have to get them taken out, and often bargained with God to do ANYTHING else in place of having to get an IV. When my dentist mentioned that "this might be the year" to get them removed I agreed (little did he know what I'd committed to). I voluntarily made the appointment for the consultation (I've done a number of these before), cried through the second half (where we discussed surgery and looked at my X-rays), and then (for the first time) actually booked a surgery date. Now, it was no walk in the park, but I made it through (and harassed the anesthesiologist along the way). Occasionally I forget they're gone and have a pang of panic about them, then I realize that I'm now 100% free from that fear because they're gone forever. Now I pray that the boldness that took me to that day follows me into the medical trials that will inevitably meet me on life's way.


Danny's Choice
I loved that #newfor52 inspired Danny to think of some creative dates for us. He really upped the game with some of his ideas, and I loved seeing his intentionality towards not only 'my cause', but towards our relationship. Thanks to him we enjoyed renting a boat near Balboa Island, a wine & painting class, Mark Broussard concert at Scripps Aquarium, Disneyland, and a showing of Wicked. He wins best #newfor52 wingman for sure.








So as I scan through the photos on my feed, I wish I could tell you the beauty I found in each of them, but I'm guessing that'd be fairly boring. So, I'll leave you with these few recaps. Hopefully you're now convinced to join me, and I can't wait to see the #newfor52 adventures that lay ahead. 




Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reflections from France

Luckily we had wi-fi in our hotels and I was able to share my daily thoughts  when we got home at night. We were so tired at the end of our long, adventurous days... but I'm happy to have the daily thoughts saved. And now in one place to save and share...

10/14
It's 5pm in Paris. My feet are so tired after just 1 day of walking on cobblestones. Nice to be in the fresh air after leaving SD at 10am yesterday and arriving at 10am today in Paris. Not sure how much sleep I've had in the past 'day'. Getting ready for dinner! Yumm!


10/14
‎10:30 here. After a delish dinner we ventured to Montmarte to find Moulin Rouge. Success. Metro is so easy to use.... Despite the up and down, up and down of stairs! I probably walked 100 stories of stairs today!!

Bonne nuit! 



10/15
Good morning nutella crepes, cafe, cheese, and croissants!


10/15
Louvre -Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, sarcophagus of Ramses III
Rodin- the thinker
Orsay- Van Gough, Degas, Monet, Manet
L'Orangerie- Monet's Nympheas
Invalides- tomb of Napoleon
The Opera Garnier, Sacre Coeur, Jardines des Tuileries



10/16
Midnight. Just back to the hotel after 15 hours of walking, metro, bus. Versaille, 400 stairs to the top of Notre Dame, Champs-Élysées, seine river boat, Paris by night, Latin quarter..... Bed...


10/17
Took the fast train through France. Arrived in the south in just 3hrs. Once in Aix en Provence enjoyed crepes and paninis before visiting Cezanne's painting studio and taking a walking tour of the town. Some buildings have been in Aix since the 12th century! Some ramparts built during the French revolution can still be seen around the city


10/17
Crepes and paninis at a sidewalk vendor for lunch — with Danny Fancher at Aix En Provence, Cours Mirabeau.


10/18
Off to explore Aix-en-Provence "the town of 1000 fountains". I'll be more careful not to get too close today. Almost took a public bath in one yesterday! Thanks to danny's reflexes... I was saved! — with Danny Fancher at Aix En Provence, Marseille.


10/18
Slowed down a bit today. Enjoyed the markets, fountains, churches, and an art museum with originals from some amazing artists. Sat and ate olives at a sidewalk cafe.


10/18
Miss my kitty, hearing people speak English, and being able to read menus :)


10/19
Spent today in St. Remy at the market and enjoyed paninis on the steps of a church. Saw the asylum where Van Gogh lived towards the end of his life and painted several amazing pieces, including my favorite: starry night


10/20
Left Aix and enjoyed lunch in Cassis. Had paninis for lunch--again-- :) and weren't able to take our boat ride because of the wind. Paid .60 euro to use the public toilette, then back on the bus to Nice. Looked out at the city from the hilltop where Elton John's house is and enjoyed a walk on the pebbled beach, views of the seaside village and sunset over the Mediterranean sea.


10/21
The most beautiful weather today for a walk around old Nice and a visit to a Matisse museum. Took a cliffside bus ride to Monaco.. Wow!!! What a place. Saw the Monte Carlo casino and the palace of Prince Albert II. Back to Nice for our last dinner in France and a walk back to the hotel. Probably won't walk this much, or take this much public transport til our next visit to this side of the world!


10/22
Leaving one beautiful place to go home to another. Thankful for all the beautiful gifts in this world and our ability to experience a slice of them.


10/22
We're baaaack









Saturday, September 24, 2011

Book Reflections

I hate seeing a book on my bookshelf and thinking "what was that about?", so I've decided to keep a log of books I've read and some reflections I have on them. I am also that type of person who thrives on shared experiences and conversation, so I hope talking to myself on a blog might sort out some unanswered thoughts I had about plots, characters etc....



