I follow Brianna, my niece, on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram.   I try not to hit “like” or comment on every post.  I don’t want to be unfriended, blocked, or unfollowed.  I just want to keep up with the latest trends in social media.

A few weeks ago, Brianna started tagging pictures with #100happydays.  So I googled it and it’s a photo challenge to take a daily picture of something that makes you happy.

This project is right up my alley–no heavy lifting, no throwing away sentimental items–I just have to take a happy photo once a day!  It’s not a bragging contest.  There are no prizes to win.

I’m on Day 10.  So far I’ve found out that Elena (pictured on Days 2, 4, 6) and Bojangles (Days 5 and 7) make me the happiest — or at least they are the most willing to pose for the pictures.

On Day 8, I had to decide which made me happier–dumping rotting vegetables in my new compost bin OR eating the last of the Easter candy.  The Easter candy won.

See the rest of my pictures on Instagram.

Do you have time to be happy for 100 days?  Who is up for  #100Happydays?



Death Anniversaries

Today is my dad’s ninth death anniversary.

When I was growing up, I remember my dad would say, “Today is the death anniversary of your Lolo (grandfather)…your Lola (grandmother)…your Tito (uncle)…” There seemed to be a death anniversary every other week.  Sometimes my dad would tell a funny story about the person.  Sometimes no story followed, just silence.

Was he thinking of where he was the exact moment he heard of the death?  Or perhaps the last conversation he had with that person?

On April 23, 2005, while vacationing in the Philippines, my dad had a heart attack, followed later by a stroke, and then he was gone.  I remember the phone call, the long flight back to the Philippines, the funeral, and the days that followed.   The details are still so vividly clear, perhaps because everything was so final.

I’d like to remember how his last hug felt — when he dropped us off at the Vegas airport, gave the kids a dollar each for ice cream, and told us to stay out of trouble.  I’d like to remember how his voice and laugh sounded the last time we spoke on the phone.  But those memories are harder to recall because I was in a rush to catch the flight and in a hurry to get off the phone.  I wish I had known.

Will this day always be an awful reminder of his death?  I don’t know. After nine years, he is still so sorely missed on his birthday, every holiday, family event, and milestone.

Today I will call my mom, text my brothers, and meet my sister for lunch.   I am blessed and so thankful that they are all still here with me.  My dad would be mad if he saw us all still moping around.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures we took together:

My dad and me at my wedding (1994).
My dad and me dancing at my wedding (1994).

According to Wikipedia, there are several cultures that observe death anniversaries.   I’d love to know how (or if) you acknowledge death anniversaries.

Coffee with Kathy

I met Kathy years ago when our boys were in Kindergarten.   She was always smiling, waving, and walking around in 4-inch heels.

I tried to avoid her because she was always asking when our boys could have a playdate.  I’d say, “Let me check our schedule,” and pray I wouldn’t run into her until the next week.  I didn’t know her.  Did she have guns in the house or a weird uncle in the back room?  I didn’t want any part of it.

So I made up this rule for my son — he had to be in three activities with a kid before we could even consider a playdate. Eventually, the boys were together in school, peewee football, and then baseball.  I ran out of excuses.  That’s how Kathy and I became friends.

Kathy with me on a class trip in 2009.
Kathy with me on a class trip in 2009.

It’s hard for me to make friends at this age.  Who has the time to really get to know a person and get past the differences?

Kathy and I are opposites in many ways — our personalities (she’s extroverted); our parenting styles (she’s loosey goosey); our homes (she’s neat); and of course, her ability to walk in 4 inch heels…

But, I found we are alike in ways important to me.  She is fiercely committed to her family and loyal to her friends.  

Despite Kathy’s full-time teaching schedule and three kids (all with after-school activities), she always makes time for coffee dates.  She has great timing, too.  Just when I start to feel too blue, I get a text saying, “Coffee this week?”  

We meet during her lunch period at a Starbucks near her school.  We tell stories, laugh, and then back to work.  It’s truly amazing what a quick coffee break with a friend can do.  

So your assignment today is to make a coffee date with a friend.  Extra credit for giving someone a chance to be your friend. 🙂



I want to be a better traveler.

All stages of traveling (planning, packing, traveling, and unpacking) are exhausting for me.  It isn’t until much later, when we’re reminiscing about the trip, that I can appreciate how much fun it was.

It’s hard work being crazy.  I have packing lists that I print out for me and for the kids.  I google the hotel’s address so I can see where we can eat.  I plan our itinerary of the places we’ll visit.  Then we leave before dawn so we can beat traffic. 

In between all this planning, there’s also the worrying.  What if something goes wrong?  Can we leave the house for this long?  Did I turn off the coffee maker?  What did I forget?

Using my new minimalist ideas, I’m going to pack less and plan less. Will it be possible for me to go with the flow?  Can I refrain from saying, “Hurry! We have to get there early before it gets too crowded”?

I’d like to visit some states on Elena’s Bucket List and make the stops memorable.   I’ll try not to keep checking my watch.  I will make an effort to live in the moment.

Instead of trying to “make good time” TO our destination, I’ll try to “have a good time” AT our destination.

Any travel tips for me?  Share with me some ideas on how you travel with your family or pets.