The Help
Kathryn Stockett

A light, easy read... which is surprising considering its subject matter is actually quite heavy. Set in the South and centered on the relationships between middle-aged women and their African American 'help'. Stockett doesn't seem sure of what she really wants to focus in on and puts an egg in each basket: friendship, love/dating, social class divisions, racial divisions, parental relationships/expectations. This made for a well rounded story, and there's something for everyone's taste in the book, but I think it prevented the book from really pulling me in to the story emotionally and seemed clogged. The movie version leaves out a good 20% (or more) of the books content, but it doesn't affect the connection to the characters. I also felt much more emotionally connected to the characters in the movie and their struggles: infertility, suffering racism...

I loved the imagery of the time period (pearls, bows, and holiday parties). I was able to experience the color, smell, and taste of every scene described. Without bogging the reader down in detail, Stockett paints vivid pictures for the mind's eye to enjoy. The characters are easy to relate to: mothers, daughters... and who hasn't met a b***ch like Hilly in their lifetime? What I liked most about the story is that at its core it is a woman's book. There are some men in the story, but the women are all the focus and development. I also enjoyed that it's a book about women my age, rather than about teenagers or wise older women. I felt like I was right there at bridge club with the ladies and could have jumped into a number of their conversations about family, fashion, news, dating etc... It felt like Sex In the City... 50 years ago.

The book changes narrators between three of the main characters every few chapters. I really enjoyed this because it chopped the book up a little and kept the excitement and readability strong. I found myself flipping through the end of one characters story, eager to pick up where I left off with the other. I liked the narrators Minny and Aibileen more than 'Skeeter'. It's interesting to me that the book is written entirely by a white author and tells the story of a white author writing the stories of black women. The book shows the nasty nature of the white ladies in the story, and I felt like I was really reading the story from the perspective of the help. In reflection I wonder how those black women who lived through those ordeals feel about the book- does it represent their experiences? I know I would never question the angle of an author writing about extra-human occurrences... Like Stephen King... could you say to him, "Yes, but Stephen, how do you know.. have you ever personally been possessed?". I guess all good fiction authors do that, put themselves in shoes they may have no idea what it's like to walk in.

In all, the book was a B+. Really liked it, but had to ask myself why I was on the verge of tears during the movie, but smiling while reading the book. I enjoyed the ease of reading and the way Stockett invested so much into the development of every character that appears in the story, even the ones we only encounter once or twice (exhausting... yet refreshing as well).

Great House
Nicole Krauss

My friend Kat recommended this one to me because she really enjoyed it. I trusts Kat's judgment, so when I wanted to quit at page 100, I didn't. The book waits until about 10 pages before the end to really explain what's been happening in the last 270 pages. If you're like me, and need a bit of a carrot to chase through the book, this one will frustrate you, and you might not make it to the end of the story. Once I did get to the end, I still wasn't greeted with the satisfaction of everything suddenly making sense. The book jumps from storyline to storyline each chapter, and I was hoping for an ultimate intersection of all the stories: like in Crash... where at the end you're like, "whoa...!". I didn't get that from this book, which is tough for me because I like resolution. The other story lines do connect vaguely and the center of their connection is through furniture, namely a desk that each of them has an emotional connection to. One storyline simply disappears and is maybe a metaphor for the emotion you feel while reading the book (I know that's a complicated thought, but will make sense if you read the book... maybe?). At the end I had to reconcile myself with the loose ends and disappeared characters. It's not the individual strokes that make up this painting, it's one of those with little dots. If you look too closely and try to understand each dot, you miss the picture.
I can usually get through a book in a week or so, but this one took me over a month because it is dense with emotion and thought. Krauss challenged my vocabulary and capacity for abstraction.
A sample: Yes, a deficiency of effect, born of a deficiency of spirit. That is the best way I can describe it. And though I had been able to hide it for years, countering the appearance of a certain anemia in life with the excuse of another, more profound level existence in my work, suddenly I found I couldn't any longer."

Overall, a B. I still don't know what it all meant, but feel a mournful kinship with the characters long after closing the book. Maybe it'll grow on me as my mind wraps around it a little more.


Wicked
Gregory Maguire
The back story to The Wizard of Oz centered around the childhood, schooling, and young adult years of the Wicked Witch. From the start, the book is laced with strange sexual stories that don't tie into the overall story and seem purely gratuitous. Elpheba (the witch) has a troubled childhood/adolescence and seems to be exploited and harassed by those in power; teachers, the wizard, her parents... She begs sympathy from the reader through the first half of the book and then mentally starts to unwind in the second half.

The book almost seems to be written by two different authors as the scene, pace, and characters shift dramatically in the second half. Underlying political turmoil is brought out at times, but never really clear what is happening politically in Oz. At times the author introduces political ideals and characters without explaining them, and left me wondering if I'd missed a prequel to this prequel. It felt a little like picking up the 3rd book of Harry Potter and they run off to play Quidditch and you're like: what's a snitch?