Compost Bin Project

As my deadline for this compost bin project approached, I realized that you actually have to buy and cook vegetables to have scraps to compost.

I thought about asking the produce guy at Waldbaums if he had any rotting discount produce…but I had to draw the line.  I WILL NOT buy rotting fruit and vegetables to make good dirt.

So I started the project, anyway, knowing that if I waited one more week, common sense would tell me to stop blogging.

Based on the instructions, to make compost, there has to be a perfect mix of “browns” (carbon) and “greens” (nitrogen).  I won’t pretend to know what all this means.  All I got out of it was that I had to layer the two like I was making lasagna.  

So, the bottom layer consists of leaves and yard waste from my inlaws’ garden. This is considered “Browns.”

Bottom layer of "Browns."  Special thanks to my inlaws for collecting them from their yard for me.
Bottom layer of “Browns.” Courtesy of my inlaws’ garden.

Next, I added the “Greens,” which consisted of vegetable peels, coffee grinds, and eggshells from my kitchen.  I also added a box of expired salad that was already turning slimy.

Second layer of "Greens," made up of kitchen scraps -- peels, carrots, egg shells, coffee grinds.  This smelled disgusting.
Second layer of “Greens.” This smelled disgusting.

Next, I added potting soil.  I read somewhere this would keep things moving or speed up the process.

Added some potting soil on top of the "Greens."
Potting soil on top of the “Greens.”

Last layer was browns.

Ended with a layer of "Browns."
Ended with a layer of “Browns.”

This project was loosely taken from Preparedness Mama‘s, “Create a Mini Compost Bin.”  I decided to not collect the drippings.  For now, they can just ooze down to fertilize my tree.  

I’ll report back next month on my progress.  For now, I leave you with an updated photo of my daffodils and tulips.  Spring is really near!

Here's an update of the progress of my daffodils and tulips :)
Here’s an update of the progress of my daffodils and tulips 🙂

How is your garden looking?  Share with us your projects for the Spring.



Get Moving

Pick your poison:  would you rather have to watch what you eat OR get some exercise?

Breaking up with Oreos would be long and painful…so, I picked trying to get some exercise instead.

I dreamed big at first — picturing myself pedaling frantically in a Spin Class at the gym.  But, I quickly psyched myself out, too intimidated that I might not have the right padded shorts or spin shoes.

This article, “My Breakup with Exercise” motivated me to set realistic goals.  I’ll never have a “hot bikini body,” but if I put in some work, perhaps I can climb a few flights of stairs without being so winded.

What realistic activity have I found?  The treadmill in my garage didn’t hold any grudges and welcomed me back.  I set the timer to 45 minutes and pressed “Start.”  The turning belt chanted, “welcome back…welcome back…welcome back…”  The “Workout” playlist on my ipod was still pretty motivating.  OK, this, I can do.

I’ll try to make my way back to the gym. If I can’t, then maybe it’s time to end my membership.  Continuing to pay for a gym I don’t use is like buying a bunch of movie tickets every month and not going to see the shows.

I also have a date with an old high school buddy to walk the Jones Beach boardwalk when it warms up.  That’s a nice way to get in exercise and visit with a friend.  For now, I’m shooting for 45 minutes of movement, 3 times a week.

Let’s get moving together!  How can we incorporate more exercise (or activity) into our busy lives?  Brainstorm with me.

PS. If you’re looking, here are some songs from my playlist that you might consider adding to yours:

  • “Rich Girl,” Gwen Stefani
  • “Every Day is a Winding Road,” Sheryl Crow
  • “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
  • *Fixurlifeup – Prince and 3rdEyeGirl

Share with me some of your favorites too!

Project 333 – First Day (April – June)

Today, April 1st, kicks off the next season of Project 333, an experiment in simplifying our closets to save time, energy and money for the more important things in life.

Here is my closet for the next 3 months:

The items hanging are my pieces for Project 333 (April - June).
The items hanging are my pieces for Project 333 (April – June).

I am happy to report that I was able to toss some clothes and donate this pile.  

These items did not make the cut and were tossed or donated.
These items did not make the cut and were tossed or donated.

This time, I was able to include my pants and jeans in the count.  I still have not been able to pare down my tshirts, shoes, and purses.

Here is the one piece that gave me the most difficulty:

1.  Sonics tshirt given to me by brother-in-law --  Dallas, Jr.
Sonics tshirt given to me by brother-in-law — Dallas, Jr.

This Seattle Sonics tshirt was given to me for my birthday by my brother-in-law, Dallas, in 1995.   I had a huge crush on Shawn Kemp, whose dunks and energy lit up any arena.  Even though the tshirt is ripped at the logo and has been accidentally bleached, I keep it because it’s the last gift Dallas gave me, before he passed away suddenly in 1998.  Kemp has long retired.  The Seattle Sonics are now the Oklahoma City Thunder.  And yet, every time I do a purge, I always end up putting this tshirt back in my drawer.  How could I throw out this precious memory of Dallas? I know it’s not the item but the memory that is dear…but I’m not yet ready.

This Project 333 is not for the weak.  How did you do on your first day?  Did you have some sentimental clothes that you couldn’t part with?  

If you haven’t started, it’s not too late.  Just jump in.  Click here for the rules.  Click here to see an example of Courtney Carver‘s list.

Share your success or hiccups with us…