I likely wouldn't have continued to read the book except: 1- I never quit a book because I hate feeling like maybe it got good when I quit. 2- I wanted to see when/how/if it would ever tie into the Wizard of Oz. 3- I had a 12 hour flight from London and it was the only book I packed.

In the end there wasn't any redemption for me. *SPOILER* Though Elphaba is allergic to water (it stings her skin) throughout the book, it never seems lethal. In the ending when Dorothy comes to see Elpheba and not intending to kill her sort of accidentally spills the water on Elpheba and kills her. Throughout the book Elpheba is guarding a mythical book, and willing to die to keep it from the Wizard.  As she dies, the book just disappears from the plot. Whoa!! Where'd that whole story line go? And why don't we EVER find out why/how her lover died (since she is working to avenge and seek pennance for his death the whole second half, shouldn't we know?). Anti-climatic for me who waited about 500 pages for an ending that wrapped everything up.

I still can't decide if it was fairytale and whimsical, too semi-adult, mystery, or what. I hope the Broadway was better. I'm not really interested in seeing it after this book.
Grade: C-

I'm currently reading: We need to talk about Kevin

Check back for my thoughts.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Blake James Miller

He's HERE!!
Blake James Miller
Born August 28, 2011 at 11:45 am!
7.5 pounds  *  21 inches

Laurel was AMAZING. She went into labor at 7:30am and Blake was here by noon! She had a natural birth and is recovering great.






Sunday, September 4, 2011

Summertime

Summer has been full of so much fun! A quick run down of what's kept us busy the last few months....

My little now big brother Kevin graduated Hugh school! I'm so proud! Four Oswald's through Monterey High- the end of a generation....


Soon after.. Jayme turned 25 and celebrated hanging at the beach and picnicing with Laurel and our soon-to-be nephew miller.


We went to North Carolina for our two year anniversary. We had an amazing time and explored so many places. We stayed at Wild Dunes Resort, which is run by Destination Hotels (the company we both work for), and really enjoyed seeing the east coast beach and the Southern charm of the place (we even tried She Crab soup and grits!). We went to Boone Plantation which started in 1745. We toured the grounds, and the main house, which is still furnished like it was in the 1800's. So beautiful! They had a butterfly garden in a greenhouse where there were beautiful flowers and huge butterflies all around. The plantation once grew cotton and pecans, and still harvest strawberries, tomatoes, and pumpkins, as well as many other fruits and vegetables. At one time the plantation was owned by a Russian prince who raised horses- one of his horses was Secretariat!




We drove to Georgia for the day and hung around Savannah. It was much HOTTER in Savannah and the mossy trees and cobblestones were picturesque, but there were lots of little flies throughout the air. We visited River Street, some churches, and an old graveyard.





Friday, March 25, 2011

Annabel

Miss Annabel Fancher is bringing so much joy to our little home. She is energetic and so curious! After searching for a kitty for a while, we found Annabel on craigslist. It was love at first sight when I went to meet her at the home of the lady who rescued her and her brother when they were newborn kitties. She loves to cuddle up with us on the couch, and is always sad when we go to bed and leave her in the living room alone at night. She has a favorite little toy that is shaped like a bunny, and hardly gives a second look to anything but that! Her first meeting with her cousin Dexter wasn't a smooth as we'd hoped it would go, and she spent more of the time sitting on a counter nervously looking at him.


 So curious

Love her little white chin

 Wishing she was an outdoor kitty.


In a kingdom by the sea,

A maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me.

~Edgar Allan Poe






Monday, October 18, 2010

Disneyland!

We were lucky to score some free tickets to Disneyland back in July, and we had so much fun spending part of our anniversary weekend there. Danny's mom, Sherree, was in town this weekend and told us that she hasn't been to Disneyland in 16 years! She has been wanting to visit the park, so we figured, why not?






We have never seen Disneyland all set-up for one of my favorite holiday's: Halloween.
The foggy fall weather made it feel authentic, and kept the crowds pretty small.



The Haunted Mansion was decked out in Nightmare Before Christmas.


FANTASTIC!


Fancher


California Adventures


We got a great deal on tickets off Craigslist, and were able to take Sherree to see the new California Adventures park for less than the price of just a Disneyland ticket! Score!

California Screamin'


video



One of Sherree's old favorites was Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Danny and I have never seen the show, so we enjoyed seeing something brand new!




In Innoventions, there is a camera where you take a picture and it shows you what you'll look like when you're old. It gives you the options to be obese, a heavy smoker, and sun damage. Scary!




On the way out, we caught part of the 'Celebrate' parade.... and the crowd.

 
 Overall, the day was a huge success! We made it back to San Diego in time to make a salad and cook some salmon. We watched the Giants game and drank an amazing 2003 Napa Valley Duckhorn Vineyards Cabernet.... yum!